RSU Roleplaying Game v2

Season 2 Episode 04
An information stop at VGT

There is a brief pause dedicated to fixing equipment, but very soon the players take off towards the VGT, hoping to either intercept Silverbridge there or find out their present whereabouts. The trip to the system vehivle is surprisingly short, as VGT is leaving the system and accelerating outwards from The Outlier.

Upon arriving at VGT, the mercenaries find out that, to their surprise, it is engulfed in a religious festival related to the Continuity and other fertility cults. Phallic imaginery and more open than usual prostituion litter the streets in one grotesque and colorful display, as the players, rather predictably, succumb to overuse of whores and narcotics. Especially Juho, Huug and Heem-Lyeh use the company visa extremely liberally and vanish for a few days. Meanwhile, everyone else is content with considerably less entertainment and soon return to service. Alexander goes to the Gentlemen's Club and digs around with the higher society, while the russians take the most obvious route and head for the dock.

While Alexander is unsuccessful in unearthing anything substantial, Eurich gets a sudden call from a person he suspected he wouldn't meet anytime soon – her sister Lidia Kusnetsova – who apparently has spent her last years on industrial espionage and landed on the system a year before him. Unfortunately, Hewlett-Kone's cells in-system had apparently been largely abandoned as support from out-system waned after entering the nebula, and Lidia considers her contract void. Black Nebula's leaders are quite willing to take her under their wing after Eurich assures them of her competence. Internally Eurich, Huug and Alexander suspect that having an insider who would have a better idea of Meek-Ria's plans would be highly preferrable.

With respect to actual investigations, the russians hit gold. They meet the harbormaster who also happens to be russian, and form a brief, vodka-fuelled friendship culminating into a hefty bribe. The harbormaster checks his system logs and sees that the Silverbridge carrier arrived seven days ago and left three days ago, while some of its cargo was transferred to a vessel called "Viscosity of Pleasant Tactility", which left the day before yesterday. The transferred cargo was reported to contain tools, dryfood and other insignificant items, but this is already suspicious enough.

Of the heavy partiers, Heem-Lyeh is the one to get bored first, both due to his physical ability and unfortunate, recent disability. Despite getting information from Eurich and Alexander that the Silverbridge execs have already left, he starts pondering whether it would be possible to hack the hotel networks to see if any personnel were still present. While he does not manage to do this himself, the systems are no match for CheekyChic69's supernatural hacking skills (i.e. calling the hotel and asking somebody for the password). After going through the records, our hackers find out that two Silverbridge grunts are indeed staying in one of the hotels and could perhaps be coerced to reveal somethig important.

Bjornlöf takes the initiative, and using the classical move of posing as the room service, he drugs the grunts and brings them to a shady bar in the underlevels, where all of Black Nebula are waiting. Being simple technicians, the unfortunate victims do not really think twice of spilling their beans in the face of violence, and blurt out everything they know. This "everything" is not particularly much, as the techies are too low in the command hierarchy to know who the higher ups mingle with, and even less where assets such as nukes(really?!) are sold. However, the players are able to figure out that basically all of Silverbridge are now on leave after a successful mission. Coconna, who is indeed the field commander, is an avid fan of extreme sports and a hunter, and the techies suspect that she has travelled to Prionio to hunt for local wildlife.

This is enough of a clue, and the players choose to let the techies go. Ivan is against this, but Bjornlöf assures him that he can cook up a cocktail that makes everything the techies experienced seem like a bad trip, should they remember it at all.

Alexander is ready to travel to Prionio and is already setting course for Diave A, but Meek-Ria interrupts him. Fuub-Ark recalls the players to Vetakai because he suspects that something is up, and it seems that a distraction of this magnitude is out of the question. However, Meek-Ria herself suggests that she could take one of the recently battle-decorated pioneer squads and head for Prionio herself, confident on her ability to handle the situation and capture Coconna. Alexander quickly agrees, and as the players fire their engines towards Kersia-Vetakai, the agent departs to Diave A onboard the next charter transport, accompanied only by a handful of men a crate of weapons. Lidia is sent along to prove herself on a real mission, but of the more permanent personnel, only Hune-Boo is with her. Nobody really even knows why.

En-route, Huug contacts Voronoi about "Viscosity of Pleasant Tactility". The old Suvak suspects that the naming convention to points towards an old Suvak mercenary company called Ivispe, who has always been famous for very intelligent committment of resources and defending large areas with limited means. However, to the best of his knowledge, Ivispe has no presence at all in Diave.

PS: Bjornlöf informs Heem-Lyeh that he has just heard of a group of veteran cybernetics experts capable of building the radist a new penis. Where he obtained this information is apparently a secret.

Season 2 Episode 03
Pioneer squads help secure a victory over daring and dangerous pirates

While approaching The Horn of Plenty, the players' contact informs them that they are indeed late, as a mercenary organization called "The Wild Spinward", now obviously turned a pirate organization, is already pillaging its metal stockpiles that were left at the asteroid during the hostilities. While the contact is using his remaining resources the best he can to acquire more information, he admits that most of his means are gone and that any meaningful help will mostly be in the form of positioning information.

While the players are closing in, the communications officer of The Wild Spinward, a working class awese calling herself Rosaria, warns the players and assures them that a conflict will ensue if they do not back off. The mercenary organization acts very confidently and is adamant in its determination to continue the heist unimpeded.

The players, however, are not fazed by this. After the contact informs Alexander that the pirates' dropship is housed in the main closed dock, he immediately orders the pioneer squads on the surface to mine its bay doors. The mercenaries send squads to combat the pioneers, but suppressive fire from the players' Hemostasis keeps them at bay.

At the same time, Eurich has dropped the players' ground forces near the habitat modules (which seems to house a curious mall themed around less-than-accurate, almost comical plagiarizations of events in inehmo history) and the informant uses his drones and collegues to pinpoint one of the shipments transporting stolen goods. Before the pirates can react appropriately, the players ambush the shipment and destroy one of the pillagers' mechs. This prompts a full-on war declaration from Rosaria, and the pirate forces swiftly regroup before the players can use the situation to their advantage any further. Eventually they choose to set up an ambush to their main convoy in the residential dome near the spacedock. The encounter that follows ends up being one of the fiercest battles Black Nebula has undertaken. Also, unlike their previous antagonists, Wild Spinward seems to also have a similar confident and carefree attitude to their business, as Huug's recital of Black Nebula Combat Articla 17 is met with a spiffy rap from Jay Z, who is apparenly "in da haus" and similar things.

The pirates are lead by a very experienced battlefield commander called Mikalo Papadopoulos, whom they have apparently hired from the remains of Sybaris. In addition to this, the pirates field expensive and capable materiel and have multiple competent mech jockeys in addition to the field commander, who is rumored to be a real ace. The sisters Yolanda and Chanelique pilot highly mobile medium-range mechs and tie the players' resources, while Mikalo and his wingman assault the players' heavy mechs with their two Atlai. The situation seems extremely dire, but once again Huug's methanol-stabilized aim manages to snipe the enemy commander, stranding Mikalo's wingman beside Huug and Juho, which swiftly turns the tide of the battle. The Atlas duels Juho and the assaults cripple each other, while Jay Z and the pirates' scout mech eventually manage to take Huug-Gun down, but by then the battle is too far gone. Huug's relaxed attitude allows him to survive the ejection without too much trouble, and the players suffer no other substantial losses. Heem-Lyeh is again very close to death, as Silverbridge's battle armor squads ambush his Griffin and critically damage the life support systems of the mech. This time his reinforced exoskeleton prevents any serious consequences from the encounter, however.

