Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-10-26 14:21:58
"I can bring different pants to the party if need be," Front Toward Enemy interjects. "It'll scale up the total gear I need, though. And I don't regenerate like you folks and your magic donuts. On the upside, I'm just a refit away from all better if I take one for the team."

FTE pauses a beat, then continues. "Fact is, we're helping you out already, working with your ground troops and boosting your ELINT. This is how we can help you out here, in 815."
punkey 2016-10-27 11:38:40
"That is...a very good point," Garrett says, sounding a little surprised at such a diplomatic and tactful argument. "You have my vote, Front Toward Enemy."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-11-03 09:48:12
"All right," Front Toward Enemy says. "Thanks."

Consensus at last. In the cycles during the team's audio output, FTE had been wondering if the current incarnation of Westworld had been greenlit because of the Sheen's arrival.

"What next?" it asks excitedly.
punkey 2016-11-03 14:26:54
"Next?" Garrett asks. "How do you feel about patrols into occupied territory?"


The Marine captain wasn't exactly pleased to have Arlana tell him where to get off, but another reinforcement of her authority from General Cooper smooths that out in a hurry. He still tags along, but at the rear of the convoy while Arlana's skimmer sits right behind the lead in the commander's slot. That leaves Luis and Arketta at the very front - and Front Toward Enemy, being a last minute addition, sprawled out in the bed, Turai profile ruined by dendritic solar collectors soaking in the morning sun. Arlana had kept her maternal nagging to a minimum on the drive to the defensive line, but when the convoy crossed into enemy territory, she went all business.

Which is a good thing - after ten miles or so of flat terrain and easy driving, the road starts to wind its way up towards the mountains, running along the side of an increasingly steep valley. The drop to the valley floor is maybe no more than 100 feet, but that 100 feet seems further and further away as things steepen. Finally, the vehicles mount onto the plateau they had staged on - and subsequently abandoned.

"Got nothing up here," Grievous Bodily Harm says from its observation shell overhead. "Gonna break off in case they got spearbombs - we're beyond server range here. Good luck."
"Copy," Arlana says over the patrol channel, then addresses Luis in the lead. "Akwhela 1, keep it slow but keep moving."


MRAPs and 5 ton trucks roll to a stop at the village, giving Zaef, Kitty, and the 81X team the opportunity to disgorge themselves from their vehicles and escape from Caleb's...colorful stories.
Kitty gives Zaef a peck on the cheek. "I have to help my team set up," she says. "You just focus on what you do best - looking good and keeping us safe."
Before Zaef can reply, he sees someone in full Turai - Imperial, not Bashakra'i - carapace jump out of the back of one of the 5 ton trucks. "Let's get this shit unloaded!" he shouts. "Quad Aeliph, I want this equipment unloaded and set up in 15 minutes!" He flips his helm's visor's up - it's Rav-Turai Sexton Hale.


Turns out that there's an advantage to being draped in thousands of lats of Imperial tech 24/7 - as thoroughly as the terror cell searched him, they missed, by Angel's count: his vox, his holodisplay, his sunglasses, his secondary vox, and the trackers built into his pants, shirt, and shoes. All of which, even in the absence of a proper Cortex, track Angel's movements and position well enough that he lead Garrett right back to the garage where the Imperial arms were being kept.

And as well-populated as it seemed on the inside, the outside makes things even more complicated: it's an arms dealing hidden bazaar. From their position on a nearby rooftop, Angel and Garrett can see racks of assault rifles, crates of RPG-7 rounds, boxes of grenades, even a few smuggled or stolen pieces of modern hardware and machine guns.
"Seems like getting to the front door might actually be the hard part," Garrett says.
"And we can't just blow them all up because..." Ngawai says, back on the FOB and cooing gently to Naloni in between scanning their visual feeds.
"Might be a bit too volatile, even for me," Garrett replies. "We've got a lot of foot traffic outside the fence, and there's civilians living on the three other sides."


