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Welcome to Earth

Discussion in 'Private Roleplay' started by Tetrarch, Nov 27, 2017.

  1. Tetrarch

    (None of this is canon. It's just a bit of my own take on what Earth might be like circa the time of the Expanse. And to help me practice finding a voice for my character. Any feedback or comments are welcome).

    The city was burning.

    Clouds of noxious black smoke rose into the sky, obscuring the flight of dropships as they made their final approach. Their passengers clutched onto their restraint harnesses while they took evasive action. The marine next to Krzysztof lost his lunch, vomiting all over his boots. The landing ramp was lowered and they could catch glimmers of blue ocean water through it and the viewports.

    “Thirty seconds”. The pilot’s voice sounded calm despite the strain he felt. They were swooping through the city now, flying over the wreckage. Burning vehicles and buildings, bodies strewn along the streets. Crashed aircraft and fire blackened corpses. Rio was a mass grave.

    The dropship came in hard, thrusters screeching as they braked. They’d barely touched the ground before sergeant Carpenter was barking “Go! Go! Go!”. They came out running, bent double as they scrambled for cover. Other units were already deployed to the landing zone. Regular army, they roared at the marines to get into cover. Krzy was puzzled until a sniper round kicked up the dirt a couple of feet away. He dived forward into cover, hitting the ground hard enough to wind him.

    The rest of the squad had beat him to it. They hunkered down in the dirt, some leaning against the building wall. Other soldiers were rushing to the dropships with stretchers, loading them with the wounded. A trio of infantry shared the wall with them. “Bienvenue en Rio” one commented, lighting a cigarette with shaking hands. They looked knackered, one of them had bandages covering most of his face, his helmet resting on his lap. Graffiti was scrawled on the wall behind them. ‘Why bother heading to Mars or the Belt? There’s plenty of action here!’ It closed with a smiley face.

    The dropzone itself was a mess. There were large craters from what looked like mortars decorating the square. There was a long line of bodies spread along one wall, most of them with their hands tied behind their back. Few were wearing uniform. “Who the fuck were they?” one marine breathed. “Separatists, gunmen, subversives, does it matter?” Ramirez was unsympathetic. One of the French speakers bit off a laugh. “The previous tenants” she explained, a half smile on her face. They were nonplussed at the horrified stares of the marines. They’d been in the city for days already, might have been part of the initial garrison when it started. Flies buzzed near another corpse, lying facedown in the dirt just a few feet from them.

    The roaring of turbines snatched their attention skyward. A flight of gunships cruised past, blasting off rocket salvos. A few moments later there were the thunderous sounds of explosions as they hit their target. Lieutenant Vallon ran towards them, bent double, he was panting by the time he reached them, squatting in the dirt near Carpenter. He pulled out a battered looking dataslate, wincing as more gunships flew overhead. “We’re to move to here” his finger jabbed down at a point on the map, “To link up with a platoon of armour. We’re to move with them to secure a thoroughfare to Dog company. Matthew’s squad will take the lead”.

    Carpenter’s voice was like flint when he spoke, “Expected resistance?” “We don’t know. They’ve been ghosting through the ruins between our positions. Could be a couple of companies, could be nothing”. Carpenter was silent. “I didn’t come up with this idea Sergeant” the lieutenant’s voice was softer. “I didn’t say a word sir”.

    Sergeant Carpenter didn’t waste time. “On your feet, move out, close to the wall”. The marines were reluctant but they obeyed, creeping along it in single file. “Bonne chance” one of the French piped up. Horvath gave him the finger as they passed.
    #1 Tetrarch, Nov 27, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2017
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  2. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

    Character Biography:
    The city was choked with dust and it reeked. Krzy tugged his buff up over his nose to give him some relief. The squad moved in sections, one group covering the other while they moved. The city was quiet, at least it was in their area. Now and again they’d hear the sounds of automatic fire from a couple of blocks away or the far off sound of thunder as the Navy did another bombing run.

    Their squad was on point. The platoon swapped at every intersection. One squad of marines creeping forward ahead of the main column, the ugly looming bulk of the tanks behind them.

    Crudely painted slogans were on some of the walls, one of them marred by the burnt corpse beneath it. Krzy frowned as he squinted at the unfamiliar words. “Hey Ramirez, what’s that say?”. Their grenadier snorted, “I speak Spanish cabron, that’s Portuguese”. He groaned at Krzy’s expectant look, giving in “Joder, it’s like-” he squinted at the graffiti, biting his lip in thought “Something about freedom is forever, freedom is eternal, something like that.” The other marine nodded, satisfied now. “What’s it mean though?” “Fucked if I know, you always see shite like this scrawled in ratholes like here”. He spat on the ground.

    “We got movement!” The call from the front made them snap their heads up. Everyone dove for cover, weapons pointed forward. The pointman let off a burst of fire. “Contact!”. Dark figures could be seen through the smoke. The squad opening up, guns blazing. Horvath let off a grenade. “Dagger Two, hold position!” Carpenter’s voice was firm on the comm, “Stay in cover”.

    The gunfire slackened off, to be replaced by a slow rumbling. One of their tanks came crawling through the smoke, its weight making the very ground shake. It halted near the squad, its main gun pointed up the street. Carpenter leaned against a wall, keying his comm as he listened in. “Copy that Gladius One. Dagger Two, move up through the buildings to the intersection. My team on the left, Li’s on the right.”

    The tank remained motionless, its engine idling. Krzy followed Carpenter as he ducked in through a hole. The inside of the building was a mess, half the ceiling had come down and there was rubble everywhere. Carpenter moved in a half crouch, guiding the fireteam. “Ramirez, Trang, secure the left corner” he whispered, jabbing his hand at an open doorway. They came through into the last room, windows opening up onto the intersection. Carpenter dropped onto his haunches and edged forward. “Gladius One, this is Dagger Two Actual. Left side secure”. Krzy moved up to rest against the wall, risking a peek through the chewed up window hole.

    “Why isn’t the tank moving?". Carpenter didn’t answer immediately, he was scanning the far buildings with eagle like intensity. Dropping back down, he pulled out his canteen and took a quick sip. “No smart tanker is going to go ahead of the groundpounders. He’s going to sit tight until we reassure them there’s no wankers with missiles hidden.” “But they’ve got armour-” “Aye, but get a shot on the top, sides, or rear, you’ve got roast tanker-” A burst of machine gun fire interrupted them, Carpenter dropping his canteen and rising to his feet.

    The comms crackled, “Dagger Two here. Right side secured”. Gladius One prowled forward. Carpenter risked another look, “Dagger Two, we’re on overwatch. Prepare to advance”. The third squad came forward at the trot, a line of marines on each side of the street. The rest of the platoon was strung out behind them, hugging the walls while the tanks squatted in the middle.

    The rebels waited until they were crossing the street to fire. Automatic weapons cut down the first fireteam to cross while others opened up on the buildings opposite. A missile ricocheted right off the front of Gladius Two. A second hit its top armour. Burning crewmen bailed out, screaming and walking pillars of flame. They were gunned down.

