Jade Imperium - One Small Step

Gatac 2007-05-03 21:46:04
Hugh watches the spectacle, dumbfounded. That UAV ain't coming back.

"For the record...we were acting on direct orders to deploy the Cypher."
Dieter 2007-05-03 21:52:45
Amidst the number crunching, Max hears the proverbial Oh, fuck! coming from the drone operator.

Seeing what the problem is, he's all over it.

"Climb to a higher altitude. I doubt that bird is as fast going up as we are."
CrazyIvan 2007-05-03 23:01:29
Angel quickly gathers up the cloak and netting, looking inordinantly pleased at the package of claymores as well.

"Look Capt., a proper perimeter!". Just how much of his ebullient tone is sarcastic isn't quite clear.
e of pi 2007-05-03 23:27:54
Dieter wrote:

Amidst the number crunching, Max hears the proverbial Oh, fuck! coming from the drone operator.

Seeing what the problem is, he's all over it.

"Climb to a higher altitude. I doubt that bird is as fast going up as we are."

Luis nods absently and pulls the drone into a climb. As he does, he muses, If this doesn't work, we'll find out if this bird-thing is as fast as we are in freefall...
fanchergw 2007-05-03 23:38:00
They get the trucks set up and the power flowing into the giant rings. Somewhere in the back of Semo's mind comes the image of them as wedding rings for some race of giants...

The next contact with MN comes and information is traded back and forth. Command confirms that they are not to accept slaves and that they should try to find out as much as they can about these sentients.

Shortly afterward, Semo finds himself out walking perimeter once again. The sky is darkening, and he can't see more than a couple dozen yards into the jungle even at the best of times. The sounds of movement in the bush is frequent, and a tingle runs up his spine at the death scream of some unfortunate creature.

Rain starts to fall, and shortly afterward the gate flares to life once again. Supplies are passed through, and soon Semo is busy stowing it all for the morning. The claymores are handled with care, as to do less would be a deadly mistake.

The UAV is sent up under orders from command. Semo watches for a few minutes, then returns to the perimeter. It's almost sack time. There seems to be some commotion from the area of the UAV controls, but there isn't much he can help with that.
CrazyIvan 2007-05-03 23:51:49
Angel dons the coak and applies a proper amount of netting to his helmet to break up its decidedly non-organic shape before heading to the first shift guards.

"Tag out and go to bed."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-04 02:05:58
Angel disappears into the undergrowth after getting the claymore "clacker" from Semo. The things here may be able to turn invisible, but that just means they're lazy. Angel's been doing the same thing for years, and without any evolutionary advantages to boot.

Semo climbs into his sack after draining another canteen. He's hot and tired, but he's not particularly overworked or drained. No humping his load to hell and back today.

Meanwhile, Luis is engaged with a remote dogfight with some sort of "bird" of prey. Taking it straight up got him some room to maneuver, and he takes the UAV around, hoping to confuse the avian. Problem is, the rain is playing havoc with the motion sensors and it's hard to tell exactly where the thing is. The left-side camera's been knocked out, so he's got a blind spot. Still, he weaves back and forth and the avian hasn't hit the machine again, not for five minutes now.

Suddenly it's back (or second one is), narrowly missing the drone by inches! Luis can't go up any further - he'll be getting into clouds, and then he really WILL be blind. He dives the UAV towards the deck, and the rear camera shows the avian right behind him, a white blob on FLIR. The camera view shakes as the predator rakes the casing with its talons, sending the UAV into a sideways spin. The bird spreads its wings, unable to grasp the UAV and still pull out of its dive. Luis miraculously stabilizes the Cypher yet again, this time not 100 feet over the jungle canopy. Another minute passes and Luis has just figured out how off course the UAV is. It's 10 kilometers from camp.

The third time, Luis sees the avian coming and pulls up into a climb again. The thing's a quick learner, and turns its dive into a graceful arc upward. Luis fakes out the predator and cuts the UAV's upward thrust, forcing the drone into another dive, skimming the treetops. The avian follows - right where Luis wants it. He guns the engine and flares the drone's floodlights, startling all manner of small avians, toucan sams, and palm's-breadth insects into the sky. There's a shudder from the drone, but the large avian darts after this easier prey, leaving the Cypher in peace.

