Mustered Out on Mertactor

090-1107

The Expendables

“Just five?” Will replies, disappointment evident in his tone.

“It’s 1.00am already and I’ve gone through my entire address book now,” Lyn replies with mounting frustration.

“Next time you and your friends are planning on invading a foreign power and need your asses bailing out, I would appreciate it if you could give me a little more notice.”

“Are they good at least?” Will asks.

“I haven’t met any of them before,” Lyn replies. “They’re all contacts of contacts of contacts. But I’m sure that they will all be … fine.”

She folds her arms in front of her and her eyes glance around the room, avoiding Will’s gaze.

“They should be arriving in the next half hour or so. I hope.”

As they wait, they stare at the holomap of the Embassy that Lyn’s datapad is displaying which now fills the top of the dining table. There’s not a great deal new to see. The only changes that the rebels have made since the party members’ initial foray is that there are now four sentries patrolling the grounds instead of just the two. It looks as if there are still four guards in each of the guardhouses. It’s impossible to tell exactly what’s happening inside the building though.

A few minutes later, there’s a knock at the door.

“Good,” Lyn says getting up to answer it. “This should be the first of them.”

As the door opens, Lyn see a glint of sharp eyes deep within a hood peers out of the darkness.

“This the place about a job?”

The voice is gruff, with a hint of some accent or other, though the Galangic is fluent.

“Yes, that’s correct,” Lyn says. “Please come in.”

A tall, scruffy man walks into the room, wearing a stained and ancient military leather over -jacket, and a somewhat patched flak vest. Unusually, he sports a cloth hood of dark brown cloth, and when he throws this back it is clear why.

His face is scarred by at least half a dozen laser burns, with the right hand corner of his mouth arranged in something like a perpetual – though likely not intentional – sneer. The overall effect is rather alarming, and Lyn takes a short step back.

“You’re the first to arrive, Mr. ahh?…” proffers Will timidly.

“I am Torkel”, says the stranger. “They call me Troll,”

Before Lyn has time to respond to the first arrival, there is another knock at the door.

Lyn keys the open pad and the solid door opens noiselessly. Standing in front of her is a short dark man in his early 30’s. The first notable aspect of him and probably his selling point to potential patrons are his gaudy, mechanical arms. Larger than a real set of arms his bulge out with bare pistons and shiny wires. As he produces a silicon calling card and passes it to Lyn a faint hiss and whine can be heard from his servos. He takes off his tricorn hat and frilly long coat then tosses them onto a nearby stand as he shambles in and surveys the room with eyes hidden behind sun glasses. The second notable thing of this man is his peg-leg. Made of some exotic wood and carved intricately with a naked woman motif the man walks around the room. Will begins to get uncomfortable as he notices that the stranger lingers on objects of value and eventually the mercenaries glare rests on Will’s Medi-Pack, all full of expensive equipment and…things.

“Mr. Harpoon?” Lyn says after glancing at the card.

“Ce, Seniora. Eye ahm zee Harpoon. You neid a man to do dierty business, eye ahm zee man.”

He flops his weight into a sofa and punches a nearby key pad to order a drink. Will notices the sofa in question was the closest one to his Medic-pack.

Will clears his throat. “That accent, I’ve heard it before…Avastan?”

“Ahhh! You know of my home world? Ce Ce Avastan! Back theer ey ahm a knight of a noble family. Eye took to the gun trade off-planeet so as my brouthar would be leader of the business. My accent es from ancient language not corrupted by ‘Gan-Glick’”

He spits the word out.

“But you has not culled me here to prattle on about beautiful Avastan. What do you what done and how much wheel you pay me?”

“First things first, Mr. Harpoon,” Lyn replies, trying hard to hide her disappointment at the quality of the first two mercs that have arrived. “Let me fix you both a drink.”

She opens the minibar and pours them tumblers of Tarkine Whisky.

The expensive drink arrives and Harpoon’s oversized hands clasp it delicately. As he drinks he peers over the rim to the scary faced gent. He tips his glass in an acknowledging way. It’s not too hard for a shark to recognize another shark.

The door shudders with a BAM, BAM, BAM as mercenary number three pounds on it.

“It’s open,” calls Lyn.

After a brief pause the door slams against the hotel room closet, the pneumatic damper doing nothing to slow its movement. Blocking the light from the hallway is the largest man Will has ever seen. He’s dressed in what appears to be black leather and brazenly carries a shotgun resting on one shoulder. Strapped to his waist is the largest sword Will has ever seen.

“F’kin ‘ell it’s hot in here. Youse got any beer?” says the apparition.

“Oh, wait. Nick told me to say my name. I’m s’posed to ‘troduce m’self to the perty lady first,” it adds.

The beast lumbers (rather nimbly thinks Will) over to Lyn and thrusts a meaty paw within inches of her face.

“I’m, ah, Rocky,” he thunders. “But ma friends calls me Ham. On account ’a ma hamster.”

“What the hell?” thinks Will. “Is this guy for real?”

“I`m Will Shaunnessy, your employer” says Will. “You’re, um, rather open with carrying your weapons. Didn’t you have any trouble getting into the hotel?”

“Nah,” says the mountain. “Nicky told me that carryin’ was only discured. That means I can do it. Nobody said nothun. My name’s Ham. On account ’a ma hamster.”

“Well Ham, I’m very pleased to meet you and I feel assured that my friends are in the, er, biggest of hands,” said Will as his soft, plump academic’s hand was engulfed by a calloused beef steak. He hands Ham a cold beer and sees the simple man’s eyes light up with gratitude.

“A beer! For me?” he stutters. “Thanks! It’s sure f’king hot in here.”

