RSU Roleplaying Game v2

Season 2 Episode 08
Spacedock assault conclusion

The players had limited amount of time, due to the vicinity of the military base. While Heem-Lyeh and Ivan scouted the asteroid, even the damaged sensors of the craft alerted Alexander of an incoming enemy dropship. They had very little time to make their move.

Soon the scouting party returned and reported that the other of the enemy fighters was still operational and patrolling the area, while the base itself seemed to be protected by dual gauss turret emplacements and the mechs that had retreated earlier. Pondering their options, Alexander ordered an assault and accepted the russians' plan to infiltrate the base in power armor and disable the power generator. The operation was planned to be simultaneous, and the assault itself would provide cover to the infiltration operation.

The makeup of the players' force changed. Both Heem-Lyeh's Crab and Josef's Thanatos were heavily damaged and Eurich was sceptical that Juho could beat the air superiority fighter in his Aquila, instead ordering the pilot to field the Striga heavy fighter they had originally captured along with the dropship. The wisdom of this choice was to be debated later, as the heavy fighter, while very powerful, was slower than the enemy Rusalka and did not have the range advantage the Aquila had. The air battle ended up being too close to comfort while the gauss turrets almost made short work of Bjornlöf's Marauder.

The russians, however, managed to infiltrate and capture the fusion generator and coerce the engineers to cut power to the guns. It turns out they were only partially powered by this generator, but the move nonetheless succeeds in greatly reducing their firepower. This allowed Eurich to pick his targets and go toe to toe with the guns, while the rest of the players concentrated on eliminating the defending mechs. The battle was close, but eventually successful, and everybody's eyes turned to the skies and on Juho, who had spent the whole time dogfighting with the enemy Rusalka.

This fight had not gone too well, as the Rusalka has managed to outmanouver Juho on multiple occasions, and even force him on the defensive. The finnish pilot was almost finished by a crafty move by his opponent but managed to tail him in turn and even the fight out. Both pilots entered the final stages of the fight extremely damaged and too proud to quit, which ultimately means that their final head-on assault and mutual alpha strike resulted in the utter destruction of both fighters. To the players' dismay, neither of the pilots were seen ejecting and Juho was pronounced KIA.

Hardly anyone had time to think about this, though, as they were forced to assault the control tower of the dock. The tower complex itself was light on manpower and the russians quickly managed to take control of the killer whale launcher. Eurich then did his best to lure the incoming dropship close enough to prevent it from escaping and only started firing when the ship was well into their trap. Seeing that the launcher is possessed by the enemy, the dropship tried to turn tail, but was ultimately shot down.

While Alexander was transmitting the debriefing to ILLI, it became evident that the dock has been constructing a scouting vessel with advanced sensors and stealth capabilities. How convenient. The players were ordered to stay put and hold the installation as ILLI moved its resources towards them. However, the scout ship was ordered to depart towards Kersia immediately and to be escorted by Shadow Flare aerospace assets which were returning from their own assignments.

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Season 2 Episode 07
Spacedock assault begins

Meanwhile, in Diave B, Teask-Dumar's military power was still formidable and the collapse of its mercenary allies had proven lesser than expected. Even though Sybaris had largely scattered, it seemed as if they were a sacrifice TD had been willing to make.

More importantly, ILLI had received information that a large attack was being planned against the orbital docks above Kersia. Even though Fuub-Ark did not have direct authority on the docs nor permission to station his own troops there, it was decided that the players' forces and Shadow Flare would take a higher orbit and wait for further orders, being on immediate standby at all times. This meant extended weightlessness and time in-orbit, which was taxing for everybody involved, especially as the situation was very static.

The standoff continued for approximately three weeks and tensions dissipated, giving way to boredom and idleness. At this point, both mercenary companies were recalled. Everybody assumed that Teask-Dumar had pulled off a successful feint and fed ILLI and possibly other parts of BHI with incorrect information in order to buy precious moments of time for preparation. This was in line with Fuub's orders, as he planned an assault on TDHI-R-397, a former mining asteroid which now housed a minor space dock.

Shadow Flare was to assault a neighboring TDHI military position as the players were ordered to make asteroidfall and capture the dock. Both missions were risky, but as Shadow Flare had more assets, it was ordered to perform the more risky manoeuvre. Preparations were tight, and after the players again refitted their mechs for zero-G operations, they were on their way.

