Frontier Date 53.169 13:22 hours
Siu-Ling hops off of the turret and onto the ground, sitting down for a few moments as she huffs and puffs her heart rate back to normal. She thinks she hears something and draws her laser pistol, having left the rifle by the turret. Then, sure that all is well, she rests her head back as her torso relaxes. After the team assembles around xZot's command car after the battle, the young yazirian does a quick head count to make sure everyone is accounted for before he begins issuing orders.
"Snik, you and the medics know what you need to do. Gleep and Raid get to work on the vehicles, I'll join you shortly."
Gleep recommends that someone search the wreckage, "There is a slim chance that something usable might be left. Maybe some weapons, ammo, electronics? Just a thought."
"Agreed." xZot answers.
"Carefully, lest someone survived." The dralasite tech adds before heading back to his vehicle to see if he can fix those tires.
"I'll go." Offers Kane. xZot nods at this.
"Sp'ock, you take Kane, Con and OMAC. Check the wrecks and then set up a perimeter. Gloo, Siu-Ling and Borovski stay in your turrets for now, just in case Streel have more troops inbound."
"Gimme a few minutes, guys, and I'll be glad to help you salvage whatever we can. Do we have a hose and a pump to pump some river water out and put out those fires?" she asks. Not having any technical expertise in anything outside of demolitions and weaponry, she figures she could best serve the current cause by staying out of the way of those working on the explorers. X'anthe nods enthusiastically at Siu-Ling's suggestion to douse the fires.
"I wouldn't want to be responsible for an environmental catastrophe as a result of these fires." The scientist adds emphatically. xZot considers the suggestion and turns back to Sp'ock.
"Do what you can to put out the fires or at the very least, make sure they don't spread any further." Sp'ock tilts his head slightly as he considers his options.
"I'll see what we can improvise with what's on hand. If we can't pump water we should at least be able to shovel some dirt around the fires to stop them from getting out of hand. The team quickly disperse to carry out their instructions and report back to xZot upon completion.
After examining the wrecked vehicles, Sp'ock and his security team report their grim discoveries. None of the Streel employees survived the battle, all being killed by either weapons fire, vehicle accidents or possibly dying in the resulting fires. Nothing of any value can be salvaged from any of the vehicles, the jetcopter crash sites are little more than scorch marks, molten plastics and charred metal. The destroyed ground cars are not in much better shape, all of them having burst into flames after being hit by heavy weapons fire. Some of the fires look to be burning themselves out and Sp'ock overseas the management of the remaining fires to prevent them from spreading.
xZot, Gleep and Raid are able to get all three explorers back into action within half an hour, replacing tyres, repairing damaged hydraulic lines and fixing cooling systems. Snik and the medics take a little longer treating the teams various injuries, Crisbel's wounds being the most serious. Within the hour the Black Hand Gang are once again vehicle mounted and ready to resume their march.
"I think it goes without saying that the Streel operation will be expecting us, even if their vehicles didn't get off and comm signals." xZot announces to his people before they move out. "Everyone keep your eyes peeled for more company. OK let's move out!"
Gleep guns his engine and once again takes the point position as the three explorers continue across the Alcazzar plain and enter the alien forest. xZot maintains at least a 20 metre gap between his vehicle and Gleep's with Raid bringing up the rear another 20 metres behind.
Having checked out the Streel vehicles, keeping an eye out for any possible survivors and looking for anything that might be a clue as to what they are doing on the planet Con returns to the reformed convoy. He quickly climbs atop his explorer where he can use his magnigoggles to scan the horizon looking out for any more visitors. With nothing unusual on the horizon, Con climbs back into the explorer and prepares for the next leg of the adventure.
The three explorers move out in single file following a generally west heading, veering slightly to the north. The next twenty minutes or so pass with out event but nothing stays quiet in the seemingly teeming forests of Alcazzar.
As the explorers continue to traverse the surface of Alcazzar, within minutes they leave the prairies to re-enter a forest setting. Kane notices that something seems strange, although it takes him several minutes to realize what it is. "Its too quiet!" Kane says. "No animals, no insect sounds. Not a sound!"
"An explorer is big enough to scare most wild creatures off." Suggests a voice behind him.
"That's true." Says Kane as he considers the suggestion, "But I think its something else..." Kane does not have an opportunity to finish his statement because suddenly the trees are alive with numerous man-sized creatures.
"Lokkuku!" Gasps Kane as he spots a gathering of the planet's ape men-like natives. Studying the silver back male whose waving of his left hand halts the few advancing grunts that grunt and bare their teeth, his chrono-com activates with Siu-Ling's offer to make nice with these newcomers, and of xZot's acceptance.
Over the horizon, as the Black Hand Gang clear yet another cluster of hills and mounds, Siu-Ling spots a gathering of lokkuku. Though the apemen are far from surprised by the loud explorers roaring through the landscape, they appear to be led by a rather aging, silverback male whose waving of his left hand halts the few advancing grunts that grunt and bare their teeth. The sharpshooter studies the elder male and thinks to avoid violence, chirping on her chronocom, and suggesting,
"Commander, you want I should try to make friends with them?"
"Affirmative." xZot responds in agreement. After a bit of hesitation, Siu-Ling is given clearance to dismount from her turret and try to greet the primal band.
"Ohzle, shizzle!" The human inadvertently curses as the elder snarls and screams for his youth to pummel the human to death. From afar, most throw rocks, though a few, robust males also charge forward with sticks in hand.
As Siu-Ling begins first contact, Kane takes a moment to consider the tactical implications of facing this amassed group, should things go awry. Hearing her yell, "Ohzle, shizzle!" Over the team's frequency tells him that they have.
From the relative safety of the explorer, Kane watches as the Lokkuku elder snarls and screams as he points at the human, probably calling for her death by the hands of his warrior youth, and listen to the accompanying hailstorm of stone and wood that rains down on the convoy.
"What are we going to do?" Yelps their explorer's gunner as he tries to dodge the opening shots of the Lokkuku's barrage.
"Were bugging out of here!" Says Kane, pointing out the sudden acceleration of the team's lead explorer. Follow them."
"Go Raid!" Everyone urges their explorers driver. With the sudden burst of speed, they are soon out range of the Lokkuku's projectiles. Despite the fact that no one sustained any injuries, nor did their vehicles take any damage, everyone agrees with Siu-Ling's suggestion of letting the First Contacts situations being handled by the experts.
"Hold your fire." xZot barks out the command to his more trigger happy companions. Hopping back into the turret, Siu-Ling nearly slips and skins her knee as a few rocks hit both her and the explorer. "Gun it!" she screams as she arms herself with her laser rifle and seriously considering popping off a few warriors before they get too close.
Through the entire episode, X'anthe struggles to keep the amusement of Siu-Ling's situation to herself. Other members of the team are not so gracious, Mack O'Malley grin broadly at Siu-Ling's back.
A short time later, the group passes by another, more aggressive looking band of lokkuku. "Go, go, go, go, go!" everyone urges the driver of each explorer as another barrage of sticks and stones chips and dents the explorers just a bit. They eventually escape the potential ancestors of city builders, though not before bruising a few of the more aggressive lokkuku and the gunners taking a few more stones to the head and torso.
"I'm gonna need some stitching, I think," Siu-Ling's voice calls out through the chronocom's static.
Their escape from the lokkuku is followed by a gradual slowdown. The slope curves downward now as the drivers downshift to conserve their brakes. A few antler-bearing herbivores are spotted now and then. Eventually, the slope evens out and the barely beaten path curves southward sharply southward until the explorers are on a southwest bearing. The number of moonelk, as Siu-Ling has been calling them for a few minutes now, has greatly increased since the trail bent southward, and now the vehicles come to a complete halt as a stampede of the animals cuts right through their path not five-hundred meters southwest of them.
They wait patiently, until even the younger and weaker ones have crossed, and continue on their way albeit more slowly as the occasional moonelk prances onto and bounces off of the explorers with little regard for its own life. Apparently devoid of natural predators, this animal is prolific in the warmer microclimate that this valley offers.
"I'm going to collect some samples." X'anthe declares as the vehicles come to a brief halt. The environmentalist alights from her explorer, envirokit in hand. She quickly gathers stool and hair samples from the herd's wake as well as samples of vegetation consumed by the mammalian creatures. Climbing back into the vehicle, X'anthe sets about labelling and analysing her samples as the team continues along it's journey.
The rest of their trek through the valley proves to be uneventful save for a few more of the hoofed mammalians passing by curiously as the party makes headway towards the next sierra, which cuts along a north-south axis much like the one they just traversed.
Travelling north west now, the explorers cross paths with another herd Alcazzar's forest dwelling bison.
"What do you think of 'bazaar's for their name?" X'anthe asks her scientifically minded peers as she makes another entry into her data file on Alcazzar's inhabitants. "I'm going for more samples." X'anthe announces as she reaches for the door handle.
"Not without an escort this time." xZot answers via chronocom. "Mack and Sp'ock can cover you while your out there." The team's explorers come to a halt once more as X'anthe, Sp'ock and O'Malley dismount and head for rear of the herd where X'anthe can collect more of her precious samples and scans. This time while collecting her samples, X'anthe observes the classic herd-like behaviour of the animals closest to her. After a brief five minute halt, xZot gives the order to move out once again, this time bearing almost due west.
The convoy negotiates another river crossing, followed by a strip of boggy land running alongside the river before entering the ubiquitous forest once more. Shortly after the river crossing xZot calls a brief stop for the team to stretch their legs and enjoy a meal of survival rations. X'anthe immediately takes the opportunity to gather as many samples of the local flora as possible. Sn'iktl and Raid get caught up by her enthusiastic nature and lend their environmental services to the cause. X'anthe also takes the opportunity to gather a supply of local fruits in the event they should have another encounter with the lokkuku.
As the team enjoy a short break, Sp'ock insists on setting a guard perimeter around their temporary camp site. Mack O'Malley, Con, Kane and Siu-Ling are all assigned compass points to patrol between while the rest of the team enjoy their meal break and this peaceful corner of the Alcazzar forest. As with almost anything the BHG does, the peace does not last long, though fortunately this time it doesn't erupt in violent combat. During his first circuit of the sentry points, Sp'ock spies movement near one of the parked explorers. Quickly approaching the vehicle and scanning around the groundcover with his eyes and antennae, Sp'ock detects motion and homes in on a tiny herbivore grazing near the explorer tyres. The vrusk security chief does a double take when he then realizes the creature is not grazing near the tyre but ON the tyres. Stepping forward, Sp'ock notices several of the creatures closing in on the other tyres of the vehicle. Quickly looking around he sees the other vehicles are also attracting the unwanted attention of Alcazzar's worst scavenger.
"Alien rodents!" Sp'ock suddenly announces. "Drivers to your vehicles!" He continues as he steps forward swinging his rifle butt at the first rabbit-like rodent. A dull thud announces the removal of the first offending creature from the vehicles tyre as other team members respond to Sp'ock's warning. Sixty seconds later the rest of the gnawhares are chased away from the campsite before causing any damage serious enough to incapacitate one of the explorers.
"A good thing you spotted them when you did." X'anthe declares after examining some of the bite marks in the tyres. "They could have chewed through our tyres in a matter of minutes I think, based on the damage done here in a very short space of time."
"We can't afford to have one of our vehicles taken out by a pack of rodents." xZot decides. "Everyone keep a real sharp eye out for those things in the future."
A chorus of nods and other affirmative actions from his troops and xZot gives everyone another ten minute break before moving out again.
As the trek to the Streel Corp compound continues, the adventurers must make a stop due to a small mechanical problem that arose with one of the explorers. Using the opportunity to stretch their legs for a bit, the team debarks from their vehicles to enjoy the scenery. Kane however, wary of the last time he allowed himself to enjoy the sights, is determined to remain valiant.
Volunteering for watch duty, Kane patrols the perimeter of their makeshift camp until vehicle repairs are complete. By his second sweep he is certain that the area is secure, but continues his monotonous patrol routine. His only excitement come during a chance encounter with a fine example of one of this planet's harmless, bison-like natives. A large and powerful looking creature, Kane takes the opportunity to take a few holo-pics of the creature for X'anthe.
Kane makes good time, returning to their makeshift campsite just as repairs are being completed. As the team begins to remount their vehicles, Kane presents his holos to the teams resident biologist, who seems genuinely pleased at his findings. Kane then retakes his place in his explorer, hoping that the remainder of their journey towards the Streel Corp compound will prove to be equally uneventful, allowing him his own a brief respite before the real action starts.
Fifteen minutes south west of their lunch break the convoy passes between another pair of forested moraines. Scattered on both sides of the pass are a small herd of medium sized herbivores, perhaps a version of the goat or deer species on this world. At the sound of the approaching vehicles, the creatures scatter and disperse amongst the trees and rocks of the moraine slopes.
Before X'anthe even has to ask xZot brings the convoy to another stop. "Make it quick this time X'anthe." The yazirian says, "We're getting close to our probable target location and I don't want to get caught traipsing through the forest, playing with the local fauna." X'anthe and her security detail quickly scout the nearby area allowing the scientist to gather a few of her desired samples before remounting the explorers and moving on. X'anthe is now more than satisfied with her collection of samples and happily spends her time on scans, analysis and collating the results as the team continue their trek toward the enemy compound.
Standing through the roof hatch of the explorer, Kane is taking his shift as convoy lookout for the BHG. Yet the watch, has been quiet. So much so that Kane allows himself a moment to enjoy the Alcazzar landscape. Despite the sun never seeming to sink below the horizon, Kane is momentarily struck by the planet's wild beauty. From the comforting sights and sounds of the swaying fields of waist high blue-green prairie grass, pushed along by the light breeze and its semblance to rolling waves of the ocean, to the pleasing scents and aromas of natural pollens of the triangular-shaped trees of the nearby forests, Kane's senses are overwhelmed by the wonders of this new world, so much so that he fails to notice the impending danger of the ever expanding swarm of winged, dog-like creatures circling in the skies overhead. However, it is the fortuitous passing of an small insect that breaks Kane's enthrallment and alerts him to the danger above.
"Sky-Shrikes!" Yells Kane into his chrono-com. "Swarm approaching from the East!"
"Everyone inside!" Orders xZot. "Secure your vehicles and prepare to repel intruders!" Within seconds everyone slips inside their vehicles and securely fastens their vehicles' various hatchways and observation portals. No sooner have they drawn their weapons than the the animals attack.
