Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

CrazyIvan 2017-01-08 05:12:28
Angel nods, giving Ngawai a long suffering sigh. "He's a spook sweetheart. Somehow they're never around when the check comes. In their genes or something." He shrugs. "But what are rich friends for? Lets go win some hearts and minds by going shopping, before we blow some stuff up."
punkey 2017-01-12 01:04:39
“It’s part of our SERE training,” Garrett replies.
Ngawai sighs, and Angel can hear her roll her eyes. “I’ll be here at the base. Garrett, don’t you dare start the fun without us.”
“I promise to leave plenty of bad guys for everyone,” Garrett says as he shifts an active camo sheet over himself and clicks the button to turn it on, instantly turning into an unremarkable patch of roof.
Angel sighs and leaps off the perch to sneak back to Garrett and Ngawai's stolen van.


“Good!” Arlana calls out over the vox link. “Luis, hit it!”

The convoy rumbles to life as the HMMWVs hit the gas and bursts up out of the valley, onto the slightly flatter plateau leading towards the infamous mountain range where this stalemate all started. The village, perched a mile beyond the still-smoldering corpses of the three lookouts and their unfortunate donkey, remains out of FTE’s easy sight range as the HMMWVs pass roughly where the lookouts were positioned. Luis, Arketta, and Arlana all hold their breath as they reach the lookout point - as would FTE if it breathed - but nothing happens.
“Both vehicles are armed!” Arketta shouts. “Large machine guns! Narsai’i weapons!” When she repeats her message in Narsai’i, the soldiers rack their own weapons and take aim.
“Wait!” Arlana shouts. “Are they hostile?”
“They’re not stopping, and those weapons are definitely pointed at us!” Arketta calls back.
“Warning shots!” Arlana calls out.
“Warning shots!” Arketta echoes to her gunner, who fires a five round burst into the dirt in front of them - a line they promptly drive over.

“Looks like they mean business!” Arketta calls back.


Hale hustles over, a defense drone with twin-linked stingers hovering behind him. “You called, Zaef?”
“Yeah, we’re trying to figure out sectors of fire,” Jimmy says. “I was thinking two trins up top, both to protect this sector and with our heavy weapons for maximum coverage down slope, position a trin on the upper end of each side, and set up for defense in depth from below with two more trins taking each point and our last two set up a bit further into the village.”
Hale nods. “I agree, but with one change - chamakana do not have as much range as your Narsai’i weapons, so we should pull our Turai into the village slightly for better cover and to allow them to let any attacking force get closer in before we engage them.”
“Risky, and makes casualties a real problem,” Jimmy replies.
“That’s what kauka are for,” Hale says. “Turai can take the pain. We train to fight up close and in cities and villages.”
“And defending the geeks?” Jimmy asks.
“Close ranks, put them in a building, and hold the line until skimmers arrive for rescue - then push out and kill them all,” Hale says.
Jimmy gives an appreciative nod to that. “Still risky. I’d want to clear a larger zone, set up fire positions outside the village for maximum coverage. What do you think, Zaef?” Jimmy asks.
e of pi 2017-01-12 21:58:24
"Let's get ready to show them what we mean by business, then," Luis says. He squints an eye, and his overlay starts a counter tracking the distance to the trucks.
skullandscythe 2017-01-15 16:03:22
"Maximum coverage," Zaef replies. "We need to avoid exposing the civilians to danger if we can, and we can't count on speedy skimmers out here. We should take these into account as well," here Zaef gestures towards Hale's floating gun turret, "They're the closest thing we've got to air support. Can we use that to our advantage, maybe as a response team?"
punkey 2017-01-25 22:18:39
300 meters, Luis' vision indicates.
"How close before we start shooting?" Arketta asks.
"100 meters!" Arlana shouts back. "Not a moment sooner!"
At the speed of thought, a 100 meter red line reflexively appears in Luis' vision. 200 meters.
"Why the fuck aren't we shooting?'" the Narsai'i commander bellows over his radio.
"'They are not shooting!'" Arlana barks back in her best "I'm under a lot of pressure" Narsai'i.

As if on cue, one of the machine guns on the back of the pickup trucks opens fire.