The shudder turns out to be bad news. The same flock of... whatever it was must have sent some of its members through the UAV's central turbofan. The engine's losing power, and the UAV might not make it back to camp. Luis gives it all he's got. He engages the pusher fan on the tail end of the drone, then gives the central fan all the juice he can muster, putting the UAV into a sort of ballistic trajectory. He throttles back the turbofan, letting the pusher do all the work. 6 kilometers. He gives it another burst of upward thrust at 2 kilometers - the FLIR can make out the glow of the generator trucks. Now the fuel's running low and he's burning it fast... can he ditch it anywhere soft? Can't land too close to camp, don't want it skittering into anyone... or their generator trucks. The river's a possibility, but it could end up hours away by morning. It'll have to be the trees, then. Close to camp, but not too close.

The UAV has the camp on its visual-range cameras when Luis gives it one more boost - and three things happen in quick succession:
1. The main engine dies in a small explosion, black smoke pouring from the Cypher.
2. The fuel runs out and the pusher fan dies.
3. The UAV crashes through the canopy, scattering God knows what creatures to the four winds.

Angel can actually see the trees shake through his NV goggles. It looks like it went down maybe 100 meters into the jungle.

The UAV power flickers off.
CrazyIvan 2007-05-04 03:56:43
Angel frowns slightly and keys the radio.

"Being especially subtle tonight. UAV's approximate location 100 meters dead ahead of my position, and in a hell of alot of jungle."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-04 19:03:58
Considering that the local fauna just took out a Cypher, it's pitch-black, raining, and the UAV crashed close but still in thick jungle, there's just not much that can be done about it until morning. The team gets back to what little sleep they can get.

The rain comes down hard for another hour or two, then thunder gets added into the mix. Lightning arcs between high clouds, great white flashes casting strange shadows across the camp. The large avians scream with each peal of thunder, circling for prey high above. Three times Angel flips off the safety switch on the Claymore clackers, but he never drops the hammer.

The twin moons are peeking out from behind slowly-dissipating clouds when the Gateway activates. You transmit MPEGs of the UAV's lethal flight and get confirmation that they'll have a better solution come morning.

There's definitely something about either you or the crash site that keeps the various critters at bay. Not one team member has been bitten or stung by any alien bugs and hardly any creatures have ventured into camp. The "Jaws" thing might have been territorial, rather than food-related, in retrospect.

At any rate, morning comes sooner than expected with the planet's white sun just a sliver of yellow-orange on the horizon. One of the moons actually looks like it'll hang in the sky for most of the morning.

Moons notwithstanding, the Gate activates as scheduled for the morning check-in of your second alien day. You're still several hours out from your first offical Earth day on the alien planet.

Mission Time 00:19:45 (Earth Time 0345 hours)

*This time difference is a bitch, Captain. We're shipping another UAV down here from San Diego, but it'll be tomorrow morning at the earliest. Until then, we've got four 40mm camera rounds. We're passing them through now.*

A fairly bleary-eyed Pit tech in an olive jumpsuit tosses through an ammo box. Inside are four 40mm HUNTIR parachute camera rounds for Greene and Dietrich's grenade launchers. They'd be fired in an arc over what you wanted to recon, and you'd view the output on the small PDA device boxed with the ammunition. As with the UAV, the output can be channeled to the Humvees or the laptops as well.

*We'll analyze this flight recording and let you know if we spot anything. We'll check back in 1 hour. Until then, some of the guys thought this would help you guys out...*

The next things through are two large travel thermoses that prove to be coffee and a flat white cardboard box that proves to be a half-dozen donuts in a box big enough for a full dozen. The crumbs of the other six line the box. Somebody must've stopped by Dunkin' Donuts.
e of pi 2007-05-04 19:40:58
Luis isn't feeling too much better than the Pit tech looks, and thus is quite greatful to accept the thermoses and the donut box. He sets the photo grenades aside for inspection once he's had a chance to take in some of the liquid fuel and sugars that the guiys at MN sent along. However, the tired-but-anticipatory smile on his face falls as he opens the box. He looks up and glares through the Gate. "Thanks for this, but you guys could have at least left enough to go around," he states, but what's done is done, and he procedes to start breaking the six they have into halves. He takes one of the pieces for himself and follows it up with a cup of the (truly bad) coffee. It's not the best meal he's ever had, but it'll do the trick, and he passes the box and thermoses on to Greene. "Just take one half," he notes.