    The response was devastating with the entirety of Dagger platoon firing on full auto. Horvath let off round after round from his grenade launcher. The tanks charged forward. A high explosive round smashed into one building followed by flechettes fired by a sister tank. Even from where he was, Krzy could hear the screams.

    A lull descended. Figures could be seen through the smoke exiting one of the buildings. They had their hands up, the lead one carrying a white flag. Machine gun fire cut them down. The survivors of Third squad and one of the tanks had opened up on them, in no mood to be merciful. Krzy watched in horror. Carpenter was tight lipped. He hadn’t fired but then he hadn’t tried to stop it either.

    “Fucking hell” a voice said. Krzy didn’t look back to see who it was. Carpenter put his canteen away and slammed a fresh magazine into his rifle. The tanks moved forward more, a third one inching past the still smoking wreck of Gladius Two. They began to systematically rake the buildings, spacing tank rounds out along them while machine guns roared on full auto. Then, suddenly as they’d began, they stopped. The radio crackled, “Dagger Two, take point”.

    The squad crept forward in short bounds. Smoke still choked the intersection. Krzy threw himself against a wall while Carpenter lobbed a grenade in. Horvath and Ramirez charged in firing. They repeated this in two more rooms. There wasn't much to clear, most had been killed by the tank fire. Krzy flinched as heard gunfire, single shots spaced out. Through a hole in the wall he could see a marine executing one of the wounded. He opened his mouth to speak but Carpenter shook his head.

    A shot sounded from upstairs then Li’s voice rang out, “Floor secure!”. Carpenter led his fireteam back into the street. One of the tanks was passing by, escorted by first squad. Lieutenant Vallon was with them, his face grim. Carpenter moved to talk with him. Krzy could hear something about “two more intersections left to clear” but he was only half listening.

    A wave of nausea washed over him and he bent over, leaning on his knees. He vomited up what was left of an MRE all over the pavement. One of the corporals from Dagger One paused near him, his hand resting on Krzy’s shoulder, “Going to live?”. Krzy nodded, struggling to get words out, “F-first one”. The corporal nodded and patted Krzy’s back. “It gets easier” he said, turning to rejoin the column.
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  3. Tetrarch

    Manaus sector, Amazonia, South America.

    The VTOL transport flew higher than usual. It gave a breathtaking vista of what was left of the Amazon. Like a green sea it seemed to spread to the horizon except where ugly scars had been carved into it by machines. Two gunships flanked them, flying at cruising speed. They were an ugly sight, but a reassuring one.

    “I didn’t think there was that much green left on Earth”. The door gunner grinned, “Mental isn’t it? You go down in there, it’s a long walk to friendlies. The Green takes no prisoners”. Krzysztof looked down and tried to imagine it. Where would you even start? Murky brown tributary rivers splitting chunks of it into islands, the occasional boat plying its trade. He remembered the adage one of the leavers had told them as they mounted the transports. “Instructors will say it’s going to be your friend. The realistic ones will say it’s neutral. It’s not either, you’re going to learn to hate it”.

    The briefing had been as encouraging. Half the battalion crammed into a sweltering hangar, the humidity making every movement an effort. They’d sat on the floor while the brigade intelligence staff lectured them. The map was a bewildering mix of colour. Blue for UN mandated territory, green for local government and ‘friendlies’. Yellow for the locations to be wary in. The official word was ‘unstable’. Red for the hostiles, free fire zones, kill anything coming at you with a sharp stick, rock, or combat mech.

    There wasn’t enough blue on the map. The green swathes of control seemed…optimistic. The locals were going to be taking over control but the Marines were being parcelled out in penny packets as stiffening. No one liked it. If their allies broke and ran, they were going to be left on their own. The South American theatre had bigger fish to fry in the Andes than worry about the conservation mandate.

    “Mind you” the gunner piped up, “I’d take here over the Taiga. The shots protect us from most of the maladies they’ve got here. The cold will kill you quicker than anything else up in Siberia. Even the local guerrillas hate it.” He shivered as if an icy hand had touched his shoulder. His smile returned though, “That’s one load off your mind now isn’t it?”
    The base wasn’t much. A few prefabricated buildings, a central command bunker, crudely dug foxholes with small bunkers anchoring the lines. There were few of them, too few. It resembled a triangle from the air, a small island of dirt in the sea of green.

    1st squad had been the spearhead, they’d deployed with a platoon worth of the Army to construct it. The rest of the column had proceeded onwards, cutting roads. The clearing had been expanded and some construction done but that was it. “Great to see they’ve been killing themselves” Fletcher muttered. The stack of shovels and picks already laid out confirmed the suspicions they had. The Lieutenant did not seem happy with the progress that had been made.

    Krzysztof wondered was it possible to sweat blood. He was sure he was going to find out if the digging kept up. The heat was noxious. The soil seemed to have two consistencies. Sludge and muck, holes refilling as quick as you dug them, or baked by the sun to be as hard as rock. Despite the challenges they’d managed to dig a second line of unconnected trenches and firing pits for the heavier weapons to anchor the points of the triangle.

    Trying to stop the tide coming in would be easier. The small patch of civilisation was constantly besieged by the looming mass of the green. It was slow, murderous work, but it alleviated the boredom somewhat. The alternative was patrolling at a snail’s pace around the base perimeter. A mile an hour was considered good progress. He shook his head before reaching for his canteen. Empty. He swore but looked around for a puddle, he could just refill….

    “Don’t drink it” the warning came from one of the Brazilians. Krzysztof waved his arm, “But it came from the sky-” “It’s gone through the undergrowth. It usually intermingles with toxins, if you value your life, don’t”. Krzysztof gritted his teeth but the man was hardly speaking for the fun of it. “Thanks” he said instead but the Brazilian had already turned back to digging.

    A private in 2nd squad ignored the advice and did it anyway. He was currently in the infirmary, being prepped for a medevac. His throat swellings were resisting even the most potent antitoxins they had.

    A whistle blew and tools were downed at the signal for a break. “Thank Christ” Krzysztof muttered, slumping down in what passed for shade. “You just got here” Fitzgerald said, he’d come out with the advance party. “Are things as bad as they say?”. Fitzgerald made a face. “Coari, Japura. Neither would be what you’d called pacified. We’ve got better IR gear but I still wouldn’t be moving around at night. It might look green to ye but it’s red on the map. They’ve scaled back the humanitarian options until the workers stop getting chopped.”

    “So who are we fighting then?” “Hard to say. The Children of Gaia, the ecoterrorists, they’re still heavily active. There’s the locals too though it’s not just indigs anymore. Anyone who mucks up in any of the settlements generally takes to the jungle. They don’t care if you’re a convert or not. More meat for the grinder”. Krzy shook his head, “And you think this is going to work?” his hand indicated the half finished trenches and crudely strung razorwire. One reinforced Army company and a platoon of half mutinous Marines.

    Fitzgerald shrugged. “Should be fine. Once the MPR don’t mark us down for a visit” “MPR?” “Morte por Noite, the death by night. Newest boogeymen. Those fuckers keep hitting any outpost or garrison they can. You roll in on a convoy and you’ll find a base a smoking wreck, the troops there spread all over the place. They jam comms and IR when they hit a place. You never get many walking away from one of their attacks. Theories range from mercs to aliens. I’d almost take the greenies over them”.

