Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 2

threadbare 2015-08-28 18:20:21
"I can handle the evac and medical work." Hunter replies. It'd be nice to lay down covering fire, but he still can't see through the smoke. Making a mental note to upgrade his gear soon, he voxes the Gator channel, "Can the sheen own the covering fire?"
punkey 2015-09-10 21:50:12
"'The same way we got in,'" Arketta replies. "'How many are left in there - injured and combat ready?'"
"'We're fucked up, Ma'am,'" the Marine replies. "'There's maybe a dozen left standing, but we've got thirty or more badly wounded.'"
How many can move? Luis asks.
"'Like I said, sir, about a dozen,'" the Marine replies. "'The rest are too badly injured to run on their own.'"
"Fuck," Arketta curses in Imperial. "'Then we need to provide cover so we can move them.'"
"'Maybe we can get some of those wounded moving again,'" Luis says. "Arketta, you want to start getting a line set up here while I see to the state of their wounded?'"
Arketta nods. "'Get on line! Rav-Turai, I want fields of fire set up!'"
Luis returns his attention to the Marines. "'All right, take me to your wounded.'" Time for a little triage, he thinks.

"'Right this way, sir,'" the Marine says, and leads Luis inside. Twenty or so meters inside, Luis gets his first glimpse at the long, long line of casualties - at least a whole platoon, sitting up against the wall, puking, moaning, trying to hold in their bleeding, or all three. Flash burns from beamer shots and blotchy, blistering skin abound. It seems like no one got through the sunball or the ambush unscathed - including the few Marines staggering through what little patrol they can in the limited space. Even the Marine that came and got them - a Sergeant Evans - now that Luis is close to him, he can see big patches of skin starting to peel from his face.

The cave is a thing of nightmares as Luis looks around it. Whatever the attenuation range is for a sunmine's output given the cave's rock, the answer was "further than here." He grimaces--Dietrich comes back to him for a moment but he bats it back and focuses on the moment. The effects of this level of radiation and a kauka down the line are something he's intimately familiar with, but given the heavy iron stench of blood in the air and the visible wounds, worrying about effects down the line is a luxury a lot of these people would kill for. He turns back to the Sergeant.
'Have you had any ability to separate off the worst-hit and injured?'" he asks.
"'Yes, they're the first fifteen or so,'" Sergeant Evans says. “'We should get them out right now, Sir.'
The worst few are barely conscious, staring at the wall or beyond, and just scanning dazedly. Others appear to be following from a distance, but all around the signs of catastrophic radiation poisoning are clear. He rubs his forehead for a moment, then stands back up. He turns to the Sergeant. and the rest of the Marines. "Listen up!'" he shouts, and waits a moment for eyes to turn to him.

"'I'm Luis Stanhill, with the 815. Out there, we've got 36 Bashakra'i holding the line between you and the bad guys. We'll be holding the lines between them and you as you get out of here. But I'm not going to lie to you: a lot of you won't make it anyway. We'll cover for you to get to treatment, but that burst was ground-zero levels of radiation, and there's only so much treatment can do for that.'" He stops, and pulls out his kauka.
"'There's another option, though, but it's not a great one either. Anyone who says no, we'll hold the line and get you all out. This is a kauka, or a frisbee. It's a portable regenerator--regrows bones, skin, muscle, good as new.'" He shakes his head, "'There's one thing it doesn't do, though, and that's brains--neural tissue that's breaking down, and it can and will lead to permanent mental issues--you will live, but you will not be the same. I can't order you to do it, and I won't. I'm not even sure I should be telling you given the side effects, and most Bashakra'i medics wouldn't, but it's a chance for you to not just live, but to walk out of here yourselves and help us kill those bastards out there who did this to you and your unit."
Luis pauses and looks around. "'I won't sugarcoat it--do this and you'll maybe regret it, which is why I’m only offering it for those of you who only have a few hours anyway, not everyone. I just can't watch good men die again. Say no, we're arranging evac now for everyone we can. But I couldn't not tell you.'"

’Fuck that,’” one of the Marines at Luis’ feet that’s still conscious - albeit missing his left arm below the elbow. “’Hit me, and do everyone else. We’re fucked up but our brains are fine.’
’You ask me to do that, you’re asking me to probably ruin your life,’” Luis says. “Given the radiation dose, you’re still looking at enough to have a risk, and you’re at least well enough to walk out of this and argue about this tomorrow, so I’m going to try my best to scare you into not asking me to ruin your life if it’s not going to end here today.’
’Fuck. That,’” the Marine says. “’Hit me.’
I will warn you: you might look back on this and say I’d have been better just putting a bullet in your mouth, and I won’t sugarcoat that. But if you ask, I’ll do it.’
’Get us back in the fight, Sir,’” Sergeant Evans says. “’I’ll go first.’
Yes, Sarge,’” Luis says, and starts to do his best.