The approach was not particularly safe, as the dock housed a Killer Whale launcher. A capital missile platform far exceeding their range and capabilities. While Juho made a flyby and photographed the relevant regions of the dock, Alexander performed a tight counterburn to spend as little time as possible within the field of view of the dock. Despite this, the players' dropship took two direct hits from the missiles, losing their sensors and rendering the dropship useless for actual battle.

After landing, they immediately started a march towards the dock, but having had time to prepare, the defenders were expecting them. A mix of light and medium mechs with good mobility attacked the advancing forces while two heavier missile-equipped units bombarded them from behind. Juho acted as air support, but was heavily disadvantaged against a duo of enemy air superiority fighters, and couldn't keep them occupied. The situation looked dire, until one of the fighters made the mistake of strafing the battlefield and ending up on the wrong side of Huug's aim. Despite getting pummeled by the full firepower of the fighter, a clean hit to the cocpit of the disabled the pilot and brought it down. Meanwhile, Eurich's Marauder refitted with a loadout more suited for medium mechs disabled the harassing mechs and the artillery was forced to withdraw.

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Season 2 Episode 06
BlackOps' turn to take an information stop at the VGT

After Finding out the next assignment, our BlackOps team decided to head out for VGT again, which, at this point, was stationed in the orbit of Diave Prime. In addition to the task of finding Du'an Xu, Meek-Ria gave the team the additional task of hiring two pilots capable of operating a dropship-class vessel. The purpose of this hire was unknown for now.

After reaching the vessel, Lidia went straight into investigations, while Marianne spent some energy (and bribe money) to smuggle in some personal weapons. After this, she immediately started the recruitment process, and what caught her eye first (and last), were net two hard-boiled American transport pilots called Joe Texas and Barbarella Bardot (or BB for short), who seemed promising prospects both due to affordability and skill. A meeting was set up in the same sleazy dock bar which had already been used by the russians to conduct their business.

The job interview was promising, as the pilots indeed seemed competent. Especially Joe Texas seemed like a good hire, as he also had insider information about the criminal underground of VGT, and offered good suggestions about investigative options. More imporantly, it became apparent that he had an argumentative financial history with the Pandemonium conglomerate, which consisted of the least law-abiding examples of the local suvak and baseline awese. More specifically, Joe had certain financial difficulties toward a fight betting entrepreneur christened "The Bullfinch" by the locals. Marianne decided to head to him in order to find some answers.

Finding Bullfinch was not difficult, but getting to talk with him was, as Marianne was almost adamantly refusing to give up her personal weapons. She eventually had to budge, because the booker unconditionally refused to see anyone otherwise and getting too argumentative with the extremely well-built awese on the foyer didn't seem smart. Fortunately for her and Joe, Bullfinch, whose most striking features were his reddish feather coat and obesity (which is very rare among Awese), had no intention of getting violent, though Joe didn't seem to have a good enough standing with him to really make his case.

Surprisingly, when the name of Du'an Xu and his possible involvement in weapons deals was mentioned, Bullfinch became a lot more cooperative. Due to various reasons apparently related to unrestrained ambition and disregard for conglomerate rules (though jealousy was likely closer to the truth), the booker was highly antagonistic to him and simply pointed out that the players should visit the opera tomorrow night to find out more. The event also made him forgot to rough up Joe about more or less imaginary debts and the players swiftly made their exit.

Meanwhile, Lidia had contacted The Cacophony, which was another more or less criminal organization operating in the VGT. Having substantially more human members, this organization was more subject to her agent background and Lidia had surprisingly little trouble in contacting the local middle management. However, this lead turned cold, as the clearly serbian representatives, who never gave any names, did not have or were not willing to share any meaningful information about mr. Xu. However, Lidia did get into negotiations about smuggling their heavier armament inside and got quoted with a sum and contact information for this purpose.

The next day was spent in preparation of the opera night, which involved a ridiculous shopping spree, wherein Hune proved to be especially proficient – given the opportunity to do so and being presently employed with the longest and most lucrative contract of her short life, she behaved as frivolously as sailors on a port, albeit with more refined consumer habits (oh, this type of winglets are now in fashion, see that they have real feathers – not synthetic!). The rest of the crew focused more on preparing for the worst and Marianne repeatedly displayed her skills in concealing small arms, which hopefully would not have to be used.