After the Gate closes again and the proscribed amount of organic fuel consumed, Luis and Greene open up the camera rounds, and start checking them over. As long as they won't be too loud (some of the team get grumpy if awakened ahead of schedule), they're going to go ahead and start finishing the job the UAv started, or at least as much as they can without leaving the perimeter.
fanchergw 2007-05-04 19:58:37
The weather and local avians keep Semo from getting much restful sleep during the first shift. Thus, he's bleary-eyed when he rises for his shift on watch. It's a struggle just to stay awake through the long hours, though the contact from base helps.

Semo's second sleep shift, though short, provides better rest and he rises reasonbly alert. Not long after, command initiates contact once again. He's never been one for coffee, but he eyes the donuts hungrily. When it's revealed that few remain, Semo looks almost as though he's ready to cry. Still, he only takes one half when the box cycles by. At least it serves to get the taste of his morning MREs out of his mouth.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-04 19:59:01
"I know how to share, Sergeant," Greene says with a grin that quickly turns to puzzled chewing. "How fuckin' old are these donuts, man?" You find the best way to eat them is to take a bite and then a swig of the coffee, swirl it all around, and... well... spitting it out wouldn't be a bad idea, but you can choke it down.

Luis and Greene head out past the wreck. They decide to fire two to start, see how they work, then use the others if needed.


The bassy report of the EGLM wakes everyone up, some more than others. The Delta guys burst out of the tent, sweeping the area, then Taylor puts two and two together.

"Sergeant, Specialist, what are you DOING?! If you're firin' off 40 mike mikes for shits and giggles it will be your ASS!"

"Sorry Sarge," Greene shouts back. "Camera rounds, 'cause we ain't got no UAV. There's donuts, though!"

"Hey man, there ARE donuts! Hey... you fuckers ate half the fuckin' box!" Dietrich rages, his hopes dashed. "Sure, they're all sneaky-pete when they've got the donuts to themselves, then they go and fuckin' fire off the thumper to celebrate!"

Max is awoken by the aforementioned grenade launcher report, then by... bickering about donuts? This sounds like he's back in the lab, not on a rain-soaked alien planet...

Luis notices movement from the HUNTIR round's camera. It's sailing over the UAV crash, gently coming back to earth, and Luis can definitely see the UAV move. Not only move, it's... waddling towards the camp. He switches to FLIR since the morning sun hasn't masked the environment in maddening heat yet, and makes out maybe two distinct heat sources in close proximity to the UAV's signature.
Dieter 2007-05-04 20:36:10
Max puts down his laptop at the mention of donuts and caffeine.

"You grunts better not have woofed down all of them." growls the scientist, grabbing his camp cup.
fanchergw 2007-05-04 21:00:58
Having grown up on the migrant worker circuit, Semo learned early to eat just about anything put in front of him. These stale donuts aren't even close to the worst thing he's eaten in his lifetime.

Hearing the whumps, Semo glances over from his position on the perimeter. The sound seems to be followed by some whining and bickering, but nothing serious. Since no entertaining fistfights appear to be breaking out, he returns his attention to the forest.
Gatac 2007-05-05 02:14:53
One of Hugh's eyes snaps open.

Grenade launcher, no rifles or SAWs. Ten to one it's Luis dicking around.

He goes back to sleep.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-05 03:54:59
Semo sees the UAV toddle its way out of the jungle, then makes out two of the aliens carrying the crippled drone. Bakata blah lorem ipsum, one says. Semo can make out the now-telltale facial scarring on One-eye. They set the UAV down inside the clearing and One-eye comes forward after handing off its spear to its friend.

Sun stories something trade unintelligble conjugation, says One-eye. By this point, Max is there, donut crumbs trickling down his fatigues. He asks One-eye to repeat its message, and gets much more out of the gestures. Sun rises and I walk to take you make trade. To Whiirr-Home we move, noontime arrive. Ready?
fanchergw 2007-05-06 01:13:33
Seeing the two aliens emerge from the jungle carrying the UAV, Semo calls out, "Captain? Doc? We have guests!" Though he remains alert, Semo is careful not to point his weapon in their direction.

