As the day dawned, the occupying forces had even more things to repair. The northern hangar was damaged, as was the second dropship landing pad. Fortunately, more aid was coming, as the attack on Vainerva is called off and part of the forces are diverted to Terniss spaceport. Most importantly, Weiss&Son, the unit leasing their dropship from Black Nebula, lands on the functional landing pad.
Jubilant at seeing their comrades once again, a reception celebration of sorts is organized, albeit with strict controls on alcohol consumption due to needing to be on high alert. Amidst the party, Alexander and Eurich set out to sell their excess inventory to Weiss&Son and Bjornlöf finds out that Na-Kra is diametrically opposed to narcotics. Luckily for the players, and especially for Jiira, Bernard Weiss is very interested in buying extra gear and also cashes in on the engineer's old Thunderbolt. Jiira then manages to convince Alexander to relinquish the Shadow Hawk to him in exchange for all of his present assets and a half-year contract without pay.
While earlier repairs are still ongoing and Jiira still modifying his new acquisition, the base is put on high alert due to reports of an incoming force. The players scramble to their mechs only to find out that this is supposedly a diplomatic entourage lead by Vlaslav Kirga, commander of Teask-Dumar western army, who wishes to negotiate with the commander of BHI's 3rd invasion army, high security chief Fuub-Ark.
There is a brief discussion about the whole operation being a trap, which seems unlikely, given the apparent willingness of the enemy commander to meet on area controlled by ILLI. Encouraged by this, Meek-Ria opens communication channels, declares herself to be in command of the 3rd invasion army Terniss front and accepts the call for negotiations. As expected, the current acting commanders of Kra, Weiss&Son and Black Nebula are asked to accompany her.
Alexander is extremely paranoid of the whole situation and suspects Vlaslav of being a suicide proxy, simply attempting to assassinate either Meek-Ria or all of them. His weariness is only slightly sated by Kirga's identity checking out, and insists that only Meek-Ria is in the actual negotiation room, with the rest taking part via video link. Vlaslav isn't happy with this, but eventually succeeds, stating that his message is more important than having everyone physically present. This indeed seems to be the case, as the negotiation actually ends up being a legal discussion, where Kirga warns Meek-Ria and her acting mercenary commanders of possible repercussions due to the war effort against Teask-Dumar. Specifically, it is stated that since a successful invasion campaing would lead to the elimination of TD, the war can be seen a blatant attempt of monopoly creation, which is in direct conflict with Awese Corporate War Law, articla six. In response to this, Meek-Ria notes that articla two guarantees a corporate conflict participant the right for self-defense, up to and including war goals equal to the aggressor party.
After this, the conversation devolves, as both sides have a differing idea of the initial aggressor and initial conflict goals. Regardless, through the discussion, Vlaslav places heavy emphasis on the perceived legal self-responsibility of associated mercenary commanders and their eventual fate in the hands of Miave war tribunal, whether BHI wins or loses the conflict or not. Meek-Ria is visibly aggravated by this notion and terminates the discussion, shooing Kirga off and sending him back to his bodyguards.
While this is going on, the russians, Na-Kra and Heem-Lyeh, but most of all the russians, grow bored. A suggestion is made to consider a surprise attack towards the fortress, but given that the enemy expeditionary force is relatively small, it is assumed to be too heavily defended. Another suggestion is to go and see whether the enemy evacuation of the airbase is well-defended enough and whether any relevant assets can be captured. This is deemed a sound plan by all, and preparations for the excursion are immediately in progress. The crew is to take powersuits and hitch a ride on Josef's Thanatos. The mech will utilize its ECM cover until they are close enough and then act upon the perceived best course of action.
All is well until the mech encounters an anti-armor minefield. Vigilant as ever, any casualties are avoided, but the crew decides to camfoulage the mech in the rocks and carry on on foot, post-haste. They will have much less to work with without mech assistance, but information gathering is more important anyway.
Upon arrival, the airbase is found to be in total chaos. Almost everything has been ransacked and the last trucks are ferrying equipment up north. Sneak around in the almost abandoned warehouses and hangars, the mercenaries eventually find a nook where a lone squad of soldiers is emptying the last corner out of comparatively worthless equipment. Ivan is disappointed about not being able to immediately steal something valuable, but Josef remedies this by suggesting that they capture the truck, head into the military base in Vainerva and do a better job there.
Unfortunately this means that Na-Kra and Heem-Lyeh won't be able to attend, due to their distinctive physiology. The two are to head back through the minefield and take the mech back to base, while the russians hijack the truck and do their best. This proves surprisingly easy for both parties, as it is not particularly difficult to capture a single truck with power armor in total ransacking chaos, and even though Heem-Lyeh triggers a single mine, the Thanatos is not damaged heavily enough to keep it from moving.
The trip north is uneventful and the security on the receiving end is comparatively lax. Amidst all the incoming equipment and soldiers, two russians in power armor are almost too ordinary to note and considering that the truck contains precisely nothing unexpected, the arrival inspection is uneventful. The inside of the base, however, is anything but, with a flrry of activity and a cacophony of orders and sounds of repairs and construction. What the russians find out is interesting, as amidst the chaos and signs of battle, two of the air defense towers in Vainerva still stand. Not particularly surprising considering that the Kra transport was shot down, but certainly surprising how poor BHI intel is. The russians don't think much of this, though, as they simply locate a remote hangar and proceed to steal as much as possible while being as discreet as possible. Ivan't experience with logistics and warehouse accounting software surely helps here, and he is able to acquire a sizable XL engine in convenient-sized parts. As a final note, Ivan leaves the explosives they were carrying on an empty shelf in the warehouse and primes it to explode in a couple of hours.
Knowing that they have limited time and the chaos of the retreat is bound to subside, Josef takes a minor detour through the dropship staging areas to at least slightly appraise the possible opposition. It is indeed substantial, and the northern front commands a fearsome amount of equipment, further emphasizing BHI's troubles therein. Most interestingly, though, Ivan spots Cracked Mask markings on some of the dropships, noting that their former allies seem to have switched sides.
On a pretext of still having something to fetch on the airfield and the security for outgoing equipment being of even lesser importance than incoming, the truck is allowed to depart without incident. Josef extends an offer of employement for the already coerced driver and after such a departure, he is indeed eager to switch sides. They arrive at the base way after nightfall.