As Luis works the kauka over the surface, patches of skin on Evans’ face regenerate in the familiar brown of Imperial averages, and Evans’ eyes look a little distant as Luis moves on, but he’s still speaking in English as Luis moves on to the next patients. Some of the others are much the same--patches of discolored hair, mismatched eyes, but still seeming relatively normal as they knit back together. Others aren’t quite as...well, Luis can’t quite bring himself to call that lucky, but they are relatively. The fifteen or so worst cases are, as feared, not all there as they seem to wake up and come to--Luis recognizes as they lapse into Imperial on the odd word, but at least for the moment most of them seem to be mostly speaking English. It could be worse, he knows--none of them seem as bad off as Dietrich for the moment. Still...he turns to Evans.
’How’s it looking, Sergeant?’” he asks.
’Feeling like a million lats,’” Evans replies, his grip on his weapon having gone from limp to ready. “’Let’s get the fuck out of here.’
Luis surveys the cave. “’All right!,’” he shouts. “’There’s a lot of guys out there who thought they’d killed you. Up for showing them they’re wrong?’I’m marking this whole unit down for psych workup when this is over, he thinks.
’Fuck yes, Sir!’” they all say - some in Imperial, but still.
’Good!’” Luis says. He turns to Evans. “’Sergeant, as we move out there, I want you to link up with Samal Quis, and she’ll slot you into her defensive line, then we’ll figure out our push. I want you watching your guys--anyone seems too out of it, pull them out of line and we’ll keep them to the rear. Understood?’
’Yes, Sir!’” More in Imperial, and Sergeant Evans and a few others say “Samal” instead, but Luis gets the gist.

’Check your gear and your buddies,’” Luis says. “’We move in two.’” He activates his internal vox to Arketta and subvocalizes. “Arketta, I’m here and I’ve got good and bad news.”
“Good news first!” Arketta shouts, over the sound of the firefight Luis can still hear outside.
“I’ve got about thirty more guys to bulk out the line, mostly combat ready,” Luis says.
“That should be enough to start moving the rest back in quad-sized elements,” Arketta replies. “And the bad?”
“I did something with the kauka I’m not sure I should have,” he says. “Those thirty are all that were left. They’re probably at least ready to hold a line and provide cover fire but they’re a bit...muddled.”
“Being next to a sunmine will do that,” Arketta replies. “How bad?”
“It varies, and it’s a bit hard to tell. No one seems as bad as Dietrich yet,” Luis says, looking around. “I...couldn’t just let them die, so I told them the risks.”
“Vidas Lam, Luis,” Arketta replies. “You didn’t.”
“I couldn’t, not after Botane,” Luis says, which isn’t quite an answer.
Arketta sighs, and Luis can picture her leaning her helm against cover for a moment. “Get them out here and let’s get the fuck out of here. Now.”
“Got it,” Luis says He turns back to Evans. “’Ready to move, Sergeant?’
’Ready, Samal,’” he says, and turns back to the group. “’On your feet!’” They all haul themselves upright, grasping weapons (some gingerly as their kauka-regenerated limbs finish reconstructing skin), and shouldering what’s left of their gear. “’Ready to move, Samal.’
’Let’s move out, then,’” he says.
punkey 2015-09-10 21:55:32
Seconds feel like minutes feel like hours as Hug’sh enters The Zone, where his quick swipe gestures on the vox display combine with his tac channel monitoring to produce short, clipped barks that are dutifully translated by Gunny into short, clipped orders. They’re getting this under control...or at least they’re not losing as fast as they were before...but damn it, Hug’sh should be out there, slinging a tenner and dealing with the ambush the best way he knows how - digging out from the inside. He shouldn’t be...no. No, this is where he was to stop himself. Stop thinking in terms of “should be”. No more call for that fantasy reality can never quite measure up to - just stay in the moment and work with what you have. Work with...well, what does he have?

”Walks-The-Fire?” Gunny asks, tearing Hug’sh out of his freeze. ”You...you haven’t said anything in a while.”
Hug’sh harrumphs. Not in a great way, he’s clearly still got a ways to go before he can sound as confidently dismissive as Swims or Rodirr, but he tries. ”Where are we on evac?” he asks. ”Do we have secure staging points to establish a forward aid station? And what about transport back to base? We’ll need to fly out the worst cases but for everyone else we need trucks, and lots of them…”
”Nowhere, nope, and not nearly enough,” Gunny grunts. ”Narsai’i didn’t plan for this.”
”Right,” Hug’sh mumbles, then sees General Keating on the phone...no doubt to his superiors, telling them exactly what’s going on in here. For a certain value of ‘exactly’, anyway. It’s enough to make Hug’sh turn a particularly orange shade. ”Keating!” he barks, all etiquette out of the window at this point. ”Your men need to be evacuated. We need at least a half dozen trucks in the AO yesterday. If you want to contribute -”

(Hug’sh Talk vs. Keating Will: 2d10.hi = 7, 2d10.hi = 9

Keating ignores him.

Keating fucking ignores him.

Hug’sh may never quite clearly recall how many steps it takes him to close the distance to General Failure, and in hindsight he’ll feel a little bad about knocking Keating’s retinue on their asses when they try to move between him and their commanding officer, but the one thing that will remain seared into his memory forever is the look on Keating’s face when Hug’sh seizes him and lifts him off the ground. Hug’sh’s fur is a brilliant ocean of red, orange and yellow, and his fury is no less sun-like, but all things considered it’s his dead-even voice escaping from between his shiny, very shapely (and sharp) tusks that might be the most unsettling part of this little display.

Call for the trucks,” Hug’sh growls.
Keating doesn’t wait for the translation. “Put me down, or my men will put you down.”