The pirate dropship apparently thinks that it has seen enough and is not willing to risk getting caught. Its captain swiftly declares that the ship will now launch and all opposition from Black Nebula will be met with lethal force. This is neither a bluff, nor does Alexander call it, as he simply chooses to explode the mined bay doors and rain steel on top of the ascending dropship. Severely damaged, the dropship then loses a very brief but equally flashy stand-up fight against the Hemostasis and the players watch in awe as its disintegrating hulk makes a slow arc far beyond the horizon in the low gravity of the asteroid.

Because they only managed to cause a low amount of damage (couple of storefronts, dock bay door) and because almost all of the precious metals in the pirate dropship could be salvaged, the players manage to negotiate a hefty bonus, which puts them far into black, even despite the costs of Syp assistance. Fuub immediately orders them to continue the investigation on the lost nuclear charges, so there will be no time to rest. To help with this, Meek-Ria's information network suggests that Silverbridge has visited VGT within the last couple of days, so a trip to the ship will be in order.

Season 2 Episode 02
A derelict spaceport, but why?

After this, it was natural to make the next stop at O-MIL-27, which was less than a day's journey away. During this journey, our mercenaries noticed engine activity in the direction of O-MIL-27, but this turns out to be the Syp Brotherhood's scouting assignment, as Voronoi contacts the players while they are en-route. According to his report, the station appears to be damaged, yet still functional, and that its static defense emplacements still present a credible threat.

While the players consider their options, Voronoi makes an offer to attack one of the rearward turrets in the station for the low price of 35 million credits. Due to two other turrets being damaged and most of the firepower being positioned to protect the dock, this would eliminate the last turret protecting a certain rearward firing arc and permit approach.

Despite being steep price and considerably above the cash reserves of the players, Eurich considers the offer very reasonable with respect to the risk. In Alexander's absence he is also authorized to accept the deal. After brief negotiations, Voronoi accepts a deed for the players' second dropship as payment, and the Brotherhood springs into action.

While Black Nebula watches from the sidelines, the Syp perform a complicated and harsh acceleration manoeuvre that minimizes their exposure to the stations firing arcs and aggressively bombards the turret with all of their hardware. The sky fails to lit up from the impact and it becomes evident that the brotherhood survives without losses. Then, as Voronoi broadcasts safe approach vectors, the players make their own approach and successfully arrive in the vicinity of the base.They also notice that the Syp are anchored to the surface and have started salvaging the remains of the two inoperative turrets.

The station is potato-shaped pile of tock and its one end houses the spacedock. As the defenses in there are still in place, the players consider it out-of-bounds. Fortunately the rear of the station houses another, smaller dock for maintenance craft, and despite being way too small for a dropship, it is where the players are headed. A couple of smaller missile batteries are set up to protect the close proximity of also this hatch, but they do not even begin to be a match for a Hemostasis dropship.

CheekyChic69 makes a bold attempt at the maintenance airlock, but modern military-grade security measures are hard to beat and the players end up being forced to carve their way through the entrance. To their surprise, there is no pressure differential and the loading dock seems to be evacuated from air. For security reasons, the doors inside the station seem to have manual override functions, which, while not trivial to bypass, are beatable to someone with physical access to the electronics. This allows the players to travel through the maintenance shaft all the way to the other end of the station, where they do find a pocket of air and several long-dead bodies.

With his limited medical skills and Huug's more in-depth expertise, Josef determines that the bodies show signs of severe radiation exposure, which he believes to be the most credible cause for their death. Heem-Lyeh collects a couple of employee access cards from the bodies, and while none of them are particularly high-ranking, this allows the players to explore the station almost fully.

Past the pocket, they find the inside of the dock in total disarray and destruction, as resoldified strings of metal point away from the main bay door and into the shattered cubicles inside. To calm their hearts and screaming geiger counters, the players quickly reseal the bay doors and explore elsewhere. They find more radiation-incurred fatalities in the residential section, but overall the station seems to be almost completely abandoned in a hurry. The most important discoveries come from the bridge, which is out-of-bounds for their access cards, but very much not so for a hefty pile of C7 and plasma cutters.

Despite being given ample time and semi-local access, Heem-Lyeh and CheekyChic69 again fail to access the higher-security archives of the station. While Cheeky claims that he could do it eventually, time is scarce and the players have to make do with the external video feed that conveniently terminates at the day of the disaster. Interestingly, its final moments show a PPC space superiority destroyer approaching the dock and greeting the bay doors with a full salvo from its axial weapon. The video is insufficient to determine the faction of the destroyer, despites Eurichs great interest towards what faction even possesses such weapons in Diave.

Meanwhile, as the security-oriented personnel work on the logs, the others bring in their mechs in order to more efficiently (and radiation-safely) explore the destroyed interior. On a hunch, the russians notice that one of the cubicles appears to have collapsed instead of emptied, like the others, and begin to work on exposing it. To their surprise, after working on cutting the metal and removing rock for a couple of days, the bottom of the bay reveals a squardron of almost pristine Samurai fighters, which apparently were buried too deep to be accounted for in the evacuation. At the same time, Eurich goes over the inventory at the rear dock and finds a sizeable supply of fuel and a leftover crate full of mech parts. Even combined, these assets fail to cover the salary of the Syp, but our mercenaries have no option but to continue onward. They are unable to disable the defense systems programmatically and briefly consider dismantling their power feed from the inside, but Fuub-Ark prefers to keep the station as operational and unapproachable as possible for now. Though this option is still mildly risky, the players comply and Alexander manages to navigate away from the asteroid without wandering into the firing arcs of the remaining turrets.

Unfortunately, as they begin to accelerate towards The Horn of Plenty, their contact comes forward with ill news. While they were exploring the station, another party has reached the colony and overpowered its garrison, confirming that all of ILLI's concerns were quite valid.

Season 2 Episode 01
BHI plans to take an offensive stance

The story opens with the actual briefing held by Fuub-Ark and his collegues, who are now presented to be a hybrid class male named Kemva Amek and a worker class female called Sui Limea. The first part of the briefing is a combined status report to both the players and the loyalist mercenary unit Shadow Flare. Of the players, only the leaders (Huug-Gun, Eurich and Alexander) are allowed to participate.

Firstly, Fuub makes clear that the their small conspiracy, now christened ILLI for Internal Low-profile Loyalist Initiative, should be kept as secret as possible, even though its existence probably is hardly a secret for BHI high command. When referring to their employers, the players should just refer to him. Fuub again stresses that while Countess Miave warned BHI against retalitative strikes against TDHI, the opporturnity is too good to pass by now that they have the upper hand, and that the moral grounds for demanding inaction are questionable, given that BHI was attacked first.