The for next minute, each explorer bumped and shook as a frenzied pack of winged canines repeatedly hurled their bodies against the walls and roof of the convoy's vehicles. When the animals finally realized that their intended prey are to well protected within the confines of their metallic craft, they merely howl in rage and then separates to begin their search for prey anew. Taking a couple more minutes to verify that the attack was indeed over, the team members cautiously unseal their vehicles and resumed their exposed positions.
"All right everyone, looks like were in the clear. Good work Kane." Says xZot into his chrono-com. With that the excitement of the moment is soon forgotten by all except Kane. Despite accepting xZot's compliment and the following words of thanks and appreciation from his team mates, Kane is bitterly remind that he was careless, nearly getting himself or worse, one of his teammates injured or killed because he was to caught up in the beauty of his surroundings. It was then that he recalls the words of an old mentor, back when he was an apprentice trader with the Capellean Free Merchants. "Never allow yourself to be caught up in the sights that this universe has to offer. For it is all just a ruse to make you forget, even for just a moment, of just how badly the universe wants to kill you."
Frontier Date 53.169 16:04 hours
As xZot and his team enter the woods near the Streel compound several dozen young lokkuku, completely hidden in the trees above, shower the expedition with hard, heavy karakah fruit pits. These youngsters are acting without the consent or knowledge of the older lokkuku. The team are surprised by this attack and the individuals riding in the turrets of the explorers take minor damage (8 points each, half to skien suits) from the falling pits in the first assault. The vehicles are not damaged by the falling missiles. Before Siu-Ling, Borovski and Gloo can slam their hatches closed and drop inside the explorers they are hammered by a second volley of karakah fruit pits (6 points each, half to skien suits). Having had their fun, the young lokkuku scamper away, with much shrieking and chittering in the branches.
"Hold your fire." xZot announces to his team mates as he sees the foliage moving away from their vehicles. "I don't think they constitute a real threat." Muttered curses from the tenderised turret occupants tend to disagree with the yazirian commanders estimate but no-one fires on the retreating natives. "Alright let's keep moving, everyone keeps your eyes peeled, we're getting pretty close to the Streel compound and I don't want to run into any more patrols if we can avoid them.
Several hundred meters further along their journey and Gleep slows his explorer down to allow xZot and Raid to bring their vehicles up alongside and experience the scene unfolding in front of them.
The path through the huge tree trunks is suddenly blocked by a half dozen lokkuku. The furry creatures are easily recognizable from the trivid image you all saw in your briefing on Cassidine. Each creature stands about a meter and a half tall, and all six are standing on their hind legs. They are not holding anything in their ape-like hands.
The lokkuku stand perfectly still, staring at you with wide, unblinking eyes. The largest one suddenly makes a harsh sound like grinding ground-truck gears. The shadowy shapes of many other lokkuku are becoming visible in the forest on both sides of you, as well as in the trees above.
Gleep calls over the chronocom, "Well, over to you boss. How do you want to handle this?"
Raid decides to try and use his empathy skills from his environmentalist training to get an idea of what these natives are thinking before realising the empathy training was part of the biosocial skill set he passed over when he opted for the environmental major at college.
"Do you think they are friendly?" He asks no-one in particular as he gets out of his vehicle and tries to communicate with gestures.
"Hello...we would like to have a friendly talk...we mean you no harm...we can help each other..." Raid gets some dried fruit and a candy bar from his ration pack and offers it as he gestures. Unseen by Raid, X'anthe also exits the explorer and while Raid makes primitive attempts at establishing communication. The team's trained biosocial scientist removes a pair of karakah fruit from her pack and using a knife cuts the fruit into 4 sections revealing the pit. Stepping out from behind Raid, X'anthe slowly approaches the lokkuku welcoming committee with the fruit held out in front of her.
The first two lokkuku ignore her offering but the third reaches gingerly for the slice of fruit, takes the slice and eats it. X'anthe continues to offer the fruit to the other lokkuku and speaking softly the same phrases offered by Raid.
"I think you had the right idea with the food Raid, just the wrong food." X'anthe says softly over her shoulder. "Get some more fruit for me out of my pack." X'anthe asks as she continues trying to communicate with the lokkuku. Speaking to xZot now, X'anthe continues, "They seem to be very cautious and, somehow, expectant." As X'anthe continues her attempts to try and communicate with the lokkuku, their responses seem to indicate an intelligence as well as a desire to try and speak with X'anthe and even Raid now that he has prepared more fruit for the emissaries.
Watching the surrounding crowd of lokkuku, the teams sentries notice a gradual movement away from the explorers and soon the lokkuku welcoming committee are clearing indicating for X'anthe and her companions to follow them somewhere. As the lokkuku head off through the forest, xZot and his team don't take much convincing to follow them.
"Let's get some polyvoxes working on a translation. They do have a language X'anthe?" He asks.
"Almost certainly, gauging by their reactions to the food." She replies. "I would expect to start getting viable data for my polyvox pretty quickly if we can hear more of their conversational language."
"You're the expert on this stuff." xZot shrugs as the BHG soon approach what passes for the lokkuku village which is located nearby in a number of huge, hollowed out tree trunks and stumps. The trunks of the karakah trees are large enough to hold many lokkuku at once. Many older karakah trees become hollowed out through rotting, not because of work by the lokkuku. One of these trees in each village is used to store karakah fruit for the Kag-Gakka, and smells much like a distillery.
"We could be here a little while," xZot warns his people "so let's hide or camouflage the vehicles and see if we can get to know our hosts a little better."
Being the least scientifically minded among them, Siu-Ling proposes to xZot to guard the vehicles.
"At least I could alert you if something goes sour." The sniper adds as she begs off the role of diplomat.
Gleep also elects, pending xZot's permission, to stay with the explorers and in communication with the group. "I want to work on his comm gear and see if id can, perchance, pick up any signals at all from the compound?" He also wants to get a nap in.
With several other team members lacking the necessary skills or desire to interact with the lokkuku, xZot quickly details off two teams, one to camouflage and secure their vehicles, and the scientists to deal with the Alcazzar locals.
xZot squints as he watches Boro and O'Malley heading for the back of the same vehicle, "Those two better stay away from that damn Volturnus mushrooms." He mutters as he turns and heads into the lokkuku village.
Kane approaches the team leader with an idea that he would like to try. "I would like to enlist the aid of both X'anthe and Raid to execute it pending your permission?"
"Go on." xZot waits for the pitch.
"I wish to see just how much exposure the lokkuku have had to Frontier technology." Kane begins. "With Raid and X'anthe's help, I will show the lokkuku various examples of Frontier tech, ranging from the chronocom to the laser rifle." The eager young fighter explains. "And then judge their reaction, if the lokkuku show fear to an object as opposed to curiosity, then he can conclude that the lokkuku have seen the object before and know what it can do?"
"Dig!" X'anthe exclaims suddenly.
"What was that?" xZot asks
"I just got the first translation from the polyvox." X'anthe continues. "You. Dig. I think he's saying "You dig!"
xZot, and Raid both look puzzled and even Sni'ktl swivels his antennae back and forth in obvious concentration.
"You dig?" X'anthe asks this time "It's a question, not a statement. He is asking if we dig?"
"Dig for what?" xZot answers, setting X'anthe's next task, translating a reply.
"Well that answers that question." Snik comments to the group.
"What question might that be?" Kane asks
"Only civilizations dig. I think it's safe to say they have seen Streel Corp, they must be nearby."
"If they have encountered the employees of Streel Corp then the lokkuku could be a valuable source of intelligence on Streel and the corporation's activities on planet." Kane realises.
"Agreed." xZot decides "We will hold up here until X'anthe can establish effects communications with our hosts and find out as much as possible before we close in on the Streel operation."
Sni'ktl takes the opportunity to conduct a medical examination of the combat teams over the following 25 hours, administering first aid to Borovski, Gloo, Raid and Siu-Ling. Over the following day, X'anthe's skills come to the fore in dealing with the lokkuku. After learning a rudimentary vocabulary with the aid of a polyvox and some of the more patient lokkuku, X'anthe begins to unravel their story. The lokkuku slowly begin to describe the status of their comrades enslaved by Streel Corp, slavery being a totally alien concept for them. The lokkuku are definitely the friends of anyone who wish to harm the Streel compound.
"In a nutshell boss it's like this," X'anthe begins her briefing after getting the lokkuku's story. "The lokkuku are highly intelligent beings with a stone-age culture. The Streel Corporation enslaved over 100 lokkuku,in violation of the UPF charter, and now forces them to work in the mines." Heads nod around the gathering of BHG members as X'anthe continues. "A large number of lokkuku live in the woods around the Streel compound, harassing isolated workers. But, the lokkuku lack the technology to attack the heavy weapons and defences of the outpost." Indicating toward a group of nearby lokkuku males, X'anthe goes on. "It seems this group have something else to show us as well, they want to lead us to the Streel compound. I think we can leave the vehicles here and proceed on foot to the Streel outpost.
xZot nods in agreement and orders his team to move out.
Frontier Date 53.171 01:08 hours
Under two hours later and xZot and his team have travelled safely south through the Alcazzar forest to a site overlooking the Streel compound. Unlike the CDC outpost the Streel Corporation centred its operation in a large, fortress-like building. The building is surrounded by a heavy chain-link security fence and defended by a number of strategically placed machine guns.
"It look like the Streel workers have cleared the forest away from their compound to a distance of 100 meters on the north, east and south sides." xZot observes. To the west, a huge, low hill of tailings covers the ground between the compound and the river.
"At each corner of the perimeter fence is a 4-meter-tall tower with two machine guns mounted in it." Siu-Ling observes, "Two guards man the machine guns in each tower. Every approach across this open area, including the tailings, is covered by two of those guns." While Siu-Ling summarizes the humanoid defences, Raid examines the physical defences.
"The security fence is 3 meters tall and the gates in the fence are solid steel. The gate's lock is covered by two of the machine guns." Raid adds.
It's then that the lokkuku guide the team around to the river, west of the tailings to show them a tunnel that leads from the river, under the tailings and the fence into the compound, west of the southern most room inside the Streel compound. Several pipes run through this tunnel, but there is just enough room in the tunnel for a person to squirm through between the pipes.
Frontier Date 53.171 01:32 hours
Before xZot and his team can take advantage of the 'back door' uncovered by their unlikely new allies, the lokkuku become agitated, and urge X'anthe and her friends to follow them away from the compound and upstream along the river. Two kilometres upstream the lokkuku show X'anthe and the other visitors from outer space why they are so distressed.
On the banks of the river, a full scale, modern mining operation is under way. Workers of all four Frontier races, operating four ground trucks, three heavy duty mining robots, a maintenance robot and around a hundred enslaved lokkuku are toiling away in the Alcazzar sun, ripping it's mineral wealth from the planets very bosom. Now the lokkuku guides are not just agitated but angry.
"I think they want our help setting free their friends." X'anthe says to xZot, looking the young yazirian directly in the eyes. xZot nods back before calling his team together to discuss their tactics.
"I guess the next question xZot, is are we here because they want our help to liberate the 100 lokkuku brotherhood and the 20 miners." Borovski asks his commander, "And can we then use those numbers to help carry out an assault on the Streel base?"
xZot gazes down at the mining operation on the river as he contemplates their options.
"Let's just do it anyway." Borovski suggests, "I'd rather have 100+ fruit throwing lokkuku working with us than against us. Speaking of which, how's your head Siu-Ling? How many fingers?" He asks whilst holding up eight pseudo fingers. xZot reaches for Borovski's magnigoggles as the Dralasite taunts the best marksman in the team. As xZot scans the mine once more, Borovski continues to offer tactical suggestions.
"Can anyone spot any security? I gotta suggestion. Bust 'em out, booze 'em up on the fermented fruits to boost morale, before we break into Streel base through the tunnel and secure the South West tower first.
"I say we liberate the slaves now," Gloo offers, "But I wouldn't count on the slaves themselves being much use, void knows what kind of condition they are in and are those other folks slaves as well or willing workers?"
"The miners look like Streel employees." xZot answers Gloo as he zooms in on a Streel insignia stitched onto the breast pocket of one of the ground truck drivers. "I don't see any weapons though."
"We may be able to at least get useful intel on the base from them." Says Gloo, and xZot nods at this. "If we need to, we could use the vehicles to get people through the gates as I doubt we will be able to get all the lokkuku through the tunnel."
"The lokkuku may not even want to go into the tunnel." X'anthe enters the conversation. "Being tree dwellers they may not like going underground at all."
"But we need to deal with those machine gun towers before shoving a big group through the tunnel, they will be a major problem if we don't."
"One problem at a time." xZot decides. "Let's see if we can capture those workers and liberate the slaves, then we will worry about what to do with the lokkuku and how we will neutralise the Streel base." xZot looks around at his assembled forces as he decides the next move. "Raid, get your holoscreen happening and get down there closer to the mine's workers and see what you can find out before we all go rushing in guns blazing." As Raid activates his holoscreen and heads down toward the miners, xZot turns to Sp'ock, "Mr Sp'ock I want you to take Crisbel, O'Malley, Borovski and Snik. Circle around the far side of the mine and run a skirmish line from the river bank and loop back around towards us here. Con, Kane, Siu-Ling and McKilin I want the four of you to set up a skirmish line opposite the river bank and link in with Sp'ock's team to the north and my team to the south." xZot draws a rough sketch in the dirt showing the mine boxed in by the BHG on three sides with the river on the fourth. "When Raid reports back I will lead the southern team in to negotiate with our fellow Frontiersmen. If they try to run away, you guys scoop them up pronto."
"X'anthe, have a chat with our lokkuku guides and see if you can get them to stay back under cover while we deal with the miners." X'anthe nods and leads the lokkuku back into the trees where she explains that the BHG are indeed going to try and rescue their friends.
Raid takes his time approaching the Streel mining site, carefully picking his way between the trees and steering clear of piles of gravel and dirt that might betray his presence. As he gets closer to the mine he can see that the lokkuku are chained into groups of 10 and supervised by a Streel employee. The lokkuku are being used as manual labour to remove dirt and rock from areas to difficult for the robots and vehicle to access. As the human explorer approaches a group of lokkuku working in a cleft between some large boulders he overhears two of the Streel workers talking among themselves.
"I still don't like this Flip." The female human says to her yazirian companion. "My job description didn't say anything about overseeing slave labour gangs."
"Not so loud Alyson." The yazirian replies, "Not everyone who works for Streel is a open minded as I am. Some of those guys are pretty hard core." He says, glaring at the backs of several of his co-workers.
"What are they gonna do?" Alyson answers, but Flip the yazirian just gives her a hard stare.