(Narsai’i guards vs. situation: 2d8.hi = 2; 1d8 = 2)

Hug’sh looks around - at the Bashakra’i, Wherren and Sheen angling for good lines of fire, at the Narsai’i soldiers trying their best to remain stoic in the face of this situation going to utter shit, at the pistols trained on him and the many, many guns trained on those who are aiming at him. Onas quickly points a few Bashakra’i to guard the doors and keep anyone new from coming in, and gives Hug’sh a nod.
That won’t save your neck, coward,” Hug’sh growls. “You are between me and a thousand souls. It is not a wise place to be. Now yield, or pay the consequences.

(Hug’sh Talk and Situation vs. Keating Will: 2d10.hi = 5; 1d12 = 6; 2d10.hi = 7)

Keating smirks. “The only consequences here will be you and your friends facing the firing squad, you dumb fucking animal.”

You really are an endless disappointment, General,” Hug’sh snorts, then roughly pushes Keating away from him and onto the ground. ”Gunny, I need options. What do we have in the AO that we can retask for transport?”
”Only the vehicles they got there in - unless you want to try to convince the Narsai’i to risk air assets against the possibility of spearbombs,” Gunny replies.
“If they have chamakanas, they probably have spearbombs,” Onas says, keeping his eyes on the Narsai’i soldiers in the TOC. His Turai are in the middle of securing them with plastic cuffs. “But if so, then the Sheen would have been attacked by now.”
“Not if they don’t know we’re there,” Gunny says. “We’re a lot harder to spot than some big dumb Narsai’i machine.”
Then the best we can do is get everyone back to the drop-off point and try to send medical to meet them on the way back,” Hug’sh says. “Focus fire on the enemy travel lanes and support lines. Wherren scouts and Bashakra’i infiltrators can handle the dug-in positions if we can get them good angles for closing the distance.” Hug’sh snorts. “And remind me to get my head checked the next time I let a Narsai’i General lead us into battle.
punkey 2015-09-10 23:42:57
“Gotcha, baby,” Ten Tons replies.
“Can’t let the killbots have all the fun,” the Bashakra’i Rav-Turai added. “Open fire, Turai!”

Under a blaze of blue-white beamer fire and cracking blue-orange accelerator discharge, Hunter, Zaef and a quad of Turai and Wherren charge forward. Zaef and his soldiers arrive first, and start making their way up the cliff face to close in and dispatch the shooters at point-blank range, while Hunter and his Turai arrive under the cover of smoke and start looking for survivors. Turai slap tags on the survivors and quickly start trying to haul them towards the smoke and to cover.

“Only found five so far, Samal!” the Rav-Turai shouts.


Angel/Wherren Sneak: 2d8.hi = 8; 1d10 = 1; 1d8 = 6

Through his glasses, Angel can see that the Turai have turned their suppressing fire conservative - not popping out of cover for more than an instant, just a few at a time. Nothing too crazy, just enough to keep the Taliban’s attention.
“Hope you’re in position soon, Mr. Kesh,” the Rav-Turai calls over the vox.
“Just a moment longer,” Angel whispers back. A few more feet, and then he’ll be able to practically knock their hats off with the muzzle of his rifle, and not even the greenest Wherren - no pun intended - could miss. One swift blow.
threadbare 2015-09-17 19:51:22
Hunter continues to work towards finding and evacuating the wounded, hoping that Zaef and his trins will be able to finish the job.
punkey 2015-09-23 14:47:17
(Naranai’i Shoot: 2d8.hi = 5; 1d6 = 6)

When Luis moves back to the cave entrance, things are still pretty hectic - the Naranai’i are doing a decent job holding the Taliban back, but there’s definitely still a shitload of fire pouring down off the mountain.
“I think we should get the fuck out of here!” Arketta shouts over the vox. “Move in trins under cover fire to us, and then in quads back!”
“Let’s do it!” Luis shouts, then turns to the Marines. “’We’re going to move to join the reinforcements! Move out by threes, Evans, organize covering fire as groups move. Got it?’
’Copy, Samal!’” Evans shouts, trying to communicate over the beamer blasts without the benefit of a skull-mounted vox. “’Get up! Harris, Martinez, Partin! Move!’
Luis keeps and eye to make sure Evans gets his orders across as he joins in on the covering fire himself.

(Naranai’i Suppressing Fire: 3d8.hi = 6; 1d6 = 2)

One group after another, Luis, Arketta, and the Bashakra’i, Sheen, and Wherren under their command spray down the mountainside with fire - a task made easier by their advantage in being able to actually see in the dark - and keep the Taliban’s heads down until the thirty-three Narsai’i that survived the assault are shuttled across. FInally, it’s just Luis, Evans, and one other Marine left. Luis’ pulse hammers in his ears as the three of them dash across the mountainside to join the Narana’i.
Luis slams against cover next to Arketta. “What do you think, lahnai?” Arketta asks. “Three quads, protecting ten Narsai’i?”
“I think it seems bit overkill,” Luis says, panting slightly. “I’d like to show those bastards up the hill some of what they dished out, but it’s probably not the best option.”
“We really should get the Narsai’i down the hill and to an aid station,” Arketta says.
“Yeah,” Luis says, and nods. “All right, let’s do it.”
Arketta smacks Luis on the ass. “You first, lahnai.”
Luis grins, and turns to Evans and the Marines. “All right! We’re pulling back to the aid station. Same game--we’ll be getting covering fire as we move. Anyone need anything before we move?
’Gotta drain the spink before we go, Samal,’” Evans jokes. “’Let’s get the fuck out of here.’
’Right,’” Luis says. “We’re ready,” he says to Arketta.
Arketta doesn’t even look up from her beamer’s sights as she lets a few whaps loose on the Taliban positions. “Then why are you still here?”
Luis chuckles. “’All right, Evans! Let’s move!’