    “The Greenies? The Army?” “Nah the bloody ecoterrorists. Absolute headcases. They don’t take too many prisoners either. Throats slit, mutilated, they call it giving back to the Earth. They hit a spot, it’s like an abattoir.” Silence followed that, everyone doing their best (and failing) to not picture it.

    “So how are they pulling this off?” “Bastards are well armed, it’s easy enough to murder a farmer or off-duty policeman with a hatchet. With a few pistols and shotguns you can take out one of the local outposts. It doesn’t help that this whole sector is riddled with informers and collaborators. We’ve found more and more official stamped weapons in caches. Well in the rebel ones.” Krzy shot the Brazilians a suspicious look. Fitzgerald laughed, “Relax. It won’t be them. They’re even worse off than us if they’re caught. An outpost near Manaus got hit last month. Twenty heads mounted on stakes with ‘Death to traitors’ daubed on the walls. Theatrical nah? We’ll probably just be executed.” He managed to light his cigarette on the third try, “I’ve been gasping for a fag. Yeah the ones selling the weapons are safely out of here”.

    Krzy stared at him before looking down at the ground again, “Feckin’ trees.” “Agreed, I’m all for conservationism but they don’t like being forced off the land. Bad enough when it’s your own people but UN personnel? Didn’t help that the Security Council are barely touching this. It’s the UNEP who set this off. The promise of an amnesty was too black and white. It brought in some of the moderates, it’s just pushed more to be hardliners. They’ve seceded, declared themselves independent. The land is for the people, or the people for the land. We’d asked the neutrals to move out of the area. Most didn’t. The UN move was well meaning but it’s just dragged more onto the other side. Between an us or them choice, them are much better for the locals. Even the bloody wildlife don’t like us.”

    “The snakes I can handle. The tigers-” “Jaguars” “Whatever. They’re the ones that freak me out.” “Nah, snakes for me. You won’t know if it’s a jaguar” “No?” “They’ll creep up from behind and crush your skull with one swipe. It’ll be quick”.
  4. Tetrarch

    "He travels the fastest who travels alone"- Rudyard Kipling

    The Same Night.
    Supply Convoy 86-C, en route to Regional Command, Sector Amazonia.

    Around sixty trucks were spread along the dirt road. Even through his headphones, Sergeant Dzundza could hear the constant roar of engines as much as he could feel the steady rumble of his own, the whole tank shaking around him. The unwieldy length of the column meant they were moving at a crawl, it was no wonder they'd been benighted. Under the combat lighting, he squinted at his dataslate, his finger tracing their route. "Simba One, what's the hold up?" came the query over the radio. Dzundza grimaced and muted his mic for a second while he swore to himself.

    "We're scanning the intersection Cazador Six, stand by." Simba was the name of the Marauder tank platoon assigned to the convoy. Cazador Six was the commander of the mechanized Brazilian company accompanying them. And so far he'd been showing himself to be a bloody pain in the neck.

    It didn't help that Dzundza's lieutenant was sick. It meant as senior sergeant, he'd taken over command of the platoon. Not a problem in the normal scheme of things. Despite being an outsider in the predominantly Zanzibarian unit, he knew reasonable Swahili and had proven himself in the morass that had been Manila six months ago.

    The issue was the aristocratic character of Brazilian society. There was a clear stratification in place. Cazador Six despite his meagre title of captain was a titled nobleman with a large portion of shares in the mining industry. Which meant that the longer this conflict drew on, the more he saw his coffers empty. And he was damned if he was going to listen to some jumped up mercenary, a soldier who fought only for profit, was going to be giving him orders. And he wasn't even an officer! It offended him on many levels, not least that of his personal pride and honour.

    "Well hurry up about it" came the irritable response "We're already behind schedule Simba One". Dzundza didn't dignify it with a response. He leaned forward and tapped the shoulder of his driver, "Alright Roger head on out, pole-pole 'kay?" he reminded as the driver gunned the main battle tank forward.

    And a mine went off directly under the tank.

    The Onager Mk III as a rule wasn't the prettiest, nor the best tank on the market. It wasn’t the one you'd see gracing the formations of household guards or royal divisions. But credit for credit, it talked the talk and walked the walk. It packed a punch and was possessed of a reliable ruggedness that could see it holed from one side to the other and still drive even with fuel and oil leaking.

    It didn't make the explosion any milder or easier to weather for Simba One's crew. Dzundza blacked out for a moment as his helmeted head was smashed against a bulkhead. Alarms were sounding and he blinked his eyes experimentally, his head having walloped itself proper. It felt like his brain was too big for his skull. He slumped in his command chair, clutching at his head. "Report!" he managed to bark out, eyes screwed shut.

    The screens had gone out and Dzundza hit it before flicking the reboot switch. The screens flickered, went dark again and then came back to life. Onto a vision of hell.

    It had been the trigger. Activated by the pressure of the tank, it had set off a wave of others linked to it. Buried along the side of the road, they were utterly devastating to the lightly armoured lorries. The shrapnel shredded indiscriminately, tearing into the crew compartments. Those with more volatile cargos just exploded, flames lighting up the road.

    "We've got multiple contacts on the scanner" Roger said, his fingers dancing over the keyboard as his eyes tried to scan two displays at once. "I've got fuck all, we're blind here" another tech yelled. Dzundza didn't even hesitate, "Crank it!" he was already clambering up to the access hatch. The radio was full of screams, requests for orders and in the background, the sound of automatic weapons fire and explosions.

    Of the eight APC's escorting, the combination of mines and AT weaponry had reduced three of them to burning hulks, the screams pitiful as the occupants cooked inside. Two more were mobility kills, wheels smashed and mangled, they weren't going anywhere fast. Their engines roared futilely while their turrets swept autocannon fire along the side of the road.

    Simba One's machine guns opened up but even depressed to the maximum setting, they wouldn't be able to protect the tank from being swarmed. Infantry dumb enough to attack a tank generally knew how to do it. Dzundza opened the hatch and grabbed at the pintle mount, the night sky lit up by the flames from burning trucks and the flash of explosions. The Onager turret was traversing slowly and the defoliant projector was spraying flame out to fifteen metres.

    Dzundza cranked his MG and began to fire along the road. Dark armoured figures darted in and amongst the burning trucks, knives flashing and weapons firing. Near Simba Two the air seemed to shimmer and Dzundza swung the pintle mount on to it, the gun shaking with the force of the recoil, heavy 14mm rounds raking the road. A figure flashed into view, lit up by the flashes as he fired. It slumped across the front track of the tank, the AT charge slipping from its' hand. Paranoid of others, he swept his fire left and right of where he'd killed the raider.

    "Thanks for the assist Simba One" came the relieved voice of Simba Two. "Traverse about Simba Two, let's give the rest a fighting chance" he responded, he dropped a little to kick his driver's shoulder. "Let's go Frank!" As his tank turned, Simba Two was obligingly reversing off the road to give the command tank room to move. His helmet was painting dozens of targets but finding it impossible to distinguish between friend and foe.