Seconly, Fuub makes clear that they now have better information about the ships being built, and assures that detailed specifications will be provided when available. Then, along with the loyalist mercenary faction, they are assigned targets inside the asteroid belt. Fuub continues the briefing with the players, while Limea and Amek brief Shadow Flare.

There are three targets of importance: TDHI-R-551, a resource asteroid, O-MIL-27, an airbase, and Horn of Plenty – a refinery and smelter and one of the largest civilian habitats in the belt. The first is likely to have nuclear mining charges, the second has been silent for a long time and is likely abandoned for unknown reason, and the last houses a large stockpile of resources that the players are assigned to protect if they become threatened.

The order is given to move ASAP, but the players are forced to rethink their strategy force composition slightly. Given that two of the targets are partly or completely zero-g enviroments, units without jump jets cannot be effectively used. This forces the players to make certain suboptimal, but workable changes to their mechs.

They also have very little information about mining asteroids, and figure that the best way to get reliable and in-depth clues is to hold a fake work interview for any mining technicans presently unemployed due to the conflict. This works admirably, and through slight pressure, subtrefuge and a naturally inquisitiver environment, the players learn what they need from the typical storage and upkeep of such nuclear mining charges. Ivan also suggests that it would be best to hire the Syp brotherhood to scout the military base. Through quick negotiations, this is also accomplished for a very low fee due to the naturally reckless and adventurous nature of the suvak faction. On top of these preparations, the players simply make sure that they have the contact information of BHI agents in Horn of Plenty and all the correct encryption keys before setting out.

The trip to the mining asteroid itself is uneventful and the troupe arrives without trouble. Even though all the ports seem to be on lockdown, it is relatively straightforward for CheekyChic69 to hack the controls and open the airlocks, allowing everybody to enter. The players keep their dropship in orbit and start going over the numerous equipment vaults in the maze of hundreds of corridors and mineshafts within the asteroid. Unable to determine the actual location of the equipment, they simply resort to going over the most secure-looking locations at random.

Upon arriving to the second vault, the players realize that they are late. It has been broken into, and while nothing seems to have been stolen, it is reasonable to assume that any external party would have very similar objectives to their own. The urgency of matters further culminates as Juho notices a drone at the third vault, and realizes that their location is probably known to their adversary. In a desperate attempt to catch up, the players make haste to a central intersection only to find more drones, and are about to take the wrong turn until one of the spaceports opens and a Titan-class carrier departs. Heem-Lyeh curses their luck, but Huug is quick to note that the Titan is not accelerating away, and that it is likely switching ports to meet the internal crew at another junction. Encouraged by this, the players seek to cut off the escape and either through luck or through moving slightly faster than their opposition, manage to catch them close to the surface. They attack immediately, without giving an oppoturnity for any negotiations.

The players are fielding their best jump-capable mechs and take the upper hand by eliminating one of the largest of their opponents' mechs immediately. However, from there on, the tables are turned. While the opposing command mech tries to use smoke to prevent the players from getting free shots at their transport equipment. Ultimately the fight turned against our mercenaries when they repeatedly failed to push forward and both Heem-Lyeh and Gunther retreated prematurely, the latter apparently undamaged. When Coconna, the enemy field commander, offered a ceasefire in return for a safe exit, Eurich accepted it.

Unfortunately this meant that the enemy got to keep the nuclear devices and the players were left with the single mech, albeit expensive, which they managed to take down. After the encounter, Huug-Gun went to nonchalantly ask whether Meek-Ria had information about Silverbridge, but the agent became quite agitated about the players' failure and told that she will consult with Fuub and his collegues. The cowardly behavior of Bjornlöf also created friction inside the team and especially the russians were highly disappointed.

Season 1 Episode 14
Season finale and an almost too interesting encounter with the Sirak

Upon closer inspection, Heem-Lyeh's situation is more severe than expected and he has suffered 67% third-degree burns over his skin. It seems likely that only parts of his body can be saved and the overall fate seems less certain than previously. Along with the other wounded, he is ferried back to the biggest city in Vetekai and he immediately heads towards the operating table. The rest of the players confront Fuub, who arrives shortly with a helicopter.

Before doing anything else, Fuub and Meek-Ria want to head to the observatory at the high end of the mass driver and observe the space battle taking place, as it is very important to their assessment of the situation. Most of the players join them.

For BHI, things seem to be going well. Sybaris attemts to attack the factories with long range weapons, but the remaining BHI and Karamat-Via fleets meet with them and no serious damage is caused. Even though the BHI-aligned fleets are insufficient to beat the Sybaris force, Akmavala's forces join the fight to protect the infrastructure, as agreed, and the attack is thwarted. Most of the other participating mercenary forces, such as the Sirak clan, desert immediately. The flagship and main support vessel of the Sybaris fleet is destroyed and the rest of the assets scatter and flee towards the asteroid field or the outer gas giants. Later on, some are seen fleeing the system and others remain hidden. Regardless, Teask-Dumar has lost a major portion of its military might and even though Sybaris technically still has most of its strength, it is questionable whether it can continue operating.

Some of the crew are ready to celebrate the war as over, but Fuub tells the players to calm down and prepare for the future, as there is lot to be done, including the annexation of Teask-Dumar assets. When talking about the recent events, Meek-Ria informs them that he has been the target of an assassination attempt and that the move to Vetakai was partly done to mititgate further risk. As of now, Fuub has gathered a substantial amount of favor within the general population and other working-class awese and is likely to be less susceptible for attack, but it certainly seems that he and his closest collegues are likely to form a clique inside BHI, giving Fuub a measure of implicit power. As part of his new position, Fuub-Ark seems it prudent to relieve the players from Veer-Nivas and Bivo-Ak's command and instead propositions for them to jump back to his service (with double the previous wage) and act as fast response troops for whatever trouble is brewing at any given moment. Everyone seems okay with this and Fuub grants them leave for a few days because most want to visit VGS for some investments towards the future.

As an update on other matters, Ivan decides that it is necessary to hire Hune-Boo as a permanent secretary and instructs her to dress smartly as she is now a member of a prestigious mercenary organization. What this entails for a working-class awese female is not extensively discussed, and no such requirements are targeted towards CheekyChic69, though. The players receive information that Heem-Lyeh is stable and will survive. He is still being rebuilt in the hospital, though, and will likely be for a while. It is unanimously agreed that their Hematosis class dropship is to be named "Entropy", with the next best contenders being various russian female names and "Eleanore".

On the way, when the players' ship is starting to decelerate, Ivan notices something strange when checking up the fusion drive. Two bombs have been planted in the conduits leading to the fusion drive, and their explosion would make controlling the engines impossible. He sets out to disable the bombs, and phones the bridge to get hold of Alexander to catch whoever built them.

The bombs are in a location which is not directly visible for any security cameras, and the suspect is narrowed down to a couple of the engineers and combat engineers that the players hired recently. It makes the investigation easier that once a call for these crew members is made, one of the lifeboats in the ship launches and a blip appears in the radar several million kilometers away. It appears that the blip is a dropship of the very same size as the player one and it is approaching quickly.