Harpoon doesn’t think it’s hot in here, but he sweats just the same. As Ham makes loud introductions, the Avastani Kinght slinks ever so slowly closer to Will’s Medi-Pack which is undoubtedly filled to the brim with drugs.

Needed drugs.

He cautiously reaches towards the locking mechinism when he looks up to see Troll staring right at him. Harpoon quickly smiles as disarmingly as possible and pulls his mechanical hand back to use it to order another drink.

Pausing outside the door, Vera glances again at the room number. ‘Yup, this is the number Mac gave me. This better be an honest to god gig, not like that last one, or else he’s not getting a credit of his agents booking cut. “Just rescue the trapped miners” my ass, that was a bug hunt. And the damn aliens had acid for blood.’

Opening the door, Vera glances quickly at the motley assemblage that meets her eyes.

‘I get the three gun bunnies,’ she thinks, assessing the men quickly, in a way only possible for a woman ‘but what does the one in tweed do?’

She turns abruptly, not liking the looks of this crew at all, when an impulse catches her and she just as suddenly turns back, looks at Lyn, and asks. “Do you validate parking?”

“Errm …” Lyn responds, wondering whether this latest arrival has got the wrong room.

Stepping into the room, Vera continues, “Because I don’t want to pay for an expensive all day spot outside the hotel, and,” she glances at the others, her gaze lingering longest on the big fella, “by the looks of things it might be awhile before we can analyze whatever intel this mission requires and come up with a plan. You do have intel, right Lady? Please tell me somebody here has intel…”

“We do have intel,” Lyn replies, her hand sweeping through the holographic display on the tabletop displaying the 3D feed from the embassy in real time. “But we don’t have a plan. Yet. We’re just waiting for the last of the ‘team’ to arrive and then we will start working on one.”

The one legged, bionic armed man gets up off the couch in a swift move that belies his natural quickness. He goes to the new comer and does an elegant formal bow.

“Eye ahm Harpoon. Yoo es beautiful. That is all the ‘Intel’ yoo wheel need tonight.”

As he rises his metallic hands gently grasps hers and raises it to his dry, cracked lips. Before he kisses it he asks:

“Your name, Seniora, I must know et. A soft flower like yoo must have a name from an angel thet eye wheell drop from my lips like a feether!”

“Call me Vera.”

Vera glances at Harpoon, then continues, “Your name intrigues me, sir, how ever did you come by it? Never mind, it’s immaterial anyway. I might be interested in going out with you, after the mission, of course, because I don’t date losers, but first, can you tell me, are your arms detachable?”

At precisely 2:00, three sharp knocks signal the arrival of number five. A short, wiry man in his thirties stands to attention outside the door, his eyes (and gold teeth) glittering as he takes in the room. Then he draws his hand up in a precise salute to the room (turning his attention to an imaginary spot somewhere between Will and Lynn, since he can’t decide who outranks who).

“Neb Jorsten reporting for duty, SAH!” he shouts in parade ground style, and waits at attention.

“Uh, at ease”, says Will taking in the new arrival. Neb switches quickly into an easy stance. He is attired in a perfectly pressed and clean cloth suit with a well worn ammo belt. A duffle bag has some long item making a line along its length.

“Force Commander, 232nd Lift Platoon.” he states, lowering his voice only slightly.

“Very good to meet with you, Force Commander,” Lyn replies. “If you would take a seat with the others, then we can begin now that everyone is here.”

She turns to Will.

“Will, as you are the only one who was actually on the scene, perhaps you can explain exactly what happened and what we need these gentlemen’s help?”

Will nods and then launches into the long and sorry story, starting from Autumn’s initial hunch, the kidnapping of the Colonel, following him to the Embassy and the ill-fated recon exercise that went wrong. Will passes on all of the information that he is aware of regarding the situation, apologizing for the fact that there are still a lot of questions that he is unable to answer – the most important of which is how many opponents there are.

Lyn sums up, “So this is the mission, gentlemen. The goal is simple enough to understand – to release Will’s colleagues and the Colonel – if he really is in there – we have no proof as to whether he is or isn’t.”

“The numbers are very much against you. To my mind, you will need a stealthy approach and a fast get-away. Will’s colleagues are all very capable fighters, as is the Colonel – they should be able to help you with the extraction at least … if they are all still alive, that is.”

“So has anyone got any questions or, more importantly, any suggestions?”

“Yeees, eye have a question.” Harpoon ruffles through the compiled files of the captives and selects three certain ones.

“Weech seniora es beest to go Salsa Dancing wit me tonight?” He takes turns holding up the picture of one of the ladies next to his face and flashes a toothy smile. He looks around for others input to this matter. “Eye tink the red-head est spicy, but eye ahm a sucker for blondes!!”

“Complete this mission successfully and you’ll be paid so well you can rent half the ‘senoras’ in Glisten City tomorrow night,” Lyn replies with obvious irritation. “For now though, I suggest that you concentrate on the matter in hand. Otherwise you may end up dead.”

“This reminds me of the raid on Antibes,” says Neb. – “‘Cept that there we had 100 marines, and there was 100 hostages. So I reckon we’re still even.”

“I lost my commander in that action, Lt Col Netethon Yanahoo. I don’t wanna lose any more good officers, so we need a good plan.”

“We need surprise, speed and power. For surprise, a combination of stealth and diversion is about all we have open to us. Since there are only 5 of us, plus you two, we will rely on you two (and anyone else you can muster) to provide the necessary diversion, as we make our entry. Perhaps you can crash a large truck into the compound, as we hit the area with a communications suppressor, and slip in over the back under cover of the crash. What do you think?”