Swims-the-Black leads the way into the hab module Hug’sh and Rodirr share. ”I swear, the Sambasan clearance documents were better written than these insipid Narsai’i missives and forms,” he grunts with an orange wave. ”If this is what being Chief entails, I’m quite happy to stay a Shipmaster, thank you.”
”If it’s any consolation, Swims-the-Black, they don’t make much sense to me either,” Hug’sh replies semi-diplomatically as he follows into the room. Rodirr was already getting up from his chair when Swims came in; when Hug’sh enters, Rodirr embraces and grooms him - both a sop against further hormonal instability and an expression of concern for his friend. ”Rodirr,” Hug’sh says, unable to stop a slight reflexive purr at the comforting motion.
”How do you feel?” Rodirr asks.
”Fine,” Hug’sh replies quickly. ”I’m fine.”
”Rodirr,” Swims-the-Black grunts. ”I don’t think we’ve had a chance to really meet.”
Rodirr lets Hug’sh go and gives a respectful bow. ”Your reputation proceeds you, Swims-the-Black. I heard about the smuggler Shipmaster Wherren on Antalu Prime - apparently, the Aikoro lockdown wasn’t the first time you’d escaped a Needleship blockade.”
Swims chuffs as green overtakes him. ”It was easier the first time - scrambled sensors mean you just need to find a big enough ship to hide behind before you make a break for the outsystem gate.”
”It is an honor,” Rodirr says.
”Please, sit,” Swims motions. ”We have a lot more to talk about than the adventures of an old Shipmaster.”
Hug’sh gives Rodirr a clap on the shoulder - still too weird to groom him back in public - and pulls out a chair for Swims to sit, then for himself.
”So, what have the Narsai’i said about this ultimatum?” Rodirr asks.
”To us, not terribly much,” Hug’sh says. ”They were too busy trying to negotiate separately with the Sheen and the Bashakra’i behind our backs. We put an end to it, but that was not a very fun conversation to have.” He brushes a little red out of his fur. ”The ultimatum stands. What’s important is that we do not waver.”
”Agreed,” Rodirr says. ”Samal Quis - the elder, I mean - has contacted us for patrol rosters, and I have a list that I want out on the first patrols -”

Three loud knocks sound at the door. “’General Walks-the-Fire, this is the MPs, open the door,’” an officious voice bellows from outside.
e of pi 2016-11-09 11:47:49
Luis shakes his head. "No cloak on this, and we'd look silly rolling up in an empty truck. If we want to use cloak, we'd have to approach on foot." He pauses. "Can you cloak and still keep up with the convoy?"
skullandscythe 2016-11-10 14:18:07
" 'Looking good?' So I'm just an ornament to you?" Zaef replies grinning to Kitty.

And then the orders start getting shouted out. Zaef walks over to the Rav-Turai. "Good to see you, Hale. Thought you were still back at the base."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-11-15 18:07:31
FTE engages its active camouflage, blurring into the background of beige and sand as it clambers out of the truck. Ambulators reconfigure, plates dividing and shifting into springy, grippy pads. Front Toward Enemy lopes along with the convoy, together yet separate.
CrazyIvan 2016-11-16 21:58:39
Angel looks thoughtfully at the building, trying to remember the inside.

"So we get them to come out. Place like that, all those shitty aftermarket explosives...I bet they get really nervous around unexpected smoke."
punkey 2016-11-22 15:18:48
"Good to see you as well, Mr. Utari - Zaef," Hale corrects himself. "Since Mr. Brand isn't in the field anymore, I figured I could help the 815 secure Ms. Cavanaugh's work." He thoroughly mangles Kitty's last name. "That won't be a problem, will it?" He nods to the 81X team, Caleb and Jimmy already walking the perimeter and scouting for vantage points while Marta rolls out her knowledge of Pashto dialects to get the villagers on board. "Seems you've got plenty of help already."


"Real fire, or something a little less likely to reduce our evidence to a smoking crater?" Garrett asks.
"It would get rid of the chamakanas very nicely, though," Ngawai reminds him through the vox link.


While Luis and Arketta rumble along the road, Front Toward Enemy scales a sheer sandstone face and leaps along from perch to perch, loping from rock to rock as its legs telescope to absorb the shock. There's not a whole lot to see down in the valley, but in the distance, there's something going on.

1d8 = 8; 1d10 = 8; 1d8 = 3

Sensors jitter in their sconces to focus and resolve the group of humans a mile or so distant, standing around a bunch of small mammals eating plants from the ground and carrying Narsai'i projectile weapons. Pretty boring - until the bigger grey mammal - a donkey, apparently - turns to the side and reveals a pack of RPG-7 rounds strapped to its side. There's no one else around that he sees - probably just advance scouts. There's a way around them, deeper into the valley, but the road looks even worse than the one they're currently on, and narrower.