This calls for action. Juho doesn't bother to catch the saboteur and promptly fires a PPC barrage towards the lifeboat, utterly vaporizing it. As Ivan works with the bombs, several interesting features seem to come up. He seems to have caught them extremely recently and the devices seem to be done by total amateurs. Definitely not the work of a real combat engineer. This leads to a snap decision and Ivan decides to empty the room into a vacuum and have his brother disable the bombs wearing one of the powersuits, both of these being precautions which make the explosion more survivable. As the brothers are cutting the wires, it indeed becomes apparent that they were amateur jobs. Nothing explodes and the devices prove to be just as simple as they previously appeared.

This leaves the trouble of the dropship pursuing them. The players are not hailed and the ship makes no attemt to contact them, but it seems obvious that it belongs to the Sirak. It seems evident to everyone that a direct confrontation with the opposing dropship is impossible. The Sirak are likely to possess more fighters and a crew vastly more experienced in space combat. An order is given for everyone to strap in and prepare for extreme acceleration as Alexander and Juho draw up an escape plan.

First of all, the players decide to take every possible risk to discourage pursuit. Secondly, they decide to aim towards the VGS station, as all feel that it is unlikely that they will be able to make it back to Kersia without being caught. Moreover, considering VGS's security in the previous trips, it is to be expected that they would forcefully inhibit combat near the factory.

The players go in for a hard slingshot manouver that momentarily takes them to the shadow of the planet and several of the moons, where they burn heavily without being seen in an attemt to deceive their opponent and slow this pursuit. The first manouveres are a success and the pursuers bet too heavily in them trying to slingshot back towards Kersia, which makes them unable to reach the players before they broadcast their position and plight to the VGS and break towards the factories. For a brief moment, the pursuers seem to head toward VGS, but two assault ships launch from the factories' inner hangars and the dropship disengages, switching its course and burning towards the inner system.

The players are allowed to dock on the inner dock. While onboard the station, they witness a larger amount of the same assault ships that scared their pursuers away and half a dozen of the dropships they possess docked to a jumpship which seems designed simply to transport them. While making weapon purchases, Gunther and Eurich inquire about the ships and further inventory, and the crew are invited upstairs to discuss these matters. They are escorted by armed men and suvak awese into a lavishly decorated room where a person who resembles Vincent Barr (by chance?) to an alarming degree tells them to sit down and shows them their inventory.

The VGS representative (who Ivan designates as "The Illusive Man") emphasizes that the factories have an exclusive production agreement to an unnamed third party, but that he has been following the conflict in Kersia and believes there to be a… plausible deniability for the players to have acquired their wares from other sources, so there should be no barriers on doing business. However, despite being shown a very advanced lineup of equipment, it seems evident that none of it really meets their needs at the moment. The players spend around six million on special weapons, but even though Alexander would want to buy another Striga, the others talk him out of it. Eurich inquires for various weapons of mass destruction, which seems to irritate and alarm the representative. They are shooed out but not exactly shown the door and at least no-one tells the players that they are unwelcome in the future.

Even though the players are more careful with their interception points and options on the return trip the Sirak are nowhere to be seen during the return trip. Just as they reach the orbit and read news about further pirate attacks in the asteroid belt, all news outlets are interrupted with a press conference held by Countess Miave of Diave A.

The Countess presents herself less ascetically than Akmavala and like her, is also seen in the presence of her mentats. The overall message of the conference is vague and while Miave refrains from making threats, she notes that Akmavala overstepped her bounds in the extent of her intervention in the corporate war. Further, it is noted that Teask-Dumar should be allowed to keep control of its current infrastructure and that reparations need to be discussed.

As suddenly as it began, the transmission ends. Fuub immediately calls the players to action and orders a negotiation with his collegues in Vetakai's largest city. Huug-Gun, Alexander and Eurich are invited as military advisors.

While the rest of the crew stay back and spend time talking to other mercenaries present, the leaders of Black Nebula meet Fuub-Ark and his apparent cavalcade of trusted friends and collegues in a darkened hall, where Fuub tells them his assessment of the probable course of events leading to the situation. Present are around ten working and two warrior class awese, the other of which is the leader of another loyalist (as if the players are?) mercenary organization whose name translates roughly as Shadow Flare.

As before, Meek-Ria and Fuub-Ark are well-informed. They know that the orbital factories have been constructing a battlecruiser and two destroyers specifically aimed at space superiority, which is certainly a force that the corporation is not allowed to possess considering its political power. It seems evident, that Akmavala, who is likewise not highly ranked enough for this kind of an investment, is the only possible customer. From here on, Fuub goes on to construct a conspiracy, whose victims both of the heavy industry corporations might be. He suggests that both the initial attacks and the attack on the peace convoy were framed, and that the latter was used to kill of a large amount of the BHI high command in order to replace some or all of them with people loyal to her cause. The warships being build are done in order to challenge Miave, and that crippling Teask-Dumar was paramount in trying to deny the countess a possible ally and serious production capacity during the upcoming war. Fuub admits that he has no direct proof, but that this is the only combination which seems to make sense.

Following the lecture, Fuub proposes a conspiracy within BHI, the most pressing purpose of which is to survive the upcoming events. As a secondary objective, he suggests that if possible, it should be investigated to which extent BHI is under Akmavala's control. A plan to reseat BHI's leaders and regain internal independence should be discussed separately.

The room descends to (surprisingly civil) discussion and speculation. The members discuss possible outcomes and present strategy. Almost everyone agrees that if Akmavala is able to prolong the conflict even slightly, she is likely to win, and that siding with her while working inside BHI is probably the prudent choice.

At this point, the players are escorted out by Meek-Ria, and informed that they do not need to concern themselves with the strategy. For now, it is more important to consolidate BHI's power and resume the annexation of Teask-Dumar property. They are told that a formal briefing of future targets will ensue in short order and that they should be prepared for launch.

Season 1 Episode 13
Defense of the Vetakai mass driver

The players lick their wounds and fix their equipment. Despite obtaining a sizeable loot from the last battle, a large majority of the high-value equipment was unfixable and the faster battlemech engaging eurich was completely destroyed. The repair bill from the Marauders also ends up being millions of credits, as one of the engines is lost. As per custom, BHI pays the players a bonus for their victory, which ensures that they do not end up deeply in the red, but the fight is nonetheless a setback. As a notable message concerning their notoriety, the Sirak brotherhood accepts the anonymous contract for their destruction in MERCnet.

As before, Meek-Ria questions the prisoners and Heem-Lyeh listens in. As the conversation is held entirely in Suvak language(s?), the players have absolutely no idea of the content of the exchange. The russians are again tasked to take the prisoners to the main BHI compound, and again Heem-Lyeh joins in. The drop-off itself is uneventful, but on the way Heem-Lyeh gets the idea to fetch a proficient technican to help them with the dropship. A quick call to Fuub provides the players with a list of names and indeed they find a person who fits the criteria in every possible way (knows suvak, has coded interfaces for vehicles like this, uses vim instead of emacs). The kind of person who does not take his work too seriously, not out of laziness but because he seems overqualified for everything. The kind that does not tell anyone if he takes a vacation, but nobody says anything because he's too valuable. Best of all, this middle-aged weleka male simply introduces himself with his online handle, CheekyChic69.