    Most of the Brazilians hadn't debussed. They stayed hunkered down in their wheeled APCs, blazing away from the firing ports, at least then you could feel like you were doing something. Dzundza watched appalled as a rocket discharge flared, a second later it had torn into one of the immobilised transports. Even from here he could hear the screams. "Gunner! Mark my target!" he tagged it with his neural lace, the interface connecting it with the gunnery screen in the main hull of the tank. "Steady, fire!" "On the way!" came the assured response, the Onager rocked back with the recoil as the cannon fired.

    It was an absolute nightmare. The terrified conscripts in their transports were blazing away ineffectually while cold-blooded professionals moved in to disable what had effectively becoming fixed defense posts. The APCs were proof against small-arms fire but shaped charges and rockets were proving to be more than enough. Those drivers and guards who'd survived the first barrage were putting up a fight but amidst the smoke and flames, it was near impossible to pick out targets.

    "Simba Two, fire illuminants" he ordered calmly, "Copy that". A few seconds later a wave of flares were fired, arching high over the convoy. "Roger, dead ahead, ram anything off the road blocking us" the APCs had tried it but they didn't have the sheer mass or power of the tanks. Simba One sent the first burning hulk in its' way flying, knocking it off the road. After that, it was pedal to the metal and a proper mad minute as every weapon on Simba One fired, sweeping the road in front of them and to their right.

    Tank shock it's called. Maybe it's the primeval instinct hidden deep down in every human but there is something about sixty plus tonnes of metal charging at you, spitting fire that inspires one to run. The wrath of an angry god or dragon. Dzundza dropped into the compartment, yanking the hatch closed to button up. Some of the stray rounds directed at him had been uncomfortably close. They couldn't see shit but right now all they wanted to was gun it forward to rejoin Simba Three and Four at the rear of the column. And maybe save what they could. Anyone who was brave or suicidal enough to attack a convoy guarded by a company of mechanized infantry and a tank platoon wasn't going to break easy.

    As if to agree with him, the whole tank shuddered as a thunderclap hit it. "Fuck!" "It's ok, its ok! We're rolling, we're rolling!" assured the driver, a collective sigh of relief going through all of them. That was too close. "God bless reactive armour" murmured the loader in a fervent prayer. The tank grinded over something, the left side bumping up over it.

    We're meant for slugging it out with other mediumweights, not playing tag with footsloggers.The tank hit thirty miles an hour, something went splat against the front armour. "Simba Two, how we doing?" "Still rolling Simba One, one of our tracks is clipped but we're still mobile" . Below Dzundza the loader was slamming shells into the breech as fast as he could. Roger muttered a constant prayer as he drove, eyes glued to his porthole. The auxilary guns were blazing away in steady bursts, just part of the mad symphony.

    "Rocket team moving, six o clock" "Got them on scopes, gunner" "On the way!" the whole tank shuddered again as the main gun fired. "Simba Two cover the left side, we've got the right" "Copy that" was the response as Simba One slowed, the Onager turning to present its bow armour.

    "Loaded" "Fire" "On the way!" The Onager rocked back again. The turret began to traverse slowly to rake everything in front of it indiscriminately, the machine gun barrels must have been scorching to touch. Flame spouted from every weapon. A full thirty seconds of fire until it halted. There was very little in response. A lone rifle shot pinged off the side armour.

    "Simba One, this is Three, how are you holding out?" Dzundza grabbed the mike "Good to hear from you Three, we're about midway down the column, resistance is slacking off. Your situation?" "Four’s right track is slagged, mobility kill but she can still fire. We've been clipped a little bit but still running. Looks like they're bugging out" Dzundza sighed in relief before he responded "Agreed Three, keep scanners running and send a bit of encouragement to hustle them on their way"

    "Going up" he announced to the crew, steeling himself before he opened the hatch and clambered out. The stink was oppressive, clouds of black smoke were wreathing the battlefield and the ambient temperature had shot up from the amount of burning transports. "Kurwa" he swore to himself, his eyes squinting to make out details. He ducked at an explosion but it was only ammunition cooking off from one of the flaming lorries. He slumped a little in the hatch, grabbing at the comm "One to all Simbas. Keep your eyes open but unbutton, I think the worst is over" he coughed again as some of the smoke drifted by him.

    The screams of the wounded were the worst to hear. Here and there he could see figures crawling or else emerging from wreckage, spluttering and bent double. After the initial chaos, it was almost...calm now.

    He changed channel, opening up the line to the regional command. "Simba One here, escort to supply convoy 86-C. We've ah...been hit pretty hard" he looked around, halving his initial estimate and then halving it again. "Survivors.." his voice failed him "Not many" he let the mike drop from his hand as the aftershock washed over him like a wave, his whole body shaking. A disturbed giggle escaped him. He was alive.
    #4 Tetrarch, Dec 22, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
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  5. HSAR

    Grid 180 390, Angels 2, Sector Amazonia

    Lieutenant Colonel Moore whistled as their flight of AV-110C Goshawk tiltjet aircraft banked over the armoured column. Oil fires were still burning, but ammunition cook-off had mostly stopped. Cheap stuff, all of it, and most had gone up in the first blaze. Anyone in those APCs who had survived the RPG hits would have died to the secondaries. Miraculously, however, a couple of the stiffer private military types in Onager tanks had fought off the attack - old pieces of kit, but sturdy enough to take a few hits. More likely than not they wouldn't know anything, but they'd get a debriefing just to be sure.

    "Big Eye feed is live but fuzzy from the smoke, sir. You want us to go in for a closer look?"

    "Anything on the threat boards?"

    "Nothing. Could be pop-ups or MANPADs out there, though."

    "Hmmm. All right, let's go. Spin up the laser pods, go guns free, and we'll make a quick pass. You're off the chain, waste anything that looks like a threat."

    "Good copy, sir. You want more eyes on?"

    "Affirmative, but limited release only. Drop a couple of the recoverables."

    All four Goshawks rotated their jet engines towards the vertical and nosed up to reduce airspeed, still locked in their diamond formation. Gunners steered chin-turreted autocannons to and fro while targeting cameras painted ghostly shapes out of hyperspectral-imaged heat haze. From recessed wells where they were retracted for aerodynamics, focusing arrays for laser-based point defense poked out into the jetstream - ready to blind or burn missiles out of the air. Finally, dorsal panels opened up to eject bird-sized drones with insectile-looking imaging pods. They spread out to scan the scene in quick sweeps of lidar, radar and acoustic mapping.

    It didn't look good. Half the trucks were on fire, and the rest looked like Swiss cheese. The APCs had lived up to their deathtrap reputation, and the only one that wasn't blown was crawling away with obvious engine damage. The PMCs, with proper armor, seemed to be doing better. Two tanks had gone hull-down in terrain cover, while the crews of two others had dismounted from immobilised vehicles.

    "Looks like the action's over. You want us to put down for a recce, sir?"

    The Marine officer considered. His staff were hardened veterans - even the comms and admin officers - and could easily have handled a ground patrol. On the other hand, they were all exhausted after days of trying to damage control the situation, and desperately needed the hot showers and food at FOB Nightingale. If it weren't for the fact that Big Eye couldn't get high-res visual through the smoke and fire, they wouldn't even have bothered diverting from their flight path.