"You saw the holovid of the attack on the CDC compound. They would just shoot you and dump your body for the sky shrikes to dispose of." Alyson nods almost imperceptibly and the pair go back to supervising their work crews.
Raid does a brief circuit around the mine, confirming the numbers and locations of the Streel workers before returning to xZot's position overlooking the mine.
"It seems things aren't so great in paradise boss." He reports to the commander. xZot raises a questioning eyebrow and Raid repeats the conversation he overheard between the two miners.
"Interesting. Which two miners did you overhear?" xZot asks and Raid points out the woman and her yazirian companion. "OK, you slip back down behind them and as I go in with Gleep and Gloo, you corral those two but keep them separate from the other workers." Raid flicks his holoscreen back on and vanishes in a shimmering haze, creeping carefully back down to the mines.
xZot indicates for Gloo and Gleep to follow him as he heads down into the Streel mine. "Keep your rifles shouldered for now." He tells the dralasites. "I don't want them to get suspicious until we are real close." The trio advance to within 30 meters of the mine before any of the Streel workers notice the young yazirian and his two dralasite wingmen. One of the Streel workers stops his truck and climbs down to walk toward xZot.
"Who the blazes are..." When he gets within five meters xZot draws his pistol and points it at the puzzled worker's belly.
"Hold it right there." xZot commands, "Don't do anything stupid and no one will get hurt."
The miner throws up his hands and xZot escorts him back toward the vehicle and tells him to call together the other workers as he reaches into the ground truck and sounds the horn to get their attention. When xZot sounds the horn, Raid deactivates his holoscreen, draws his pistol and takes his two workers into custody as well.
"Hands up you two. The jig is up, as they say in those old holovids." Raid indicates toward the parked truck with his pistol, "OK let's get going."
Several other workers look up at the sound of the horn and as they approach the xZot and site foreman they are quickly take into custody as well. With almost half the workers in custody already, xZot flicks on his chronocom and orders his skirmish lines to close in and scoop up the rest. Several minutes later xZot's team have rounded up all the Streel workers, including one brave soul who tried to slip past xZot's position along the river only to be swooped upon by X'anthe's lokkuku guides and dragged back into the mine with several extra cuts and bruises.
"OK X'anthe, show our friends how to get the chains off their people and put 'em on the Streel guys." xZot orders. Let's see how they like their own medicine." Pulling Raid aside he makes sure the pair of malcontents are chained last and separated from the other workers. "We might get Snik to verify their stories under telol."
xZot, Raid and Gleep quickly shut down the mining robots, none of whom are equipped with combat programs and assemble three vehicles to transport themselves and their captives back to the lokkuku village where they can decide on tactics for assaulting the Streel compound later that same day.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:11 hours
"Those towers have me concerned boss, I think we should take a couple of those machine guns out first." The green-jacketed rifleman says to xZot as he scans the area with his magnigoggles. "Taking that compound is going to be a bit of a bitch to take. Very messy in my opinion." Con finishes.
"I'd like to lead the way into the tunnel," Raid says, "My skills would be put to better use that way, and I'd be wearing my holoscreen again. If anyone or anything is guarding the interior tunnel entrance, I'd should be able to find a way to take them out of action and disable any alarms I found."
"We cannot get the entire force in through the tunnel." Mr Sp'ock announces, "There are two machine guns in each tower so any part of the fence can be hit with two machine guns all the time. There are almost certainly other defenders that will be able to take up firing positions either in or on the structure as well."
"We are going to need a diversion." xZot realises. "Attack the compound from the outside while we infiltrate another team through the tunnel."
"I will lead the perimeter assault team." Sp'ock volunteers immediately. "We can use the heavy weapons to attack the towers."
"Take McKilin as your medic." xZot nods at Sp'ock's offer
"And I will speak to the lokkuku about creating some sort of distraction." X'anthe adds, "The former slaves especially, are more than eager for some retribution."
"OK we have six heavy weapons, we might as well use as many as we can on the towers." xZot continues the planning session. "So we want five more shooters for the perimeter assault. Any volunteers?"
"I'm in." Mack O'Malley declares, hefting his rocket launcher.
"Yeah, me too." Crisbel adds, patting the barrel of his recoilless rifle.
"Alright we only need three more shooters tops for the perimeter assault." xZot continues, "The rest of you are with me in the tunnel unless someone else has another idea?"
"What about getting one of the ground trucks through the gate?" Gloo pipes up.
"The security fence is 3 meters tall and the gates in the fence are solid steel," xZot says, "I think nothing short of a heavy tank will knock them down. Do you want to try and bluff your way in?"
"If there's a heavy laser, you know I'm your gal, Commander," Siu-Ling is indeed the stand-up gal she'd always dreamt of being, and now, so far from Volturnus, and so far in time from what the Frontier once was, she recalls moments of tender innocence and idealistic optimism that have, during decades of cryogenic sleep, yielded to newer experiences. Still her old friends, as well as OMAC, her old fling, are still around. And who knows where this fray against Streel will take them?
"Well, I might not be the best there is, but I will try with a heavy laser." Gleep adds his voice to the briefing. "Even if I miss, it will help divert attention, and I can duck real quick!" Several of the hardened warriors of the BHG chuckle at the plucky dralasite.
xZot glances around the gathering, "OK that gives us five shooters. Anyone else?"
"Yeah alright." Borovski volunteers. "I'll take the last slot." Walking over to join O'Malley and the others in the perimeter assault squad.
As his companions accept their various assignments, Gloo ponders xZot's earlier comment about bluffing his way in to the Streel operation.
"Damn right I do boss!" Gloo exclaims. "Look we have a malcontent female worker and there's got to be a radio so they can keep in contact? We can use her to tell the compound they are under attack by a very large group of lokkuku and they are returning with casualties but are going to wait till it's dark to make their escape". The dralasite expands on his operational concept. "Now just before we get into visual of the towers, we contact the compound again and tell them we are under attack by another group of lokkuku and to have them open the gates for us, a group of lokkuku could chase the trucks from the trees, throwing pits and spears to give that extra effect. They can back off when the machine guns fire and join the others gathered to the south of the compound for the attack."
xZot and Sp'ock listen attentively to Gloo's proposal.
"This has some merit." Agrees Sp'ock, "Even if as an additional diversion."
"Except for the part about waiting until dark." X'anthe reminds the team. "The 'days' here are 2000 hours long. The 'day' on Alcazzar is summer and the 'night' is winter." The environmentalist explains. "Whilst the local flora and fauna seem to have adjusted to these time zones, it seems we need to spend a bit more time on planet to appreciate the situation."
Gloo points over to Raid. "The amazing Holoboy here and his merry group of infiltrators can use the tunnel and quietly take out the southern towers, where the main group of lokkuku would be assembled in the trees and can approach the base without fear of having those machine guns wipe them out before they get 10 meters."
"Go on." xZot encourages the team's quartermaster. "It seems like you've thought this through."
"IF they don't open the gates," Gloo resumes, "Well, that fence is only heavy chain link, and if need to we could use one of those big mining bots at the Streel mine to rip a section of it down, they should be big enough to do that. We can also use the heavy weapons to fire on the closest towers base supports and bring the towers down on the fences themselves."
"The fence is chain link, but the gates are pretty solid." xZot counters, "And if you are go to attempt to negotiate a peaceful entry you will be at a standstill at the gate. No momentum for forcing your way through the fence. I don't think we are going to have the time to get those mining robots down here in time either"
"We still need intel on the compound such as how many security are left, quarters, who are the supervisors, if there are any security bots and any security 'surprises'" we need to worry about and if there are anymore civilians like the miners there as we really don't need to be killing them. I want to take the supervisors prisoner and return them to CDC with this holo Raid mentioned those miners talked about."
"On the subject of intelligence, Mack, go get the renegade mine workers." xZot orders O'Malley. "Raid, you go with him."
"The reason for doing so If I was one of the execs of CDC I would parade the prisoners and the video around and reap a nice public relations coup, CDC stocks could rise in value as Streel's would likely drop, so would be more likely of more value to them alive now. If the CDC execs are stupid they could just execute the prisoners themselves and keep the whole thing quite and very likely only cause the military actions between the two to only escalate with more innocents getting killed and enslaved."
"What? Gloo! You got to stop watching those investment shows on holovid!" Exclaims Con, "You are starting to sound like that wackadoodle on "Mad Credits!" Besides, I don't want them to be executed by CDC either! What about turning the lot of them over to Star Law?"
Gloo looks over at Con with as much a sarcastic look as a dral can muster. "Oh sweet merciful void Con, you need remind yourself of just exactly what we are doing here in the first place. We've been contracted to terminate these folks remember, if you can't handle that you should look into another line of work because I don't see things changing for us anytime in the future."
"I really don't care who kills these butchering slavers they have earned everything they have coming to them. Hell, when we return I'll dress them up in a spacesuit and throw them out the airlock and broadcast their final moments for all to see and hear as they re-enter the atmosphere if CDC doesn't want them.
Now if you recall we were supposed to contact CDC and let them know what was going on before we did anything but that option isn't available to us, but I'm fairly certain if we brought the leaders back with that holo it would be more beneficial for our contracted employers."
Con eyes betray a man who has made a living by killing. "I'm tired of killing! Killing in the name of King and Country, killing in the name of the all mighty credit, killing to survive another day. Streel and CDC will pay for their games. If anyone has the right to extract justice its these people we liberate."
Kane approaches xZot's position, arriving in time to catch the discussion between his unit commander and the unit's Dral quartermaster. When the discussion is complete, Kane adds his own thoughts.
"I like it." Says Kane. Then remembering he was addressing the unit's CO, he quickly adds. "While of course I will do as ordered, I think Gloo's plan has merit and should be considered."
"Its not always this easy!" Con responds to Kane.
"There I've said what I wanted to and am now going to go find something to eat. I'm hungry, I'll rejoin you when we start talking to those two miners of Raids."
Gloo walks off to find some non fermented fruit to eat and to make sure the Streel prisoners are well secured.
O'Malley and Raid return with the renegade Streel workers, Angela and Flip. Raid begins interrogating the Streel workers, keeping them separate from each other and under guard. He questions the woman first.
"Alright, Angela isn't it?" Raid begins. "Who are you, what are your doing here and what can you tell us about the Streel compound?"
The woman eyes her captors carefully, noting the CDC insignia on several pieces of equipment being used by the BHG.
"Alyson. Alyson Drake." The woman answers. "Who's asking? What's it to you?"
xZot joins the conversation now, explaining the BHG's role as contractors for CDC to secure their interests on Alcazzar.
"Hired guns huh?" Alyson asks.
"Something like that Miss Drake." says xZot. "Now, what's your story."
The woman quickly explains her brief employment by Streel as an overseer at the mine and her distaste at the job she was given.
"I'm not alone, Flip isn't happy about it either." She continues, gesturing to her yazirian companion.
After gaining each other's confidence, xZot decides against the use of telol for the moment, waiting to see how much information his new allies will volunteer. Gloo repeats his questions about Streel's defensive assets."
"There are about a dozen armed guards in the compound. Plus the machine gunners." Alyson states.
"There are four officers as well." Flip adds "But no security robots."
"The tunnel you are talking about comes up with the pipes inside the compound in the south west corner." Alyson continues.
"Oh yeah, and the fence is electric." Flip chimes in. "I overheard some of your talk earlier." He adds with grin.
While xZot, Raid and Gloo talk with Flip and Alyson, the perimeter team discuss their own assignments and dispositions.
"O'Malley and Borovski, you take the north west tower, I'll take the south east with McKilin. Siu-Ling, you cover the south west, I want our best shooter covering the tunnel tower. Crisbel and Gleep, you take the north east tower."
After extracting as much information as they can from the Streel captives. xZot begins to put together the pieces of their assault plan.
"Alright Gloo, you can tale a shot at talking your way in through the front door. Take Kane as your sidekick seeing as how he likes your idea so much." xZot decides, "Sp'ock, you have handed out the perimeter assignments?"
"Done." The vrusk confirms.
"X'anthe, you are the lokkuku liaison. See what you can organise with our local allies and confer with Gloo about how he wants to proceed."
"I won't let you down boss." X'anthe replies. "And I am sure the lokkuku will acquit themselves well."
"I will take Raid, Snik and Con with me up the tunnel." Then he turns to their newest of allies and asks Alyson and Flip what they want to do. "You can join us and try to redeem yourselves, or we will leave you with the rest of the miners and see what the authorities decide to do with you."
"Yes Sir." Kane replies to xZot's command to accompany Gloo in the groundtruck, before turning and heading in the direction of the Streel prisoners. He returns several minutes later wearing the uniform of a Streel Corp worker. "Since we the ones going to the masquerade, I thought we should dress for the part." Replies Kane as he shows off his new look in standard issue Streel Corp attire. "I also brought along a few things for you." Kane says to Gloo offering him several pieces of Streel Corp equipment that were confiscated from the prisoners. Trailing behind Kane is another of the Streel workers, a dralasite. Noting the puzzled look on his commander's face, he answers xZot's unspoken question.
"Says he can help." Kane shrugs and gestures toward the dralasite.
"Doog. Doog Luos. At your service sir." The dralasite introduces himself. "Being somewhat of a disgruntled Streel employee, not unlike those pair." He points toward Alyson and Flip. "I thought perhaps, I could offer my services.?"
"I know that Dralasites do not normally wear clothing, because it makes breathing difficult and interferes with their sense of smell." Says Kane as he explains the dralasites' presence. "But I figured that Gloo can still carry some of their equipment on this id's web belt to add to the illusion. It's doubtful that any of their uniforms use those special materials that let Dral clothing breathe and without air reaching his skin, he would be in serious trouble when the shooting started." Kane finishes.
"Yes, this is true." Doog affirms. "Streel are so credit-pinching they don't provide uniforms for dralasite employees, just work harnesses." As Doog answers Kane's explanation he slides out of his harness and hands it to Gloo, completing the 'disguise'.
"I would like to go with you?" Alyson asks in the middle of this conversation. "Please?" She pleads. "This might be my only shot at getting off this rock. You don't have to give me weapon, at least not now. All I want is chance to win your confidence."
"As do I." Doog volunteers as well.
"Having me along might give you better chance to get out of here." Alyson offers
"Did you know the perimeter fence is electrified?" Doog points out. "At least I think it is from the wiring I saw coming from the power plant. I'm not a Tech, my thing is Computers, not that there are that many on Alcazzar. But I definitely saw power lines connecting the fence to the power grid."
"I'll see what we can come up with xZot answers noncommittally as the team continue making preparation for the coming assault.
