Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey 2019-03-12 02:00:54
"Then let's get you a date with a cogitator," Hale says, navigating his crate towards the work shelter.

Hale and FTE maneuver their crates under the shelter as a dozen or so Turai are working on a line of parked Mantas in various stages of disassembly underneath an extended metal awning. The cover is obviously designed to collapse and expand to match what size is needed, and this one is all the way out. Off to one side are a series of hard case crates with cables running to the roof - those would be the cogitators. Problem is, they're just...kind of out there in the open, and not hidden behind anything. Less than ideal.

"So, what's the play, lover-bot?" Hale asks.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2019-03-12 02:14:31
"Performance anxiety," FTE says, indicating the Turai. "Why don't we position these crates over... here" - it adds, sliding its crate to block easy view of the cogitator stack - "and I'll start coaxing the tux off my prom date." It bends down behind the crates and pulls a cable from under the shell's helmet. The end frays into a multitude of questing, hungry feelers before finding the standard vox-jack and writhing inside. Front Toward Enemy looks like nothing so much as a big chrome doctor checking someone with a stethoscope, or perhaps a jogger bending down to tie their shoes, earbuds plugged into an oversized crop of smartphones.
punkey 2019-03-12 09:31:29
(FTE Hide vs. Turai Notice: 1d8 vs. 1d6 = 6 vs. 5)

"I have no idea what a 'prom' or 'tux' are," Hale replies as he keeps a lookout, as the stack of crates is just short enough to not give a Turai cover to crouch down behind them and remain unseen. Fortunately, FTE is only a Sheen in a shell that looks like a Turai. Its legs slide up its torso just enough to lower the shell down to where its robutt is touching the ground and cranes its head over to an angle that would clearly be deeply uncomfortable even as broken necks go, but it's now entirely hidden by the crates as the interface jack clicks into the cogitator.

And just like that, FTE's mind expands to encompass the base's dispatching and maintenance system. Obviously not the most high-priority of systems, not even rudimentary security internally, but it definitely feels a much stronger security system off in the direction of a bidirectional data uplink, probably the Turai's operations center. Still, this is enough to have tasking and status of the First's fleet on Narsai, and big sigh of relief number one - none of them are exoatmospheric. The system doesn't even have entries for the bulk freighters required to haul a orbital Gatekeg up to space, so that's a big sign that there's probably no orbital under construction. Most of the Mantas are tasked out to various locations close to the borders of China; forward operating posts for the Rah'pah systems, most likely, but there's eight that are in cities - five of them are marked similarly to the border FOB taskings, meaning they're likely supporting Rah'pah as well, but three of them departed a few days ago and have bounced all around Shanghai and Beijing. What could those be?
e of pi 2019-03-13 02:47:40
"The First is always where things get hot, Turai," Luis says, trying to project confidence. "You'll be ready for it, we're just here to find out if the Narsai'i have any tricks up their sleeve. I'm sure there's nothing here we can't handle once we get a read on what they can throw at us. Fusion drones though...those could be nasty if you're not ready. Did the Rah’pahs have any trouble taking care of them ?"
punkey 2019-03-16 02:05:33
"You'll have to talk to operations, Rav-Turai," Magreol says. "I'm just a lowly supply specialist. If it doesn't pass through this building, they don't let me know about it."
skullandscythe 2019-03-17 21:58:23
Zaef makes an exasperated noise. A few hours is not very good turn-around, and frankly Zaef wants to be on the next Gate out of here.

"I can't help speed that up in any way? I've helped service a Manta before - rather do that than catch an earful from the Samal."
punkey 2019-03-18 12:30:44
Johnan grunts in annoyance, but drops two fist-sized couplers on the counter. "Grease these up, then we'll talk."

(Zaef Repair: 2d8 vs. 1d6 = 7 vs. 5)

Electoconductive grease serves many functions in ships - the nano-scale variations in surface that provide the nearly infinitely variable conductivity gradients across their surfaces also require a medium to ensure optimal connection, a function that the silvery paste fulfills very nicely. It also serves as heat transfer medium, siphoning off heat into the conduit surrounding the joint, shock absorber, and vacuum sealant. At least, it normally does - in what is obvious schmuck bait, the salty maintenance Rav-Turai has dropped two dissimilar couplers in front of Zaef. If you didn't know your ass from a impeller feed, you'd miss it, but while Zaef might not have memorized the Manta maintenance holos, he's turned a spanner a time or two.