    "Negative. We probably won't find anything down there anyway."


    "Reel in the drones and take us back up. I don't want to linger in a hot zone, and there's nothing we can do to help."

    "Roger. Citadel, this is Normandy Four. No hostile presence at the ambush. Data packet is going out on the uplink."

    Moore turned off the display. He sat back and closed his eyes for a nap, blacking out the images of burning vehicles. There'd be more to do tomorrow.
    #5 HSAR, Dec 26, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
    Krzysztof Wierzbowski likes this.
  6. HSAR

    Command Information Centre, FOB Nightingale, Grid 290 391, Sector Amazonia

    In the air-conditioned chill of the operations centre, dozens of workstations were arrayed facing a central podium where a giant holographic display system showed a rendering of the entire AO out to three hundred kilometres.

    At the foot of the holographic display table, Colonel Speer was being briefed along with his Navy counterpart, Captain Hereford. A staff officer brought up a holographic model of the ambushed convoy.

    "Here's the latest data from LtCol Moore's Goshawk overflight. The points of interest are these trucks."

    The model rotated to a profile view, zooming in on three trucks. One was burning, while two were merely abandoned.

    "The manifest states that these were carrying nonperishables and ammunition for FOB Hummingbird, but the truth is that they were carrying BGM-213B Shrikes. Tactical missiles. VECKS warheads, mostly, but there are a pair of sunburns in there."

    Both commanding officers swore colourfully. Speer recovered first, his German features grim.

    "Why are we only finding this out now? And why was this convoy not given a proper escort?"

    "Only one reason, really. We're stretched too thin on the ground. ONI reckoned that if we put a protective escort on just one convoy, it would be hit for sure. We hoped that this one would be discreet enough to fly under the radar, although we uprated the private military contract for the escort just in case."


    "Very, sir. It was those PMCs - driving Onager-As, no less - that fought off the attack. But right now we have eight top-of-the-line cruise missiles just waiting to be stolen."

    "Do we know for sure they're still on the trucks?"

    "Radar imagery confirms that all eight are still in their packing cases."

    "Something to be thankful for."

    Captain Hereford spoke up, spinning the holographic model around and virtually pulling out the large, squat missile from its crate. She crossed her arms.

    "Two actionables, then. We need to destroy these before we have a rogue missile problem. Then we need to find out how we even got into this situation in the first place. Find out who authorised the ordnance transfer and who had access to the manifest. Cross-reference them with possible intelligence leaks."

    "A heist?"

    "I've got a nasty feeling, Speer."

    The German nodded slowly, scratching at stubble he hadn't had time to shave.

    "I hate your feelings, Hereford."

    "They're usually right."


    "Very funny, Speer. You, put a strike on those missiles. We'll get the spooks on the line in the morning. Agreed?"

    "Seems acceptable."

    The senior officers nodded at each other and left. The staff officer stayed, consulted with a few of her peers, then finally tasked a weapons operator in the middle ring of workstations. He, in turn, rapidly navigated systems menus in a clatter of keystrokes.

    The meshed network of overhead reconnaissance drones, satellites and AWACS aircraft that was termed "Big Eye" gave the weapons operator a clear virtual view of the scene. He chose a missile, a warhead, and boxed up the trucks - putting together a fire mission package and sending it off. FOB Nightingale's combat information computers analysed the fire mission, selected the nearest available asset and sent it onwards.

    Angels 5, Grid 189 410, Sector Amazonia

    Laser data packets spattered against sensors on the dorsal surfaces on Normandy Four - Lieutenant Colonel Moore's Goshawks. Being as they were at the outer edge of the range of their AGM-103 Gopher missiles, the decision was made to up the fire mission to four rounds. In the cabins of each Goshawk, pilots thumbed biometric scanners to authorise weapons release. From there onwards, all systems were automatic.

    In each of the four Goshawks, an automatic loader had already pulled out a Gopher from the rack and set it on a rail ready for firing. The fire mission was uploaded into the missile, final safety features were removed, and bay doors opened. Not half a second after the pilots had authorised, rocket motors accelerated the missiles to supersonic speeds.

    Gophers were the newest and largest of the new-generation precision-guided munitions in the Goshawk's quiver. They peeled off and descended to two hundred metres - in their wake leaves were ripped off trees and windows rattled - maintaining laser-based datalink with the Goshawks. Radar, weather, nap-of-earth navigation - all fed into the processor. When they were out of sight of the Goshawks' laser transmitters, they switched to Big Eye squirts.

    Five hundred metres from the target, all four missiles went silent and switched to terminal guidance on their own sensors. Two went high, two stayed low, but all carried the same effect-on-target objective.

    Twenty metres from the target, all four missiles went into an abrupt dive and fired. Inside their warheads, the Variable-Explosive Conventional Kill System triggered a programmable shaped charge in a spectacular and carefully-designed pattern. This dumped a fuel-air explosive charge into a fifty-metre line of fire. The targeted trucks were pounded by a massive linear shockwave, then split by an explosion that, very briefly, exceeded two thousand degrees Celsius. This happened four times, each whipcrack of hellfire placed slightly differently.

    The weapons operator and the staff officer at FOB Nightingale watched appreciatively. Both were satisfied that there was no chance the missiles could have survived such a strike.

    Mission accomplished.
    #6 HSAR, Dec 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  7. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

    Character Biography:
    Two miles west of Outpost 47, Sector Amazonia

    Krzysztof peered into the darkness, trying to discern movement. The moon cast a baleful glow but under the canopy of the jungle it didn't light up much. It gave the NVGs some ambient light to work off but it was very hit and miss. Their IR and thermal gear had similar issues. The omnipresent heat and humidity played havoc with the kit. The amount of wildlife here was astonishing. A private in second squad had set off four mines and loosed off half a hundred rounds at what had turned out to be a couple of tapirs. A complete waste, there hadn't even been enough left of the animals for a decent barbecue.

    The image intensifiers were proving to be the most rugged but they were a nightmare to lug around. They were a killer on the eyes too. You had to keep moving from the scope to blink away and let them rest in the soothing black of the night.

    It was the wet he hated the most. The humidity was a killer, it wore out everyone. But lying out here on ambush detail in the sodden undergrowth, feeling bugs crawl over underneath the armour and uniform, he fucking hated it. Back home he'd have killed for a mansion. Right now he just wanted a dry floor with four walls around him and a roof above. Instead he was here in the shit, shivering in the cold.

    He reached out his hand for the twentieth time to touch his rifle, reassuring himself it was still there. The target scanner on the image intensifier flashed once and Krzysztof abandoned any thought of a dry bed. His eye was back, glued to the image intensifier. Barely daring to breathe, he squelched his comm twice. Movement spotted.

    His leg moved slowly to nudge the slumbering form of Fitzgerald next to him. The section began to stir, partners waking their dozing buddies. Krzysztof began to tense in anticipation, wincing at each small click as safeties were eased off and grenades readied. He squinted against the viewfinder, watching grass and the undergrowth move as if by the wind. There! The fuzzy outline of a figure began to take shape, moving slowly like it was underwater.