"I suggest that we all change to a different frequency on our chronocoms." Gleep, the teams communications specialist speculates. "They have had lots of time to lock in on our freqs and might be listening to see if we are out here."
"Agreed." The X-O, Mr Sp'ock says as he switches channels on his chronocom and has Gleep synchronise the team to the new frequency.
The large ex-RMC rifleman checks the clip in his laser rifle is full and the sights are clean. He makes sure his laser pistol is in working order as well. Con takes a few practice slashes with his sonic sword to make sure its ready for more intimate combat. Once all is ready he rummages through his remaining unused weapons. He takes his sonic disruptor. Approaches Alyson.
"Drake, take this sonic disruptor, its fully loaded. This is your damage setting this fires the weapon. Here is some extra ammunition for it. If that runs out, or you are in close combat here is a night stick. Stick close to one of us and we will see you through this." When he is done speaking with Alyson, he gets the rest of his gear together and prepares for the trip through the tunnel.
"Thank you." Alyson replies to Con's gifts. She does another weapon check just to make sure. Then puts the night stick though her jumpsuit belt so she can reach it. She looks towards the back of xZot's group where she can help but not get in the way.
"OK Alyson and Doog, you come up the tunnel with my team." xZot orders. "We might need your intel once we are through the fence line."
"I know these two former Streel employees say they want to help, but let's be safe and keep an eye on them. Don't let them guard the rear or go unsupervised. We don't want a knife in the back." Raid prepares his holoscreen and stunstick as he talks. He expresses caution, but at the same time would like to get to know these newcomers. Hopefully everyone will make it through this mess and some new friendships will be made.
"We don't have enough people to guard you two." xZot says to the newcomers. "I need every gun for this mission. You want off this rock? You want to prove yourself? This will be your one and only chance."
X'anthe's voice suddenly chimes into the conversation, the environmentalist coming to the defence of the newcomers.
"I don't sense any threat here." The psycho-socialist assures her commander. "I think they are who and what they say they are."
xZot nods his acknowledgement of X'anthe's more expert opinion.
"You're the shrink X." xZot nods. "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Wasn't that Admiral Morgaine's philosophy?" xZot gathers his troops around for one last briefing. "Alright, perimeter shooters take your positions. Don't start shooting until the Streel guards do, or unless Gloo runs into trouble at the gate. I will take the tunnel team in and wait inside the perimeter and we will see what happens with Gloo's approach. X'anthe and the lokkuku will demonstrate as Gloo and Kane approach the gate."
"Good shooting everyone!" Gleep wishes everyone luck as the team moves out to their respective positions.
Positioning herself along the southwest corner, Siu-Ling eyes the heavy laser, pondering hard on the conversation they'd just had. Con was right. Much of the killing they'd done on this stint had been wanton, and the CDC-Streel conflict had had really put bad taste in her mouth. Looking down toward the Streel compound, everything seems peaceful. Sedate even. But Siu-Ling knows death lurks everywhere as her companions filter through the Alcazzar forest to their pre-arranged positions.
Raid lead's xZot's team into the service tunnel and under the tailings from the mine. Squeezing down the tunnel, jammed between the tunnel wall and the pipes leading to and from the river, Raid eventually sees the light marking the tunnel exit. He flicks on his holoscreen and crawls the last few meters down the tunnel. Raid climbs out of the hole, alongside the water pipes and looks around at the inside of the Streel compound, the pre-fab concrete structure rising up in front of him, chain link fence surrounding the compound and the shadow of the guard tower behind him, falling across the compound. Raid slips back into the tunnel and reports their initial success to xZot as they await Gloo's gambit.
In the forest, just beyond the tree line, Gloo, Kane and Flip climb into the groundtruck and prepare to try and bluff their way into the compound. The lack of any radios in the Streel vehicles, meant some adjustments to Gloo's original plan. The plan was to roar out of the forest in the groundtruck with a bunch of crazy lokkuku chasing them right up to the gate. Flip was now heavily bandaged in the cab of the truck, acting the part of an injured worker with Gloo at the wheel and Kane hanging out of the cargo compartment of the vehicle, simulating the overflow of a packed, fleeing vehicle.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:30 hours
Gloo guns the engine as soon as his passengers are on board and drives past X'anthe and the crowd of almost 200 lokkuku warriors gathered among the trees. Gloo jams down on the accelerator and the vehicle thunders through the trees and into the clearing surrounding the Streel compound. No more than 12 seconds behind him, the lokkuku emerge from the forest behind the bouncing ground truck preceded by a cloud of fruit pits, rocks and wooden spears.
"Gloo is approaching the gate." Mr Sp'ock reports to xZot over the chronocom from his position on the perimeter. Around the Streel compound, BHG members begin training their weapons at the guard towers.
"Go Raid." xZot orders his holoscreened scout back out into the Streel compound. "Let's get this party started."
As soon as Gloo's vehicle exits the tree line, Sp'ock sees machine guns from both eastern towers turn in Gloo's direction. The barrels of the weapons change direction slightly at the appearance of the lokkuku raiders and almost immediately, both machine guns open fire. Several lokkuku are hit and a couple go down as the angry mob chase after the fleeing ground truck. As the truck covers half the clearing, the double doors at the front of the Streel compound open and a group of humans and yazirians, all armed, exit the building and begin climbing the ladder near the door, to take up firing positions on the roof.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:30:12 hours
"Better take the opportunity to make sure everything's ready." Says Kane to himself as he rides into battle aboard Gloo's appropriated groundtruck. Kane spends the next few seconds checking his weaponry and his personal defences, while hiding in his make shift sniper's position in the truck's rear cargo compartment. Squatting in a roughly dug foxhole amongst the raw ore, half-filling the cargo compartment of the truck, Kane prepares his last power backpack with any remaining charge. "Only 40 SEU's he mutters." Then he checks to make sure he has plenty of clips handy.
Gloo begins to slow the vehicle as he closes within 50 meters and the gates fail to open. Behind him, the lokkuku are beginning to gain on the vehicle. X'anthe is now caught up in the surge forward, steadfastly deciding to endure the same fate as their new allies, the brave lokkuku.
To the north east of Gloo and Kane, Gleep takes careful aim with the rocket launcher he now grasped in his pseudopods. Borovski and Siu-Ling, having selected the heavy lasers, Gleep was assigned the rocket launcher with his basic gyrojet qualifications offsetting the heavy weapons factor. Waiting for word to open fire on the tower, Gleep watches for the tower guards to shift their aim toward the truck, ready to strike pre-emptively. Beside Gleep, Crisbel sights down the barrel of his recoilless rifle, a grim expression on his face as the lokkuku take their first casualties from the machine gun in Crisbel's sights. His trigger finger itches.
To the south east, Sp'ock carefully notes the response of the team of Streel guards now on the roof of the central structure. Three of the guards take up positions above the double doors and open fire at the rapidly approaching lokkuku, while the other three guards move further across the roof toward the east side of the roof.
"They've done this before." Sp'ock observes aloud. "They know exactly where they are going and what they are doing." He takes stock of their weapons and defences. The standard military grade skiensuits for all the guards. The humans carrying laser rifles and the yazirians armed with automatic rifles.
To Sp'ock's west, Siu-Ling carefully scans the exit from the tunnel, looking for the telltale shimmer of Raid's holoscreen. She smiles.
"Excellent, can't see him." The sniper swings her heavy laser back toward the tower, waiting for the slightest excuse to squeeze the trigger and avenge some lokkuku former slaves.
Borovski keeps his weapon trained on the north east tower and waits for the action to start before engaging his target. Watching in amusement, Boro sees Gloo and Kane in the truck, now dubbed 'Sparkplug & Clutch", approaching the gate. Now he waits for the real sparks to fly.
"Who do you reckon will get killed first?" OMAC asks his dralasite friend. "Sparkplug? Or Clutch?"
"Who's driving?" Boro answers the question with a question.
"That would be Gloo." OMAC answers.
"It's gotta be the rookie don't ya think?"
"Yeah my money's on Kane gettin' whacked first." Mack O'Malley grins back at the stocky dral warrior.
"Let's get on with this fireworks show." Borovski grows restless, waiting for the lead to fly.
Alyson asks, "Did you two take bets on this? Oh boy what did I just get myself into. Is this normal for you two to ask who will buy the farm on a mission? If so what are my chances?"
"Bugger." Boro mutters as he realises he broadcast the comment to the entire team.
"Quiet, dammit!" xZot cuts across the teams frequency. "No more chatter."
Doog follows xZot's squad closely through the tunnel. As the others prepared for action he gingerly withdraws brass knuckles from his satchel and caresses them lovingly, remembering the yazirian who had owned them first. The shame of hiding in a crawl space, shoved there by Swazi, as the yazirian and the rest of the crew died defending him and their freighter from pirates. Almost as if making a religious vow he slid the brass talisman onto his digits of his "right" limb,
"For Swazi!" he whispered to himself fiercely. A sharp look form another team member told him his prayer/ vow had been a little too audible but the reminder of imminent combat grounded him in the present. It was almost as if the last shred of youthfulness had burned away in that moment and he had finally become an adult. He was ready now, he was ready to act and there was no way he'd not honour the memory of Swazi, death would have to take him first. He would die here and now with these strangers rather than remain a scared bud, cowering in a crawl space.
Doog liked xZot, he reminded him a lot of Swazi. "I'll stay close to him and grab the first beam weapon I can since its not likely I'll get close enough to swing at someone. Maybe I can shield xZot from being shot from behind much as Swazi shielded me," Doog thinks to himself as he hears more machine gun fire erupt outside.
In front of xZot in the tunnel, Con is concerned chiefly with the machine guns in the towers. "Once out of the hole and in the courtyard, I'm headed towards the nearest tower boss." Con confirms. xZot grasps his shoulder from behind.
"That's the plan. You Raid and Siu-Ling should be able to sort them out. I'll head south, for the door round the east side. See you in hell!" The young yazirian grins as he leads his troops once more into battle.
Raid races across the grassy compound to the foot of the tower and begins to ascend the ladder as Con steps out of the opening of the tunnel and takes aim at the guards in the tower. xZot leads the others out behind him and heads toward the south of the main building.
"Looks like the plan is working so far." Thinks Kane to himself as he looks out the side of the truck's rear cargo compartment to see the compound's defenders. "Just got to be ready to do my part." Thinking on what his first action should be, Kane decides that the best thing for him to do, would be to destroy the front gate control panel. Or the electric fencing's activation switch, while the gate is still open he reasons.
"Hmm." Gloo murmurs as he accepts the gates to the Streel compound are going to remain closed as he approaches. The machine guns in the east towers chatter again, now supported by rifle fire from the guards on the roof and a dozen more lokkuku are wounded by lead and laser fire.
"Time for Plan B." Gloo decides as the lokkuku continue their charge across the clearing, toward the gates of the compound. He brings the truck to screeching stop at the imposing gates of the Streel compound. The defenders ignore the vehicle parked at their gate, pouring their fire over the groundtruck and into the crowd of primitives advancing across the cleared terrain.
Caught up in the rush of adrenaline from charging into a hail of enemy fire with her lokkuku friends, it is the most peaceful member of the Black Hand Gang who initiates the battle on the attackers side. Drawing her laser pistol, X'anthe fires harmlessly at the north east tower, sending a pair of laser beams into the sky above the tower as she vents her anger at the Streel defenders.
Right on cue, Raid reaches the top of the ladder into the tower. Stepping behind the pair of machine gunners Raid swings his nightstick, set to stun in the hope of taking down one of the guards with his first strike. Raid's stunstick connects with his target's shoulder, but the yazirian guard merely shrugs off the attack and turns, drawing the sonic sword from his belt as he cries out a warning to his partner.
"Intruder!" The machine gunner cries as he lashes out with his weapon at the shimmering holoscreen in front of him. Raid avoids the blow from the first guard, but the second yazirian also turns away from his mounted machine gun. With a drawn sonic sword and in a fit of undeniable battle rage, the yazirian guard stabs the intruder (31 points) in the torso. Raid stagger back under the blow from the sonic weapon, clutching at his disrupted stomach in pain.
Siu-Ling fires at the back of the first yazirians head as soon as she sees the guard take a swing at something behind it. Guessing Raid to be the cause of the guards distraction, the sniper pumps 20 SUE's down range, only to see the unmistakeable flare of an active albedo screen (23 SEU's drained) absorbing the light energy.
"The machine gunners have albedo screens." Sp'ock announces on spying the same flash. "Hit 'em with everything we've got." Sp'ock commands as he opens fire with the team's second recoilless rifle. The shell screams over the fence of the compound, misses the tower and slams into the corner of the main structure behind, exploding well behind his intended target.
Gleep and Crisbel add their fire to the fray, Crisbel fires his recoilless round low and through the fence, but much to Gleep's own surprise, he manages to land his first shell right in the fire port of the tower top, exploding beside the right hand guards, causing him serious injury (33 points) even through his skien suit.
A string of colourful expletives cause about as much damage as Boro and O'Malley's fire, as they too join the assault. OMAC's rocket and Borovski's laser fire are both off target as the machine guns from both north towers and the southeast tower, cough their vicious reply.
The second machine gun on the southeast corner rips into Sp'ock's position seconds after he reveals himself with his initial shot. Even under the cover of their prepared positions, Sp'ock and McKilin both sustain wounds from the hail of fire (33 points each, 17 to skiensuits). Crisbel and Gleep receive similar treatment from the second machine gun in the northeast tower (28 points each, half to skiensuits), as it rakes their position with accurate counter fire. Borovski and O'Malley are hammered by both machine guns in the northwest tower, one of them also dealing out damage (24 points each, half to skiensuits) to the pair of BHG veterans.
With a mighty battle roar, Con rushes to the bottom of the south west tower and begins climbing up the ladder to help Raid. Behind him Alyson stops and even though the range is long for her sonic disruptor, fires a shot at the tower's gun platform, missing both guards. Under the cover of Alyson's fire and Con's noisy attack, xZot leads Snik and Doog around the building toward the east side door, the new dralasite recruit struggling to keep up with the fleet footed officers.
From the relative safety of the groundtruck's cab, Gloo hears the new machine guns open fire and seeing the accuracy of the defensive fire from the towers, realises the defenders are quite capable, having obviously previously established the effective range to the tree line and identified the likely threat vectors.
Gloo glances back in the direction from which he came. Something was wrong, he approximated a human frown as he watched the lokkuku continue their charge toward the Streel compound. He could make out X'anthe firing wildly in the direction of the tower and realised the lokkuku charge was now out of control, they would not be falling back to the trees. Their blood was up and they were swarming toward the gate and the fence. "The fence, it's electrified! At least according to Doog."