2d6.hi = 5; 1d8 = 6

The gunner only succeeds in shattering a few rocks and kicking up a few puffs of dust with his rounds, but his shots accomplish so much more.
"Fire!" Arlana barks.


"They are not meant for much more than personal protection," Hale says. "Maybe good for ten meters or so off the ground at this altitude."
Jimmy looks over the valley spanning below them. "Honestly? I don't like this one bit." He points at the road they drove in on. "One way in, one way out for the wheeled vehicles." His hand sweeps down towards the valley. "Plenty of cover on the approach between the rocks and the scrub brush." Then he turns around and looks up above them, shading his eyes from the sun. "And above us, even worse visibility and easy positions to drop grenades down on us. If I had it my way, I'd tell your girlfriend 'too bad, so sad,' and she'd stay in the FOB where she'd be safe for the rest of this exercise."
skullandscythe 2017-01-26 16:23:13
Yeah, good luck with that.

What Zaef says out loud is "Thank you for the honesty, Jimmy, but she's got important work to do for our troops out here. Though I admit I'm not liking our position any better than you are. Let's work out some contingencies to fall back on if fighting breaks out and start our patrols."
e of pi 2017-01-26 21:20:01
"All units, fire!" Luis shouts. "FTE, take out those gunners!"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-01-26 23:05:28
"Firing," FTE sends.

The next few cycles are all simulation as theoretical accelerator rounds travel the intervening mile-plus towards theoretical bodies. The Sheen shell's weaponry braced and aimed, Front Toward Enemy fires at the first gunner. No fancy stuff, at this range it's running the highest-probability intercept course to center mass.
punkey 2017-01-29 22:44:02

Gun Trucks: 1d6 = 3; 1d6 = 2; 1d6 = 5
Front Toward Enemy: 1d8 = 8
Gunners: 1d8 = 6; 1d8 = 6; 1d8 = 2)

(FTE Shoot: 2d10.hi = 6; 1d12 = 1 / Damage: 2d8.hi = 4; 1d6 = 3, 5 Shock, 2 Wound ALMOST THERE)

Simulation 1: 20 gram projectile - 2734 m/s - 4.22 degrees of elevation - 1.277 degrees left: MISS 752 centimeters left, 221 centimeters high
Simulation 2: 20 gram projectile - 2741 m/s - 4.12 degrees of elevation - 1.221 degrees left: MISS 336 centimeters left, 119 centimeters low
Simulation 3: 20 gram projectile - 2738 m/s - 4.18 degrees of elevation - 1.209 degrees left: MISS 97 centimeters right
Simulation 4: 20 gram projectile - 2734 m/s - 4.18 degrees of elevation - 1.214 degrees left: HIT

Front Toward Enemy knows that no matter how simulations it runs, there’s no way to completely predict taking the shot - last moment wind changes, chaotic vortices, rising thermals from patches of dark rocks, all can throw the accelerator round off over the 1637.186 meters between its arm and its target’s chest. The only thing to do is take the shot. A buzzing snap, the blue discharge flash of the accelerator, and the projectile is on its way. 0.59882 seconds later, FTE can just see his target stagger and hang limply to his heavy machine gun - but not drop. Still, he looks like he needs a nap from what it can see.

(Gunners x2: 2d8.hi = 7; 1d8 = 1; 2d8.hi = 7; 1d8 = 1 / 2d10.hi = 10; 1d6 = 4; 2d10.hi = 6; 1d6 = 5 / 1 DEAD, 1 ALMOST THERE)

The front two Narsai’i gunners don’t waste any time - they light up the two still-standing gunners with their .50 caliber machine guns. Two short bursts of high caliber ammunition blast towards their targets, shredding one gunner instantly. The other ducks enough to avoid a direct hit to the body - but judging by the stunned look at his hand, the one living gunner might be missing a few fingers or a hand.

The three trucks skid to a halt in an attempt to block the path of the convoy, two insurgents climbing out of the back of each along with the driver and passengers - along with a trio of RPG-7s.