One-Eye speaks to him, drawing a "Uhm..." from Semo, who looks at the late-arriving Max with a helpless look in his eyes.
Dieter 2007-05-06 01:35:39
Max is ecstatic to see the UAV getting hauled back to camp.

"Captain, our one-eyed friend here says that they are here to (presumably) take us to their camp for trading with their people. If we leave now, we should be their by mid-day."
Gatac 2007-05-06 07:46:38
Hugh rises as the commotion outside becomes impossible to ignore. He hadn't realized just how tired he was until he went to sleep, but now he's rested enough to deal with this - though he wouldn't mind another hour or two of shuteye.

Max comes in just as Hugh splashes some water in his face; he turns to the scientist and acknowledges him with a nod.

"Thanks for the heads-up, Doc. I'll be there in a minute."

Once presentable, Hugh walks outside and assembles his fire team for the march. However, Specialist Greene is looking rather - well, green. Hugh's not cross-trained for medicine, but he can spot exhaustion and dehydration. He takes the young man aside.

"You're in no shape for the march, Greene. I want you to stay here, get some more sleep and drink. I'll tell Sarge Taylor to put you on light duty."

That done, he calls over Angel.

"Riviera, pack your gear. You're coming with us."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2007-05-06 16:08:45
Greene's not exactly going to argue. Of the entire team, he probably got the least sleep, plus he took more than his share of perimeter duty. "No problem, sir," he says. "Any land sharks come for us, we'll let ya know."

"Mellish, Dietrich! Get your asses on the perimeter!" Taylor barks.

With that, you gather your equipment for the march. Everyone's humping extra weight from the trade goods, but it's not as hot today as yesterday. The rain's cooled things off significantly, and the sun hasn't turned the clearing into a sauna yet.

That quickly changes once you're an hour or so into the hike. The jungle literally steams with heat. The aliens lead you upriver, staying ten meters off the riverbank. You move in cover formation, with Dr. Kilgore in the center. His guitar case is strikingly out of place next to the laptop and submachine gun. The sounds of the jungle are everywhere, but the aliens walk with little fear. They idly swat insect-things every now and then. Angel steps over a crawling, chitinous thing the size of his hand. The biting bugs still have yet to pick any of you for a meal.

Luis keeps track of your progress on his rough map, printed out from the UAV's flight and HUNTIR round test. He marks off points of interest with a grease pen. Field of blue mushrooms, here. Caves, there. Rapids, over there. From what he can tell, they're heading for the settlement he spotted last night on the UAV's cameras, right at the edge of the scouted area.

Max constantly prods the yeti-things for information, adding to his alien lexicon. "What's that? And that? Why? Well, what's that?"

Semo just stays alert. It's not been such a bad trip, actually. Hell, he got a donut, and the team's gotten nearly everything they've asked for - a far cry from his usual operations.

Mission Time 01:00:05

Every inch of shade is a precious commodity. The extra loads are getting right bothersome for everyone but Semo, but the aliens finally signal you to stop. We announce, they say, and disappear into the brush. You hear yarps of greeting, and One-eye returns, waving you forward. It signs to Max, who it's figured as the talker, Thunder rolled night. You maybe meet/talk/trade Others this day. My village/people proud to have many not-Whiirr meet/talk/trade this day.

You enter the village. The short, squat houses are made from stone and mud. You actually see a few larger buildings, like longhouses, sporting support beams that look like ragged structural supports from the crash site. The shaggy aliens are everywhere, changing colors, signing, grunting. It's not as loud as you'd expect, but then their language is primarily visual. The village seems built around one of these longhouses, arrayed in concentric circles of squat huts. There's a large clearing with some stunted, sun-dried wheat-grass that grows around the Gateway camp. It's a large clearing, too - maybe 50 meters in diameter. Chief is waiting there with a group of nine other aliens. All are arrayed in similar fashion, with bone-laced ceremonial garb, inlaid with lacquer or feathers. One of the main group wears a sort of cross-bandolier with metal artifacts. At least one of these small PDA-sized gadgets is powered, and glows a soft blue. Another older (your best guess) alien, with a bit of white to its chamelonic hair, carries a frisbee-sized torus around its neck made of smooth brushed metal.

Welcome humans! You bring strong trade! Chief signals, looking with some curiosity at the various trade goods you've humped with over 6 kilometers of jungle.