The opera itself was a very traditional and classic awese tale about an usurped princess, whose loyal and admiring knight sets out to right any wrongs that befell her. As customary, the knight was ineffably selfless and his relationship to the princess beyond platonic and perfectly subservient. What was interesting was that the theathre troupe performing the story was all-human and that its execution through modern dance and allegorical costuming was widely considered world-class. Even more importantly, the head diva, Sheryl Lynn, was held in extremely high regard.

For most of the mercenaries, the story of the play flows way too ponderously. McGibbs and Jean soon grow tired and fail to reappear to the second act, but Marianne, diligent as always notices that Du'an Xu, who follows the play from his own loge, seems to have an argument with his lady friend, who ends up storming out. While Lidia and Hune remain in the hall to watch Mr. Xu, she orders Joe tail the woman and orders McGibbs and Jean to aid if necessary. This turns out to be unnecessary, as the handsome pilot has little trouble in initiating a conversation. Simple acts of sympathy are sufficient to find out that Xu's escort is simply irritated about being neglected to the point that her presence seemed completely superfluous. The reason, too, is all too clear, as the escort is quick to point out that the weapons dealer is hopelessly infatuated with Ms. Lynn. Following up on this, minimal information gathering is required to find out that mr. Xu seems to attend almost all the troupe's performances, and that the next viewing will be on the surface of Diave Prime, in one of its main cultural centers.

Both Meek-Ria and the players feel that this information might bring them a crucial edge, and hopefully be one that would avoid the use of extreme violence. As the play closes, they head back to their lodging and start considering their future options.

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Season 2 Episode 05
BlackOps team is formed, assignment on a jungle planet

Meek-Ria's troupe of agents mostly consists of the inehmo pioneer squad responsible for mining the bay door at The Horn of Plenty. Without further ado, the personnel on board are:

1. Lidia Kusnetsova, Eurich's sister and a master of industrial espionage. She is in command of the field team and directly responsible to Meek-Ria.
2. Lt. Marianne Delacroix, formerly of the French Foreign Legion. A reputable person and experienced soldier, who now serves as the squad leader and tactician.
3. Donald McShane, former civilian doctor, now a field medic and VTOL pilot. Discharged from numerous earlier positions due to morphine addiction.
4. Agnus "XD" MacGibbs, formerly of the british space marines. Old and tired, but very competent with explosives.
5. Jean Rambeau, also of the French Foreign Legion and Marianne's squadmate since time immemorial. A big, strong and scarred man who both resembles the iconic action movie hero and thinks he is one.

Because the inehmo squad didn't have enough volunteers, Meek-Ria picked one of the awese pioneers:

6. Heer-Vig, formerly of The Outlier Military Hazardous Environments Unit. An expert on chemical and viral warfare and decontamination, with a psyche that narrowly balances on the useful side between competence and paranoia.

and:

7. Hune-Boo, who has no idea why she is there. The young awese feels extremely out of place and threatened.

Meek-Ria uses the BHI information network to dig up as much of the situation as possible en-route and handles the pesky matters of smuggling the military gear down. When the squad eventually lands, she sets off to gather the final clues while the others take A Prionio Wildlife Course for Tourists in order to earn a Prionio Outdoor Pass for Tourists.

The course consists mainly of a young and spiffy teacher listing all the items what could get you killed outside. As Prionio is a primitive world with a genuinely unique biosphere, this ends up being pretty much everything due to all the potential infection vectors either by virii, bacteria or prions. In addition to this, the geography, storms, nightstalkers, carnivorous sponges and various insects are a serious threat.

The teacher is quick to point out that in the guided tours, it is practically impossible to fall down from the constructed path and that the infections are not dangerous, given immediate treatment. Regardless of her assurances, Hune has an anxiety attack and flunks the test. MacGibbs also flunks it, though mainly due to simply not caring enough. Despite knowing that the pass is likely to be completely irrelevant, Marianne bribes the teacher, hoping that this would give the new recruit some confidence. She also orders everyone to sleep as much as possible, which ends up being prudent as Meek-Ria wakes them up at around 4:30 the following morning. Two hours later, the poor pioneers are standing outside a research station airlock, couple of hundred kilometers to the east.