The phone next to Hug’sh, the one that Keating was talking on, rings.

Hug’sh grunts - not like he had enough on his plate already, but considering that a) he has a fairly good idea who’s calling and b) not taking the call might lead to the TOC getting a visit from a breaching team, not to mention the long-term fallout...but then again, the long-term’s already looking dire as is. Nevertheless, Hug’sh takes the call, nodding to Gunny to stand by for translation.
’Walks-the-Fire,’” General Cooper says on the other end of the line. He doesn’t sound furious - which is either a good thing or a very bad thing. “’I can see that you have taken my men hostage. Would you care to explain what is going on over there?’
”Did your cameras not pick up the conversation?” Hug’sh answers. After a moment, he pushes the button to turn it onto speaker mode, and Gunny translates for him.
’Only have video on this system,’” Cooper replies. “’Obviously, an oversight.’
”General Keating proved himself overwhelmed by the situation,” Hug’sh answers. ”I couldn’t just sit here and let him order your people - our people - to their certain deaths. As a result, I’ve assumed temporary command of the operation until such time -”
Gunny gets as far as “assumed temporary command” before Cooper cuts him off. “’Walks-the-Fire, the time to be politic has very well fucking past. Cut the crap and tell me why my men are handcuffed on my TOC floor.’
Hug’sh harruumphs, but Gunny and Onas both nod in approval. ”They’re idiots who did not listen to our warnings about sunmines. As soon as we knew these were in play, we had to get everyone out of the caves. Keating did the opposite. And if we’re cutting the crap, General, then let me say two things: one, do not interrupt me when I speak, and two, I have an operation to run right now. People are dying. We can have this argument once our men have broken contact with the enemy.”

(Hug’sh Talk: 2d10.hi = 3; 2d8.hi = 8)

’There’s going to be people dying right there unless I get a satisfactory answer as to what gives you the fucking authority to take my men hostage,’” Cooper replies, finally raising his voice. “’And I am a Goddamn General of the United States Marine Corps, and that gives me the right to interrupt you - ‘
”No,” Hug’sh barks back. ”It does not. If you want to have me scolded by someone who actually outranks me, I suggest you dig up your General...Washington. Now. Are you going to work with me to arrange evac and medical support for the troops, or do I need to hang up and get back to saving lives?”
’Support is already on the way - as is a team to take the TOC by force,’” Cooper replies, his voice increasingly filled with ice. “’Don’t you dare fucking insinuate I would leave my men out to dry, ‘General’ Walks-the-Fire. I would talk fucking quickly if you and your friends want to live through tonight.’
Hug’sh sighs deeply as he summons his last few diplomatic notions. ’You wouldn’t abandon your men,” he answers, ”but General Keating had no such scruples. He ordered the troops to charge forward into the caves and certain death even after the explosions went off, and when we implored him to pull back and evacuate troops, he refused to listen to a word we said. We have proof of that if you need it. And we never meant to take any hostages here. Your men are free to come in and take custody of Keating and the others. We just have to see through the evacuation, and then we will gladly stand down and answer every question, but right now the men out there need us coordinating here, not having this argument with you. I ask only that you let us finish this operation and see the troops to safety.”

(Hug’sh Talk: 2d10.hi = 6; 2d8.hi = 4)

Cooper pauses for a moment. “’That’s acceptable, Walks-the-Fire,’” he says. “’If you are telling the truth, I would have countermanded his orders myself. Next time, ‘General’ - consider calling me first instead of taking my people hostage. Understood?’
”Understood, General,” Hug’sh answers, already thinking There won’t be a next time with these clowns. ”We’ll stand by to receive your team and keep you looped in if the situation changes.”
’See that you do,’” Cooper replies. “’And Walks-the-Fire, George Washington was President and Commander of all of our armies. By the way.”
’I see I have some studying to do, General,’ Hug’sh says, taking one last barb for the sake of his cover. ’We’ll be in touch.’

By the time Hug’sh hangs up, his fur is near safety-orange with faint yellow stripes running through it. He stares at the phone for a moment, then turns back to Gunny. ’Let’s get back to the enemies in front of us,’ he barks. ’Any updates on the situation?’
punkey 2015-09-23 16:17:01
”We are ready,” Swims-the-Black grunts from beside Angel. When he looks back to see Swims’ signs, he sees that he’s already flexing his hands - the ones with the nearly two inch claws. Angel simply nods, and advances forward with the dozen-odd Wherren warriors.