Regardless, it is easy to persuade this kind of a character to do a new and interesting task, so they ferry him back to the dropship. Upon toying with the dropship's computers, Cheeky informs them that translating most of the interface "is a bit tough", but takes "a couple of weeks, tops". Alexander asks about the costs, and after juding the navigator carefully, CheekyChic69 states that he'll do the job and work for them for a measly 50000 credits per year (which is an outrageous amount). Disappointment about the "careful" offer is evident in his when Alexander immediately agrees, but the programmer clearly isn't the kind of person to rehaggle his own jokes and he simply gets to work, determined to cash in as soon as possible.

As for the problem with the interrogation translations, Heem-Lyeh's previous contacts are extremely unlikely to be of help. The russians suggest the local university and seek a student with the necessary Suvak skills. This isn't a particularly difficult task and through a bulleting board, the players soon find ten reasonable candidates and true to their form, select the youngest female among the group, Hune-Boo. They drive to meet her on the campus, and while the student is rightfully terrified of the hovertank, they manage to catch her and explain the situation. After being promised a hefty sum for translation services, she agrees to help them.

Unlike the whores, Hune-Boo is incredibly fast and professional and equipped with software specifically designed for the task. She writes almost as fast as she listens and the translitteration is soon done. While the student is further frightened by the content of the tapes, the players simply promise her more money and set her on her way with the promise for more work in the future.

The content of the discussions themselves is more brief than previously. Unlike the young Sybaris recruits, the Suvak mechwarriors seem completely aware of the situation, their rights and their probable fate. They are steadfast and reluctant to reveal anything about their organization, only repeating that their ransom will be paid and then they will simply be on their way. The other, however, is more chatty and has a brief conversation about Sybaris with Meek-Ria. An important detail in this is that it considers the humans unprofessional and driven by desires irrelevant to the battle itself. It also claims that Sybaris probably won't take losing well, and warns Meek-Ria to be aware of this. It also states that "everyone knows what BHI is building in the orbital docks", but doesn't elaborate further on the matter. As Meek-Ria refuses to comment on this quip, the players are left wondering what it means.

While this is happening, Cracked Mask and Karamat-Via push the remaining enemy forces northward until they come in range of the defense towers in the spaceport. One of the towers is fixed to the extent that it can be aimed manually, so that it manages to deter the attacking troops momentarily. Veer-Niva prepares to shell the tower to the ground, but Sybaris sends them a requests for a very brief ceasefire so that it can release the civilians. Both Weston Devine and Veer-Niva consider this stalling and a weak bluff, and are confident that they could take the spaceport with minimal losses, but BHI's representatives regardless agree to the terms because they do not want to lose civilian lives or cause further damage the spaceport. The suvak's warning seems to have been well-informed, however, as the Sybaris dropships immediately retreat and a warning to the spaceport defenders is broadcast openly before the orbital assets drop a sizeable rock on the premises.

As the first serious act of escalation in the current war, this causes a serious uproar. Willingness to destroy infrastructure is worrying for the general population and a change can be observed in the general atmosphere. However, there is little time to ponder this, as all forces are ordered to march west to reinforce other battles. As the players are preparing to do this, they get a transmission from Fuub-Ark to get to Vetakai immediately. The general consensus is that Fuub is their "bro", so they load their ship and boost away from the planet. Both CheekyChic69 and Hune-Boo are recruited as semi-permanent assets at this point, because the players suspect that they need both in the future.

While en-route, Veer-Niva calls them to heavily protest and accuse them of mutiny, but the players simply close the connection. Before Karamat-Via can take further actions, a new development changes the playing field. Sybaris forces in orbit activate and accelerate toward the orbital factories, with a small detachment heading for Vetakai.

While the players are deliberating what they see, Fuub contacts them and suspects that the detachment will try to take control of the Vetakai mass driver in order to further escalate the situation and threaten the orbital factories. The players are a bit late, but their vessel is much faster and the Sybaris landing force has to navigate around Vetakai space defense systems, buying them time and still losing them a couple of vessels. The players arrive just in time to reinforce the installation and prepare for attack as a barrage of heavy smoke shells reduce the visibility to near-zero.

This time, Sybaris is trying to push through a large amount of troops and supports them with mechs. However, the players secure an early advantage as Eurich one-shots the enemy command Atlas and ensures a local superiority. The remaining mechs are outclassed against Black Nebula forces and the fight soon evolves into a defensive battle where the players search for approaching troops amidst the smoke and try to thin their numbers before they reach the facility. Josef's mech is crippled by Sybaris's Griffins, but the only real loss is Heem-Lyeh's hovertank, which is badly hit and immobilized by an SRM platoon. Heroically Heem-Lyeh climbs into the turret to suppress the approaching troops, but eventually the tank's armor is breached and the other mercenaries see its gun go silent. The last word they hear from it are "It's allright Eurich, I know what you did on the border".

Even though most of the player units are really badly equipped to deal with infantry and the loss of the hovertank is a heavy blow, the outcome of the battle still favors the players due to the overwhelming amount of tonnage they field. Eventually Juho's dual plasma cannons are too deadly and the sheer volume of Eurich's missile barrage is too much for the infantry to handle. Without friendly mechs to cover their advance, the morale of the infantry is broken and the rest either flee or surrender. Almost two hundred wounded or dead are gathered from the battlefield.

Heem-Lyeh is dragged out of his tank, and fortunately for him, the engine has died quietly and there hasn't been an ammunition explosion. Despite being gravely wounded, his life can be saved. The session ends when Black Nebula is left defending the mass driver and Fuub informs them that he will be arriving shortly. The atmosphere is that of bad news.

Season 1 Episode 12
A great offensive through the swamps

Practically immediately after Veer-Niva gets word of the destruction of the air defense system in the spaceport, she orders a preparation for a large-scale attack over the bridge and toward the city.

During the briefing held among the high-ranking members of the mercenary organizations, Huug and Alexander once again represent Black Nebula. A choice is made to perform a multi-pronged attack to the opposing bridgehead and use the (temporary?) air superiority to establish a presence on the north shore. Cracked Mask is tasked to circle the marsh to the west and flank the enemy, while Karamat-Via will attack through the marsh and over the bridge to draw in the majority of enemy defenders. A smaller detachment will flank from the east. The responsibility that falls to the players is to take their force behind enemy lines and stay hidden, only revealing themselves to destroy artillery encampments.

While nobody has exact information on the locations of the artillery, several sites seem much more probable than others. As before, Alexander aims to be unpredictable and hide his movements from friendlies if necessary, and ends up giving Karamat-Via an attack route that the players will not in fact use. Whether this misinformation helps or not, they do manage to reach the artillery positions west of the city undetected and charge across the plains to assault them. The change of plans makes their route longer and delays their participation, though, which makes Veer-Niva even more displeased of Alexander's antics.

Unsurprisingly, the artillery appear to be Sybaris standard issue, but the position is defended by an unit unseen by the players so far and fielding unknown mechs. It appears to belong to the mercenary unit they stole their new dropship from and fields high-quality equipment. Unfortunately the enemy is also aware of Black Nebula's role and the battle proves to be particularly fierce.