Hug’sh murrs with a drawn-in breath, a wave of faint orange washing over him. ”Excuse me, my friends,” he says, rises from the table and schleps over to the door, making sure to stand straight behind the too-low door frame to convey the right kind of impression of his size. Then, he pulls the door open and looks down at the MPs, favoring them with a sharp breath.
The MPs all take a very surprised step back, and almost all of them reach for their sidearms.
’Wud yoo want?’” Hug’sh says, putting an extra bit of breath in his labored approximation of English.
’We have reason to believe that stolen Bashakran technology has been hidden in here,’” the Narsai’i in charge of the group says. “’Stand aside and let us do our jobs.’
Hug’sh stretches a hand out back, a well-practiced sign to Rodirr that he needs his notebook. Writing utensils in hand, Hug’sh scribbles out a note. Stolen Bashakra’i items are a matter for the Bashakra’i. Call their liason officer to observe or we will.
’They will be informed of whatever we find,’” the MP says, and tries to step past Hug’sh into the hab.
It’s not difficult for Hug’sh to shift weight into the MP’s way, and by bowing down to get to face level with him, Hug’sh almost entirely blocks the doorway. He snorts into the MP’s face, which is apparently the right time for the other soldiers to draw their sidearms. Hug’sh stares down their leader before letting his gaze sweep the others. “’Stand back,’” he says. “’No hurd now. No hurd want.’
’Sir, if you do not stand aside, we will use force to enter,’” the MP says. “’This is a lawful search of US military property. Stand aside.’
’Lawful,’” Hug’sh repeats with another snort, but it’s clear that these guys believe they can’t back down - and the last thing he needs is for anyone to get too nervous, pull the trigger and start an intergalactic “misunderstanding”. Accordingly, he takes a step back and turns out of the way, swiveling his head towards Rodirr and Swims. ”Set your voxes to record,” he tells them, ”and keep your eyes on them.”
Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-11-22 15:27:13
"Hey team," Front Toward Enemy sends along with the last fifteen seconds or so of its sensor input. "How often do RPG-7 rounds have issues with premature detonation?"

It sights down an accelerator guncam at the hapless donkey. "I swear, baby, this has never happened before," it quips in mocking sing-song audio. "If it's NBD we can keep driving through some salsa, but if it's suspicious we're gonna have to take that shitty road I forwarded to your voxes."
skullandscythe 2016-11-23 23:58:56
"Few more hands are always helpful. Coordinate with the scientists to get everything unloaded for now. How many of your Turai speak Pashto?"
punkey 2016-11-24 14:33:40
Hale gives Zaef a confused look. "Don't know what language that is - some kind of Narsai'i dialect?" He switches to English. "'Is it like this?'"
skullandscythe 2016-11-28 13:31:02
Zaef frowns. "That's English. I'm guessing that the rest of your squad won't know Pashto either, which is bad, because that's what the locals speak. My group can at least speak some, so I can attach a couple members of my quad to your group, in case you need a translator."

Given the way Marta's chatting with the villagers, Zaef figures he's probably the least fluent out of his whole group...well, unless Loudmouth's Pashto is anything like his Imperial.
e of pi 2016-11-29 19:45:14
"I've heard of some eccentric hunting clubs, but RPGs are a bit much outside of Texas. I'm inclined to say blow them, and see what happens," Luis says.
CrazyIvan 2016-11-30 02:19:49
Angel sighs. "The fake kind. Or at the very least, the 'holy shit that's a lot of smoke for relatively little actual flame' kind. If we wanted an off the books crater, I'm pretty sure every person here has their own personal favorite method. But I was more thinking in the realm of High School hijinks."

"Followed by gunfire."

Angel's voice suddenly sounds worried over the vox. "You did get into hijinks in High School, didn't you Garret? Might have to discontinue our long and productive friendship if you didn't."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-11-30 10:51:11
Front Toward Enemy might have already been creeping forward anyway, its camouflage just another waver in the heat shimmer, when Luis' reply makes it feel pretty damn good about how well its day had been going so far.

"Roger that, smooth sailing in 5." The Sheen's a lot closer now - there's noone there to show off for - and its accelerator pings a good tone as it finds the pack of RPG rounds again. Nay, not a good tone - the best tone. It's the best tone in the world, and this was the best job in the world.

Front Toward Enemy wonders if he'll get donkey on him at this range, and pulls the trigger.