(Angel Sneak: 2d8.hi = 8; 1d10 = 3; 1d8 = 7)
(Angel Shoot x2: 1d12 = 12; 1d10 = 7; 1d6 = 3, dead / 1d12 = 8; 1d10 = 4; 1d6 = 4, dead)
(Swims Fight x3: 1d10 = 9; 1d6 = 1, dead / 1d10 = 8; 1d6 = 2, dead / 1d10 = 3; 1d6 = 1, dead)
(Wherren fight: 2d8.hi = 8; 1d6 = 6)

Angel takes up position on a rock with easy sight-lines down the line, while the Wherren go around the back, setting in just above the Taliban position, knives and short spears at the ready. Swims nods to Angel, who then simply looks down the line and puts a bullet through the head of the closest shooter, then the next one down the line.
“Ai!” one of the shooters exclaims, but before any of them can react, a few tons of angry Wherren drop down on them.

Swims-the-Black has waited patiently for this moment - he more than anyone understood the necessity of striking at the right moment - but when it comes, he leaps into it with a roar. His first target never even manages to lift his head off his weapon before Swims wraps a hand around his neck and bashes his head against the rock he’s taking cover behind. Leaving him to drip blood and brain out of his shattered skull, Swims turns to the man next to him, who gets one step further and looks up before his neck is crushed under the mass of Swims-the-Black’s fist.

The man next to him, however, manages to roll away and get to his feet. He pulls a knife and slashes at Swims with a shout, but Swims answers back with a roar, stepping inside of his guard with startling speed and slashes at his chest with a hand’s worth of claws, leaving three deep gashes as some of them find purchase. The man drops the knife in shock, leaving him completely open to Swims simply grabbing him under the arms and tossing him head first off the ledge behind him.

The rest of the Wherren take full advantage of the surprise, stabbing and beating the line of Taliban shooters to death in rapid fashion. Less than a minute after Angel fired his shots, the whole line is dead.


Hunter still has the advantage of concealment as five survivors are pulled out to safety - but not for much longer, it seems, as the smoke starts to thin. In a few more seconds, he’s going to be out in the open and a sitting duck.

(Zaef Climb: 2d10.hi = 9; 1d8 = 5; 1d8 = 8)

Zaef, meanwhile, is scrambling up the vertical cliff as fast as he can. More than one Arena featured artificial climbing surfaces to be negotiated, often while under fire, so this isn’t exactly new to him. A handhold suddenly ripping off in his hands as he puts his full weight on it is new, but he catches himself and keeps climbing.
threadbare 2015-10-03 00:28:35
Hunter repositions to take cover behind a modest-sized rock and set up for suppressive fire. In the heat of action, he's glad to have a body that doesn't give out on him, isn't in danger of cramping up or spasming. The philosophical REMF version of Hunter can ponder the implications, but the older warrior within is simply pleased for a worthy fray and a body to do it in.
CrazyIvan 2015-10-07 03:03:29
Angel takes up a relatively covered position - one not destroyed by their own fire or that of the Taliban - and radios in.

"Ridge is clear. We're ready for extraction whenever you are." He sighs, resting his head on a rock. What a clusterfuck that was.
punkey 2015-10-09 01:34:25
(Naranai’i Suppression: 3d8.hi = 8; 1d6 = 4)

Under the protective cover of another round of suppressing fire from Arketta and the Naranai’i, Luis falls back with the Marines. He trails behind, helping along some stragglers--those still adapting or still weak on regenerating limbs or those worst-hit by the radiation and most disoriented by the regeneration. It’s a hectic run to the bottom of the valley, out of range of the shooters up the ridge, but between the suppressing fire and Luis playing sheepdog, the Marines finally reach it. Luis takes one more count of the scattered groups of Marines, then turns back uphill.

“We’re all clear here,” he says over his vox to Arketta.
“Sending the next quad!” Arketta calls back.

(Naranai’i Suppression: 2d8.hi = 4; 1d6 = 1)

Another volley of suppressing fire goes up, not as much this time, but still more than enough after the withering fire that the Naranai’i have directed towards the ridge. It’s possible the Taliban weren’t psychologically ready for the kind of barrage that can get put up when you only need to reload every thousand shots, because this time they more or less lie down and wait for the volley to be over. This gives the second quad all the covering fire in the world, and they quickly hustle down the valley to join Luis at the bottom.

“Last one!” Arketta calls. “One more, for luck.”
With Evans keeping a handle on things, Luis joins in this time, adding his own beamer fire to the barrage from further up the hill.

(Naranai’i Suppression: 1d8 = 3; 1d6 = 1)

It’s a long way to shoot, but Luis and the two quads down in the valley make it count, keeping their heads down well enough for Arketta’s quad to start making their way down the slope. Luis can see his fiancee at the back, “helping” the last few injured Marines along.
And then his vox keys off of a recognized shape appearing up on the ridge, and his “vision” instantly zooms in to focus on the threat - an RPG-7, pointed at the backside of Arketta’s quad. Before Luis can even call out a warning, the backblast illuminated the whole valley.

(Taliban Shoot: 1d8 = 6; 1d8 = 6)

The rocket slams into the middle of the quad, and Luis - and the rest of the Bashakra’i and the Sheen - can see bodies and body parts fly into the air. In the smoke and dust, Luis can’t tell if Arketta was hit. Luis swears, then activates his vox.