“I can’t take any direct part in this mission,” says Lyn. “I can help you behind the scenes and give you what other support I can, but I am a member of the Imperial Naval Intelligence service, which means that I’m about as Imperial as one can get. So don’t involve me directly in the plan. There’s just you five and Will on this job directly.”

“Eet ees ah good idea, thees ‘_Surprize_’. Ah have an idea uv my own, Neb”

Harpoon goes to the holodisplay and messes with the focus controls. The Elixibethan manor house shrinks and more diplomatic enclaves come into being as the view is pulled ever outward. Then, just as Harpoons grin could not get wider the focus encompasses the ever encroaching Dome roof. Multiple lights hang in almost zero-G, some of them are being dimmed to represent dusk. Beyond the upside down sea of artificial illumination the Dome roof is a forest of girder work and cables that are securely anchored to the mega-dense material of the Dome its self.

“Joo see? We can repel down from zee ceiling right on top uv zee embassy! Thees Glisten-ites does take too much pride in theer skill of camouflage. Soon everyone forgets that we are in a tin can! Eef we want, we can explode some anchoring wires and drop a 3 ton light-bulb on these watch towers!!”

For effect Harpoon takes his long coat and drops it from the ceiling of the room to the floor.

“I like your plan, Mister Harpoon," Vera replies. "One question, though. What happens if we’re spotted on the way down? Won’t we be sitting … errm … avian lifeform that prefers wetlands and marshes … here?”

“Those lights are anchored pretty securely to the roof,” Lyn comments. “I’m not saying that it’s impossible to cut them down, but you will need some serious cutting tools and a fair bit of time to do it.”

“It will be the luck of the draw as to whether there’s one right over the guardhouse. If nothing else though, it would certainly be one hell of a diversion.”

“I have a few flashbangs,” Troll adds. "If we can at least get to the gatehouse quietly we might knock eight of them out and grab some rifles.

“I like the drop from the ceiling for us, but not for the diversion,” comments Neb. “If we drop one thing on them, they will naturally look up to see where it came from – and then we would be like fish in a barrel.”

“Better we go with something like the “gate crash” as the diversion, but we could drop in as you say, Mr Hampster. You could be right about their blind spot.”

Neb goes on to elaborate, but his plan involves additional people and more hardware than the team has access to.

“Ahh few tings Meester Neb," Harpoon comments. "Thees girl called Autumn…Et says here that she es captured and is held hostage wit zee others. Also en reveiw uv zee last assult, their weakness was that they spleet-up and were taken out one by one. Eye like yoor plan Meester Neb, but eye tink we should stick together as one front to take these iceholes out. Shoulder to shoulder, able to assisst and protect each other if one of us falls. As for dooping stuff on zee Embassy, We can do that after we arrive as a diversion. As for beeing seen as we repelling down…meh, the plan has eet’s dangers. One last ting Meester Neb, eye don’t have immediet access to illegal RAMs and A.R.C. or a ‘Scary Weasle’ deevice. Do you?”

“My team can block all commo channels,” says Lyn. “They have the hardware for that in their recon van and it won’t be in violation of Intergalactic Protocols. I can’t provide any bodies to actually assist directly in the assault though.”

“Didn’t someone say this Max fellow was still recuperating in the hospital? He won’t be much use to us. It looks like the five of us, plus tweedy bird here and Lyn, will have to get the job done.” Vera says,“Lyn, are you going in with us?”

“No, I can’t.” Lyn says with a shake of the head. “It would be sure to spark a major diplomatic incident if there was any evidence of my involvement in this plot. The recon guys are on strict instructions to wipe the hard drives and deny any involvement in this mission once it is complete.”

Vera continues, “I like the idea of us rapelling down as, or perhaps right before, a diversion at the front gate. As Mr Harpoon says, we could also rig something to fall after we’re down as both a further diversion and to cause damage. One time we did something like this when I was in Damner’s Slammers, Inc., we used a lot of smoke grenades to help confuse the enemy. If they’re thrown as we’re coming down, timed to go off as we land, we’ll be able to plan the LOS zones for the whole combat.”

“It does sound like you need another person to help create a diversion,” Lyn says. “It’s a shame that they managed to take Autumn and that this Max guy is stuck in hospital. Have you any other friends on Glisten who might be able to help you?”

“What time are we going in?” asks Will.

Lyn shrugs, looking at the others for a suggestion.

“I would imagine that just before dawn is the latest we can leave it,” she says.

“Let me speak to the Baron,” Will says. “I’m sure he would love a bit more adventure. It’s just a case as to whether he would be able to get here on time.”

Will calls the Baron over his commo. A groggy voice picks up the call. He and Will speak for a while before Will flicks the commo off.

“The Baron is up for it,” Will says with relief. “He says that it sounds like a ‘wizard jape’. He’s going to charter a 6-G Ship’s Boat to bring him direct from The Grand Plaza to Gro’un. He reckons that he should be with us by 5.00am. It won’t give us long before he arrives. We’ll need to fully brief him while he is en route and, if we want him to start crashing cars into gates and drive a getaway vehicle, we’ll need to have everything ready for him before he gets here. But it’s possible.”

Harpoon looks around. The smarty doctor guy is on the comm talking to some Baron while the chick who can’t get involved sifts through the phone book for auto rental places. Everyone else is hammering down finer points of attack standing around the holo-display. Now he can make his move:

“Ah ess going to put a crapper en to zee terlet now…”

No one seems to pay attention. Excellent.