Atop the pile of raw minerals in the back of the truck, Kane was also frowning at the closed gate as he suddenly felt exposed amongst the mine rubble, despite his makeshift foxhole. The defensive fire from the guards on the building and the machine guns firing was pouring into the lokkuku, some of it going straight over his head, but it could so easily be turned in his direction at any tick of the clock.
"So what's Plan B." Kane asks his driver.
"I dunno, I'm still working on it." Gloo responds.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:30:18 hours
Trusting his troops to carry out their missions, xZot races to the door in the east wall of the Streel building. Stopping outside the door his shrugs of his techpack and sets to work on the lock, hoping the guards on the roof or in the towers don't look down.
Mr Sp'ock slams another shell into the breach of his recoilless, keeping his head down out of sight of the machine gun towers. "Very efficient defensive fire." The vrusk X-O clicks to himself while watching McKilin open his medkit, ready to administer his services when required.
Gleep carefully reloads his rocket launcher, still chuffed at his early success, while Crisbel takes another recoilless rifle shell and reloads beside him. The pair of them hunkered down behind a tree log as machine gun fire tears apart the foliage around them, bullets whipping through the leaves and branches.
Rushing forward with her lokkuku friends, X'anthe fires again, sending another pair of beams into the air over the north east tower.
"Then here's an idea... Ram the electric fence!" Yells Kane to Gloo in the cab of the requisitioned vehicle over the sounds of gunfire.
"This is a wheeled ground truck right? So the "Skin Effect" Phenomenon should occur and the engine and dashboard electronics will be grounded from the fence's electric discharge by the metal of the vehicle's chassis and the rubber of the vehicle's tires. It would be like driving a late twentieth-century Terran automobile after it was stuck by a bolt of lightening during an thunder storm back on Old Earth."
"Terran? What in the void are you on?" Gloo quips sarcastically.
Imagining the forthcoming look of objection coming to his team mate's face Kane elaborates on his idea.
"We lash the steering wheel using some of Flip's bandages and wedge down the truck's accelerator with a rod or chunk of ore; set it on a collision course with the compound's front gate and then jump clear of the truck before it rams the gate! We do this right, and the truck will force open the front gates for us and let those charging lokkuku storm the compound. And while the truck is opening the gate for us, we concentrate on stopping the heavy machine gun fire coming from the adjacent guard tower."
In the cab of the groundtruck, Gloo would roll his eyes if he had them, as he let's Kane continue. In a further effort to forestall any further objections, Kane points out the obvious.
"We still have our skeinsuits and albedo screens to protect us from the worst of it, which is more than what the lokkuku have. They have committed themselves fully to this fight, and are being cut down as we speak. Void only knows what's happening to the rest of our team. So if were going to do something, we had better do it now!"
At this point, Kane disconnects his laser rifle from his backpack's power feed, leaving only his albedo screen still attached. Slapping a fresh power clip into his rifle as well as into his favorite laser pistol, Kane waits to see what his team mate has decided on his option for a plan B.
Between burst of machine gun fire Gloo replies.
"I'm not trusting my welfare to the subcontractors who built this second rate Streel Corp truck. That's for starters!" Gloo yells above the gunfire. "And we're too damn close to ram anything now! We'd never get enough momentum to get through the fence and you need a tank to get through this gate." Gloo reaches for his rifle, swinging it up toward the north east tower. In the other side of the truck cab, Flip cowers down in the bottom of the footwell.
With grim determination, Siu-Ling takes caeful aim and pumps a second shot into her albedo-screened target. The defensive screen flashes brightly (53 SUE's). "Hmm, a good hit that one." She comments to herself. "Gotta drain their powersupplies."
Climbing onto the tower gun platform and past his injured comrade, Con lashes out at the enraged yazirian with his own sonic sword. The experienced defender parries Con's swipe and counter attacks with a flurry of blows that penetrate Con's defenses (41 points). Now Con staggers back under the savage assault while the second yazirian, still glowing from Siu-Ling's attacks, turns back to his machine gun and opens fire in Siu-Ling's general direction, leaving Raid and Con to his companions attention.
The machine gunners in the north west tower rake Borovski and O'Malleys position again and again. Mack O'Malley loads another rocket into his launcher, muttering self-abusive phrases under his breath. "The only thing worse than this shitty ammo, is this shitty weapon!" Despite their efforts at staying out of the line of fire while reloading, the pair are wounded again by ricochets and slivers of wood from the shredded trees around them (33 points half to Boros suit). Boro looks over at his human friend expecting another sarcastic remark but is stunned by what he sees.
Laying down behind the tree log, O'Malley had been out of the direct firing line but the burst of fire from one of the machine guns had shattered the tree beside the semi legendary human warrior. Splinters of wood from the tree projected from several paints along O'Malley's right side, from thigh to neck. The shattered warrior was unconcious, out of the fight and in need of serious medical attention immediately (OMAC is on -13).
"Meeeedddiiiiiiiiccc!" Borovksi virtually screams into his chronocom. "Man down, man down! I need a medic here ASAP!"
Rolling back into a firing position Borovski shoots again but the hurried shot yields nothing.
James McKilin leaps into action even as Borovksi is still transmitting. He races through the trees parallel to the fence line as he mentally calculates the distance to the opposite side of the perimiter and time he has to administer the various drugs he may need on arrival.
"This is gonna be tight!" He grunts to himself.
To the east, the human guards on the roof top open fire with their laser rifles and another 3 lokkuku drop to the ground, rounds from machine guns in both eastern towers, slam into more lokkuku bodies and another 10 lokkuku are incapacitated or killed. Another half a dozen human and yazirian guards exit the double doors in the eastern wall and scale the ladder to the roof top.
Alyson realises that her weapon is a short range one and slinging the sonic rifle over her shoulder, follows Con towards the south west tower. Reaching the base of the ladder, she begins climbing.
Chugging along behind xZot's group, Doog generates a sixth limb as a arm, "Just in case," he mutters to himself as he doggedly tries to keep up. As he rounds the southern end of the building, Doog sees the swarm of lokkuku still charging toward the Streel compound. X'anthe and the charging lokkuku are now only 10 meters from the stopped ground truck, the closed gates to the compound just beyond. The enraged lokkuku are swarming toward the chain link fence, a humanoid wave of anger directed at the Streel compound. Now some of the crowd stop and begin hurling spears, rocks and fruit pits at the defending guards. Strewn across the ground behind them now are several dozen downed lokkuku.
Still stunned and hurt by the blow from the yazirians sonic sword, Raid lashes out again with his stunstick but in the confines of the tower top, with Con and a pair of yazirians, he is unable to land an effective blow.
Sni'kktl arrives at xZot's side by the east door, worried about the news from Borovski. "O'Malley was the medic for the north side, trust him to get hit!" The vrusk medic vocalises a rare criticism, especially relating to OMAC. Overhead, Snik winces at the sound of the yazirian guards firing again with their automatic rifles and another half a dozen lokkuku are injured or killed.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:30:24 hours
Undettered by his previous misfortune, Raid swings again with his stunstick and this time connects with his target but for a second time, the yazirian shrugs off the stunning effects of the weapon.
Borovski and O'Malley are swept again by the pair of machine guns in the north west tower, this time they both evade further injury, OMAC now oblivious to all as his life's blood literally begins draining out of his shattered body.
Gleep continues to fire at the north east tower. "Let's face it," He says to himself. "even if they have the range, they will still have to duck and that will affect a change in their fire. His rocket misses the tower and slams into the main building, making several of the guards on the rooftop flinch as they realise there are enemy heavy weapons firing in their general direction. More guards duck as Crisbel's recoilles shell follows Gleep's projectile inside the compound, exploding harmlessly to the north. Return fire from a machine gun in the tower rips into Gleep and Crisbel again (30 points each, half to suits). Crisbel is now badly wounded as his skien suit falls apart, no longer servicable as a defensive suit.
"Nooo!" Shrieks X'anthe.
"Oh no!" Sni'ktl clicks.
"Damn!" Kane swears as the wave of lokkuku rush up to the chain link fence, the front rank grabbing at the electrified fence to swarm over the obstacle. Instead the primitive humanoids are hurled back, slamming into the ranks behind and thus saving them. Almost two dozen lokkuku are repelled from the fence by the force of the electric current surging through the fence. Many of the lokkuku attackers will never rise again from the line of bodies strewn in front of the fence.
"Go back, back into the trees!" X'anthe shouts at the lokkuku survivors. "We must go back." X'anthe urges her charges to leave this killing field, to retire to the safety of the trees. Laser fire from the human guards on the roof drops two more spear throwing lokkuku as the guard reinforcements take position on the roof top overlooking the eastern perimiter. Standing amongst the lokkuku, X'anthe ejects her empty clip and reloads as she glares at the Streel guards slaughtering her new friends.
"Hurry xZot, they're getting slaughtered." Sn'iktl urges his friend on as the BHG leader fiddles with the locked door.
"Great Maker." xZot swears. "I can't get it! Raid get over here ASAP. I need a hand with this door." xZot quickly scans the carnage outside the fence, knowing the lokkuku were buying him time with their very lives.
Up in the south west tower, Con swings again at the raging yazirian. Taking advantage of his opponents' overconfidence, Con gets under his guard and slashes across the yazirians chest (40 points), severely wounding his opponent.
From his mobile rifle pit in the back of the ground truck Kane opens fire at the same tower Gloo is aiming at. Perhaps it was the pressure of the situation or perhaps Kane was finding his feet in the heat of battle.
"Headshot!" He cries excitedly as the gunners albedo screen flares, before realising all he had done was drain the powerpack (23 SEU's), not kill the machine gunner.
Sp'ock rises up from concealment and launches a shell into the south east tower. The yazirian machine gunner in the south east tower staggers back at the force of the glancing blow from Sp'ocks shell (62 points half to suit) and though badly wounded, is not taken out of the battle yet.
In the south west tower, Con's opponent roars his battle cry and thrusts again with his sonic sword. Con tries to sidestep the blow but takes the hit along the side of his chest (31 points) and almost collapses in pain as his body is violated by the sonic blade. Behind the screaming yazirian, his companion zeros in on Siu-Lings position with his machine gun, sending a burst hurtling into the sniper hide (46 points, alf to suit). Siu-Ling returns fire but put off by the incoming fire, this time she blasts a hole in the tower instead.
Doog lumbers up to xZot and Snik at the door, feeling like a ninth pseudopod, helpless to assist xZot through the locked door.
Gloo fires a pair of beams at the same target as Kane, both shots lighting up the defenders screen (21 & 18 SEU's) but not penetrating it this time.
Alyson climbs into the tower top and past the battered bodies of her new companions. She pulls out her nightstick and swings at the yazirian hoping to take the gunners out but the yazirian avoids the blow.
James McKilin makes a fateful decision and leaves the cover of the treeline, dashing across the open ground south of the compound. Aiming at the southwest tower, McKilin sprints across no mans land, tempting all the fates. He hears the chatter of the machine gun behind him but it is poorly directed in Sp'ock's direction or at the lokkuku. Automatic fire from the yazirian guards again tears holes in the lokkuku ranks as they mill around in front of the compound.
Meanwhile, at the site of McKilin's destination, Borovski takes a carefully aimed shot at the north west tower and finally succeeds in hitting his mark, (19 SEU's) lighting up another albedo screen.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:30:30 hours
"xZot! I have an access code!" Doog storms up to the door to punch in the his code and swipe his ID card. "No reason why it shouldn't still work since this is my first overt action against Streel," he ponders aloud. xZot looks back over his shoulder and then steps aside to allow the dralasite access to the door panel.
Outside the compound fence, X'anthe stops to reload as she urges the lokkuku back into the trees. Tears streaming down her face at the sight of so many dead and wounded natives of Alcazzar, the vows to seek her revenge against Streel Corp for this atrocity. Looking back toward the compound, X'anthe sees some of the guards reloading as others arrive at firing positions and continue to pour automatic fire into the mass of lokkuku. Next to X'anthe another lokkuku dies as it takes the full brunt of another burst of automatic fire.
In the south west tower, Raid swings again with his stunstick, but draws a tangler grenade with his other hand. This time Raid's blow lands and the wounded yazirian machine gunner slumps to the floor, unable to shrug off the stun effects for a third time.
While Gleep readies for his next shot, he asks his partner if he is still able to function.
"Yeah I'm still here, Crisbel grunts as he also reloads. The gunners in the north east tower fire another burst each but the incoming fire is beginning to take it's toll as both gunners miss their targets, giving the lokkuku, Crisbel and Gleep a brief reprieve.
"Just hide behind the log and stay there." Gleep instructs his companion as they hug the Alcazzar dirt while bullets fly overhead.
In the groundtruck, Gloo fires another pair of beams at the gunners shooting at Crisbel and Gleep. His first shot misses but the second finds it's mark, lighting up the albedo screen again (24 SEU's) but not enough to drain it's power supply.
With the situation rapidly spinning out of control, Kane primes a tangler grenade for contact detonation and tosses it into the nearby guard tower. Aiming for the "centre-of-the-basket", Kane hopes that upon detonation, the grenade's webbing will sufficiently expand to engulf the gunners as well as their heavy weapon. He tosses the missile and then groans as he watches the grenade strike the side of the tower and bounce over the fence to explode it's sticky threads harmlessly inside the compound.
On the roof, directly above xZot's position, several guards take up firing position as the rest of the human guards reload their laser rifles.
"Snik, give Doog one of your pistols." xZot orders his Chief Medical Officer. "Looks like he's gonna need it." Sn'iktl hands over a fully loaded laser pistol and a spare clip to the new dralasite team member.
"Good luck." The vrusk clicks as Doog takes the weapon. Somewhat surprised by the gesture, Doog gratefully accepts the pistol and prepares to enter the building.
"I will BLAST you off the planet! You fuck!" Siu-Ling adds the two final syllables as a coup de grace after draining yet another 20 SEUs from her immediate supply. Siu-Ling's beam strikes the remaining gunner, lighting up his albedo screen again.
With the other gunner incapacitated by Raid, Alyson charges across the tower, her body held low as she connects with Siu-Ling's target from behind. Coming up with he hands firmly griping the yazirians belt, Alyson pushes the gunners off the tower by bending him over the side. Blinded by Siu-Ling's blast and surprised by the flanking attack, the guard flails about wildly as he crashes over the side of the tower and to the ground below (7 points).
The gunners in the south east tower fire without effect this time. Sp'ock ducks below the incoming rounds from one machine gun, while the lokkuku are saved further injury as the second gunner over compensates for the retreating figures and fires over their heads instead.