----

Garrett throws in a short sign of the Akwhela. "Where were the impact sites?"
Odun Iawrosa cracks a little smile. "Very good," she says. "The first question I asked after our allies stopped cheering the fireworks." She walks to a smaller holodisplay and quickly reconfigures it to show a topo-map of the northern Chinese-Russian border, in faux color overlays that show both debris fields and the radiation dispersed by the destroyed warheads in the wind. "Most of them are on the other side of the border - not that the Narsai'i are eager to approach the fire arcs of our Rah'pahs and come collect the debris. A few came down within the perimeter in a whole lot of nothing. Thank the Masters for that. Our outposts are safe."

"What are these?" Ngawai asks, standing by the "China" portion of the big holo and pointing at a string of impacts around the border, especially the southeast portion.
"Civilians," Iawrosa says, the smile disappearing just as fast. "The Narsai'i flying machines are not very fast. It would have cost them nothing to give five or even ten minutes warning before activating the perimeter. But our Narsai'i 'partners' wanted a show, and Vidas Lam they got one." It's clear only military decorum is keeping her from spitting on the ground. "These people are capable of anything, Rav-Turai. They lack the technology and the strategic thought...but they also lack scruples." She turns back to the big globe. "Just what the Bashakra'i terrorists need to swell their ranks."
Angel's fist tightens. "How many dead?" he growls through the helm.
"If the reported manifests, there are a total of 1670 people missing, presumed dead," Iawrosa says. "If even three of them survived, I would call it a miracle. Right now, the only word for it is slaughter."

Angel's hand twitches - a twitch that Ngawai and Garrett both recognize and tense up in anticipation - but he draws in a deep breath and holds it before stomping out out of the room.
"My reaction exactly," Iawrosa says. "But they are our allies, I am told, and the Emperor's First brings the Emperor's peace in any way that the Throne wills it. If it is handing our finest defensive weapons to these barbarians and watching them kill each other with them, then that is what we are going to do - until we get new orders."
"So, we are here to sample the debris of...ineffective drones and pick though the debris of civilian transports?" Garrett asks.
"Yes, you are," Iawrosa says. "And you will do a First-damned great job of it. I already have too many Turai who think the Rah'pah have won the battle for them. But I look at the Narsai'i across the border and I see that they are still dangerous. If not to us or our allies, then to this very planet. Narsai is an Imperial protectorate and our homeworld, and I intend to treat it as such. If we are to end this war and leave Narsai as intact as possible, it will be on a foundation of discipline and knowledge of our enemy, not with laziness and arrogance. Don't you agree, Samal?"

"Couldn't agree more, Odun," Garrett says, his jaw tight behind the helm. He motions to the smaller display. "May I?"
"You're welcome to the atmospheric data we have," Iawrosa says, stepping aside. "Make sure you keep carapace sealed up at the crash sites. You don't want any of that particulate in your system. I'll have decon set up for you when you return."
"Thank you, Odun," Garrett replies, and flicks the display open. Iawrosa hasn't given him the crown jewels, but maybe he can at least find out how many Turai there are out there.

(Garrett Wits: 2d10 vs. 2d8 = 10 vs. 7)

Okay, well, atmospheric data and logs aren't exactly the treasure trove Garrett was hoping for, but it's at least a start. He flicks open the data records and - Vidas fucking Lam that's a lot of data. Thousands of points of atmo data from all over the territory, each reported daily at exactly regimented time stamps. It looks to Garrett to be some kind of automated process, but from where? He picks a file at random and opens it up: particulate measurements, oxygen, nitrogen compounds, hydrocarbon, exotic and radioactive elements, toxin screens, and a unique ID code that seems to be date, time, location and...is that a quad ID? 4/50 of the 2nd Division of the Third of the Emperor's First - well Masters smite Garrett on the spot, it's a quad ID.

A few furious waggles of his fingers later, and Garrett has the whole batch of data sorted by quad, then collapsed down under each quad, and finally mapped to the geographic coordinates attached to each log. It won't be 100% accurate based on some quads being short-handed or other quads not having to report atmo data, but based on this, there's...just over 6,500 Imperial Turai Narsai'i-side. They're mostly spread out around the borders, but there's at least a few quads in every city over 50k people, and what looks like a couple hundred in Beijing. Any idea of stopping this invasion before it starts is over - the invasion has not only already begun, it's finished. The Imperium has come to Narsai.