Harpoon stealthily picks up his coat and the Doctor’s black bag that it recently covered. It was heavy. He grins lopsidedly in anticipated fulfillment. As he walks to the bathroom, he thinks of all the drugs in the Dr’s case and of the type of high he will soon be on. He knows, from experience, that ripping off the patron’s drugs and shooting them up was a bad move for employment, but his addiction was stronger than getting hired, his addiction was stronger than anything he ever came across.

Locking the door, Harpoon sets the weighty medicine bag on the counter and squeezes the cheap lock with his metallic hands. It pops off nicely. He then tears open the satchel and reaches inside for… rocks ?!?!?

“What zee Hell?” Harpoon mutters as his hands bring up multi-colored stones with various labels and stickers on them. After staring at them, all one hundred of them, in confusion he picks up a piece of paper that laid on top.

Will, I hope these geode-spectra enliven your life as they had mine. Excellent debate last night, good show—— Dr. Amrish Van Donkersguud.

It is a decidedly depressed merc that returns to the living room. Harpoon sits down with laziness, reminiscent of a sail falling on a windless day. The one called Troll leans over and says with a smirk that only horrificates his disfigured face even more.

“So, did ya get stoned?”

“Shut zee hell up!!”

“OK,” Lyn says. “I will rent the vehicles that the Baron will need for his part in the plan and meet him at the space port and brief him on what he should do,”

She calls down to the concierge and asks them to arrange for a grav van to be made available outside the hotel in an hour’s time and a truck at the starport after 90 minutes. She also asks them to arrange for five 300m lengths of thin rope to be waiting in the van. The group then just has to wait until Lyn’s commo rings with the news that the van and rope is waiting for them.

At 0430, the group moves out of the hotel, getting into the grav/van, which Lyn pilots up to the very top of the dome covering the arcology, just out of view from the embassy. It’s rather a nervewracking jump from the van to the girders supporting to the done, but each of them manages it without falling to their deaths. Each of them secures themselves to the girders using the rope in order to ensure that there are no accidents. They then slowly begin to make their way across the girders until they are above the Elixabethan Embassy.

Meanwhile, Lyn has driven to the spaceport. Some 15 minutes later, the Baron arrives looking very excited at the thought of getting up to some mischief. Lyn hands him the keys to the grav van and tells him to follow her in the truck which she has also rented as the getaway vehicle. The pair of them drive through the dark and empty streets of Gro’un looking for a suitable launching pad to send the grav/van hurtling towards the gates of the embassy. They fine what they are looking for and land on the top of an empty 12-storey tower block with a direct line of sight to the embassy gates.

Together, Lyn and the Baron calculate the angle they need in order to strike the gates and carefully disable all of the grav/van’s safety overrides.

It’s 0515. They pace around nervously waiting for 0530 – the designated time for the mission to begin. Meanwhile, in the dome’s rafters, The Expendables are also waiting anxiously for the fireworks to start. They have each tied one end of the rope to the girders and calculated the length of the drop so they don’t end up smashing into the floor.

“It’s time,” says Lyn.

The Baron hits the ignition of the grav/van and the pair of them watch on as the vehicle hurtles towards the gate of the embassy. Their aim is pretty accurate as it crashes into the right-hand watchtower which keels over to the ground. One of the four guards inside is trapped in the wreckage, while the other three start to climb out of the wreckage, dazed, confused and quite badly injured.

Their part in the exercise now over, Lyn and the Baron quickly leap into the truck. They take a circuitous route where the Baron drops Lyn outside the INI recon van which is parked a block away from the embassy. The Baron then continues on with the truck, parking it right next to the embassy wall.

Meanwhile …

At exactly the same time as the grav/van collided with the watch tower, The Expendables drop the ropes and immediately start to rappel down them. Each of them is on target. They crash through the skylight of the building, dropping into the embassy lobby.

Vera and Troll surprise two guards standing watching the doors, showering them with glass. Before the two guards have had chance to figure out what’s going on, they are quickly gunned down. The noise of the skylight breaking and the sounds of gunfire have alerted the sentries and some of the surviving gate guards, however, plus four other guards who were keeping watch from rooms in each of the four corners of the building. Troll picks up a fallen guard’s ACR.

Neb quickly locks the front doors in order to stop guards from getting in through the front door. This only buys them a few seconds of time, however, as there are windows into the lobby right next to the door. A few seconds is all that The Expendables need to seize the initiative, however, and they are able to gun down the approaching guards before they are in a position to counter-attack. Most of the guards coming from the four corners of the building are similarly dealt with – blown away as they open the doors and find the mercs in front of them.

Having now secured the reception area, Ham leads the way into the ballroom with Will following hot on his heels. Ham quickly takes out the one sentry approaching through the room. With just a couple staying to protect the group’s rear, the group passes through the ballroom and into the stairwell that leads down to the cellar.

Harpoon carefully steps down the stairs to see is anyone is covering the stairwell. A blast of ACR bullets and a barrel of buckshot that ricochets off the wall in front of him tells him that there is. He tosses a flashbang down the stairwell, but it sounds as if it bounced too far and missed the two guarding the stairs.

Meanwhile, guards are starting to pour down the stairs from the upper floors now in order to join the combat. Most of the group is now at the top of the stairs, leaving just Ham who is locked in combat with a stubborn shotgun wielding guard in the doorway of the corridor leading to the right with Will in the corner trying to stay out of the way. They find themselves trying to fight off half a dozen guards.

Everything goes into slo-mo as Ham lets out a low cry of rage as he pumps shotgun blasts into as many guards as possible, seemingly oblivious to the bullets peppering him. Will fires impotently into the oncoming guards, cursing the fact that he brought a body pistol to an ACR and shotgun fight.