Jimmy nods. “You’re the boss. We can set up defensive positions to cover the road, tripwire flares and motion sensors on the paths to the village.” He looks to Hale. “Do your Turai have any motion trackers?”
Hale nods. “We have some seismic sensors.”
“Good, then between the two of us we should be able to at least have a rough idea of the approach,” Jimmy says. “The terrain is rocky enough that we’re not fully exposed in any direction, but the big unknown is HUMINT. I’d talk to Marta about that, that’s her area of expertise.”
“Oi,” Caleb says, hiking up behind them. “I must say, your Turai are most perspicacious and thoughtful in their choice of firing positions. Any opponents that dare test us will find themselves thoroughly trapped upstream in fecal material without means of navigation. Miss Kitty and her Keepers are busying themselves with their own endeavors.”
skullandscythe 2017-01-30 22:59:21
There's a moment as Zaef, confusion writ across his face, stares at Caleb. Then he turns to Jimmy for a whispered conference.

"Please tell me that means something less disgusting to you."
"Sort of. 'Up shit creek without a paddle.' It's a figure of speech. Like saying 'you're fucked,' just more..."

Zaef turns back to Caleb, looking much more composed than when he turned away. "Right. How are things going on the Keeper's end?"
e of pi 2017-01-31 20:23:48
"RPGs!" Luis says. He points to his HMMWV's diver. "Gunners, switch targets. Drivers, pull aside to get us an angle, then stop us. Anyone with a shot, take out those RPGs." He waits for his sight picture to steady enough out his window, then suits action to word.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-02-01 12:13:40
Forget the sims and go with volume. Front Toward Enemy pops the radiator fins and opens up on the RPG gunners, max RPM. The accelerator burps out rounds as fast as FTE's servos can hold the weapons on target, a string of tearing, jittering pops that kicks dust from the dry terrain around it.
punkey 2017-02-11 23:45:33
(Luis: 1d10 = 4; 1d8 = 3; 1d6 = 4 MISS
FTE: Suppression: 3d10.hi = 10; 1d12 = 8 SUPPRESSED +1d8
AK BADDIES 1d6 = 2; 1d6 = 1; 1d6 = 5; 1d6 = 1; 1d8 = 2 ONE HITS / 2d8.hi = 7; 1d8 = 1 DEAD GUNNER
RPG BADDIES 1d6 = 6; 1d6 = 4; 1d6 = 1; 2d8.hi = 1 / 2d10.hi = 5; 1d8 = 6, 2d10.hi = 6; 1d8 = 6 5 SHOCK TO LUIS AND ARKETTA, 6 SHOCK TO ARLANA)

Luis tries to rip off a few shots as his HMMWV slides to a stop in the dirt, but between the tiny hole in the up-armored window and the shuddering stop, his rounds go wide. At the same moment, a wave of impacts scatter around the insurgent attackers, sending then scattering for cover behind the pickups. Wild automatic fire sounds out from the Taliban, and a short cry sounds out from above Luis followed by a body slumping against the roof of the vehicle as his gunner takes a round and goes down. Arketta reaches back to pull him inside to see if any aid can be rendered - and then the RPG shooters let loose a salvo.

One rocket soars off over the back of the last vehicle in the convoy - but the others aren't so lucky. Luis sees a white streak and then dashboard as one of the RPGs impacts the front of his vehicle, and hears Arketta cry out behind him as she's flung backwards against the rear bulkhead of the truck from the force of the blast. He turns around to see Arketta cradling her arm and the shredded remains of the now very definitely dead roof gunner dangling through the roof. His vision goes red - not with rage, but when he reaches up to his face, he touches his ocular implants to feel blood running down his face over his implants.

"The - *cough cough* - the Narsai'i Samal is dead! All the Narsai'i in my vehicle are dead, and I am trapped!" Arlana calls out. "Monitor is reading a broken rib! I am fine!" Arlana fires her beamer behind where Luis can see. "Kill them!"


"I cannot rightly ascertain the status of Keeper Cavanaugh's experiments," Caleb replies. "If one wishes to know their status, one should carry one's derriere to her and ask oneself. She has expressed a desire that I keep my distance from her and her team - they find my presence disruptive to their relations with the locals."
"Marta's with them," Jimmy says. "She's...better with civilians than Caleb. Be a good chance to see what she's gleaned from the locals."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-02-12 08:34:22
Front Toward Enemy shifts optics to the AKs; the RPG guys will have to reload but those four guys are a problem now.