“Arketta! Arketta, come in!” After a moment, he pulls himself together enough to look around at the two quads and the Marines around him, and he ties into the command vox net for all three quads. “I want a full barrage on that ridge,” he says. “Spearbombs and artillery. If we’ve got to go back for stragglers, I want those shooters thinking about what’s coming back at them.”
“Got it!” the Rav-Turai replies.
“We’ve got wounded!” Arketta’s voice calls out over the net.
“Copy! How many? What’s your status?” Luis calls back, failing to keep the relief out of his voice.
“At least four!” Arketta calls back.
Luis scans the battlefield in front of him, trying to see through the dirt and smoke--a challenge even with his eyes’ filters. “Roger. Can you move them? We’re ready to lay down a barrage to cover.”
Luis finally gets eyes on Arketta - and she’s way ahead of him, fireman’s carrying a Marine down the slope. “Working on it!”
Luis points uphill past Arketta. “All units, let’s give them some cover!” he shouts.

(Naranai’i Suppression: 1d8 = 7; 1d8 = 8)
(Taliban Attack: 1d8 = 4; 1d8 = 4 / 2d10.hi = 8; 2d8.hi = 7)
(Arketta Run: 2d10.hi = 7; 2d8.hi = 7)

The Taliban must have shifted positions on you, because even though the volume of fire put uphill could best be described as “withering”, beams still blast downslope towards the fallen soldiers and Arketta. Those unscathed in the attack are now well out in front, leaving her alone, carrying a bleeding man on her shoulders as the beam rifle fire pours down towards her. There’s a heart-stopping moment where Luis sees an impact flash on Arketta’s side - but she keeps moving, hustling down the slope as best she can, eventually coming to a stop just down the line from Luis and laying her injured soldier down. Before Luis can get to her, though, she’s already turned around and headed back up the slope, beamer shouldered.
“Arketta, where are you going?” he calls over a private vox channel.
“There’s three more!” Arketta calls back, not breaking stride.
Luis shakes his head for just a second as he pulls himself up off the line. “Then you’ll need some help.”
“Coordinate fire!” Arketta calls back. “I got this!”
“You’re being insane!” Luis says. “We’re going to do this in one shot.” Over the command channel, he tells the Rav-Turai, “Keep up the fire, we’re getting the last of the injured out,” then follows Arketta.

(Naranai’i Suppression: 1d8 = 4; 1d8 = 6)
(Taliban Attack: 1d8 = 3; 1d8 = 8)

The volume of fire coming down from above only grows in intensity as Luis vaults up out of cover, and it’s only because he’s hustling as fast as he can between cover that he stays unscathed. Over one-hundred meters of rushing later, he crashes into cover next to Arketta, whose helm turns to look at him as she pulls a groaning man, tourniquet around his stump of a left arm, over her shoulder.
“You shouldn’t be here!” Arketta shouts.
“Neither should you!” Luis shouts back. “So let’s get these guys clear and both get clear.”
Arketta stares at him for a moment - it’s hard to tell if she’s resisting the urge to say something touching, or curse a blue streak at him. She does neither, and simply lifts her Marine onto her shoulders. Luis moves to assist another injured soldier, and gets ready to move.

(Naranai’i Suppression: 1d8 = 6; 1d8 = 8)
(Taliban Attack: 1d8 = 1; 1d8 = 2)

Luis and Arketta start back down the slope, and as the Naranai’i covering fire starts up again, so does the Taliban fire. Luis and Arketta’s return trip down the slope is considerably less graceful than the trip up - the volume of fire and the two-hundred-odd pounds on each of their shoulders conspires to make their journey down the slope less “tactical approach” and more “barely controlled headlong rush”. Still, both of them make it back in one piece.

Arketta lays her soldier down, turns back around and runs up the slope one more time. Luis follows, as much to make sure she comes back down as to help get the last injured out.

(Naranai’i Suppression: 1d8 = 3; 1d8 = 5)
(Taliban Attack: 1d8 = 1; 1d8 = 4)

And once more, through a barrage of beams, Luis and Arketta hustle their way up the slope. Arketta had already stabilized the last Marine, and simply bends down to pick him up while Luis covers her. The two of them head back down slope, Arketta in the lead and Luis covering the rear.

(Naranai’i Suppression: 1d8 = 7; 1d8 = 6)

Finally, the Naranai’i get a bead on the Taliban positions, and manage to drive them into cover just long enough for Luis and Arketta to get back to the rest of what remains of the company. It’s a frantic rush back to cover, with Luis trying to do his best to make sure Arketta and the wounded Marine get back, even if that just means he takes a shot instead. Fortunately, that doesn’t prove necessary, and they make it back to the lines at the bottom of the hill. Once they get to the bottom, Luis turns to Arketta.
“Okay, one of us needs to lead here, and one of us is the medic,” Luis says. “You got them here, take over command. Let me worry about the wounded.”
Arketta pauses over the man’s form for just a moment. “He needs a kauka,” she says. “And we need to get moving. Heal them, so we can go.”
“On it,” Luis says. “You go organize the move.” As Arketta gets to that, Luis gets to work.
Arketta looks up the slope. “Looks like they’re hanging back,” she calls out over the wider vox net. “Stay alert, we’re moving back to the vehicles as soon as we are able.”