The artillery units are stationed on a mall parking lot close to a transport junction that leads to west, south and east. Alexander, Josef and Ivan head toward the artillery pieces with support from Juho, while Heem-Lyeh, Huug-Gun and Eurich take their specifically anti-mech units to face the defenders' assets.

The artillery turns to engage the incoming players and targets the King Crab, seeing that it is likely the largest threat. Multiple direct hits heavily damage the mech and Juho is forced to slow down and take cover from the trees while waiting for the russians to close in on the artillery.

The defenders mechs appear to make a snap decision to try to overwhelm the players' anti-mech units and promptly abandon the vechiles. Their anti-aircraft mech is too slow to retreat and provides cover for the retreating artillery while the four previously unseen heavy mechs charge Huug-Gun, Heem-Lyeh and Eurich. Two slower dual gauss mechs corner the players' Marauders, while the faster units try to eliminate Eurich. The battle does not go particularly well for the two awese pilots, as they are easily overwhelmed and both of the Marauders are crippled. Eurich takes heavy damage, but uses forest cover and his superior close-range firepower to beat both of his attackers, turning the tide of the fight and surviving until Juho comes to help them. The cavalry appears to be too late for some of the players, however. The defenders are extremely determined to cause losses and manage to finish off both Huug-Gun's and Heem-Lyeh's Marauders without taking serious damage.

Unfortunately for them, Juho scores two very lucky shots with his King Crab and disables both of the Gauss-wielding mechs before they manage to concentrate their firepower on him. After it becomes apparent that Ivan and Josef can easily use their superior mobility to eliminate the anti-aircraft mech, the remaining enemy flees the scene after only briefly skirmishing with the russians.

While the battle is technically won, most of the player mechs are in bad shape. Heem-Lyeh's leg is blown off and Huug-Gun's engine is destroyed, so that if the battle in the bridge goes badly, they will be forced to retreat and leave their damaged equipment behind. The situation is tense for a while, but it soon becomes evident that Karamat-Via manages to push through and the enemy forces flee to the north. This gives the players an oppoturnity to fetch their dropship and transport their damaged material back to base.

Season 1 Episode 11
Unsanctioned missions and even more unsanctioned acquisitions

Surprisingly, despite being ordered to the briefing by Fuub, the players learn that he has been transferred, and that he is no longer in charge of the defense of Mirika. Instead, a ruling-class male called Bivo-Ak and the leader of the local Karamat-Via detatchment, Veer-Niva, share the responsibility.

Knowing that the spaceport is under enemy control, and that this makes it both easy for them to bring reinforcements and that this is already happening, they want to take action. Veer-Niva suggests a southern assault through the hills. By capturing the southern agricultural centers near city, and settling on the southern shore of the marsh, the city could be threatened directly and air defense assets could be brought very close to the airfield, preventing its successful use.

The players, on the other hand, have different plans. Since they recieved images of the Sirak clan resources in the area, capture of such a dropship was an extremely alluring prospect. All of Huug, Eurich and Alexander presented this argument to Veer-Niva and Bivo-Ak, veiled as a surprise attack to the spaceport itself. However, this received a lukewarm response. The awese opposed the fact that the players' forces would not be able to assist the main assault, and that the relevance of their forces on the north would be meager at best. It seemed unlikely that the plan would be accepted.

However, as a compromise, Veer-Niva suggested that the players attack from the north first, forming a diversion for the main force. This seemed like suicide, and protests ensued. Fortunately the leader of Cracked Mask, Weston Devine, senses that the value of human lives is pretty low for the awese, and challenges the strategy altogether, threatening to withdraw from the main attack if the players' sugestion would not be seriously considered. On the back foot and needing the support of Cracked Mask, Veer-Niva eventually agrees on the players' plan to attack from the north after the main force faces the enemy in the south.

At this point, all is technically well, but the players have no actual intention to engage in a real battle with enemy forces. Instead, the light stealth powersuits Heem-Lyeh had obtained earlier, are dug up and everybody prepares for an infiltration and sabotage mission. The other mercenary companies are naturally not informed, which establishes Alexander's habit of misinforming even his allies of his intentions.

As soon as the others set out on the early hours of the morning, Juho takes the Satan dropship and prepares to drop the players in the shallows to the north of Aloss. The drop itself succeeds without any complications, but naturally Juho is detected by enemy radar and two Rusalka fighters are launched to pursue him. While he weawes and evades to get under friendly anti-air territory, the fighters are skilled and relentless. They pursue him as far as possible and try to land as many shots as they can. On the last possible volley, the fuel tank of the Satan takes a critical hit and the dropship loses power. Juho ejects only to see the dropship crash hard and be utterly destroyed.

Seeing as the loss of the dropship translates into a significant portion of Black Nebula's transport capability and a huge sum of money, the success of the plan suddenly becomes much more important. Fortunately for the players, at least the beginning goes well. Evading the recon team investigating what the dropship might have left is easy, as finding man-sized targets in murky water was almost impossible. In about an hour or so, it is possible to set out for the actual spaceport, which is around four hours of walking away.

When nearing the spaceport, the players see how the airfield experiences constant traffic as the Sybaris and Sirak forces fly to assist local forces. Radio transmissions indicate that a full-scale battle is being waged on the southern shore of the marsh, drawing in practically all of the local military assets. This provides good cover as practically all of the enemy military assets are in use. As the spaceport had previously been under BHI control, the entourage had access to all design documents of the launch bunker and the blast gas corridors, which allowes them to close in on the central structures of the spaceport unmolested and avoid seeming particularly suspicious.

When the players near the actual launch pads, the party split into two. On the first team, Huug-Gun, Eurich, Gunther and Alexander head to the spaceport interior, while Ivan, Josef and Heem-Lyeh leave to secure the dropship itself.

At this range, the huge landing pads and the massive, 80-meter tall laser point defense towers guarding the port are clearly visible. In addition to securing the escape itself, destroying these towers would allow BHI forces air superiority in the region, so their neutralization was an important objective. The point defense towers themselves are way too big and well-armored to be seriously harmed by the amount of conventional explosives they could carry, so each team places strategic blocks of C7 (like C4, but SPACE) into any power transformers and cabling they see, hoping it will manage disable the towers and be difficult to repair.

While doing this, the teams meets surprisingly little resistance. Working early in the morning and acting swiftly and professionally certainly helps. All in all, the players are easy to mistake for a Sybaris squad on patrol. Despite this, it would have been impossible to actually infiltrate the spaceport building without Gunther's sublime people skills. Whenever they meet any local engineers, he manages to convince them that they were just doing their duty and that the battle required heightened security procedures. Gunther's genuine demeanor and similarly genuine lack of hesitation is also helped by the fact that he, least of all, knows what he should be doing. This combination is even enough to confuse the guards inside the spaceport launch bunker and allow them access to the air control tower.