It abandons the suppressing fire and makes a single shot.
e of pi 2017-02-12 19:28:52
Luis contemplates the dashboard through a red haze for a moment, before reaching up and feeling it. The wetness wipes away, and he blinks at the blood. Right. "Clear the vehicles!" Luis says. "Break by trins, don't give them good targets. Get set, then hit them with spear bombs. Let's return the favor."
skullandscythe 2017-02-12 20:59:11
"Yes, let's have a chat with her," Zaef says. Maybe she can tell us why Loudmouth got kicked out, too.
punkey 2017-02-28 23:21:38
A short ride in a van that smells decidedly of decaying opium poppy sap and a longer ride in Angel’s skimmer later, Angel and Ngawai pull within visual range of the FOB - and things are very different by the looks of it. A shiny new metal fence surrounds the part of the compound that was handed over to the Wherren, Sheen and Bashakra’i, and members of those three groups are patrolling the perimeter while loose Narsai’i fortifications are being hastily erected to form something resembling strong points against this new off-worlder detanté.

Angel gives Ngawai a long suffering look. “Jesus H. Christ. I leave these people alone for one peaceful afternoon of scouting and they all go nuts. There are times you know, when I tell myself I am a gazillionaire. I could just go, you know, buy a private space station somewhere and fritter away my days on...whatever you all fritter away your days on. I assume drugs and pretty girls.” His expression turns serious for a moment.

“Stay in the skimmer? My guess is Garrett Davis’s Alien Wife isn’t going to cause tensions to go down, if you get my meaning.”
“Nice try,” Ngawai said.
Switching to 815’s comms, he gets in touch with the group. “So hey um...as cool as the whole ‘even our fort has it’s own fort’ look is...does someone want to fill me in on what’s going on?”
“Hey, what?” Garrett asks. “What’s going on?”
Hug’sh’s voice on the comms is that type of calm tone you’ve come to associate with some roiling red on the fringes of his fur. Not very reassuring. ”Security incident,” he says. ”We had a thief who stole Bashakra’i supplies and planted them in my hab. There’s an NSA...character running around who’s either the most clueless patsy or the worst spy I’ve met. Given the situation, the only way to de-escalate was to…escalate.” Pause. ”But we got to practice field fortifications and checkpoint procedures. So, you know, pros and cons.”

Angel glances back at Ngawai, muting the vox for a moment. “Drugs and girls, what did I tell you? You and Garrett want to come?” Flicking the channel back on, Angel sounds more than a little tired. “I’ll start a security sweep, make sure Ft. Meade’s fingers aren’t trying to get into the Kesh Industries cookie jar as well. Anything else I should know about? Anyone get punched?” As he talks he starts steering the skimmer towards his own quarters.

”I took four 9mm slugs to the chest, that was...irritating,” Hug’sh says. ”After that, some Narsai’i soldiers got punched, yeah. No casualties, just a couple of...mild concussions. Lots of butthurt, obviously.”

“And nobody earned their Diplomacy merit badge today. Alright...was mostly just here on an errand.”
“How is Naloni?” Ngawai asks, a hard edge in her voice. “Is she all right?”
”She’s fine, she was safe the whole time,” Hug’sh says. ”Swims and Khodash made sure.”
”And Kurr and Tarl,” Swims adds. ”My niece gets a trin.”
”She’s fine, Ngawai,” Hug’sh says.
“Good,” Ngawai says, and sits back with her arms crossed, angrily staring out of the...well, the whole top is a window, but the window.
“You did what you had to do, I'm sure,” Garrett says. “We'll...talk about this later.” He doesn't sound happy either.
”Yes,” Hug’sh says, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s also sounding distinctly less than happy. ”There’s a lot to talk about.”