As Luis monitors the four Marines and their rapidly regenerating limbs, he feels a tap on his shoulder, and turns to see Sergeant Evans. “’You and the alien woman - you saved our lives tonight.’” He sticks out a hand. “’And I’m going to make sure you both get the fucking Medal of Honor or some shit for it.’
Luis takes the hand and shakes it. “’It needed to be done. Thank me once we get everyone back to base and we make sure your unit’s all okay.’
’Fair enough,’” Evans says, and returns to his spot on the line. Luis watches him go for just a moment, and then turns back to getting the regenerating Marines ready to move.
punkey 2015-10-09 01:40:16
’Blue 7, come in, this is Blue 2 requesting orders,’” Gray radios. “’Blue 2 to everyone on this channel, does anyone copy? Over.’
“Perfect,” Danielsson mutters to himself.
’Blue 2 to all stations,’” Gray tries again. “’Does anyone copy? Please acknowledge.’” It looks out into the night, and its accelerators whine again as they warm up for the next round. “’Over.’
’Blue 2 this is...shit, Blue something!’” a considerably younger voice than expected replies over the net. “’They’re all dead! Sergeant, Lieutenant Garrard, all of them!’
’Read you Lima Charlie, Blue Something,’” Gray says, somehow sounding utterly serious. “’What is your current situation?’
’I don’t know!’” the young man shouts. “’We were in the cave, and there was this box and some weird shit, we were told to pull back a ways while they deactivated it, and then there was this bright flash and they were...they were...’” Gray and the rest of the squad are treated to the sound of someone vomiting over an open mic. “’They were fucked up, man, and I don’t feel so good. The robots and aliens and shit all pulled back so they're okay but they’re aliens and robots and shit and are too busy keeping the fucking aliens with ray guns off our backs! Sergeant - I think you’re the only one left, you’re the only one that’s called in so far.’” There’s another wonderful pause while the voice on the other end pukes again. “’What...what are your orders?’
It takes Gray several milliseconds to pull together the data on the strike teams and their planned points of entry, then correlate that with squad composition to determine that Blue Something is most likely Blue Three, then calculate the shortest route to a rendezvous point. “’Blue 2 to all Blue units - to everyone who can hear me - your orders are to take your squads and fall back to rendezvous site Charlie as briefed. We will link up with you there and make it to the exfil point together.’” At this stage, the temptation to tell the Narsai’i soldier that one of those alien robots is saving his bacon is strong, but Gray figures that rubbing that in the face of a dying man is not a good idea. “’Blue 2 to Blue Something - keep it together,’” he says instead. “’We’re coming. Over.’
punkey 2015-10-11 10:55:11
”Good shooting,” Swims-the-Black grunts, slapping a blood-stained hand on Angel’s shoulder. He turns to the Wherren. ”Sweep and clear the area, roll and search the bodies - but look out for any more traps.”
”Yes, Swims-the-Black,” the closest Wherren grunt his way.
“Hey, Samal, what are your orders?” the Rav-Tura down below calls up, her boot kicking at a dead Taliban down below. “The Narsai’i are ready to be transported to the vehicles.”


Zaef mantles the last part of the ridge, jumps to his feet, and rushes straight at the line of a couple dozen Taliban, knives drawn.

(Zaef Attack: 1d10 = 2; 1d8 = 1; 1d6 = 3, 3 WD Spent, 1d6 = 5 / 1d10 = 1; 1d8 = 8; 1d6 = 3)

There’s a problem with throwing caution to the wind - and that’s sometimes a bit of caution would keep your dumb ass out of trouble. The noise of Zaef’s footsteps over the rough ground somehow manage to catch the attention of the closest attacker to him. He turns Zaef’s way and throws up his rifle just in time to block the blow heading for his throat with a shout. The force of the blow still staggers him back, and Zaef takes advantage of him being off balance for a foot-sweep that topples him head-over-heels over the ledge behind him. The image of his buddy falling off the cliff right in front of him gets the attention of the man next to him on the line just in time for Zaef’s blade to stab up to the hilt in the top of his head.

“Fuck!” the Rav-Turai behind him cries as he pulls himself up. “Get up here and provide cover!”
And that was the cue for the other Taliban up on the ridge to realize that there is a very angry man with knives up there trying to cut them to ribbons. Four of them rolled or jumped up, and turned their weapons on Zaef.

(Taliban Shoot, melee range: 1d6 = 5; 2d10.hi = 9; 1d8 = 1 / 1d6 = 2; 2d10.hi = 4; 1d8 = 2 / 1d6 = 5; 2d10.hi = 9; 1d8 = 5 / 1d6 = 2; 2d10.hi = 10; 1d8 = 6)

Zaef ducked and spun to the side, dodging underneath the first beamer shot and getting splashed with molten sand as the second impacted the ground at his feet. He skips standing upright and springs into a sideways midair roll, landing behind cover as shots three and four miss underneath him and impact his cover in turn.

Down below, all Hunter knows is that just in time for the smoke to clear, all the fire coming down from above cease. “Grab them up!” the Samal calls out. “Rav-Samal!” he calls to Hunter, still set up to fire up above. “What do we do now? You want us to get them into the cave?”
threadbare 2015-10-15 15:03:19
Hunter isn't sure what's going on up top, but he knows that the cave would make a good place to regroup until the situation's more known.