Con the enforcer is severely wounded and slowly pushes his way to a wall. Once he has his back to the wall, he draws his laser pistol. He fumbles with the settings of his weapon. This is not the time or place of his choosing to die, but the cruel truth of destiny may have its say. Through attacks of pain Con manages to set the weapon to 2 shots, 10 SEU each. Another attack of pain rips through the enforcer's body.
"Adriana, my love, I'll be home with you soon. Please forgive me for leaving you." Having said what could have been his very last words he levels the weapon at the surviving yazirian, now below the tower and outside the fence. Con fires twice and even in his shattered state, hits the yazirian twice. Siu-Ling's blast had drained the gunners albedo screen and both Con's beams burn holes in the Streel employee (51 & 51), killing him where he fell.
Outside the south east perimeter, Sp'ock reloads as he assesses the situation.
"xZot, the south west tower has been neutralised." The X-O reports to the team leader. "Repeat, south west tower neutralised." The vrusk switches to a private frequency and communicates directly with Siu-Ling. "Switch fire to the guards on the roof. We need to cover the lokkuku retreat."
To the north west, Borovski and an unconscious O'Malley come under fire again from the tower opposite their position. As the bullets rip into the surrounding trees, Borovski looks over at his wounded companion.
"It was supposed to be the rookie getting killed first, you idiot!" Wincing as more bullets fill the air around him, Borovski returns fire, his heavy laser spewing forth an angry beam of light that sprays uselessly over the roof of the tower.
Continuing his mercy dash, James McKilin approaches the south west tower as he sees the yazirian gunner hurled over the side by Alyson and then shot twice by Con as soon as he hits the ground. Looking up, McKilin cannot see the second guard and breathes a sigh of relief as he continues his mad dash towards Borovski and O'Malley.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:30:36 hours
Kane returns to the meagre safety of the ground truck and suggests to his squad mates that they concentrate their firepower against the fencing to either create an opening for the lokkuku to enter the Streel Corp compound, or at least cause sufficient damage to it that the fence's electrified field becomes inoperable in this area.
Despite his wounds, Crisbel raises himself up for another shot and the shot is a good one. The shell from the recoilless sails through the air, slamming into the human machine gunner in the north east tower. Even though protected by his military skiensuit, the guard is still severely wounded (80 points, half to suit) as the BHG claw their way up off the mat and back into the fight.
Inspired by Crisbel's shot, Gleep fires at the machine gunners in the north east tower. "I will not be the one to let the team down." Gleep mutters to himself as he fires again but is unable to reproduce Crisbel's shot, the rocket streaking away over the compound.
Mr Sp'ock raises his recoilless rifle and fires another shell at the south east tower and though his shot is wide of target, the gunners in the tower cannot ignore him and are distracted from both xZot's group behind them and McKilin racing across no man's land to the west. Just as Sp'ock ducks down to avoid incoming fire from the tower he spies two more figure exit the front door of the compound and clamber up the ladder to the rooftop.
With the Streel gunners in the tower taken out, Raid checks that his holoscreen is still functional before heading back down the ladder to rejoin xZot and the rest of the insertion team. Unsure what else to do, Alyson follows the camouflaged technician down the ladder and across the southern end of the compound.
Her pistol reloaded, X'anthe fires off another pair of laser blasts at the north east tower as she shepherds her charges back to the forest. The lokkuku are dazed and confused by their initial charge and their subsequent retreat, many of them helping their wounded fellows out of danger and back toward the tree line.
Up on the roof of the compound, several of the guards now begin directing fire at Gloo and Kane. Ducking low into his foxhole, Kane yelps in pain as one of the guards flicks a laser blast across his shoulder (27 points), singeing his skin and clothing.
Gasping in pain, Con drags himself up to peer over the side of the tower. Quickly confirming that one gunner is dead and the other unconscious, Con winces as he draws in another breath and watches McKilin racing across the cleared ground below him. The wounded warrior reaches again for his laser rifle while contemplating his options, should he fire at the guards on the roof or put in fire on the north west tower to support Borovski and cover McKilin's movement? In his current condition there is no point following Raid and Alyson, little more than a stiff breeze would knock him out right now!
At the front gate, Gloo squeezes off one last carefully aimed shot as he drains his weapon's powerpack. The beam strikes his target and the albedo screen flares up (12 SEU's) as bullets and laser beams from the roof top slam into the cab of the ground truck.
Doog shoulders past xZot as the door opens, entering a well lit corridor inside the Streel building. To his left a pair of guards level weapons in his direction.
"Help, help they're right behind me!" He shouts his ruse to get within effective range of his pistol but before he can surprise the guards they open fire. Fortunately for Doog their weapons were not set to maximum and the painful blast that hits him in the belly (29 points) does not kill him. Doog returns fire, the weapon set to 5 SEU's by it's previous owner. Somehow both of Doog's shots hit, draining power from both guards power beltpacks as their albedo screens flare alight (7 & 6 SEU's). Behind him, xZot fires, striking an albedo screen as well (7 SEU's) while Sn'iktl throws a smoke grenade into the corridor at the first sound of shooting, quickly filling the corridor around the door with smoke.
Machine guns from both northern tower continue their deadly chatter. Gleep and Crisbel avoid injury this time but several more retreating lokkuku are struck down by one of the guns and Borovski is bracketed by one gun and hit by the other machine gun in the north west tower. The dralasite trooper's skien suit is destroyed and several slivers of wood and lead penetrate deep into his body (32 points after suit damage), racking id with pain. Borovski takes careful aim once again, ignoring his wounds he pulls the trigger and receives the chemical stimulant signifying success when his beam slams into the targeted machine gunner (24 SEU's), lighting up his albedo screen.
As soon as the enemy target with the albedo screen is down, Siu-Ling activates her chronocom and radios xZot to report on her condition before squeezing off a shot at one of the guards on the roof. The sniper swears at the result, a rare miss for the sharpshooter.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:30:42 hours
In the face of a determined defence of the reactor room, Doog fires another pair of blasts, emptying his pistol as he moves back toward the doorway, away from the enemy guards and the billowing smoke from Snik's grenade. Another flash of albedo light tells the tale of one of Doog's shots (5 SEU's), the other scorching the reactor doors behind the guards. To his right, Doog spies movement as another pair of defenders appear with weapons, a vrusk and a yazirian.
"The Captain!" Cries Doog as he retreats. "That's the Captain and one of the officers." Doog tells xZot.
South of the building, Raid races between the wall and the electrified fence running to catch up to xZot and the rest of the breach team, checking his ammo loads on the run. As he leaves Alyson says,
"Raid wait we could use some of this stuff." She picks up the sword by the hilt puts it to the side. Then checks the power pack smiling when she sees the full indicator on. She unhooks it from the yaz and also takes the albedo screen. "Should we also throw this guy off the side? I wouldn't want him to wake up and open fire on us again when we get out of here. Plus the other one I just dumped might have some stuff we could use also."
Then the inevitable happens, a machine gun in the northeast tower swings around to bear on the ground truck outside the front gate. The weapon spits fire and bullets rip into the trio aboard. Gloo, Kane and Flip all taking fire and receiving injuries from the burst of fire (30 points each, half to Kane and Gloo's suits), their cries of pain caught on a chronocom freq for all to hear. The second machine gun in the tower continues to fire at Crisbel and Gleep's position as the pair hunker down and reload their weapons.
To the northwest, Borovski rolls to his left several times as he unplugs his empty power pack and plugs in a fresh power sully for his heavy laser. He glances over at his unconscious friend and notices Mack's chest still rising and falling slightly as he struggled to breathe. Both machine guns in the north east tower continue to pour fire into Borovski's old location, bullets smashing through the tree trunk where he had been only seconds before. Reaching a new firing position he prepares to re-enter the fray.
Using the smoke to cover his movement, xZot steps back outside the building, reloading a fresh clip into his pistol before holstering the weapon and unslinging his laser rifle. He double checks the weapon is plugged into his backpack and calls Doog.
"Fall back Doog! Fall back!" xZot then turns to Sn'iktl. "Toss in a couple of tangler grenades, see how they handle that."
At the edge of the forest, X'anthe rallies the surviving lokkuku together as she racks her brain trying to think of a way to further assist her team mates without shedding more lokkuku blood needlessly. Gazing back toward the embattled compound she sees the tower guns now being employed fully against her friends while the lokkuku use the brief respite to gather in the stragglers.
Kane launches another grenade attack against the occupants of the guard tower. From the meagre safety of the ground truck, he takes careful aim with a doze grenade, primed for contact detonation, and tosses it into the tower. This time he is on target, his lob judged perfectly over the distance and the grenade pops in the middle of the tower platform. The surprised gunners barely have time to register the arrival of the grenade before the doze gas knocks them both out. The guns fall silent as the guards slump to the floor of the tower platform.
The groundtruck now comes under intensive fire from the human guards all along the building roof. A dozen laser beams pepper the cab of the truck, Gloo and Flip both taking hits from the volley. Gloo's albedo screen flashes, protecting the warrior from harm (6 SEU's) but Flip is not so lucky, (26 points) the blast slamming into him and leaving the yazirian unconscious and very close to death.
In the southwest tower, the wounded human enforcer slips another clip into his laser pistol and slowly rises to his knees. Con painfully makes his way to the machine gun and pulls himself up. He gazes out the tower window, looking for a target of opportunity. Con knows the boys are taking a pounding and remembers a story he once heard from an old Clarion Royal Marine. This old marine, an old Sarge called Tallas Bane told him the story of the Modoc out post. The day a heroic captain rallied his company and fell defending some distant outpost in some hellish part of the star system. That story was told by one of the few people who lived to tell about it. The heroic officer who fell was Captain Giles Anderson, his father. Con thinks to himself, now its my turn. Like father like son, to die on some god forsaken planet. He was more like his father than he cared to admit. Giles Anderson left behind a wife and child as well.
"Like father like son." Con thinks aloud as he cups his wife's locket. He is guilty of leaving behind a wife and a child he never got to know let alone hold. "Not now!" Con keeps telling himself.
Beside xZot, Sn'iktl tosses a tangle grenade into the smoke filled corridor in the general direction of the reactor guards, but through the smoke he is unable to see whether the tactic is effective.
Outside the front gate, in the shattered remains of the groundtruck cab, Gloo has transformed himself into a miniature mortar battery. With his laser rifle empty and under heavy fire from the roof top, Gloo takes a frag grenade with each of his pseudoarms. He holds two in reserve while he launches two missiles at the roof top, sacrificing accuracy for effect. The first two grenades sail too high over the heads of his targets, exploding toward the centre of the roof top. "Damn, too hard." Gloo chastises himself as he reaches for more grenades.
Across no-mans land, Sp'ock can only watch as Gloo's grenades explode harmlessly behind the Streel firing line on the roof top but with two machine guns still operating from the tower in front of him, the vrusks' options are limited. While he reloads the recoilless rifle, Sp'ock notices a dralasite exit the front door and begin climbing to the roof top.
"What the...?" Are the last sounds the vrusk X-O ever utters, as one of the gunners in the southeast tower homes in on Sp'ock's position. A full burst from the heavy machine gun rips into the vrusks' head and chest, tearing away strips of skien suit and punching multiple holes through his carapace (112 points, 37 to skien suit). Sp'ock Man'tiss is dead before his body hits the ground. Blood, brains and pieces of carapace litter the Alcazzar jungle around the vrusks' lifeless form as more lead flies angrily overhead.
Outside the east door, xZot, Snik and Doog suddenly come under fire from the roof top. Several of the yazirian guards are now leaning over the parapet and firing automatic rifles at xZot's team, wounding the trio slightly (14 points each, half to xZot and Snik suits) but the accumulated damage has almost incapacitated the newest dralasite team member. Caught in the cross fire from the roof and the doorway, xZot is also struck by a pair of laser blasts as the reactor guards fire from inside the doorway, his albedo screen (5 & 7 SEU's) absorbing the light energy safely.
Oblivious to the carnage going on around him, James McKilin continues his race against time, sprinting north through no-mans land along the west side of the compound. Siu-Ling watches McKilin's mad dash as she reloads her heavy laser with another of the powerpacks they had lugged across the planet in their explorers. Scanning back across the rooftop she spies a human and a yazirian heading to the southwest corner of the roof top.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:30:42 hours
Before anyone can react again, Doog flattens himself against the wall as he reloads his laser pistol, hoping the guards above won't see him with their next burst. xZot steps forward covering Doog with his laser rifle, firing a pair of beams at full power and point blank range. The first beam slams into the first guard, his albedo screen lighting up like a New Years Eve light show (22 SEU's). The second beam almost burns a hole through the far wall of the corridor.
Gloo continues his impersonation of a mortar battery, putting two more grenades on the roof, this time targeted much better. One frag grenade explodes at the top of the ladder, wounding a pair of guards and penetrating the inertia screen worn by the dralasite climbing the ladder. Gloo's second grenade is not on target but still effective, when it explodes beneath one of the wounded guards, killing him with the second explosion.
xZot's breach team is given a brief reprieve as the yazirian guards on the roof are forced to reload their automatic rifles.
Alyson follows Raid and says to the empty air, "We going for the other tower? Why didn't we use the MG in the tower to try to take some of the guards on the building roof?" Looking back over her shoulder, Alyson sees the shattered body of Con wrestling the MG around toward the tower pinning down Borovski.
"Not dead yet! Must help the team!" Con looks out over the compound searching for his target. Con pulls the trigger as the northwest tower fills his sight, adrenaline heightening his senses as he plays a stream of fire across the pair of enemy machine gunner. "The son of Giles and Larisa Anderson has not finished business yet." He says as machine gun bullets slam into the enemy gunners (26 points each, half to suits) in the assault from an unexpected quarter.
Alyson nods to herself, glad to see the dedication of xZot's troops. Unlike her former Streel co-workers, these members of the Black Hand Gang seem totally prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty for their team mates. Determined to be worthy of their trust, Alyson makes her way across the southern end of the compound, rushing to catch up with Raid and the others.
Outside the compound and across no-mans land, X'anthe begins sending the wounded lokkuku back to their village. "We will send people to help soon." She explains to the lokkuku as best she can. The rest of the lokkuku she begins leading north along the edge of the forest, circling the compound while keeping most of her force in the forest.
Crisbel fires another shell from his recoilless rifle, the bullet shaped projectile smashes against the side of the tower, missing the gunners.
