The mood was sombre in the dilapidated apartment in Satori’s notorious Spider District. We’d been laying low the past few days after the botched reconnaissance at Wei Chun and the ambush at Tranquility Oasis. Tempers were fraying at the inaction and not knowing who our enemies were.
The team looked up expectantly as Liu Fe entered the dingey living room, his lean face gaunt and shadowed from his investigation.
“Good news and bad news,” the Imperial Agent announced in his sharp clipped accent, “I’ve managed to identify several leads from the last two actions and have uncovered more information on Project ENLIGHTENMENT. The bad news is that I’ve reached the limit of my Security Clearance and our actions have not gone fully unnoticed, as one might expect.”
He activated a portable holo-display and highlighted two locations on the map. “First, we need to access the ALEPH Node directly to discover more information about that ISN stealth transport and destroy evidence about us in the Memory Core. Second, we will have to hijack the comms centre at the Haqqislam Embassy to ensure we have a tap on communications going on in the system.
“Now, we’ve reprogrammed a facility LHost that can get you into the ALEPH Node but the OSSS division there will realise pretty quickly you’re not supposed to be there when you start the download. If you’re quick you can get to their weapon lockers before them but focus on keeping the console protected during the download. The evidence the enemy has gathered on our team will be in a solid state Memory Core, but it will be well protected.”
“About fuckin’ time! Finally some action!” Xu Heng spat, the ’14K’ tattoo on his face creasing with his eager expression. It was telling of the team’s cabin fever that Feng Bo didn’t take the opportunity to jump on the ex-Triad Hulang, his own facing lighting up instead.
The excitement I felt bubbling inside told me that the tense period of hiding had affected me too. “Right boys and girls, grab your toys. We’ve got a mission to do!”
“Fuck! I didn’t expect them to catch on this quick Boss!” Feng Bo roared at me as a Dakini Tactbot fireteam advanced with HMGs blaring. The whistle and roar of the Son-Bae missile launcher was accompanied by the pleasant silencing of the Dakini HMG.
The silence was short-lived, however.
“You’ve got to be joking. They’ve got a Sophotect!” I shouted over the net as I watched her repair the broken Dakini allowing it to resume its HMG rampage. I cursed as the Son-Bae remote get pummeled into unconsciousness.
My curses continued as I watched the Dakini HMG switch its fire to the Haidao sniper. The mechanical precision of the Dakini HMG fire found the prone Haidao despite its cover.
When I thought the onslaught against the fireteam had finally ended a new red dot appearing on my Tac Display rudely ended my hope. I could only groan in horror as a Proxy Mk.2 emerged from TO camo to begin sniping the remnants of the fireteam. Luckily, Tai Sheng and Feng Bo managed to dodge into cover before the sniper got its eye in.
On the left flank one of my Hulang reported the Arjuna pushing his Kiranbots forward to deploy cybermines covering the weapons locker. Despite my and the team’s initial enthusiasm and Liu Fe’s description of how simple the mission would be, I could feel the situation slowly slipping out of control.
“Hulangs! Secure those weapons lockers! Feng Bo, that sniper’s yours!” A chorus of determined affirmatives replied and I watched Xu Heng sprint to the locker on the right flank, picking up a small shield.
The more cautious Hulang on the left flank, Yao Chen tried to clear the threats with an E/M grenade. After immobilising one of the Kiranbots and disabling some of the cybermines he crawled to the locker and collected the first thing he reached on the bottom shelf.
A flash pulse.
His actions, however, prompted the Kiranbots to place more cybermines.
The quiet Yao Shen finally snapped after all the shotgun shots crashing into the locker he hid behind. With a guttural roar the normally meek Hulang leaped up with both Submachineguns blaring. Unfortunately, his rounds went wild and his suit of heavy armour was immobilised by wave of E/M templates.
Back with the fireteam, Feng Bo whispered a quick prayer, kissed his HMG, then spun around the corner of the iso-container. “Take. This. You. Hive. Mind. Troll.” he grunted out over the heavy thumping of his HMG.
His rounds hit true and the Proxy Mk.2 fell in a spray of synthetic blood and servo-muscle.
While I’d been coordinating my Hulangs to the weapons lockers and the fireteam had taken out the Proxy sniper, I’d lost track of the Dakini fireteam. A spray of accurate HMG fire pinning Xu Heng down on the right flank announced their presence in the central hangar.
Yao Chen’s wordless shouting brought my attention back to the immobilised Hulang on the left flank. The Sophotect used the opening to repair the immobilised Kiranbot, allowing the Arjuna to advance. The Arjuna fired blast after blast from its shotgun, most of them bouncing harmlessly off the Hulang’s armour. Yao Shen’s formless raving had shifted to hysterical laughter as the Arjuna kept firing. Eventually the Arjuna succeeded at penetrating the Hulang’s armour, a pained grunt only briefing pausing the crazed laughter before another shot ended it completely.