"We'll regroup on the cave! Get 'em inside, heal who you can. By then we should have cleared up up top. I'll cover you." Hunter lets off a short rip of keep-their-heads down fire, more as a gesture of still-here than anything else, before being the last one into the cave.
skullandscythe 2015-10-17 22:37:52
"Gator, give me an ETA on those Taliban reinforcements!" Zaef shouts into his vox to be heard over the beamer fire, chopping, and screaming. "Figured they'd be here by now..."

Deciding he should press the advantage instead of wondering how he got it, Zaef clenches his blades, lets out a death breath, then leaps back into the fray.
punkey 2015-10-25 23:24:03
(Zaef Attack: 1d10 = 9; 1d8 = 3; 1d6 = 5 / 1d10 = 4; 1d8 = 1; 1d6 = 1
Bashakra'i Shoot: 2d8 = 5; 1d6 = 2 / 2d8 = 6; 1d6 = 3 / 2d8 = 10; 1d6 = 3)

The rest of the fight is blessedly short once the Bashakra'i start to climb up the cliff behind him. Zaef manages to jam his blades into the neck of one and the eye of another poor unfortunate before the beamers start firing off towards the Taliban. The remainder drop in short order, and the Bashakra'i take up position on the ridge.
"Mr. Utari!" one of the Turai calls out. "Got reinforcements, looks like they're about two minutes out!"
"We can make that a lot longer," the Rav-Turai replies with a mischievous tone.
skullandscythe 2015-10-27 16:59:52
Hunter's vox channel crackles to life.

"Hunter, we've eliminated the shooters on the ridge," Zaef states briskly. "but their reinforcements are a couple minutes away. What's the status on the wounded? Do you require assistance?"
threadbare 2015-11-02 18:35:17
"We're going to regroup and triage in the cave, see what we've got. If it's walking wounded, we're going to pull everyone back to better shelter. From what it sounds like, we have a window of a few minutes, and we'll take it if it's practical. The assistance we need is y'all holding the ridge and keeping them from putting fire on us as we're evacuating. If it's more serious than that..." Hunter pauses, weighing his words. "We'll figure it out. I'll give you a sitrep in about a minute."
skullandscythe 2015-11-02 21:14:16
"Copy that, Hunter. Zaef out."

To the Turai accompanying him, Zaef says "Alright, we're taking these fuckheads out. Lie in stealth; let them approach. We hit the backlines with spearbombs once they're in range, and light up the rest from cover. If we can't spread out on the approach to this ridge, then we take up positions here. They will not take this ridge."
punkey 2015-11-03 22:02:50
"Copy that, Sir," the Rav-Turai replies. "Spearbombs ready, I want them dropped at 150 meters on the dot!"
"Yes, Rav-Samal!" the Turai reply, the Wherren and Sheen echoing along.
"Accelerators loaded for airburst," the lead Sheen says. "You keep their heads down, we'll do the rest."
"Sounds fucking perfect," the Rav-Turai says, and slaps the Wherren next to him that gravitated towards the leader role. "Can your people flank?"
"I think so," she grunts.
"Good," the Rav-Turai replies. "Let's do it."


(Turai Spearbombs: 2d8.hi = 8; 1d8 = 6 / Sheen Shoot: 2d8.hi = 5; 1d8 = 1 / Wherren Sneak: 1d10 = 9; 1d6 = 3, Wherren Shoot: 2d8.hi = 5; 1d6 = 1)

The best that can be said for what happens to the Taliban reinforcements is that it's over quickly. Night fighting has never been their strong suit, given the coalition forces' use of night vision, and that was with the primitive Narsai'i version. For the Turai and Sheen, things are like the sun never set, and that means that when the Taliban close in, it's beyond easy for them to land spearbombs at the rear of their formations in one mass. A chain of rattling explosions shakes the ridgeline, but the Taliban keep pressing forward. That changes once the Sheen open up, their accelerator rounds bursting above their heads in a rain of hypervelocity shrapnel. What few manage to survive the attack are easy prey for the Wherren beamers, and less than five minutes after the attack has begun, the Wherren wave an all clear from the site of the advance.

"We're all clear, Sir," the Rav-Turai says with a grin.


Down below, Hunter's got a hell of a mess on his hands. Most of the Narsai'i are fucked up - but not because of beamer shots. Sadly, the number of dead far outnumber the number of wounded with such easy-to-treat injuries (what with all the kaukas that the Turai have on hand), but the larger problem is that at least 50 of the soldiers have what Hunter recognizes from his WMD training as radiation sickness, and severe cases of it at that. At least half of them are already puking up blood, their faces sunken and hollow, and look like they won't make it to the trucks, let alone to medical aid. The Turai with him do what they can, but...it's looking pretty ugly. Hale stands at Hunter's side, but the Rav-Turai looks even more conflicted than Hunter, like he's had to make this choice before and didn't like how it turned out.
threadbare 2015-11-09 01:16:18
"Hale," Hunter turns to the former Turai. "You have experience with kauka and radiation exposure. What would you advise?"

Hunter's first instinct is to not use it. He knows Marines signed up to face death, but they never agreed to have part of their selves scraped away and replaced with something else. But he doesn't know how drastic the change might be, which is why he's asking for an informed opinion.