Angel grumbles quietly as he brings his skimmer into his designated spot in the pool, giving Ngawai a serious look. “Lets just get this done, then I’ll sit overwatch on her crib myself if we need it.”
Ngawai spent the whole descent glaring at the Narsai’i outside the barriers. “Thanks,” she says, then looks away and gives Angel a smile. “I mean, thank you, Angel.” She sighs. “I suppose in the middle of a heavily armed alliance compound, surrounded by Wherren, Sheen, and Bashakra’i on high alert is about as safe as she could get.”

“Pretty much, without using terms like Battlecruiser or Hidden Fortress. Beyond that, most of the particularly stupid things the U.S. government keeps trying involve them not being watched closely.” Angel gets out of the skimmer, and reconsiders his earlier suggestion. “On second thought, travelling in pairs seems like a decent idea. Besides, I only vaguely know your size.”
“Ugh, Narsai’i clothes and their sizes,” Ngawai complains. “When will your planet discover smart fabrics?”
“Hey, we invented tacos. I don’t think you have any room to complain.”
“Fair point,” Ngawai says. “Shall we?”


The attitude at the skimmer pool is about as tense as it looked from the air - trins of off-worlders patrol the perimeter while a few Sheen shells sit on high ground, dendrite arrays deployed to soak up some energy for the long nighttime watch. Angel and Ngawai’s arrival doesn’t go unnoticed, as the patrols instantly move to strong points facing the perimeter and a trin runs up to their side.
“Mr. Kesh, Mrs. Holoni, we’re your escorts,” a young Bashakra’i Turai says behind his helm.
“Thanks, but we’re just here to pick up a few things before heading out,” Ngawai says.
“Iro’s orders, ma’am,” the Turai says. “We’re on high alert until the Narsai’i stand down.”
“Last I checked son, Iro wasn’t my CO,” Angel says. “Turai patrols aren’t going to get the Narsai’i to stand down any faster, and if we need a trin to make it to my quarters, things are far enough gone that I’d have it happen fast, one way or the other.”
The young Turai fidgets for a moment.
“I think he means he was ordered to stay by us, even if we tell him to leave,” Ngawai says.
“Yes, Mrs. Holoni,” the Turai says. “Especially if we are told to leave.”
Angel gives the kid an even expression. “Alright kid, it’s not your fault. Just...try to look relaxed.” He steps out of the skimmer, sighing softly. “And tell Iro that I know thirty-nine ways to kill a man with just what I have on my person right now, and I prefer to move with slightly more subtlety.”
“Yes, Mr. Kesh,” the Turai says, and forms a tight phalanx around Angel and Ngawai - then thinks better of it and noiselessly spaces his trin out a little more as to look less like the armed escort they are.

As their little convoy approaches the barracks where the 815 are posted, Angel can’t help but notice Ngawai’s pace speed up as they approach the front door, to the point where she’s full-on busting past their escort and running up the steps. Angel and their trin escort hustle to follow her, and find her in the oversized room that Garrett, Ngawai and Naloni share. Khodash, Kurr and Tarl are in there, their weapons stacked in a corner, and Ngawai already has her daughter in her arms as the infant’s eyes stay locked on her mother’s.
“It’s okay,” Ngawai coos as Naloni starts to fuss. “It’s okay, we’re all going to be okay.” She turns to look at Angel, and her gaze turns cold enough to freeze the tears in the corners of her eyes. “We were promised that we would be safe - and the Narsai’i lied. Masters save them if anything else happens here, because Garrett and I will burn this place to the ground.”

Angel looks sympathetic, at least to the feeling, and nods. “If you want to stay here to keep an eye on her, Garrett and I can handle this. I’ll live the Trin here with you, or we can relocate you and Naloni if you want.” He sighed softly. “The Narsai’i are no more a uniform bloc than the Imperium is, and there will always be ambitious men. Right now they act through fear, but we’ll figure out a way through.”
Ngawai shakes her head, but doesn’t actually say no. “I should be with you and Garrett…” She looks back to her daughter, right into her eyes, and sighs. She brings Naloni close to her cheek. “...okay.”
Angel smiles, kissing Naloni on the forehead. “Whatever you want, I’ll back your play. But regardless, I doubt Garrett’s going to be enthusiastic about being kept waiting. You know where everything you need is? I’ll pop over to my place and be right back.” Giving Ngawai a reassuring look, he steps out, giving their informal escorts a hard look. “You stay with her. Clear?”
The Turai nods, and the trin sets up in a rough defensive formation with the trin of Wherren already in the room. When Angel leaves, Ngawai is already sitting on the bed and rocking her daughter in her arms.