Neb tries to even the numbers by tossing one of his homemade frag grenades into the midst of the guards. Unfortunately he catches it on the frame of the doorway and it falls behind him, showering most of The Expendables with flying glass. Fortunately Neb’s grenades are not very good and the Expendables are pretty well armored and so it only causes a few cuts and bruises.

Meanwhile, Harpoon tosses another flashbang down the stairwell. The screams and stumblings from below tell him that this time his aim was true and he descends the stairs.

Still locked inside the cellar, Jie and Taeva realize from the sound of gunfire and the explosions of the flashbangs that some kind of rescue must be in operation. She tries the door. It’s locked from the outside and so she gets to work with her lockpicks. As Harpoon … errm … harpoons the dazed and confused guards, Taeva opens the lock and peers through the door. A hail of bullets from down the corridor is the response as she peers out. Jie is right behind her, now armed with an ACR. She quickly takes down one of the two guards at the end of the corridor with a burst of fire while Taeva quickly takes down the second. Taeva and Jie head towards the end of the corridor now, leaving the remaining dazed guards for Harpoon to finish off. There are a couple more guards lurking in the security room who take potshots at both Taeva and Jie, but they don’t cause any damage to them and are quickly despatched.

The cellar is now completely cleared and so Taeva and Jie head to the cell containing Grim, Arvor, Autumn, the Colonel and Conchita. Jie finds keys to the cell door hanging from the belt of one of the down guards, unlocks the door and starts to cut the bonds of all of the captives.

Upstairs in the ballroom, the mass firefight continues. Will has wisely realized that he’s a little outclassed in this gun battle and leaps through the door where he tries to give Ham some covering fire as he continues to gun down all that enter his line of sight. Somehow he manages to shrug off the wounds, continuing to blast away at the seemingly infinite number of guards who are still coming down the stairs. Much to his delight, Will manages to catch one of them right between the eyes – gleeful at finally being able to cause some significant injuries rather than just mending them.

The captives are all free now. Arvor and Grim are straight out of the door, grabbing dropped ACRs as they head up to the upper level. The Colonel looks mightily pissed off. He too grabs an ACR and joins the procession. Autumn guides a very confused and panicky Conchita up the stairs, with Jie on rearguard duty.

Upstairs, The Expendables are still successfully keeping the endless stream of enemy reinforcements coming down the stairs at bay, covering the escape of the captives. Troll tosses a gas grenade at the entrance to the ballroom. It’s on target and the next two guards trying to run into the room succumb to its effects, slumping to the ground. Seeing them fall, their comrades take back routes to get to the ballroom though. Troll then tries to hurl a flashbang into the entrance for good measure. This time his aim is off though and the grenade bounces to where Ham is still valiantly gunning down guards. The flashbang explodes and Ham lets out a low moan as he is blinded. Will rushes back into the ballroom to rescue his new buddy.

The captives are coming up the stairs now, exiting the building through the rear entrance doorway. Vera covers the doors while the others escape. The guards are still coming down the stairs though and one of them manages to gun her down in a hail of ACR fire, as Vera finally misses a target. While Jie helps to get the unconscious Vera to safety, Neb gives covering fire, getting retribution on the guard that took down Vera, but gets badly wounded by another guard in the process. With the last of his strength, Neb finishes off the last guard in the reception area.

Meanwhile, out in the back garden of the embassy, Grim is leading the escape to the Baron’s awaiting grav/truck. Unfortunately there are a couple of guards in the entrance to the cellar. Totally unarmored, Grim is an easy target for the guard’s well-aimed ACR shot and Grim has a brief feeling of deja vu before thudding unconscious on the ground of the embassy gardens once more, though this time he’s in his underwear.

While Arvor picks Grim up off the ground and drags him to safety, Harpoon gets some retribution by tossing a flashbang into the stairwell leading down to the cellar, stunning the pair of guards, leaving them as easy prey to his harpoon.

The three remaining gate guards have now abandoned their post in order to try and stop the party’s escape. The Colonel injures one of them with a burst from his ACR, but it’s left to Taeva to finish the job. Troll and Jie quickly take down the last two remaining guards.

As the party members hurry to the wall and start to help the fallen get over it, the sound of gunfire stops as no more of the guards appear. The last of the team scramble over the wall and into the grav/truck.

As soon as he is informed that all are accounted for, the Baron hits the pedal to the metal and the grav/truck speeds off.

“Errm … where should we go now?” the Baron asks.

“Marine Barracks, on the double,” The Colonel barks in response.

The Baron nods and throws a sharp right heading for the barracks.

The Colonel quickly turns to Conchite.

“Madame Ambassador, do I have your authority to enter Elixabethan sovereign territory in order to finish off the last of those bastards?”

“Yes, yes, of course you have, Colonel,” she replies hurriedly. “My staff are still locked up in the other cells and I fear the rebels might execute them in revenge.”

“Someone give me a commo. NOW!” the Colonel barks.

Will hands him his commo.

“This is Colonel Spendabel,” he screams into the commo. “I want Bravo Company suited up and in their AFVs in 15 minutes. I want Charlie Company in full dress whites and ready to move out at 1030. And I want all the Medical Staff ready to receive casualties. And get my Battledress ready for me.”

“Thank you,” he says, handing the commo back to Will.

Ten minutes later and the grav/truck pulls up outside the Marine Barracks.

The Colonel pokes his head out of the back.

“It’s me Sargeant, open up.”

The barrier raises and the grav/truck enters the main yard of the barracks. The area is a a hive of activity as Marines in full Battledress are running out of the buildings, scrambling into the four awaiting AFVs.