From her informants, Meek-Ria has found out that Coconna and her friends are likely stationed or about to be stationed around the volcanic caldera lake to the east, which is rumored to be an excellent hunting ground. Meek-Ria's instructions are simple – find Coconna and either get her to talk or bring her back.

Marianne takes the lead and starts walking even further east, embarking the squad on a trek through the periouls envionment of the jungle world. The landscape of Prionio is dominated by shallow seas completely overgrown with trees resembling a cross between ferns, horsetails and palms. They grow a segmented body with numerous radial branches every couple of meters, with the lower branches largely being discarded as the topmost compete for light. In effect, the world is much akin to a poisonous bayou with a solid roof, as the light-collecting layer on the very top is very dense and offers the main avenue of travel. Falling down is risky due to the immense height of the trees, which typically tower beyond a hundred meters, and even more so because the shallow water is both extremely virulent and riddled with sharp corals and other filter feeders.

Progress is slow and the squad only manages a couple of kilometers a day. The travel is further slowed because the inehmo pioneers all choose to use heavy armor, which further increases the risk of falling down. Hune-Boo and Lidia balance the risk differently, only using skinsuits, and Heer-Vig is clad in lighter armor. On the other hand, he carries a large amount of supplies that he deems absolutely essential.

As Prionio is tidally locked to the gas giant and has an 11-day day/night cycle, it's a bit misleading to talk about travel days, but on the first evening, MacGibbs notices a dark cloud on the horizon in the northeast. Wondering what it is, the players set up camp and are awoken by the motion sensor beeping. Marianne is on guard and investigates, but only finds a very large pack of ferret-like animals travelling east. The animals are timid and do not seem to be aggressive, so she leaves them be.

On the next day the squad find out what the cloud actually was. Everything they see on the horizon, from one end to the other, is completely covered by insects about the size of a man's thumb. Being perhaps the best student of the lot, Jean remembers that the teacher warned about the huge migrating aphid swarms that occasionally migrated and demolished the forest. While not particularly dangerous, it is impossible to travel without crushing the aphids and making the branches and leaves way too slippery. Furthermore, it seems possible that the aphids could also bite, and both Hune-Boo and Lidia fear that their skinsuits are not thick enough to protect them. The squad sets up camp to think about this, but Jean soon remembers that the ferret-like animals are the natural predators of the aphids and further postulates that they could have aphid-repellent properties. Encouraged by this, MacGibbs captures some of the beasts and soon the squad travels on, protected by the vile stench emanating from numerous ferret anal glands. The consumed treetops still offer less footholds and MacGibbs almost falls, but thanks to the low gravity, is able to catch a branch below. His suit gets a bit bruised, but Heer-Vig skillfully fixes it and the pioneer avoids infection.

The third day is rather uneventful until it terminates with the setting sun. On a world with such long day/night periods, this always means a large gradient in air pressure, and sure enough, the pioneers are soon beset by a storm unlike they have ever seen. They are forced to set up camp far below the treetops to weather the worst, and still fear for their lives as the wind buffets the tent. Furthermore, when the storm finally ends, they are beset by the apex predators of the forest – nightstalkers.

Nightstalkers are dog-sized, almost blind pack predators living in the darkness below the treetops and relying on echolocation. They operate solely at night, and while the moon's night is never too dark, especially on the side facing the gas giant, the lower levels of the forest still receive very little illumination. What makes the stalkers dangerous is that they have nothing to challenge them, and since hunting isn't technically allowed, nothing has taught them to fear guns. As a result, their aggressive and territorial instincts are entirely unimpeded.

As the pack surrounds the tent, Marianne finds herself on guard again. As she inspects the beasts eating the insects buzzing around the squad's lights, they grow suspicious. When she raises her shotgun and readies it, they pounce.

Due to Marianne's heavy armor, the fight is very one-sided. The beasts claw and bite, but she blasts them one by one. Jean is soon out to help, and before long the remains of the pack scatter to the night. The french are a bit careless when re-entering the tent and Heer-Vig is convinced about contamination, but rummages around and soon produces strong enough chemicals to denaturate almost anything.