The focus on the Hulang gave me an opportunity as the Kiranbots drew closer. One by one I hacked their systems, leaving them as high-tech statues just before they could reach Tai Sheng and Feng Bo.
The Arjuna used this as a distraction to take down my Haidao KHD in an exchange of shotgun fire then sneak up and defeat the Chaiyi remote below me.
Things weren’t looking good. I checked the status of the download as I reactivated my suit’s camo system.
62%. “Bollocks,” I muttered. We were running out of time. In the distance my HUD highlighted the fully intact Memory Core safe behind the OSSS team.
Frustrated, I unslung my shotgun and crawled to the edge of the balcony, unloading both chambers into the unsuspecting Arjuna below.
“Boss. I can get to the Memory Core if ya tell Feng Bo to learn how ta fuckin’ shoot and get rid of that fuckin’ Dakini that’s got me fuckin’ pinned down!” Xu Heng shouted over the comm.
Feng Bo only grunted tersely in response, the focus evident as he hammered rounds down towards the entrenched Dakini sniper pinning him down. Finally a pair of his HMG shots found their target, knocking the Dakini down.
As soon as the sniper was knocked out of overwatch I seized the opportunity to advance the Pangguling into repeater range of the Dakini fireteam.
Identifying the threat the Dakini fireteam were quick to retreat, however, the HMG fireteam leader wasn’t quick enough and I managed to tag him with an immobilising hacking program. My relief at seeing the Dakini fireteam scattered and broken was short-lived, however.
The foulest curses I knew spilled out as I helplessly watched the Sophotect repair the immobilised and unconscious Dakinis. “Will someone please kill that fucking Sophotect?!” I roared.
My frustration changed to horror as I realised how exposed the fireteam was to the renewed threat of the full-strength Dakini fireteam. The rattle of the Dakini’s HMG shortly preceded the lights of the Pangguling and Feng Bo winking of my Tac Display.
I checked the transfer progress again. 92%. Just a bit more…
Apparently content they had us pinned down and willing to await reinforcements the OSSS forces began collecting heavy weapons from the ammo locker on the left. Yao Shen must have messed with the electronic lock when he accessed the locker, or maybe all the E/M blasts in its vicinity had fried it, because the OSSS team seemed to struggle to withdraw the equipment.
Using the opening the Dakini counterattack had produced the Sophotect glided towards our console.
The successful chiming of our console indicated she’d been too slow as the downloaded finished. As the roar of our transport’s engines grew louder she drew her pistol and leveled it at our reprogrammed LHost, stopping her from escaping with us.
I cursed as I watched our LHost freeze. Grabbing my shotgun I jumped up and let of two rounds at close range towards the Sophotect. I was stunned as both shotgun blasts flew ineffectively past either side of her immaculately calm face.
The roaring of the transport was pervasive now as it hovered behind us. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Tai Sheng and the aircrew dragging the unconscious forms of Bai Xia and Feng Bo up its ramp and applying emergency first aid.
“Tsk. Don’t worry Boss, I got this,” Xu Heng’s unmistakable street accent came over the net, “Leave the Memory Core and Yao Shen’s Cube to me. Ain’t nobody killin’ that borin’ fuck but me. I’ll find my way own way back.”
With that Xu Heng vaulted from behind his cover and charged across the courtyard. The ALEPH forces had clearly forgotten about the Hulang and it took them a second before they began firing on the sprinting Jackal. I watched in amazement as he powered on to the Memory Core, completely ignoring the rounds flying around him. Xu Heng slapped a package to the console then turned to give me a slight wave across the distance.
“See ya on the other side Boss!” he cheerily called before the D-Charge he’d placed on the console exploded, hiding him in the smoke and destruction.
IA 4 – 3 OSSS
Such a close game! By grabbing the panoplies at the end and moving his Sophotect to Secure my HVT Rob managed to be leading 4-3. I had 2 Lt orders and 3 regular orders to pull it back. I confidently used the lieutenant orders to recamo (stupidly) the Daoying and attempt to shotgun the Sophotect.
I needed 18s and got two 19s.
I was left with a bit of a conundrum:
With the three orders I had left I could either kill the Sophotect and take the draw…
Gamble on sprinting my Hulang 20″ to D-Charge his AC2…
Luckily I pulled it off, the 1 STR damage I inflicted reversing our scores.
What did I learn from that game? Dakini fireteams with Assisted Fire are nasty. I’d gotten cocky after my previous game and had left my fireteam pretty exposed, allowing Rob to pick off the remotes one at a time.
That Sophotect is also the bane of my life! Every time I thought I’d broken the Dakini fireteam it just went and repaired it.