Several stretcher bearers are also lined up waiting. The Colonel leaps out of the truck first and heads to where his orderly is holding his battledress. As he gets into the outfit, he barks over to the Medical Team, “You make sure that they all get the very best of attention. They’re goddamned heroes – every last one of them.”

Now completely suited, he turns to the readied marines.

“Terminate the lot of them with extreme prejudice,” he growls menacingly. “Those Ine Givar fuckers are going to learn not to fuck with Imperial Marines in future.”

He turns to the InterSol and Expendable team members, throws them one last stiff salute and then leaps into the lead AFV, which immediately takes to the skies at maximum thrust.

The medical team rush into action. Grim and Vera are rushed straight into the operating theatre. Troll, Ham, Arvor and Neb are taken into trauma wards where they are also seen to immediately. Harpoon and Jie just receive a shot and a bandage each and then they are free to go.

“Well there’s no point all of us hanging around here getting in everyone’s way,” says the Baron. “I think we all deserve a drink after than. Let me get rooms for everyone at the Ritz Carlton while we wait for everyone to get better.”

“I’ll stay here,” says Will. “The trauma team here are letting me sit in while they operate on Grim and Vera. Hopefully I’ll pick up some new high-tech methods on treating wounds.”

Taeva, Jie, Autumn, Harpoon and Conchita take the Baron up on his offer and head over with him to the Ritz Carlton where they get some good rooms, which Conchita tells them she will put on expenses. After freshening up, everyone meets up in the bar.

They spend the afternoon drinking while watching TV. There’s no mention of any goings-on at the Elixabethan Embassy, but the big society wedding is broadcast live in holovision. The group spots the Colonel, now dressed in his formal dress whites and Lyn in her naval uniform in the background on some of the shots, discretely keeping an eye on the proceedings, which are without incident.

A little after 22.00, Lyn turns up in person, out of uniform now. She thanks everyone for all their help, apologizes to Autumn for doubting her word about the Colonel/Geek and buys everyone a round of drinks. Tired after being awake all night, everyone retires early.

Comments

OK guys, it’s pretty much a case of going back to Act 1, Scene 1 here where you all enter and start interacting.

You can assume that Lyn knows nothing about you at all and both she and Will are pretty keen to find out who you are.

As you will have seen, I have put the map up now. We have three days of Board time to go before we can go to combat and so there’s time to have a bit of fun here. It would be good to have an initial strategy prior to the start of Sunday’s session though so that we can get straight into it.

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As the door opens a glint of sharp eyes deep within a hood peers out of the darkness.

“This the place about a job?” The voice is gruff, with a hint of some accent or other, though the Galangic is fluent.

A tall, scruffy man enters into the room, wearing a stained and ancient military leather over -jacket, and a somewhat patched flak vest enters. Unusually he wears a cloth hood, and when he throws this back it is clear why.

His face is scarred by at least half a dozen laser burns, with the right hand corner of his mouth arranged in something like a perpetual-though likely not intentional-sneer. The overall effect is rather alarming, and Lyn takes a short step back.

“You’re the first to arrive, Mr. ahh?…” profferes Will timidly.

" I am Torkel", says the stranger. “They call me Troll,”

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need to correct the grammar a bit there.

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Lyn keys the open pad and the solid door opens noiselessly. Standing in front of her is a short dark man in his early 30’s. First notable aspect of him and probably his selling point to potential patrons are his gaudy, mechanical arms. Larger than a real set of arms his bulge out with bare pistons and shiny wires. As he produces a silicon calling card and passes it to Lyn a faint hiss and whine can be heard from his servos. He takes off his tricorn hat and frilly long coat then tosses them onto a nearby stand as he shambles in and surveys the room with eyes hidden behind sun glasses. The second notable thing of this man is his peg-leg. Made of some exotic wood and carved intricately with a naked woman motif the man walks around the room. Will begins to get uncomfortable as he notices that the stranger lingers on objects of value and eventually the mercenaries glare rests on Will’s Medi-Pack, all full of expensive equipment and…things.

“Mr. Harpoon?” Lyn says after glancing at the card.

“Ce, Seniora. Eye ahm zee Harpoon. You neid a man to do dierty business, eye ahm zee man.” He flops his weight into a sofa and punches a nearby key pad to order a drink. Will notices the sofa in question was the closest one to his Medic-pack. Will clears his throat. “That accent, I’ve heard it before…Avastan?”

“Ahhh! You know of my home world? Ce Ce Avastan! Back theer ey ahm a knight of a noble family. Eye took to the gun trade off-planeet so as my brouthar would be leader of the business. My accent es from ancient language not corrupted by ‘Gan-Glick’” He spits the word out. “But you has not culled me here to prattle on about beautiful Avastan. What do you what done and how much wheel you pay me?”

Just then…

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((OOC Damn you Steve! You beat me to the door first!! LOL))

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The expensive drink arrives and Harpoons oversized hands clasp it delicately. As he drinks he peers over the rim to the scary faced gent. He tips his glass in an acknowledging way. It’s not too hard for a shark to recognize another shark.

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The door shudders with a BAM, BAM, BAM as mercenary number three pounds on it.

“It’s open,” calls Lyn.

After a brief pause the door slams against the hotel room closet, the pneumatic damper doing nothing to slow its movement. Blocking the light from the hallway is the largest man Will has ever seen. He’s dressed in what appears to be black leather and brazenly carries a shotgun resting on one shoulder. Strapped to his waist is the largest sword Will has ever seen.

“F’kin ‘ell it’s hot in here. Youse got any beer?” says the apparition.

