There is a hiatus of several days which makes everyone grow weary. The enemy does not seem to be making any moves, and the rest of the BHI forces are not making any progress, preventing the Terniss front from receiving reinforcements. Fortunately this gives the players time to fix both their mechs and those of the Kra, bringing the combined fighting strength of the forces in the spaceport up to around five lances (including Weiss&Son).
The calm before the storm, however, is interrupted in the early morning on the third day after the negotiations by a lone radar dot flying towards the base. Suspecting a bomber, the laser battery opens fire while everyone is scrambling their forces and getting the fighters into the air. However, before the dot reaches the port, it turns tail in an attempt to avoid anti-aircraft fire the mercenaries suddenly notice that the tower fails to recharge its capacitor banks and is unable to ready another shot. Immediately after this, voltages drop and the whole base falls to secondary power.
Meek-Ria calls Alexander immediately and orders Black Nebula on full alert (as if they weren't already). It appears that the reactor of the spaceport is nonfunctional and nobody knows why, because the engineers in charge can't be contacted. Furthermore, transmission from orbit informs the players that a train with an escort is approaching from the east towards the Terniss power station.
Alexander and Gaussburg soon put two and two together and suspect that the reactor has been sabotaged to put the laser tower offline. This would give the air defenses of the fortress superiority within the Terniss bowl and allow the enemy to bring in reinforcements with air cover. Orders are dealt swiftly by Meek-Ria and delegated downwards. They are as follows:
- Heem-Lyeh, as the most technical of the group, is to investigate the reactor and bring it back online
- Gaussburg will take all of the fighters in the base and attempt to establish air superiority
- The rest of Black Nebula will board the dropship and try to secure the Terniss power plant. This would then be used to repower the tower even if Heem-Lyeh fails to fix the reactor.
- The Kra will assault the fortress, given any opportunity
- Weiss&Son will remain on the spaceport for defense
The plan is set in motion and its individual pieces soon fall in line. Alexander flies Entropy towards the power plant, facing little resistance on the way. The plant itself is defended only by a battallion of tanks, which can not effectively respond to the firepower and range presented by the dropship. and the players' reinforced mech lance of mechs. This gives Black Nebula the opportunity to force the tanks to surrender and drop their serbian infantry to capture them. The dropship is of little use from here on, though, as two wings of fighters from Vainerva arrive to complicate matters, forcing Alexander to retreat and making Gaussburg quite busy.
The forces in the fortress seize this objective and march towards the power plant, forcing the players to react. The Kra begin marching towards the fortress to cut them off, but lacking fast transportation, they can not directly influence the upcoming fight, which breaks out within the orchards.
The enemy force consists of the assault lance from the fortress, with one Atlas, one Battlemaster, a Black Knight, Rifleman and a Crusader. Luckily for the players, the enemy is geared towards long-range combat and the cover from the orchards works to their advantage. This does not mean that the battle is easy, however, as the enemy commander who is piloting the Atlas seems to be an elite gunner and deals enormous damage, as does his right-hand man in the Battlemaster. While the Atlas is geared for close-range combat, the Battlemaster has a mixed configuration suitable for all ranges and the rifleman attempts to take a position to control the battlefield, staggering fire with its quad ER Large Laser configuration. Ivan and Josef try to act as problem solvers, but the Rifleman denies good flanking positions while the enemy assaults advance to close range combat. The fight is especially problematic in the beginning when the players lack air cover, while the enemy does have it, but eventually Gaussburg manages to bring Entropy within friendly air defense and break off to defend their own.
The turning point of the skirmish happens when Tumak-Niva, fielding the Aquila, manages to drop a full bomb load directly on the Atlas, crippling it. This victory is short-lived, however, as the last autocannon round from the commander's gun blows Meek-Ria's cockpit clean off. Despite being occasionally antagonistic with their liaison officer, this event shakes Black Nebula to the core and evens the fight. Fortunately the enemy Crusader is unable to get anything done and as Josef, Ivan and Jiira corner the Battlemaster, the Rifleman doesn't have enough firepower to protect it. The battle does not end without further losses, though, as Jiira's mech goes down and many of the player units suffer heavy damage.
Meanwhile, supported by a squad of power armor, Heem-Lyeh descends to the power plant below the spaceport and appraises the situation. The power plant is an old and cheap, yet rugged fission installation with a surprisingly high output. Designed to be almost completely autonomous and low-maintenance, it has remained comparatively untouched for some time. However, now the control room has been sealed and the personnel are nowhere to be found. While Heem-Lyeh cuts through the doors and tries desperately to understand the gauges and controls, some of the soldiers go through recordings and find out that no extra personnel seem to have been allowed inside in. Considering that the engineers in charge of the reactor were nowhere to be found, it is safe to suspect that they were loyal enough to TDHI to act as saboteurs themselves. This complicates matters as it soon becomes evident that the reactor has been broken a bit more effectively than one would expect from simple thugs and multiple failsafe mechanisms have carefully been dismantled. Trying to compensate for the power draw of the laser tower, the reactor had adjusted its power output, but also caused itself to fail as its critical subsystems had been damaged.
Most importantly, the primary coolant system hds been breached in order to vent radiactive steam out of the primary coolant loop and the motors responsible for the control mechanisms of the reactor had been burned. With no apparent automatic means to make the reaction subcritical, Heem-Lyeh decides to enter the reactor chamber himself, risking the radiation exposure and operate the machinery manually. Failing this, he returns to ask for assistance, but the soldiers with him are hesitant to follow, realizing the great personal risk. After being promised an insane sum of money, two of them agree to throw their lives on the line. By manually forcing the machinery responsible for the control rods, they manage to turn the reaction subcritical, and by opening the safety valves and flooding the reaction chamber with secondary coolant, they avoid a meltdown and steam explosion. This takes longer than expected, which does not bode well for any of them.
As the Kra march towards the fortress, the situation starts to finally defuse. Alexander makes the questionable call of contacting the incoming reinforcements and threatening to cut the track in front of them with a cruise missile, but with the situation with the defenders growing more dire, the reinforcements turn back. Despite receiving best possible care (which, under the field situations present, isn't all that great), both of the engineers helping Heem-Lyeh eventually perish of radiation exposure, but Heem-Lyeh himself barely stabilizes. However, it seems that most of his remaining internal organs are on the brink of failure and that our cyber-radist does not have long to live.
What is most worrying is that like Sybaris, TDHI demonstrates that it is willing to sacrifice critical infrastructure to deny its enemy its own resources, which is in direct conflict to the agreed-on rules of engagement. Along with the loss of Meek-Ria, these developments do not bode well for our players.