    The figure moved with extreme care, rifle barrel sweeping to follow the direction of their gaze. He could make out the outlines of goggles on top of their head. Good to see their tech isn't working in this shit either. Krzy froze as the figure seemed to look directly at him, the stare lingering long enough to make him uncomfortable. He didn't dare take a breath till the figure looked away. He let out a slow breath, dropping his eyes from the viewfinder while he said a silent prayer of thanks.

    The figure halted and waved. From behind them, more figures began to creep forward, though with less care than the lead scout had taken. Christ they were good, they moved like ghosts. Each guerrilla covered the opposite side to that of the one in front of them. A rustle sounded as he heard the fire support team take up position to the left of him. They’d moved in before dark and presighted lanes of fire. It was just their luck a guerrilla patrol had stumbled across them. He was aware of every breath he took, each second a gain. The enemy were drawing closer, the seconds ticking with horrific slowness.

    Fitzgerald swore. The enemy scout had halted and seemed to be scanning the area. They’d knelt to peer into the black. Krzy didn’t hesitate, he went prone and hit the detonator.

    Crump. Crump. Crump. The explosions went off, one by one, screams following close after. The ground rumbled, shaking his entire body. The dirt hadn’t even settled before the rattle of automatic weapons was there. The heavy machine gun nearly deafened him when it went off a second later. Gunfire lit up the night, not even half the other side was down. Their scout had been good, damn good. Another few seconds and he’d have spotted the ambush. As it was he’d spared a good few of them the kill zone.

    He pulled the butt of his rifle tight against his shoulder and began to fire in short bursts at every flash of gunfire he saw. A whistle screamed as flares went up, casting an eerie glow over the scene.

    “By pairs, forward” came the order. Fitzgerald hit his shoulder and then he was gone, moving forward into the dark. A couple of seconds later and he was prone in the dirt, firing again. Others were doing the same, some screaming as they went forward, lit up only by the tracers and flares. Some were cut down but he didn’t care. All he could focus on was pumping his legs as fast as possible. Fresh mag in, it was back to the same routine of aim and fire, aim and fire.

    A loud whump went off as one of the grenadiers let off a thumper. The heavy machine gun was slackening off now as the section mvoed in. Fitzgerald moved past him before hitting the dirt prone. The guerrillas were trying to disengage but they were cracking. The repeated pattern of move and fire was keeping the Marines on them. Psychologically they were suffering. They didn’t just have hot lead flying at them, now screaming infantrymen were coming forward. Krzy swore and rolled onto his back, hearing screams in front of him. He snapped on his bayonet.

    “Moving!” he screamed, forcing himself up and charging forward again. Someone to his right was firing on full automatic. Even if he wasn’t hitting anything, the sound was bloody terrifying. The gunflashes seemed to be coming right in front of him. He tripped and tumbled into the next ditch or runnel. His boot squelched in something soft, the smell nearly making him gag. Two of the bodies were barely recognizable from the grenade. The third began to move and Krzy didn’t even hesitate. He buried his bayonet in it up to the hilt, screaming in a mix of fear and fury.

    He had to stick his foot on the dead man’s chest to wrench it out. The frequency of fire was slackening off, he swapped mags instinctively though he couldn’t remember if he’d emptied it or not. He stuffed the empty one in his smock before slamming a fresh one in. The shots were dying down to sporadic shots, and then, silence. Cries of “Clear!” began to sound along the line, echoed by the screams coming from the wound.

    Corporal Masters came jogging forward, halting on the lip of the ditch to look down at him. He gave a thumbs up symbol and Krzy wearily returned an a-ok sign. One of the Brazilians vomited at the sight of what was left of her friend. A moment later one of the Marines joined her. A soft hissing sound came from the heated barrel of the heavy machine gun, raindrops cooling it. The crew were struggling with shaking hands to fix a new ammunition belt in place.

    Masters looked at the bodies with a frown and nodded. He swept his hand “Police them up”. Krzy just nodded and bent to it, moving with zombie slowness. He pryed an assault rifle free and tossed it up on the lip of the ditch. He bit back bile as he grabbed one of the corpses and began to drag it up. He gave up halfway, rushing to the next tree to breathe in lungfuls of air.
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  8. HSAR

    Ground Level, Grid 188 413, Sector Amazonia

    A lone figure listened to the radio echo with requests for aid that would go unanswered. They would die to the UN Army patrol, because that was their task. And his task, to use their moment of distraction to accomplish the next stage of the plan.

    He gestured to his partner, who was sipping water from a canteen while sitting against a rock. They did not know each other, had in fact never met until a few days ago. But they were here to do what needed to be done. The pair of them rose and went to a bulky shape that lay under layers of material. They pulled camouflage netting, then radar padding, then thermal foil; folded them into neat piles. It didn't matter, but it was good to be orderly.

    Under the layers of fabric, ferrobonded carbon and metallised polymer were two boxy tripod-mounted missile launchers. The men took the controls of the launchers, steering them to face the open east side. The enemy's aircraft were arriving on precisely the course they had expected, having diverted to the scene of another, earlier attack. They peered into the launcher sights, disregarding rapidly changing and largely meaningless numbers.

    Both launchers beeped at the same time, achieving passive lock without any need to paint their targets. Two missiles leaped out of their sealed canisters on puffs of compressed nitrogen. Moments later, their rocket motors ignited at a safe distance, propelling the metre-long munitions to supersonic speeds and beyond.

    Normandy Four-Two was first to notice the imminent danger. There had been no prior warning, but there was no mistaking that kind of thermal signature. It blazed a warning to the others in Normandy and broke into a dive, countermeasure launchers spitting chaff and flares. Four-Three engaged its ECM and climbed, while Four-Four and Four-One rolled into right-angle banks. All four Goshawks extended their laser pods.

    It became obvious seconds later that Four-Four was the target of the attack. Four-Four opened its bay doors and fired off a decoy. Four-Two and Four-One, with side-on views of the missile, attempted to fire AIM-301 missile interceptors. Four-Three, looking down at the ground, had such a low probability of success that it held fire.

    The two attacking missiles came in at speeds exceeding Mach 6, covering the distance to their target in less than five seconds. They came in staggered; the first was hit by both AIM-301 interceptors and vaporised cleanly. The second was hit by sustained fire from three different laser pods that destroyed its seeker head, ruptured its rocket motor and left it on a purely ballistic trajectory - but this only slightly reduced its effectiveness, flying as it was nearly ten times the speed of Normandy Four-Four. It was a kinetic-kill vehicle, with no explosive warhead, and the lasers could do no further damage.

    Normandy Four-Four was in the middle of launching a second decoy when over ten kilos of hardened steel punched cleanly through its missile rack, two starboard fuel cells and half of the passenger cabin. The fuel cells sealed themselves, but the damage was done. Power was lost instantly; structural integrity not long after. The wounded aircraft broke apart in midair. Debris followed the undeniable laws of physics.

    The two men were busy reloading the tripod-mounted launchers when Normandy Four-One retaliated with a Gopher strike that cut a forty-metre hole in the rainforest.
    #8 HSAR, Dec 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
    Tetrarch and Diarmuid O'Sullivan like this.
  9. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

    Character Biography:
    Two miles west of Outpost 47, Sector Amazonia.