"I'm down to my last shell with the recoilless." Crisbel reports, then frowns when there is not the standard reply from Mr Sp'ock. "Sp'ock, did you hear me? Mr Sp'ock, respond!"
The laser fire from inside the building stops when a guard steps through the smoke and out the door with a vibroknife in hand. Stepping up close to xZot, the guard slashes out at the yazirian, grazing his chest (8 points, half to suit) with the vibroknife.
Kane joins the others in their attack against targets on the roof top, his laser pistol still on setting 5. Taking careful aim, he squeezes off a shot at the guards on the roof top, but even those closest to him are too far away for his pistol to hit with any accuracy. "Maybe I should switch to my rifle he wonders aloud?"
On the opposite side of the compound, Siu-Ling centres the approaching yazirian on the roof top. She squeezes the trigger, hoping to distract then from Con and even more so, from McKilin who has managed to cross half the distance to Mack without yet being spotted or fired upon. Siu-Ling's beam strikes it's target, his albedo screen flaring alight (18 SEU's).
With their opponent down, the gunners in the south east tower now begin looking for new targets. One gun swings around and takes some opportunity shots at X'anthe's lokkuku group, dropping a couple of warriors edging too far out into the cleared area. The second gun swings around and begins firing in Siu-Ling's general direction, some of the rounds coming disturbingly close with the first burst of fire.
The goon on the roof next to the yazirian Siu-Ling fired at, moves to the edge of the roof and tosses a grenade at the tower where Con is ensconced. The grenade bounces off the side of the tower and pops open, shooting sticky tangler threads across the electric fence. The rest of the guards on the roof top now stop to reload their weapons, some of the later arrivals firing their last shits at the ground truck but Kane and Gloo avoid further pain for the moment.
Sn'iktl tries to even up the odds by lobbing another tangler grenade in the corridor but in his attempt to avid trapping xZot, he misses everything. Then Raid arrives on the scene, still camouflaged by the holoscreen. He also tries to use a tangler grenade on the guards above but he makes the same error as Gloo, throwing to high and hard to be effective.
On the roof the Lieutenant arrives beside her goon and levels her laser rifle at Con. The yazirian female fires a pair of blasts, one missing, the other lighting up Con's defensive screen (4 SEU's).
In the north west tower one of the gunners continues firing in Borovski's direction, his aim put off by Con's attack. The second gunner swings his weapon around toward Con but pulls the trigger too early, spraying his blast into the tree line instead. Below the flying lead, McKilin ducks his head but keeps running toward Borovski and Mack.
Happy to have survived another round of fire, Gleep fires again. With the tower now taken care of by Kane's grenade, he switches to the rooftop. The rocket screams in toward the corner of the building, exploding right on the parapet in front of the corner most guard. Slivers of rocket casing and pieces of the parapet become deadly missiles as the guard's face and skiensuit are shredded in the rocket blast, killing him instantly.
Despite his own wounds and the constant incoming enemy fire, Borovski Getmeov takes careful aim once more with his fully loaded heavy laser. He puts the enemy gunner squarely in the middle of his sight and fires, just like a training drill. The target's albedo screen flares as it absorbs Borovski's attack (23 SEU's).
Frontier Date 53.171 02:30:48 hours
Raid continues throwing grenades onto the roof. Hoping for a lucky bounce or confusion at the least he lobs another frag grenade but it bounces too long and explodes behind the Streel guards. The human guards on the roof return fire with a fusillade of laser fire, hitting both xZot and Sn'iktl, their albedo screens absorbing the laser energy (6 & 7 SEU's). More beams are directed at Kane and Gloo in the truck, the fierce dral taking hits from a pair of laser blasts (7 & 5 SEU's) as he continues his barrage of grenades at the roof top. The first missile is off target and bounces off the building, the second grenade explodes almost on top of the last remaining guard on the roof over the double doors to the building. The grenade blast topples the guard and Gloo whoops in triumph.
"Take that you cowardly scum!" The dral grenadier cries as he reaches for another pair of grenades with his now empty pseudopods.
In the tree line amongst her following of lokkuku allies, X'anthe slides to a stop and reverses direction.
"xZot, I am heading to Sp'ock's location." The concerned voice of the team's environmentalist announces. "I think something's wrong, he never ignores a battle comm!"
Con, now fully aware of his company, points his laser pistol at the female lieutenant. He pulls the trigger firing two shots still set at 10 SEUs each with the first beam hitting (12 SEU's) the lieutenants albedo defence and the second narrowly missing, despite the range and Con's serious wounds. Con's target swings her laser rifle up to her shoulder and fires at the enforcer her blast slamming into the tower parapet beside him.
One of the machine guns in the south east tower continues to fire in Siu-Ling's direction, this time to no effect, while the other gun swigs around to bear on X'anthe and her group of lokkuku now heading south along the forest edge.
The east doorway of the building, xZot's assailant stabs again with his vibro knife, slicing away the last vestiges of xZot's skiensuit and biting into his flesh (16 points after suit). xZot gasps in pain as he staggers back from the doorway. He brings up his laser rifle and fires a pair of high energy blasts directly into the guards chest at point blank range (23 & 23 SEU's), but failing to penetrate his albedo defence.
As fire rains down from above Doog desperately tries to flatten himself against the wall. "Dral! I don't feel so good." Breathing is getting hard and even his conscious control over his elasticity is slipping. Reality has set in; death is rating a high probability right now. "I'll be seeing you soon, Swaz, not sure if you even believed in an after life." He laughs. "Not sure if I believe in it either beyond the philosophical possibility. Well, Swazi, we'll see but you taught me well. I'll see if I can take some of these turds with me." Doog realizes he's babbling, "Must be the near death experience!" He ponders. Checking the fresh charge on his last clip and making sure his weapon is set to 5 SEUs per shot he aims for the parapet, firing at one the guards above as he pokes his head out. The shot misses and Doog sighs as he resigns himself to his imminent fate.
To the west, McKilin continue his mercy dash across no mans land while Siu-Ling fires at Con's tormentor. "Take that you bitch!" Siu-Ling sings as she puts a laser blast right on target only to be sucked up by an albedo defence (20 SEU's).
I the north west tower, one machine gunner fires blindly in Borovski's direction, while the second gunner unloads at Con's tower, stitching the side of the tower with bullet holes.
Realizing the uselessness of his beloved laser pistol at this range, Kane holsters the weapon, feeling slightly foolish at his choice of a weapon especially considering the dire situation that the team is in. Briefly glancing down at the truck's cab, Kane can only imagine Gloo's web belt, and the attached supply of hand grenades there in particular. Unable to reach Gloo in the cab without exposing himself to the lethal volley of fire from the roof top, Kane hefts his laser rifle and returns fire at the roof top. With the weapon still set to maximum charge, Kane takes careful aim and shoots the dralasite goon on the roof (17 SEU's), lighting up his albedo screen from behind as the rifle clip is emptied with one blast.
Worried at the lack of response from Mr Sp'ock, Crisbel slams the last shell into his recoilless rifle. He shifts his gaze between the compound directly to his front and the tower still firing at Boro, deciding which target should have priority now.
The yazirian guards above xZot's position open up with automatic fire on the BHG members below them. Cries of pain answer their fire as the foursome are raked with weapons fire. As Snik is wounded (12 points, 6 to suit) he sees xZot take the full impact of the bullets, his skien suit now gone. The young yazirian's slender body shudders as he is hammered to the ground by the hail of Streel bullets (xZot is on -3). Beside xZot, Doog shares his commanders fate as he too is struck by the automatic fire and knocked unconscious to the ground (Doog is on -10 points). Raid is also slightly wounded by the fire (12 points, half to suit) but is dismayed at the sight now in front of him and the job still lying ahead.
Ignoring the Streel guards only meters away Snik plunges a sprayhypo of biocort into his commander, administering first aid immediately (10 points back to xZot)
Borovski fires again at the tower.
"Damnation!" The dral yells in anger as his blast misses the enemy gunner. "You gotta be shittin me!" He imitates his unconscious friend OMAC, as the battle rages on.
"Another one rides the bus!" yells Gleep, as he reloads for another shot at the roof. He hopes that the defensive fire ceases soon, as he wants to get inside with the rest to see what kind of comm gear he can confiscate "for the greater good."
Frontier Date 53.171 02:30:54 hours
His primary weapon empty and still feeling exposed on the back of the ground truck, Kane takes a gamble and vaults over the side of the truck. Grunting with pain as he lands, he scrambles into the cab beside Gloo, the Dral holding the door open for him.
"What took you so long?" Gloo asks merrily, despite their dire situation.
"Give up?" Alyson thinks to herself , "I would be shot dead for turning against my old employers. I would rather go down in a fight than be handed to a firing squad." She determines aloud. "Maybe we can take another tower?" Alyson wonders as she hears Con open up at the lieutenant on the roof top. She stops and looks back over her shoulder but Con shouts down from the tower.
"Go! Get out of here! Help xZot and Raid."
Acknowledging Con's decision, Alyson turns and heads toward xZot's side of the building.but instead of turning north to join her team mates, Alyson decides to try and repeat her tactic of throwing guards out of towers. She races directly east to the base of the south east tower and prepares to climb the ladder and deal with the guards above.
Finally the guards in the north west tower see McKilin racing across no mans land as he virtually runs into their line of fire. The guard shooting at Con, swings his weapon back toward the running human medic, chewing up the ground at his heels with lead, while the second gunner returns fire in the direction of Borovski's laser beams.
Raid stays pressed up against the wall and slides along looking for the building entrance, hoping to enter as soon as possible. He pulls out another grenade, a tangler, to throw on the roof but the grenade slips from his fingers as he primes the weapon and finally the Black Hand Gang has some luck go their way. The grenade bounces at Raids feet, rolls forward and through the door in front of xZot. The tangler grenade pops inside the doorway, entangling the guard armed with the vibro knife in the doorway and effectively sealing the entrance to the building.
"The roof." xZot croaks at Raid's feet. "Get on the roof." xZot points to the ladder beside the door leading up to the roof.
Crisbel decides, his recoilless rifle aimed at the north west tower. He fires, hoping to keep down the head of the machine gunner causing Borovski so much trouble. Instead he takes the gunners head clean off! The shell sails true through the air, arcing in gracefully to neatly decapitate (50 points, suit destroyed) the yazirian machine gunner before he can cause any more damage to the Black Hand Gang.
Following Crisbel's example, Gleep fires his rocket, the target a yazirian guard further along the roof top. Gleep almost leaps into the air with excitement as his rocket flies straight to the target, the explosion (81 points) killing the guard instantly despite his defensive skien suit.
"Here, take these." Gloo hands a pair of incendiary grenades to Kane with his secondary pseudoarms, as he unslings his gyrojet rifle with another pair of arms, squeezing off three quick rounds at the roof top, one of the rapid fire shots wounding a guard (19 points, half to suit).
In the south west tower, Con takes cover as he ejects the empty clip from his pistol, holsters the weapon and plugs in his last fully charged power backpack into the power port of his laser rifle. The enemy lieutenant fires and misses at Con as he prepares to re-enter the fray.
Yazirian guards on the roof fire in several directions at once, emptying their clips harmlessly into the ground around xZot, Snik and Raid while one of the guards manages to spray Alyson in the back of the shoulder as she scrambles up the ladder to the south east tower (15 points). Ignoring the pain from the flesh wound she struggles onward and upwards. Now the laser fire from the roof top ceases as the human guard's power supplies run dry.
Through all the chaos, Sn'iktl goes to work on the unconscious Doog, the dralasite requiring more intensive surgery to revive him. Sn'iktl uses a pair of biocort doses just to bring the dralasite recruit back to the land of the living (20 points back for Doog).
Siu-Ling takes careful aim once more with her heavy laser. She pulls the trigger, the beam slices into the same spot as her previous effort but this time her target's albedo screen gives out before her blast is even halfway discharged. The laser beam penetrates the dead albedo field and drills straight through the Streel lieutenants forehead (10 SEU's & 65 points), her body flung backwards away from the parapet as her body crumples dead on the roof.
Borovski fires again, this time hitting his target and draining more power away from the defenders albedo screen (21 points).
Frontier Date 53.171 02:31:00 hours
With all his immediate targets now eliminated, Crisbel drops his now useless recoilless rifle and unslings his laser rifle.
"I'm going in." Crisbel announces to Gleep as he begins trotting toward the perimeter of the compound to support Gloo and Kane at the front gate. With little else to do now, Gleep joins Crisbel's advance toward the enemy gate.
Climbing into the tower behind the Streel gunners, Alyson changes her mind when she sees the gunner wounded by Sp'ock. She draws her new sonic sword and lunges at the yazirian from behind. Without any sonic defence, the sonic blade carves into the yazirians back (41 points) killing him instantly. The second gunner abandons his machine gun, draws his own sonic sword and swings at Alyson. The human woman jumps back away from the sonic blade but not far enough as the weapon opens a nasty wound along her side (20 points) and almost forcing her over the side of the tower.
The last gunner in the north west tower fires again at Borovski and again the dralasite is showered with broken twigs and shredded leaves but little else.
Con brings his rifle up to fire on the enemy lieutenant and smiles when he sees she isn't there anymore. Instead he fires at the goon nearby.
"Yeah!" Con cries out as he makes his shot, the human goon, apparently not wearing an albedo screen, collapses over the top of the lieutenant's body (109 points).
xZot crawls to the base of the building wall and props himself up into a sitting position as he tries to get a grip on the situation. He watches Snik work on Doog and listens to the chronocom reports coming in from his various team members around the battle field. An alien moan comes from Doog as he regains consciousness under Sn'iktl's ministrations. Lying on his back he sees enemy heads appear and disappear over the edge of the roof above. His laser pistol still gripped tightly, Doog tries to raise his arm to fire at the enemy guards but his strength has yet to return. Sn'iktl delivers a stimdose hit to Doog via sprayhypo and suddenly the dralasite is fully aware and awake and ready for action once more.
Alternating hits and misses, Borovski fires again, burning another hole through the tower armour but failing to injure his target.
With the remaining roof guards too far away to hit with the grenades offered by Gloo, Kane loads a fresh clip into his laser rifle.
Outside the perimeter, X'anthe and the band of lokkuku rapidly close on Mr Sp'ock's last known position.
Checking again to make sure his holoscreen is still active, Raid scrambles up the ladder indicated by xZot, preparing another grenade as he approaches the top of the ladder. To Raid's amazement, as he nears the top of the ladder, the guards on the roof top begin falling back to the north, back in the direction they came from. As the first guard begins descending the ladder near the double doors, Gloo snaps off three more shells from his gyrojet rifle, penetrating an enemy skiensuit once and wounding the guard (10 points).
