One of the leads extracted from Dong Jianghon’s Cube pointed to a series of collections for Project ENLIGHTENMENT occurring at the Wei Chun Microbiological and Viral Research Institute. Liu Fe had trawled the restricted flight plans for ISN vessels near the facility and was convinced he’d found a match.
Liu Fe wanted us to investigate and try and discover any further leads while he made some cautious inquiries about High Command’s security. His exact words were: “Be discreet. No fighting if you can avoid it.” I took discreet to mean ‘no TAG’.
Unfortunately the enemy hadn’t got the same brief.
The mission had been going so smoothly that I should have guessed something was about to go catastrophically wrong.
The Wei Chun Institute was positioned far from other settlements and facilities, ostensibly in case of a containment failure. This worked in our favour as we guided our transport into a canyon nearby; no other settlements to give our approach away as we skimmed under radar level.
I’d held Tai Sheng and Feng Bo back in hiding with their unsubtle Zuyong armour and to keep an eye on Bai Xia and the remotes. With our suits’ camouflage systems active I’d led the two Zhencha and the Hulang, Xu Heng, ahead into the facility.
We were in position observing facility’s staff delicately wheeling 3 tech-coffins into the courtyard as a cloaked ISN transport dropped into sight, the spectacle silencing even the argumentative Xu Heng.
“Shit,” Xu Heng muttered as a squad of Pan Oceanan Fusiliers and Auxilia stepped out and approached the scientists. I silently agreed with the Hulang.
“Sir, this isn’t looking good,” Tai Sheng muttered over a private channel.
“I agree.” I said as I fired off an emergency signal to Crane Liu Fe and our transport. “Everyone, the situation’s too hot. Whole team withdraw as covertly as you can. We’ll report back and try to track the- Oh fuck!” I watched in horror as the pride of PanO heavy infantry technology strode down the ramp and surveyed the courtyard.
My fears were confirmed when the Aquila’s gaze swept over my camouflaged troops and it halted, hefting it’s HMG and shouting at the Fusiliers.
“Extract! Extract now!” I roared into the comm, “We’ve been compromised. They have an Aquila!”
A large shimmering silhouette clomped down the ramp and across the courtyard.
“Boss… I’m seeing… Hang on, I think it’s…” Feng Bo muttered, leaning out of cover to get a better look at the blur.
“No! Get back-” I started, but the warning came too late as the Clauswitz Uhlans emerged from it’s camouflage and blasted Feng Bo with its Feuerbach. I watched the Zuyong’s armour crumple and rupture as the warhead blasted his body back into a burnt and bloody heap.
The TAG continued across the courtyard, it’s shoulder-mounted Feuerbach flaring once more. The micro projectile whistled across the rooftops and blasted the Son-Bae missile remote into a smouldering heap.
With the fireteam in tatters and without any long range weapons, the Aquila opened up on the camouflaged Zhencha.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” I heard over the comm channel as one of them dove behind a wall to avoid the spray of HMG.
Xu Heng was muttering a constant stream of curses and abuse about the mission and my command until he was drowned out by a roaring of flames and static. I looked over the edge to see an Auxilia and Auxbot standing over his smouldering corpse.
My tactical display beeped insistently at me as a Locust crawled into a suppressive fire position atop a nearby tower.
Seeing the Zhencha were pinned down in the centre I loaded an Assisted Fire program on my Ru Shi and desperately sent it to try and break the Fusilier fireteam.
Another loud explosion near me and the blue dot disappearing from my tac display told me that the Fusilier missile launcher had won the exchange.
“Damn it! We still have no idea what’s in those containers!” I shouted to myself over the sound of machinegun fire and explosions.
“Roger sir. I’m covering, go for the package.” One of the Zhencha responded to my frustrations.
Before I could countermand the accidental order the Zhencha recamoed, vaulted the window he’d been hiding behind, and charged towards the Uhlans and Aquila with his boarding shotgun barking.
Surprised, the Uhlans started taking damage, two of the armour piercing rounds connecting with the TAG. The Zhencha chased it up as it withdrew, ignoring the HMG wound the Aquila managed to score. Going for the last shot to finish the TAG the Zhencha exposed himself to the fireteam Fusilier ML and died in the explosion.
“Going for the package,” I heard ones other Zhencha calmly radio in. I watched with bated breath as she vaulted the lip of the rooftop she was on and ran down the vertical wall to the Tech-Coffin below. With rounds from the Locust scattering around her she unlocked the container and grabbed the crate from inside.
I watched my tactical display in despair as blue lights began disappearing. The Aquila Guard, identifying Tai Sheng as a commander, knocked her unconscious in a spay of HMG fire. He continued his rampage, riddling the sprinting Zhencha with bullets, the crate falling from her lifeless arms, before switching fire to the Haidao and Pangguling.
With my team all unconscious or dead apart from me I was helpless to watch the Auxilia grab a crate and run back towards their transport.
“Captain Tao Ji,” I heard our transport pilot call over the radio. “I’m going to be over your position in 30 seconds. My crew will grab your team while I provide covering fire. Just hold out a bit longer, we’re going to get you out.”
Screw the Aquila and the Uhlans. What a horrid combination! In all my games against my opponent Alex I’ve never taken them down.
Alex played a perfect game. He methodically took apart my fireteam with his TAG to then allow his Aquila to terrorize my camo Zhencha.
I made a few rather big mistakes in deployment and Alex’s first turn that he punished and I never recovered from.
Still, was good to find out the IA’s limits and relearn some important deployment/MSV lessons.