“Oh, wait. Nick told me to say my name. I’m s’posed to ‘troduce m’self to the perty lady first,” it adds.

The beast lumbers (rather nimbly thinks Will) over to Lyn and thrusts a meaty paw within inches of her face.

“I’m, ah, Rocky,” he thunders. “But ma friends calls me Ham. On account ’a ma hamster.”

“What the hell?” thinks Will. “Is this guy for real?”

“I`m Will Shaunnessy, your employer” says Will. “You’re, um, rather open with carrying your weapons. Didn’t you have any trouble getting into the hotel?”

“Nah,” says the mountain. “Nicky told me that carryin’ was only discured. That means I can do it. Nobody said nothun. My name’s Ham. On account ’a ma hamster.”

“Well Ham, I’m very pleased to meet you and I feel assured that my friends are in the, er, biggest of hands,” said Will as his soft, plump academic’s hand was engulfed by a calloused beef steak. He hands Ham a cold beer and sees the simple man’s eyes light up with gratitude.

“A beer! For me?” he stutters. “Thanks! It’s sure f’king hot in here.”

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Harpoon doesn’t think it’s hot in here, but he sweats just the same. As Ham makes loud introductions the Avastani Kinght slinks ever so slowly closer to Wills Medi-Pack which is undoubtedly filled to the brim with drugs. Needed drugs.

He cautiously reaches towards the locking mechinism when he looks up to see Troll staring right at him. Harpoon quickly smiles as disarmingly as possible and pulls his mechanical hand back to use it to order another drink.

Later.

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Pausing outside the door, Vera glances again at the room number. ‘Yup, this is the number Mac gave me. This better be an honest to god gig, not like that last one, or else he’s not getting a credit of his agents booking cut. “Just rescue the trapped miners” my ass, that was a bug hunt. And the damn aliens had acid for blood.’

Opening the door, Vera glances quickly at the motley assemblage that meets her eyes.

‘I get the three gun bunnies,’ she thinks, assessing the men quickly, in a way only possible for a woman ‘but what does the one in tweed do?’

She turns abruptly, not liking the looks of this crew at all, when an impulse catches her and she just as suddenly turns back, looks at Lyn, and asks. “Do you validate parking?”

Stepping into the room, she continues, “Because I don’t want to pay for an expensive all day spot outside the hotel, and,” she glances at the others, her gaze lingering longest on the big fella, “by the looks of things it might be awhile before we can analyze whatever intel this mission requires and come up with a plan. You do have intel, right Lady? Please tell me somebody here has intel…”

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The one legged, bionic armed man gets up off the couch in a swift move that belies his natural quickness. He goes to the new comer and does an elegant formal bow.

“Eye ahm Harpoon. Yoo es beautiful. That is all the ‘Intel’ yoo wheel need tonight.” As he rises his metallic hands gently grasps hers and raises it to his dry, cracked lips. Before he kisses it he asks

“Your name, Seniora, I must know et. A soft flower like yoo must have a name from an angel thet eye wheell drop from my lips like a feether!”

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At precisely 12:00, three sharp knocks signal the arrival of number 5. A short, wiry man in his thirties stands to attention outside the door, his eyes (and gold teeth) glittering as he takes in the room. Then he draws his hand up in a precise salute to the room (turning his attention to an imaginary spot somewhere between Will and Lynn, since he can’t decide who outranks who).

“Neb Jorsten reporting for duty, SAH!” he shouts in parade ground style, and waits at attention.

“Uh, at ease”, says Will taking in the new arrival. Neb switches quickly into an easy stance. He is attired in a perfectly pressed and clean cloth suit with a well worn ammo belt. A duffle bag has some long item making a line along its length.

“Force Commander, 232nd Lift Platoon.” he states, lowering his voice only slightly.

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Vera glances at Harpoon, “Your name intrigues me, sir, how ever did you come by it? Never mind, it’s immaterial anyway. I might be interested in going out with you, after the mission, of course, because I don’t date losers, but first, can you tell me, are your arms detachable?”

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“Yeees, eye have a question.” Harpoon ruffles through the compiled files of the captives and selects three certain ones.

“Weech seniora es beest to go Salsa Dancing wit me tonight?” He takes turns holding up the picture of one of the ladies next to his face and flashes a toothy smile. He looks around for others input to this matter. “Eye tink the red-head est spicy, but eye ahm a sucker for blondes!!”

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This reminds me of the raid on Antibes – ‘cept that there we had 100 marines, and there was 100 hostages. So I reckon we’re still even.

I lost my commander in that action, Lt Col Netethon Yanahoo. I don’t wanna lose any more good officers, so we need a good plan.

We need surprise, speed and power. For surprise, a combination of stealth and diversion is about all we have open to us. Since there are only 5 of us, plus you two, we will rely on you two (and anyone else you can muster) to provide the necessary diversion, as we make our entry. Perhaps you can crash a large truck into the compound, as we hit the area with a communications suppressor, and slip in over the back under cover of the crash. What do you think?

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“Eet ees ah good idea, thees ‘_Surprize_’. Ah have an idea uv my own, Neb” Harpoon goes to the holodisplay and messes with the focus controls. The Elixibethan manor house shrinks and more diplomatic enclaves come into being as the view is pulled ever outward. Then, just as Harpoons grin could not get wider the focus encompasses the ever encroaching Dome roof. Multiple lights hang in almost zero-G, some of them are being dimmed to represent dusk. Beyond the upside down sea of artificial illumination the Dome roof is a forest of girder work and cables that are securely anchored to the mega-dense material of the Dome its self.
“Joo see? We can repel down from zee ceiling right on top uv zee embassy! Thees Glisten-ites does take too much pride in theer skill of camouflage. Soon everyone forgets that we are in a tin can! Eef we want, we can explode some anchoring wires and drop a 3 ton light-bulb on these watch towers!!” For effect Harpoon takes his long coat and drops it from the ceiling of the room to the floor.
((Any roll of any appropriate skill will show that this guy just draped his long coat over top of Wills medi pack. Harpoon sits down and scoots the hidden cornucopia of barely legal drugs closer to him. He licks his cracked lips in anticipation.))