    Corporal Masters swore and stalked away from the comm set. Their own personal kits were fine for squad and platoon level communications but they needed a portable set for getting anything outside a few miles radius. He wasn't swearing at the kit, it was the news that a Goshawk had been shot down. Air transport in their sector was heavily restricted now as a result, command didn't want to lose another one of their precious assets to partisan fire. They'd only fly them in strength and that limited the amount of flights they could put out.

    "We're walking" was all he said, internally damning everyone in South America, military or otherwise. "What about the bodies corporal?" "We carry them". Krzy looked glumly at the six covered corpses that they'd lost. One of the Brazilians had been in a seminary. He'd fumbled over the last rites. He wasn't meant to but it seemed to have placated the local personnel.

    Five of the local army, one UN marine. Over a dozen guerrillas and probably more out there in the bush judging by the bloodtrails. They weren't following them up. Not today. It would be the perfect opportunity for the bastards to jump them and they'd be gunning for revenge, just looking for UN blues to chop.

    "It's going to be a long fuckin' walk" Fitzgerald muttered, grunting as he hefted a body with Krzy. "Jaysus he was a heavy bastard wasn't he?" "Still is" Krzy said, beginning the slow tramping pace through the sodden quagmire. They'd be lucky to make a mile an hour at this pace. The scouts had already headed off, the rearguard were booby trapping the bodies, the flankers heading out to comb either side of the trail.

    They were a mile and a half down the trail when they heard the first explosion behind them. Krzy looked back to see Fitzgerald grinning widely. "Definitely one at least but we'll hope for two".
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  10. Tetrarch

    FOB Nightingale, Grid 290 391, Sector Amazonia

    Colonel Meru stalked through the base, shadowed by a half dozen of his command staff and various hangers on. The mercenary commander was a tall, broad shouldered man, powerfully built. He wore khaki fatigues and a flak vest. His bald head was beaded with sweat from the humidity but it didn't slow his relentless pace.

    "We will see what their commander has to say" he snarled at their rivals. The local contingent was flanking them on a parallel course, the Brazilians just as keyed up. Colonel Alvarez looked contemptuous to be even breathing the same air as the mercenaries. Their tiger stripe camouflage uniforms were creased and immaculate, a far cry from the rumpled uniforms the mercs wore.

    Meru's Marauders weren't a first grade outfit but they had a reputation for solidity and professionalism, all at a reasonable price. Their demi brigade was a mixed forced of armour and mechanised infantry that had seen action on three continents. Meru was more used to sweeping engagements on savannah plains and the veldt than this grinding attrition warfare. He'd fought in Angola enough to know choice swearwords in Portuguese, a vocabulary that he had little issue using on their 'allies'.

    His powerful hands twitched, like he was itching to put them around the local's throat and throttle the life out of him. He came to a halt as a sentry barred his entry to the command post. The UN trooper was a head shorter than the Tanzanian but he stood his ground. "We request the presence of your commanda" Meru spat, the vowels rich and rolling. He folded his arms and stood to the side, his dark eyes glaring at the Brazilians. Both factions were in a staredown though discipline kept their hands away from sidearms.
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  11. Yasmina Kasari

    Yasmina Kasari Captain, UNN Yeager

    Character Biography:
    Angels 32, Grid 380 733, Offshore

    The Black Kite's pilot pulled them through sharply banked turn and a hard dive that made Captain Kasari glad she was strapped into her seat. Instead of being knocked off her feet, she merely had to tuck her data slate under one arm and grab her bulb of water with the other.

    "What's happening, Flight Lieutenant?"

    "Change of plans, Captain. Best check for yourself, looks like the situation has shifted a bit. We're headed in for a priority landing at FOB Nightingale."

    There was indeed a data burst that had come in via encrypted, long-range ionosphere bounce from New York. A shootdown of a Marine Goshawk in Sector Amazonia with suspected high-end black-market weaponry. A long list of redeployment orders, including several Intelligence assets - she being one of them. High Command wanted to know who had made the missiles, who had them now and how they had ended up with them.

    "All caught up. What's the ETA?"

    "Just under an hour. Would be thirty minutes, but we're coming in at low altitude in case we come under attack too. A flight of Army Goshawks on cargo duty will meet us on the way to provide an air escort."
  12. Yasmina Kasari

    Yasmina Kasari Captain, UNN Yeager

    Character Biography:
    Angels 0.5, Grid 253 688, Sector Amazonia

    The appearance of a Black Kite was clearly too much of an opportunity to ignore. Four missile launches were observed as the close-knit formation screamed by at low altitude - two pairs with a small spacing in timing and location. So close to the ground with lots of terrain clutter and radar noise, jamming techniques were highly effective. One of the missiles veered off and ploughed a long furrow close to a village.

    All five aircraft had interceptor missiles on the rails ready for this moment, and quickly rippled off two salvoes. The ten-interceptor swam formatted into a highly aggressive attack pattern. The first two attacking missiles started evasive maneuvers but disintegrated under multiple hits - two and five respectively. The last missile bulled through the debris cloud and was hit by laser fire.

    Already tilting its jets into a fearfully gee-inducing turn, Captain Kasari's Black Kite banked at right angles to the ground. Chaff and flare pouring continuously from countermeasure dispensers while its starboard engine brushed the ground, one chaotic last-minute roll to horizontal kept them from dropping into the rainforest.

    The missile flashed past with tremendous velocity differential and buried inself in dirt.
    #12 Yasmina Kasari, Jan 15, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
  13. Yasmina Kasari

    Yasmina Kasari Captain, UNN Yeager

    Character Biography:
    Angels 0.2, Grid 254 688, Sector Amazonia

    Flight Lieutenant Li gripped the Black Kite's controls with a grim determination, clicking a button on the side of the stick to acknowledge further lock warnings. Four more, rippled off from what looked like a camouflaged vehicle-mounted launcher. Older missiles, these ones, but still a threat. Further beep warnings - they had a solid lock. Praying the Intelligence captain in his cargo bay was properly strapped in, Li pushed both throttles as far as they would go, to the stop marked "FULL EMERGENCY POWER".

    The aircraft reacted instantly to the demand, opening up its intakes and flooding the fusion reactor with fuel. Acceleration punched Li like a physical blow; he pulled back on the stick in an attempt to maintain control. Its escorts, lacking the Black Kite's surface-to-orbit thrust capability, were left behind. Li's aircraft erupted from treetop level with engines screaming and took off into the sky.

    All this to buy time. The laser pods burned one, then two missiles. Li abruptly yanked the stick down and spun the throttle, hitting the countermeasures again, watching the last two missiles close on them. The third missile exploded harmlessly above them. The fourth missile tracked them on their downward spiral, passed under the port engine, and detonated at close range. Shrapnel bounced off armour and shredded through internal mechanisms and pinged off fuel cells, causing cascading reds all over the cockpit displays.