At this point, however, things start to turn for the worse. The russians encounter about three dozen suvak awese engineers minding the dropship, and are unable to convince them that their presence on the ship was needed. While the engineers quote an agreement that Sybaris (and humans in particular) will have no control over their activities. Heem-Lyeh retorts that they should refrain from being racist so he'll refraing from being racist in turn. Unfortunately being witty is not enough and one of the maintenance crew informs them that he's checking facts from the command. Ivan's notoriously thin patienc ends the conversation with a shotgun blast. The engineers scatter like flies and several try to seal the bay hatch, but Josef is faster and forcibly dissuades them of this. Heem-Lyeh cuts his way into the cockpit, and starts to hack into the dropship system. Hacking is an artform, and as they say, local access is root access – it is difficult to prevent theft when the thief is well-prepared and has access to the actual hardware. Armed with the roms of the dropship software, Heem-Lyeh simply reflashes the system and makes himself the new superuser upon boot, ensuring that the dropship is firmly in his control.

Josef and Ivan seal the ship and patrol for any local military personnel. Unfortunately for Josef, when he enters the upstairs fighter bay, he also gets to notice that one of the two Striga bombers stationed there is manned. The rear gun sharply turns towards his direction and blasts away, but only manages to damage the powersuit. Josef dives under the fighter and slaps a brick of C7 on the hull before the pilot launches the catapult and takes his leave. Josef calmly watches it turn and try to start an attack run before activating the remote detonator and blowing the fighter to kingdom come.

Naturally this all immediately starts a full red alert. While the civilian personnel on the control room are not a threat, the spaceport goes on lockdown and the elevator begins to climb again. Even though the players prepare an ambush, the doors open to reveal six guards and another two in powersuits much better armed than theirs.

The firefight is extremely brief and bloody. The guards inside the elevator are easily dispatched by incendiary grenades, but the powersuits scoff at this type of attacks and manage to cripple both Gunther and Huug-Gun. Huug is seriously injured, only managing to avoid death due to sheer luck and his exceptional endurance. After the fight, it is relatively easy to convince the civilian operators to shut down the lasers and further to use them as a shield while fleeing the spaceport. Naturally it helps that the remaining unarmored guards are hesitant to put up a fight against opponents in powersuits, no matter how light they happen to be.

As the players run to their newly captured dropship, basking in the light of the multitude of explosions they set off, they also see the approaching columns of Sybaris hovertanks. While many guns blaze and PPCs dig into the armor of the dropship, the defenders' effors are nevertheless in vain. The Sirak dropship is heavy enough not to be seriously harmed, and the players soon reach friendly anti-air cover. It remains to be seen how permanently the air defense will be compromised

Despite disobeying orders and failing to fulfill mission parameters, the presence of friendly air in the southern battlefields greatly aids Karamat-Via, who secures a victory over the smaller towns and settles on the southern shore of Lake Aloss. The players are (at least initially) praised for their efforts. While the new craft is being repaired and refitted, Veer-Niva cautions the local mercenaries to be ready for new orders.

Season 1 Episode 10
Various interesting events between battles

While Alexander and Huug-Gun are busy consolidating their newfound resources and owerworking the repair teams, Heem-Lyeh takes the night off to set up hidden cameras and microphones to both Meek-Ria's quarters and the container she uses to interrogate the prisoners. No specific reason is given, but as a semi-paranoid person, he has been suspecting her of something new every day.

The next two mornings open with lengthy interrogations as Meek-Ria takes the prisoners and meticuously questions them. Fortunately it does not seem as if she notices Heem-Lyeh's spycams, and they are able to record the conversations unmolested.

Josef's and Ivan's days are mainly spent in creating new content for Black Nebula's webpages and inventing new slogans for T-shirts. "Don't be like Steffan" is a new favorite. This practice is eventually interrupted as Teask-Dumar's forces shoot down the last geocentric communications satellite and internet speed plummets. Additional wires being dug all the time, but it is unknown how long it will take until the customary level of service is restored.

Eventually Meek-Ria finishes her task and surrenders the prisoners to Ivan and Josef with the orders to a) get more high-ranking prisoners next time and b) to ferry the current prisoners into BHI headquarters for a more through questioning, he picks up the data and then accompanies the brothers for a trip to town. Dropping the prisoners themselves is uneventful, but the Girya brothers want to visit the company they found from Doris's supposed employer, or at least the company listed in her business cards.

The brothers' excursion proves to be interesting. The company is in a smaller city about two hours of a drive away, but with a hovertank, this time can be cut down somewhat. The company, "ElectroBeaver" resides in a completely ordinary-looking incubator facility in the outskirts of town and the person opening the door for them identifies with an estonian name and asks for their business. Nobody in the company has heard of Doris whatsoever, and even though the employees are baffled by the authenticity of the business card, nobody recalls anything relevant. Josef tries to dig a bit deeper, but the company does not seem to have any real connections with security services, has not done high-profile jobs and declines to have done installations in any relevant targets. Before his actions get too suspicious, Ivan drags his brother off and suggests a nightly raid to the premises and an outright theft of any relevant information. Josef is merely content with his initiative. Heem-Lyeh wants no part of this and has business of his own, so the russians drop him to downtown train station.

Because direct and simple is always better, the brothers simply wait a bit, knock on the door and tell the nightguard that if he wishes to stay healthy, it would be in his best interests to leave. Then they go to the door, break it and carry a couple of computers and the archive cabinet to their tank and drive off. The simplicity of the whole operation is ridiculous, and the brothers do not waste time thinking about whether they will be caught, as they deem it extremely unlikely that the police would come after them for stealing less than 200 credits worth of equipment.

While this is going on, Eurich has been going around socializing with the other mercenary corporations situated on the camp. He mainly manages to confirm that, as before, the players are on good terms with Weiss&Son, and that they are a bit too small to be of any special interest to Karamat-Via. Cracked Mask Battle Group, on the other hand, is relatively well informed of their exploits and respects the work they have done up to this point. Being the tactival genius he is, Eurich remembers to offer consultation help about tactics and strategy, but apart from Weiss&Son, the other mercenary corporations are not particularly convinced that this is in their best interests. Unbeknowst to them, this worsens their standing in his narcissistic mind, but whether this leads to anything either, remains to be seen.

Heem-Lyeh, on the other hand, is looking for translation services in shadier parts of town, where he thinks he can buy silence cheap. The trek eventually ends up with a trio of working girls who collectively can tell him that one the prisoners is his tapes talks greek, one italian and two seem to be serbian. A painstaking effort by all is required to litterate the conversations, but Heem-Lyeh's generous payment and promises of more work make his new contractors very co-operative. While one of the girls knows a little bit of serbian, the conversation is too advanced for her to make sense of it.

The morning dawns on all of the Black Nebula personnel on their meeting room, reading piles upon piles of conversations and work orders and blueprints from the archival cabinets, and with Heem-Lyeh digging through the captured computers. Several seemingly relevant pieces of information come to light:
1. Meek-Ria is excellent with languages, positively sublime.
2. She is mostly interested in what the enely knows about Fuub-Ark and his colleagues, and the rest of the BHI leadership, not about the enemy itself.
3. The archives and computer systems of ElectroBeaver do not contain anything of interest with regard to espionage or Doris.
4. It seems that the company's security infrastructure is not particularly fastidiou. It is likely that the design files of the company business card and other stuff have been freely available on the net.

Josef finds the last item particularly disappointing, and refuses to believe the conclusion that Doris's facade might have been chosen as random. Both brothers regret that they acted on Meek-Ria's orders and let her off so easy at the time. Regarding the former points, while especially the awese find Meek-Ria's motives interesting, the russians note that the whole thing seems to be way above their pay grade and that being too concerned about it is bad for ones health (also bad for business). Josef reiterates his earlier position that while it is always good to know what is happening, acting on it is a different matter entirely.

