“Remind me what we’re doing here again?”
“We’re currently in an unregistered and illegally modified shuttle, until recently owned by the notorious Red Lotus criminal gang who parted with it less than willingly. We are about to dock with a Nomad smuggler running silent in a Yu Jing State Empire Navy restricted zone, who expect us to be the aforementioned Red Lotus carrying a shipment of illegal Cubes. We are doing so with the intent of hijacking said Nomad vessel in order to fly to Paradiso without ISS interference. All of which are grounds to be arrested, tried, tortured, and executed for various offences if we happen to encounter a Yu Jing patrol vessel. Does that cover everything?”
“Ah. *Ahem* Thank you, Sergeant. Right team, you know the score by now. We need to secure the engineering deck, and we need to do it fast. Shut them out from engine controls and comms. It’s not likely they’ll send out a Mayday considering their cargo, but we can’t risk it. Get the Xenotech into the control room and he can deploy a comms jammer.”
I gazed around at the team cramped into the shuttle’s storage bay. “Now remember where you are. Watch your shots; I don’t want loose rounds adding any extra portholes in the side of the ship.
“Ready?” I looked into each of my team’s eyes as the rattling of the docking died down and the sound of an airlock pressurising hissed. “Let’s go!”
In a blur of camo systems, the two Zhencha sprinted out into the engineering deck. In seconds I had comms confirmation that they’d successfully rerouted the power consoles for the starboard engines.
I nodded to Tai Sheng and watched her lead the fireteam through the cluttered engineering deck. My back itched as the team continued unopposed. “Too good to be true… too good to be true…” kept repeating in my head as I watched.
Tai Sheng’s curt confirmation that the fireteam had occupied the engineering deck control room hinted that she had the same concerns as me. I gave the deck another sweep but still failed to find anything. Most of the compartments were radiation shielded and so impenetrable to my TacDisplay.
Finding nothing to support my worries I ordered the Zhanshi engineer escorting the Xenotech forward. Tai Sheng and her fireteam had done their job well; I tracked the pair following the proven route straight into the control room and deploying the Multiscanner.
The Xenotech gave a cheery thumbs up as the Multiscanner sent out its first scan. I stared at the TacDisplay as the scan penetrated the shielded compartments.
“Oh, FUCK. There’s a TAG!”
My warning was nearly too late. The active scan had apparently alerted the hidden Nomads. My shout was drowned out by the teeth-rattling whine of the Szalamandra’s HRMC.
“Sergeant! SitRep!” I demanded over the comms. Most of the team were inside the control room and my TacDisplay was struggling to penetrate the shielded walls to relay their vitals. I was blind.
My heart sank as my frantic requests for info were met by silence over the net. The pervasive whine of the HRMC continued and I saw chunks of the control room bulkhead blown out by the armour-piercing rounds.
As rapidly as the contact had begun, the scream of the HRMC stopped. I tried not to stare at the molten holes in the bulkhead and imagine what the cannon had done to the bodies of my team. I shook my head sharply. I had to focus on the rest of the team; that TAG was probably now movi-
“Sir, this Tai Sheng. Target down. We’re all good. A bit shaken, but good. Emperor knows how.”
My relief was short-lived, however.
“Contact left!” Feng Bo roared from one of the doorways to the control room. “Kriza coming in hot!”
A pained grunt from the large corporal and a concerned shout from Tai Sheng was all the warning I had as Feng Bo fell under a hail of HMG fire.
I watched in shock as the Multiscanner painted a more accurate picture of the battle-space. A Securitate led a Tunguskan civvy forwards to deploy a Multiscanner of their own. I realised we were dealing with a professional force here, not some amateur criminals. This had all the markings of a Tunguskan Dark Ops team. But what the hell were they doing on a smuggling freighter in Satori space?
“Yu Zhi,” I messaged one of the waiting Zhencha, “Take out that Securitate, I need that flank clear!”
“Roger,” the Zhencha responded. The brief chatter of an SMG was quickly followed by “Left flank secure.”
“Hear that Gao Zhen? You’re clear to enter.”
A small bang and the brief howl of atmosphere escaping heralded the Liu Xing’s explosive entry onto the engineering deck. The screech of escaping atmosphere quickly tailed off as the emergency repair systems activated. Gao Zhen was already sliding into cover across from the Kriza firing on the control room.
I smiled in satisfaction as I heard the HMG cease barking and my TacDisplay report the Liu Xing’s success in hacking the Tunguskan brute. Trapped in a prison of its own armour, the Kriza Boracs was helpless to defend itself as Gao Zhen rounded the corner and emptied both chambers of his boarding shotgun into it.
“Going for the fore port engine controls, sir!” The young Zhencha on the right flank darted towards the console before I could order him to stop. The staccato purr of an assault pistol riddled the unfortunate Zhencha with bullet holes as a Heckler appeared from its camouflage. Stepping over the bleeding heap of the Zhencha, the Heckler disconnected then disabled the port engine controls.
“Sir, that’s the engineering deck secured. The enemy are retreating. Do you want us to follow?”
“No Sergeant. Hold position and deal with the wounded. They’re not going anywhere.”
As if to prove me wrong, the spacecraft rattled violently. One of my pilots still on the Red Lotus shuttle reported an emergency escape pod jettisoning from the Nomad spacecraft.
“It doesn’t matter, the ship is secure. What’s the name of this beast anyway? ‘Estrella del Proscrito’? Anyone know what that means? Nevermind. Next stop: Paradiso”
Invincible Army 7 – 3 Tunguska Jurisdictional Command
We had to end the game after 2 Rounds because of time constraints but I don’t think much would have changed at that point.
My opponent, James, really gambled with a 7 order list. Unluckily, I got the first turn and he suffered from some ridiculous dice. A light shotgun remote at 23″ got two crits to beat a Szalamandra HRMC?! I felt bad rolling them.
Losing the Szalamandra straight off the bat really killed the momentum for Tunguska and their lack of orders meant the two(!!) Kriza Boracs couldn’t build up enough steam to pile into my fireteam and compete for the Objective Room.
It was still a fun game and I think James learnt important lessons about not filling a Combat Group and the dangers of exposing even a TAG to a whole fireteam.