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I have a few flashbangs. If we can at least get to the gatehouse quietly we might knock 8 of them out and grab some rifles.

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(Second the “grabbing of rifles”, lol.)

“I like your plan, Mister Harpoon. One question, though. What happens if we’re spotted on the way down? Won’t we be sitting [insert native avian lifeform that prefers wetlands and marshes here]?”

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I like the drop from the ceiling for us, but not for the diversion. If we drop one thing on them, they will naturally look up to see where it came from – and then we would be like fish in a barrel.

Better we go with something like the “gate crash” as the diversion, but we could drop in as you say, Mr Hampster. You could be right about their blind spot.

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To flesh this out a bit – Max (who Will mentions as another potential resource) sets up the truck crash (brick on the accelerator). After the crash, Will and Max start suppression fire from concealed and covered spots around, use a few different weapons (RAM grenades, ACR) to give impression of larger force than they are.

As soon as crash occurs, we abseil down, hit comms with a “wild weasel” device and two immediately rush the main house, as three work on the gate guards. This should get us in the house before the guys outside can rally and fall back. Two of our three outside guys can fall back to the house once the outside guards are taken care of, one remains to secure the area. Once Max realizes they are ignoring him, he can hoof it to the get-away carrier, and bring it up close but out of sight.

We work our way to the captives – my guess is the basement – it is the most secure place from their perspective, and play it by ear from their. Once we are out of the house, we fire a signal and Max swoops over and picks us up.

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If we want to be more elaborate, we could have Autumn in one of her nicest outfits saunter by the front gates, flash the guards her most engaging smile, and ask for directions.

As she does this, Max is waiting in a car down the road with a foot on the accelerator. Autumn waves goodbye and crosses the road to her destination. The car rushes out of nowhere zooming down the road. Autumn screams, appears to be hit, rolls over the hood and falls to the ground. The car skids by and zooms on, a hit and run. As the guards take this in, by the time they can become suspicious, Max and Will start firing from cover – mostly suppression fire, and the plan procedes as above.

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I thought there were no weapons of note apart from our few shotguns and snub pistols? No ACRs RAms etc. Will has a body pistol. Nick?

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“Ahh few tings Meester Neb. Thees girl called Autumn…Et says here that she es captured and is held hostage wit zee others. Also en reveiw uv zee last assult, their weakness was that they spleet-up and were taken out one by one. Eye like yoor plan Meester Neb, but eye tink we should stick together as one front to take these iceholes out. Shoulder to shoulder, able to assisst and protect each other if one of us falls. As for dooping stuff on zee Embassy, We can do that after we arrive as a diversion. As for beeing seen as we repelling down…meh, the plan has eet’s dangers. One last ting Meester Neb, eye don’t have immediet access to illegal RAMs and A.R.C. or a ‘Scary Weasle’ deevice. Do you?”

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“Didn’t someone say this Max fellow was still recuperating in the hospital? He won’t be much use to us. It looks like the five of us, plus tweedy bird here and Lyn, will have to get the job done.” Vera says,“Lyn, are you going in with us?”

Vera continues, “I like the idea of us rapelling down as, or perhaps right before, a diversion at the front gate. As Mr Harpoon says, we could also rig something to fall after we’re down as both a further diversion and to cause damage. One time we did something like this when I was in Damner’s Slammers, Inc., we used a lot of smoke grenades to help confuse the enemy. If they’re thrown as we’re coming down, timed to go off as we land, we’ll be able to plan the LOS zones for the whole combat.”

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“Didn’t someone say this Max fellow was still recuperating in the hospital? He won’t be much use to us. It looks like the five of us, plus tweedy bird here and Lyn, will have to get the job done.” Vera says,“Lyn, are you going in with us?”

Vera continues, “I like the idea of us rapelling down as, or perhaps right before, a diversion at the front gate. As Mr Harpoon says, we could also rig something to fall after we’re down as both a further diversion and to cause damage. One time we did something like this when I was in Damner’s Slammers, Inc., we used a lot of smoke grenades to help confuse the enemy. If they’re thrown as we’re coming down, timed to go off as we land, we’ll be able to plan the LOS zones for the whole combat.”

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Although it might not have occurred to either Grim or Arvor to speak with either the Colonel/Geek or the well-dressed, attractive, middle-aged woman during the long hours that they are incarcerated in the same cell as them, Autumn does strike up a conversation with them both.

She learns that the woman is the Elixabethan Ambassador to the Imperium, Conchita Serlusconi, niece of President Bilvio.

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If we can hire a vehicle a simple way for the BAron to provide a diversion would be for it to move round the outside walls, with him on the roof.

He can pop up, provide a couple of not very well aimed shots (not even necessarily exposing himself a. la. US Grunts in the Siege of Hue) before the driver (Will) floors it and drives to a completely different part of the walls.

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Ian, Jay and Steve – you’ll have to help me out here. With so many PCs involved, I am struggling to remember exactly who did what when and have probably missed out some really cool stuff. So please feel free to edit the summary and add any notable parts of it that I forgot to include so everyone gets due recognition.

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NickPendrell

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