    "Mayday, mayday, mayday. All receiving forces, this is Janus One, a Black Kite, we are angels four-point-nine-six over grid 2451 6712. We are hit, repeat hit, engine one and primary hydraulics are critically damaged. Mayday, mayday, mayday."
    #13 Yasmina Kasari, Feb 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
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  14. Yasmina Kasari

    Yasmina Kasari Captain, UNN Yeager

    Character Biography:
    Angels 4.9, Grid 245 671, Sector Amazonia

    Li fought for damage control, mostly in vain. He flooded the damaged thruster with coolant and opened its intakes to clear the turbine, but too late - the fire caught and spread along a fuel line. The engine spluttered and stalled, power imbalance sending them into a flat spin. Li felt black at the edge of his vision as the g-forces mounted and thumbed an emergency switch to put him on the juice.

    Engine Two throttle to idle, turbine unlocked. Teakettle RCS system full forwards and counter-spin. Flaps to landing positions. He nudged the stick experimentally and felt the nose dip, which was good. They picked up speed and came out of the spin - Li checked a panel above-left, which told him that he no longer had positive lift but was essentially in enhanced glide.

    "Sitrep, Flight Lieutenant."

    Slightly labored breathing, but apparently his high-value cargo was still alive. He supposed it was good.

    "DAMCON ineffective. Engine One offline."

    "Flight range?"

    Li checked the same panel again.

    "About... 80 klicks."

    "Fly well, Li. Seventy-one klicks puts us down at Outpost 47. Is there enough error margin?"

    "No, Captain. But it'll have to do. We're not ditching in enemy territory."

    "That is the correct response. Godspeed."

    Flight Lieutenant Li took a deep breath and inched Engine Two's throttle forwards again.
    Krzysztof Wierzbowski likes this.
  15. HSAR

    Grid 242 453, West of Outpost 47

    Corporal Eva van Dijk fell backwards under the guerilla's charge, but she kept a death grip on her attacker's wrist to keep the knife out of play. They hit the ground hard and she rolled, putting a savage kick in. She drew her sidearm while prone and put four bullets in him.

    "Fuck me." She spat on the corpse, the holstered her weapon and cast around for her squad.

    "You only ever had to ask."

    Jim Gruneham. Pain in the ass, constant flirt, and hardened veteran.

    "Fuck, Jim. This is the only time I've been glad to see you."

    He bowed mockingly, then motioned back along the path with his rifle.

    "The rest fell back with the first charge."

    "Why didn't you go with them?"

    "Wasn't going to leave you, Corporal. Me and de Vries had your back."

    "Where's de Vries?"

    "Watching our backs. We should get back to the squad."

    Eva nodded grimly, wiping her face with a slightly grimy handkerchief. If only my mother could see me now.

    "Roger. Have we got anything from Corporal Masters' squad?"

    "Not much. They had contact, took some casualties. They're hoofing it back, what with all the Goshawks outta the air."

    "We'll link up, then. Safety in numbers."

    "Yes, Corporal."

    "And Gruneham?"

    "Yes, Corporal?"

    "Thanks for the help."

    "Anytime. Let's go."
    #15 HSAR, Feb 17, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  16. Yasmina Kasari

    Yasmina Kasari Captain, UNN Yeager

    Character Biography:
    Outpost 47 Approach, Angels 0.2, Grid 293 121, Sector Amazonia

    "Gonna be a rough landing, Captain."

    Li wasn't entirely sure whether anything counted as rough after evasive aerobatics, a missile strike and a five-gee spin - but as a pilot he felt it was at least a point of professional pride.

    "Any landing you walk away from, Flight Lieutenant."

    "Good point. Making our final approach now. Get out and into cover as fast as possible when we land - if the fuel cells go, you don't want to be nearby."

    They came in low with a slight roll to keep the thrust from Engine Two on their centre of gravity, starting to make contact with treetop level. Organic material went up against nickel-titanium superalloy and lost, branches and leaves stripped from trees in the wake of over twenty tons of aircraft.

    A couple of particularly resilient trees opposing their flight path knocked them a degree or two off true, but the Black Kite's kinetic power was more than sufficient that it could just bull through its way to a landing. The trees thinned as they came towards Outpost 47, which had been placed in a natural clearing to make its perimeter easier to guard.

    Li throttled down Engine Two to idle to prevent it from getting fouled with debris while they fell below the canopy - and then they were through, rocketing down into the open area near the north side of the outpost. A parade ground, vehicle maintenance depot and a few cargo crates were positioned neatly. The pilot hit full emergency throttle, firing stationkeeping thrusters as well as emergency consumable chemical rockets.

    Spitting flame and smoke, with Engine One still on fire, the Black Kite made contact with the ground. It carved a huge furrow and bounced back up in a spray of earth, came back down and kept going with seemingly unstoppable momentum. It went into the vehicle depot and annihilated a light truck, two light tactical vehicles and an APC before coming to a halt almost buried in crumpled metal and thrown-up soil. Flames flickered here and there in the carnage.

    Inside, both occupants were unconscious, the violence of the landing having taken its toll. Captain Kasari woke in the dark, checked her surroundings and pulled out her hand terminal. The user interface recognised the immediate crash and simplified its menus, which helped - she palmed the emergency escape option and headed towards the cockpit accompanied by the impact of explosive bolts releasing.

    "Li. Sound off."

    The pilot didn't respond. She checked his vitals, found them reasonably satisfactory and unfastened his restraints. The cockpit emergency hatches had failed - probably blocked. The cargo ramp, then. She pulled him over her shoulders and, grunting at the exertion, made her way unsteadily towards the exit.
    #16 Yasmina Kasari, Feb 22, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  17. HSAR

    Command Information Centre, FOB Nightingale, Grid 290 391, Sector Amazonia

    Speer tried to roll the kinks out of his shoulders while Hereford accepted a mug of coffee from her aide-de-camp. Four hours of time in the rack wasn't nearly enough at his age, he decided, directing his gaze at his own ADC who was just getting to the briefing.

    "The spooks got wind of things and sent in their people. Started an in-field insertion from a local asset. Got her shot down, multiple missiles from camouflaged launchers. The crash site is here, an outpost still in the middle of being set up. They came down just over twenty minutes ago, and it looks like it might have been survivable."

    Hereford took a long pull of coffee - strong with nothing added - and sighed. It took the edge off the fatigue, at least.

    "All right. CSAR?"

    "We've got a good lock on the crash site, but we're waiting on the Big Eye time to resolve it properly. There won't be spare resolution to track survivors for a few days. Big Eye bandwidth is coming, but for the moment it's swamped."

    "Air assets?"

    "The spooks are inserting another pair of their stealth birds from orbit, but they won't be on-station for a few hours. We've got two CSAR Goshawks, a dozen Army airframes and about the same number of Navy birds on-site, but they're all grounded as per your orders, Colonel."

    Speer exchanged a look with Hereford. No, that had been - was still - the right call.

    "Options for a ground extraction, then. Fastest time on target. I'll never hear the end of it from the Office if I lose one of theirs."

    "We've got elements of the 95th Infantry on patrol in the region. They've been ambushed and have taken casualties, but there's nobody closer until we get to elements of the 121st twenty-eight miles north."

    Speer grimaced.

    "It's the 95th, then. Get the CO on the line. We'll risk an aerial extraction when they have eyes on."
    #17 HSAR, Feb 11, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019

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