“Thank you,” Garrett’s voice says in Angel’s ear as he walks down the hall. “It was a mistake to come here. We’re going to need a safe house in town, I know a few people I can call. Should I make it room for four?”
Angel shrugs, despite the fact that Garrett can’t see him. “Keep it three. If it comes time for you to need a safe house, I’m more useful outside it than in. Though I’m not convinced it was a mistake - this is a dangerous place regardless of where you are.”
“Yeah,” Garrett says, and sighs. “I don’t want to agree, but you’re right. Stay safe, Angel.”

“You too spook.” There is a friendliness in Angel’s voice as he grabs a linen shirt, battered and a little dirt-stained that made it down to close to his knees, pants in a similar condition and a weathered vest that would make him look sufficiently local, at least on a first pass. Almost immediately he regretted the loss of the magnificently wicking Imperial clothing he was used to. Into a black duffel bag goes another change of clothing for Garrett - and a brick of ten thousand US dollars, wrapped in plastic and tucked into his overnight bag by Erika. Angel hefts it over his shoulder and turns to walk out the door, then stops and slides a Narsai’i sidearm out of his drop holster and replaces it with his Harumdor Tech pistol. Comfort is one thing, but Angel Kesh never compromises on firearms. Properly equipped, Angel runs back out to his skimmer and takes off heading west, back towards Kabul.
punkey 2017-03-02 00:23:52
(Luis, Arketta, RPG gunners give up a round to reload/reposition/ready spearbombs
FTE: 2d10 = 10; 1d12 = 2 BAM DEAD
AK Baddies: 1d6 = 2; 1d6 = 1; 1d6 = 1; 1d6 = 3 GOOD FUCKING JOB
Next turn!
Luis: 1d10 = 4; 1d8 = 1; 1d6 = 1 HIT / 2d8.hi = 7; 1d6 = 3 VERY DEAD
Arketta: 2d12.hi = 12; 1d8 = 5; 1d6 = 6 SUPER DEAD
Trins: 2d8.hi = 7; 2d8.hi = 5; 2d8.hi = 8; 1d6 = 3 THEY ALL DEAD)

Luis and Arketta force the doors open on their wrecked HMMWV and half-climb/half-fall out of the vehicle, Luis having to scramble around the backside to get to cover. Behind them, the Bashakra’i and Wherren form a firing line by trins. Bullets ricochet off of the vehicles and scatter dust and dirt from the ground, but they follow their training and exit on the side away from the bullets. FTE runs another millisecond or so of calculations and fires another accelerator slug - and another AK-wielding insurgent drops to the dirt, dead.

Luis stops next to Arketta, and the married couple level their beamers and open fire - Luis tagging his target in the shoulder and taking an arm clean off with a burst of steam, and Arketta not settling for anything less than blowing the RPG shooter next door’s head clean off. As if to accentuate the point, they both hear the call down the line next to them - “Aim...pop spears!” Three spearbombs arc into the sky, peak twenty meters or so into the air, and scream back down on their targets, detonating exactly four meters off the ground above their targets. The shaped penetrators shred the trucks, and the surrounding red-hot shrapnel perforates the survivors in a hundred places. When the dust clears, all that’s left of the insurgents are some well-tenderized meat.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-03-02 06:55:22
"Hey! Next time let's just open with Blazing Sword, guys!" Front Toward Enemy sends, unfolding and starting to lope closer to the pillars of smoke now rising toward the blue sky.
e of pi 2017-03-07 21:25:57
Luis surveys the scene through his telescopic vision. "Nice shooting! First and second trin, keep watching our flanks in case that isn't all of them. Others and the Narsai'i with me, get people clear of the wreckage." He nods to Arketta, who is already hustling to the smoking wreckage of Arlana's skimmer. He divides up the rest of the teams among the other vehicles before hurrying to join her. "Arlana, are you still with us?" he asks over the command channel.