After resting, the squad wakes up to a sight of rather extreme devastation. Further east, where they were supposed to cross, the lighter forest has been demolished by the storm, which was indeed of extraordinary severity. While everybody ponders their options, MacGibbs offers to make a canoe out of their extra tent and some branches. As hazardous as this may sound, the operation is successful and soon the squad is paddling the shallow sea, circling and going under the felled horsetail trees. Miraculously they avoid the underwater hazards and arrive at the base of the volcanic region. Seeing dry land for the first time after leaving the research station, they set up camp again and resolve to continue in the morning.

Travelling on land is technically easier, but McShane is starting to get too inconvenienced by his armour. He was already fatigued, but now he is losing the strength to carry on, Not knowing where Coconna is, they cannot afford to lose any more time, so Delacroix makes the call of forcing him to leave the armor and to continue in a skinsuit. The jungle is still dense and while the trees are not quite as tall, the ground level is dominated by a thicket of various parasitic plants which crawl up their trunks. Hacking and slashing enddlesly, the squad makes progress, and by the end of the fifth day, they reach the top of the caldera wall. Looking down into the inner lake, they see the a faint glimmer of light, and for the first time, completing the mission seems feasible. Afraid to give away their position, Lidia orders everyone to avoid using any lights or making noise, which may be a correct choice, but ends up being fatal for one of them.

On McShane's watch, the motion sensor beeps again. He is ready for the beasts, but the darkness only allows him to get one grenade off before they overwhelm him. Without his armor, McShane is unable to fight off the nightstalkers successfully. His bad luck is further compounded by the size of the pack and the fact that everybody else fumbling a bit trying to get into their suits. When the smoke clears, it becomes apparent that the medic is extremely dead and the tent is riddled with bullet holes. Furthermore, the squad has produced a thundering lightshow that is surely visible to the hunters below.

Lidia and Marianne think fast, coming to the conclusion that it's best to use this accident to everyone's advantage by pretending to be in just the kind of trouble they actually are. As it is extremely doubtful that the other entourage expects to be hunted at this moment, it would be best to fire up an emergency flare and ambush them as they come to help. Everybody springs into action, as Jean climbs the closest tree to observe their adversaries, while Heer-Vig and McGibbs hide in the woods. Marianne, Hune-Boo and Lidia pose as the survivors. Especially Hune makes a very convincing damsel in distress – she doesn't have to 'play' the part.

The plan does indeed work. Jean reports a boat leaving the caldera island and making a landfall close to them somewhat later. Soon, a dark-skinned man in light combat armor approaches the tent and is greeted by the three. As they explain their predicament, the man, identifying as Vanilla, starts talking about gamekeepers and how they all should be careful to not get caught. After discussing with his friends through the radio, he tells Lidia and Hune that they can come to their camp for shelter while they sort this out. Appearing grateful, the group follows him and observes as the rest of the squad shadow them.

In the shore, the group meets Coconna, a middle-aged silver-haired woman with a very determined and cautious air about her. She is accompanied by a large man with a sniper rifle and an awese sword. While Vanilla and the woman start talking, the large man spots the silhouette of Heer-Vig in the dark forest and instinctively knows something is wrong. A short and ultimately very futile firefight ensues, as Marianne reveals the pistol she had taped behind her back Die Hard -style and simply shoots the large man to the head. After Vanilla is seriously wounded by Heer-Vig, Coconna surrenders and glares at the players with resentment. They immediately call Meek-Ria to pick them up.

While waiting for the vtol to arrive, the squad destroys any evidence it can find. Boats are sunk, tents are burned and weapons are buried, while corpses are simply left for the insects.

Meek-Ria almost cannot contain her satisfaction on the course of events, and as always, is responsible for the interrogation. It is evident that Coconna is loyal to her men, but as she sees no alternatives, still willing to make deals. She tells Meek-Ria that the nuclear devices were ordered by a wealthy fence called Du'an Xu, and that her responsibility over them ended with the VGT harbormaster. Either true to her word or conscious of the fact that she worked with too many externals during the operation, Meek-Ria sets Coconna free. However, before leaving, the mercenary captain catches up with Marianne and Lidia. She assures them that Silverbridge's reputation and employability are heavily endangered. Should Du'an be pursued, it is imperative that they finish him off and leave no witnesses, as otherwise it is too easy to find out that she sold him off (it is unclear whether or not Coconna has figured out Black Nebula was behind this 'Black Ops' capture). After digesting this ultimatum, the squad and Meek-Ria start planning their next move.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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