For the heck of it, the russians set out to return the filing cabinet and the computers, but they have barely left when Andrew Weiss rushes in to meet Alexander and Huug-Gun, wishing to show them something.

And there it is. On the first page of new anonymous contracts on, there is a 35-million credit bounty on Alexander and Huug-Gun's heads, with Black Nebula's de facto destruction being another condition of payment. While Andrew thinks this is the coolest thing ever and his respect for Black Nebula is further reinforced, Alexander mainly thinks about investin more in personal protection. Josef is considerably less worried and instead writes a reply post promising a stupendous hundred credits for whoever finds out who put a contract on their heads.

Regardless of this, Huug-Gun and Gunther have finished their restructuring plan of the company and have put their extra assets on sale, but are convinced that they need better, larger transport equipment. For this, they head down to the BHI headquarters to hire a dedicated drone pilot in order to obtain some more information of their enemies' assets especially transport capacity. The task is not easy or cheap, and countless drones are lost to flashes of defense lasers before the players are able to find out more than what BHI already knew. It seems that Teask-Dumar has hired some other mercenaries besides Sybaris, and two large Suvak-designed dropships are found on the premises. Moreover, it seems that an increasing number of troops are being brought planetside, which definitely seems worrying. Huug-Gun and Gunther are nonplussed by this and focus on thinking about how to capture one of the dropships.

While the drone flights are going on, there is an emergence of a strange sect of female awese missionaries in the mercenary camp. The discovery is especially interesting as religions are no longer prominent in the culture in the first place. The humans aren't particularly interested, but both Huug-Gun and Heem-Lyeh dig a bit into it. As the nuns openly interact with young males present, it is very easy to ask around.

Unsurprisingly, the mission appears to be upheld by the resident Suvak awese, but with a considerable number of local recruits. All its members seem to be women, and while the history of the religion is partially buried in time, it seems to originate from before the space age of the species and has survived in Suvak space to this day. It is focused in mitigating the necessary evils of war by helping the wounded, but also in rewarding any brave and accomplished, but dying warriors with "Continuity", which is also both the de facto name of the sect. The religion seems to believe that rewarding and nourishing bravery has been better for the species throughout the ages.

While a strange combination of temple prostituion, eugenics and battlefield medicine seems creepy, it is by far creepier that after passingly witnessing the speech and demeanor of the cult's local leader, Ibia-Myak, Huug-Gun has a feeling of innate spiritual companionship accompanied with a compulstion to associate with the religion itself. Scared off by this, he vows to keep clear of the nuns and warns Heem-Lyeh to do the same. He, however reports having the same experience passingly and less intensely.

As a last larger event of these days between battles, the encounter trouble in recreational activities. While it is to some extent implicit that the nights of any mercenary are clouded in drunken stupor, sometimes they lead to a more significant event. While taking a leak in the back alley of a bar recently profiled mainly as a mercenary watering hole, Josef hears an unkown voice, which regretfully informs him that the following is nothing personal, then promptly shoots him from point-blank range. Subsequently, the man is baffled when Josef does not die immediately, but instead turns to face his attacker and puts up a serious fight. While the russian's physical condition would probably prevented him from winning said fight, the emergence of everyone else from inside the bar forces the attacker to flee. Gunfire rings in the night, the fleeing figure is hit, but not critically, and manages to escape into the darkness.

Josef is taken into the hospital and treated. The bullet seems to have glanced the skull and caused serious damage, but miraculously is not lethal. Full recovery is expected, but not soon.

The session ends with a call from Fuub-Ark and the declaratiof of another grand briefing.

Season 1 Episode 09
Audience of Terpsichore fails to impress

The players manage to scrounge the damaged mechs from the battlefield, but are unable to fix what they gathered before, during the early hours of the morning, they are given new orders. Of the four mercenary organizations operating near Mirika, Cracked Mask Battle Group secured an outstanding victory in the west hills, just as the players did in the northwestern riverbank. Weiss&Son narrowly succeeded in stopping an enemy recon unit. Unfortunately, the most prominent player on BHI's disposal, Karamat-Via faced the largest adversity and suffered considerable losses while fighting in the highlands to the southwest.

Forced to field damaged mechs with suboptimal gear, the players immediately set out and convince Weiss&Son to help. The combined force catches fleeing Karamat-Via assets beside a descending hillside flanked by another riverbank. Unfortunately, they also realize that they have met an old enemy, as they are hailed by an eccentrically dressed commander who calls himself Steffn Cyllberg and hails from the Sybaris sub-unit "Audience of Terpsichore". The unit under his command seems to be the same the players originally faced while extracting Meek-Ria.

Evidently a tremendously haughty person, Steffan opens the conversation by casually noting that he has seen videos of the fights and deemed that the players have been generally inept – probably still alive only due to both sheer luck and his absence from the battlefield. However, he agrees to let the Karamat-Via assets go in honor of a decent fight and the long overdue chance to eradicate the players once and for all.

The conversation grows a bit heated when Josef childishly mocks Steffan's sense of style. While he is able to take this with stride by noting that when one is piloting a 75-ton machine of war named after the personification of death, he can dress as he wishes, another particularly biting remark about publishing the whole encounter as a warning to others ends up being too much. Steffan changes course, heading directly for Josef guns blazing and ignoring the rest of the players on the way. Alexander's notions of Black Nebula Articla 17 fall on deaf ears.

At the same time, he activates the backdoor left into Ivan's mech by Vincent Barr, which promptly freezes on its tracks, becoming an easy target. Things look a bit bad, but Weiss&Son manage to draw one of the assault mechs aside, evening the odds for the players. Moreover, Huug-Gun reverses to odds by waiting until Steffan's lietnutant briefly pokes out from cover and promptly annihilating his pristine Battlemaster with a double ERPPC headshot.

Despite losing his by far most powerful ally, Steffan still consideres himself a better pilot than any of the players and declines to retreat, confident in his mechs' mobility and ability to retreat if things get heated. He flanks Josef's position and catches Gunther pants down in the forest, forcing a 1-on-1 encounter with both superior skills and firepower. At the same time, Heem-Lyeh and Eurich face a Centurion and a Victor, but Eurich's superior range and the reactivation of Ivan's mech give the players an edge on that front. When asked about the backdoor bypass afterwards, Ivan simply states that he deactivated the whole targeting system, ripped off a bunch of wires, taped down a few buttons down and pressed start. Simple as that.

After forcing Gunther's crippled mech to retreat, Steffan jets out of the forest, intent on demolishing Josef with his superior mobility and close-range firepower, but once again Huug-Gun proves that it's better to be lucky than good by cleanly blowing off his mech's head with a well-placed Gauss round. After this the fight cools down quickly and the rest of the pilots surrender, intimidated by their friends' fate and Ivan's repeated death-from-above attacks.

With this victory, Karamat-Via is able to regain momentum and Sybaris's advance halts, at least temporarily. The players head back to base with an incredible amount of battlefield loot compared to their earlier efforts.


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