Siu-Ling swings her weapon around and fires on the last gunner in the north west tower. The snipe lights up his albedo screen (26 SEU's) and prays that this enemy's defences are almost down.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:31:06 hours
Crisbel breathes hard as he races across no-mans land toward the ground truck parked in front of the gate to the compound. Glancing to his right he can see only one machine gun operating in the tower to the north west. Looking back toward the main building Crisbel can now see the retreating guards gathering to descend the ladder by the main double doors on the east side of the building, opposite the ground truck.
Gloo continues rapid firing his gyrojet rifle at the wounded guard, hitting him with two of his next three rounds (19 & 22 points, half to suit) and badly wounding the guard.
Out in the perimeter, X'anthe continues leading the lokkuku back toward Sp'ock's position while McKilin closes rapidly on Borovski and O'Malley's position, despite the incoming fire from the last gun in the north west tower.
Near the east door, xZot drags his wounded frae away from the doorway and into the corner of the building. "Hey Snik, you got some of that solvaway handy?" Flicking on his chronocom. "Raid, don't get too far ahead. Just take down any stragglers." The yazirian commander looks up at his Chief Medical Officer, smiling as he sees Sn'iktl produce a can of solvaway from his belt pouch. "All units converge on my position after the guards have retreated inside. Repeat. All units on me. xZot out."
Raid chases the fleeing guards with his stun stick swinging in one hand and a smoke grenade in the other. Hoping to toss the smoke grenade down whatever hatch they retreat into, causing confusion, so he can follow them down under cover of both smoke and his holoscreen. As he crosses the roof, Raid sees the dralasite goon near the downed bodies of the guard officer and her side kick. The camouflaged tech manages to catch the dralasite goon off guard and lands a blow with his stunstick, penetrating the goons defences. Raid smiles as the enemy dral convulses and collapses when the stunstick does it's job, as advertised.
Checking his weapon's power setting and adjusting to 3 SEU's, Doog angles himself to keep an eye on the roof and watch for movement from the open door with his peripheral vision. Keeping his weapon trained at 45 degrees he's prepared to fire on anyone trying to shoot over the parapet or react to developments at the door. A scream pierces the air, xZot, Doog and Snik all look up toward the south east tower as Alyson (21 points) slumps to the floor of the tower. The yazirian machine gunner snarls as he withdraws his sonic sword from her torso and turns back towards his machine gun. Doog fires at the yazirian as he turns away, but the blast slams into the side of the tower.
Boro can't believe his luck having managed to avoid taking any more hits during the last couple of exchanges. He realises that the threat is not so imminent with the number of immediate enemy halved thanks to that spectacular head shot by Crisbel. In response, he signals his appreciation to his comrade by giving him a big pseudopod thumbs up and he thinks to himself. "Maybe now the two of us can finish that tower off." He steadies himself for what he hopes is his last carefully aimed shot at this tower. Just before he unleashes, movement catches the corner of his eye.
"For fucks sake OMAC, stop bloody twitching, you're putting me off. You should be called OMUC (One More Unconscious C...) you useless unconscious latest piece of precision military training you. Haa!"
Borovski pulls the trigger and his blast is right on target. At maximum power, the heavy laser finally drains the last of the defenders power for his albedo screen and the laser beam continues on to it's target when the albedo screen collapses. The yazirian gunner reels as the blast takes him in the chest (34 points), killing him at his post. Borovski roars with triumph as McKilin covers the last few metres to reach the wounded dralasite and his almost mortally wounded human companion.
Kane lowers the setting on his laser rifle to setting 10 and takes careful aim before firing on the remaining Streel Corp guards. As one of the yazirian guards reaches the bottom of the ladder, Kane pins him with a laser beam (64 points) and drills a hole right through him. The dead yazirian collapses at the foot of the ladder.
Seeing that the Lieutenant and her goon are no longer a problem, Con reaches for his gear. Rummaging through his pack he pulls out his first aid kit. Reaching for the stimdose he pulls it out, fumbles with the casing and injects the contents of the hypo into his damaged body. Con sits with his back to the wall until he feels the injection taking effect. Once the injection takes effect, and he can get to the machine gun, Con will fire at the remaining gunner in the southeast tower.
Running to the gate in front of Gloo while reloading, Gleep considers trying to take the gate out with a rocket. "I think they are going to need our help soon if those guards are going inside. Chances are they are getting more ammo." As he bobbles along behind Crisbel he decides tat even his rocket launcher will be of little use against the main gate of the compound, "That could just about keep a tank out!" Gleep observes on closer inspection.
"Oh, fuck yeah, beYAyatch! Eat my beam!" The wounded human screams with a raspy voice, fatigued from the continuing skirmish. Siu-Ling checks her ammo supply, "One full power backpack plus the one I am using now. Not bad!" She raises an eyebrow at her situation. "I do want to seek some medical and biosocial attention without losing too much face after such a mediocre performance." She says mostly to herself and then the scream from Alyson over in the south east tower has the snipers full attention. She quickly sends a blast in the direction of the tower, firing mostly on instinct but this girls instincts are better than entire life times of other shooters careers. An albedo flash confirms Siu-Ling's accuracy but brings her no satisfaction when she spies Alyson's crumpled form through the sights of her weapon (20 SEU's)
Seeing Doog commence combat the second he completed his surgical tasks, Sn'iktl quickly administers another shot of biocort (first aid, 10 points), to reinforce the dralasite's ability to carry on the engagement.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:31:12 hours
Before anyone from the BHG can fire again, the last of the guards clamber down the ladder and disappear through the double doors into the building. The only remaining visible enemy now being the yazirian machine gunner in the south east tower, now lifting the gun out of it's emplacement so it can be brought to bear on the enemy within. In the south west tower, Con is mirroring the yazirian gunners movements so he can fire on the last enemy tower.
Crisbel and Gleep rapidly close the distance between themselves and the truck, while Kane and Gloo turn their attention on the tower. Kane takes careful aim with his rifle but misses the tower altogether, emptying his clip. Beneath him Gloo slides under the truck and does likewise, firing the last shell from his gyrojet clip at the tower.
In the corner with xZot and Snik, Doog takes careful aim and fires again but the distance and his wounds defeat him again. Beside him Snik treats xZot with another dose of biocort (first aid, 10 points)
Siu-Ling watches the barrage of fire directed at the tower before pulling the trigger again and lighting up the albedo defence once more (23 SEU's). It's not than she has been exactly inaccurate, it's just that so many of her opponents have been well defended against her standard mode of attack. "Well that's my story." She nods to herself.
McKilin bounces over to the fallen form of Mack O'Malley, a sprayhypo of staydose already in his hand. He immediately plunges the hypo into OMAC's neck and begins checking his other vital signs. "Whew! Looks like we just made it this time big fella!" He says to his unconscious patient.
"About time you got here Doc!" Borovski quips to the human medic. "You better give me a hit of the good stuff quick, I gotta get in there." He nods toward the embattled compound. Boro flicks on his chronocom. "North west tower neutralised. Repeat. North west tower neutralised. Doc is stabilising OMAC."
Up on the roof, Raid crouches low as he crosses the rooftop, heading to the south east corner. As he approaches the edge of the roof he slings his stunstick back in his belt and draws his laser pistol.
X'anthe sighs with relief at Borovski's report but is still concerned about the silence from Sp'ock's post as she and her lokkuku allies draw nearer to his bullet riddled, blood soaked position.
xZot brings his rifle up to his shoulder and carefully squeezes off a beam of laser light, the shaft slicing into the side of the tower. He curses. "Damn. We have to take out that gunner before he can come to bear on us with that bloody machine gun."
Frontier Date 53.171 02:31:18 hours
X'anthe arrives at Sp'ock's final position and stumbles to her knees at the sight before her. The vrusk X-O's shattered body is still lying in his firing position, his carapace smashed and holed in several places and half his head torn away. One eye stalk hangs lifelessly over his weapon, brains and blood and piece of carapace splattered across his firing pit. Her voice catches in her throat as she tries to report the loss of Sp'ock to her team mates.
"He's gone." Is all she can finally get out in a croak. "Sp'ock's dead."
Gloo ejects his empty clip and slams a fresh magazine into his rifle as he listens to X'anthe's shocked voice.
Con staggers across the tower with the machine gun when he hears X'anthe's report.
Raid stumbles to the south east corner of the parapet when he hears the news.
Kane pops out his empty clip, glancing at Gloo beside him as he reloads his rifle, X'anthe's voice still echoing in his ears.
Gleep stumbles over no-mans land, pushing hard to catch Crisbel who has almost reached the truck. He stumbles again when he hears X'anthe sob.
Doog pushes himself up from the ground and charges toward the tower, enraged at X'anthe's news.
Sn'iktl follows his patient toward the tower, his duty to save the living, there is nothing he can do for the dead.
With a final surge, Crisbel reaches the back of the truck when he to is struck by the tone of X'anthe's message. Two words so packed with emotion.
xZot is behind Doog, beside him, then in front of him as he too runs toward the tower. xZot feels his blood lust beginning to rise. At first he tries to control it but quickly he succumbs to the primitive urges of his race and his blood begins to boil with rage.
Beside OMAC's stilled body, Borovski calmly receives treatment from McKilin (minor surgery, 20 pints) as he contemplates the best form of revenge to mete out on the killers of his vrusk friend and companion.
Siu-ling responds to the heartbreaking news the only way she knows how, with a laser blast to the head, her frustration underscored by the flashing albedo defences of her target (23 SEU's) as he struggles to carry the machine gun across the tower.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:31:24 hours
Over the next 6 seconds the south east tower is subject to a veritable barrage of fire as every gun in range from the Black Hand Gang opens fire on the occupant as he remounts his weapon to fire facing into the compound.
Siu-Ling slams another blast into the albedo screen (22 SEU's), rapidly weakening the laser defence system. A volley from the truck, including a rocket from Gleep's launcher, pepper the tower but fail to harm the gunner. Even Raid takes a carefully aimed shot from the roof top but to no avail.
Finally it is up to a young yazirian under the influence of his peoples most primal urges, to scale the tower, sonic sword in hand and launch himself at the machine gun wielding guard. xZot lands a glancing blow on his opponent (24 points) who is surprised and encumbered by the heavy weapon.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:31:30 hours
Before the yazirian can recover from the attack, xZot swings again. This time his blow is fatal, the gunner clutching at a deep chest wound (26 points) as he collapses at xZot's feet.
It takes several seconds for the rest of the Black Hand Gang to realise the sound of gun fire had ceased. The silence roars.
xZot's blood pounds in is temple as he now tries to exert control over his yazirian battle rage. He ignores the sounds of Sn'iktl and Doog as they attend to the still figure of Alyson, crumpled in a heap on the floor of the tower. Sn'iktl immediately administers a dose of biocort as first aid (10 points), reviving the human female before the team's veteran medic begins a more detailed treatment of the woman's wounds.
Gloo quickly turns to the matter at hand. Gaining rapid entry to the compound to support xZot and his team. Reaching into his pack Gloo retrieves an explosive charge and heads for one of the electric fence posts. Without the threat of armed guards and machine guns he takes his time, setting the charge in anticipation of blowing a hole in the compound fence.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:31:36 hours
Doog Scrambles up the tower despite the fight being over. The ex-Streel employee looking to loot the bodies for all weapons, ammo and defences but most importantly he needs to check on Alyson. They had been indifferent friends as Streel employees but now it would be a terrible blow to loose her. Seeing his friend being well cared for by Sn'iktl, Doog quickly strips an albedo screen and power back pack from one of the dead machine gunners. Slipping his pseudopods through the straps on the pack, and attaching the defence screen to his belt, the dralasite then picks up one of the fallen sonic swords.
With the lull in the fighting, Kane takes a moment to see there is anything that he can do for Flip. Inside the cab of the groundtruck it is too late for the rebel Streel employee. Huddled in the foot well of the truck's cab, Flip was seriously wounded by the heavy fire from the rooftop guards during the recent fire fight. Activating his chronocom, Kane immediately calls for a medic, and does what he can for the injured yazirian.
Crisbel trots to the front of the truck to watch the building doors while Gloo moves to set his explosive charge in position. Glancing into the cab he sees Flip's body and bow's his head at the sight of the shattered fellow yazirian. Beside him, Gleep observes the double doors.
"Hey, do you guys think this rocket launcher could take out a door? Maybe there is a window waiting to be busted out?" Gleep speculates aloud. "Or maybe we can use some grenades or explosives to make our own door?"
Con watches the remaining Streel Slugs retreat into the building. "The tide of battle has changed." Thought he. As the enforcer has the north west tower in the sights of his machine gun, he watches xZot let lose his battle rage. "Well so much for that poor Streel Slug!" He mutters. Con takes the machine gun off it's mount and makes his way down the rest of the team.
Boro jumps up, "Thanks Doc! Feeling heaps gooder. You OK lookin after that sad sack? I 've got to go and take care of business." The only business Boro is concerned about now is extracting the limited satisfaction that killing the few remaining enemy will bring as a minor form of revenge. As he turns and heads off towards Gloo and the about to be created gate in the fence Boro concludes Gloo is about to explode open as one of his possible next few actions.
Boro says "Hey OMAC, there's going to be a new burger named after you called the Big OMAC. Two All-human patties, smashed brains, blood & guts, bullets, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. More than a meal, a massacre!"
McKilin begins administering medical assistance to the injured warrior but runs out of the vital healing drug, biocort before he can complete all the work required for O'Malley's shattered body (Major Surgery, 20 points). McKilin opens a comm channel to report his situation to xZot.
"Commander, I've stabilised OMAC, he'll be back to his grumpy self again pretty soon but I am out of biocort."
"I have only 6 biocort also." Sn'iktl replies. "Check O'Malley's medkit for more."
"Roger that." McKilin confirms, reaching for OMAC's pack.
When the gun fire stops, Raid begins searching the roof to find and disable any exterior security cameras or microphones. All the death is getting to him, but he maintains his focus. He knows the lokkuku must be hurting as well from their own losses.
Gloo finishes setting the timer on his explosive charge and steps back behind the ground truck with Crisbel, Gleep and Kane. "I don't like our chances." Gloo states. That fence is pretty well built and I only had 50 grams of TD-19 with me." As if to underscore Gloo's statement, the charge explodes, tearing away a chunk of the fence post (26 Structure points) but not enough to drop the post and cause a breach. "Anyone got anymore explosives?"
X'anthe begins leading a group of very angry lokkuku toward the Streel compound, converging on the group of BHG members gathered at the front group.
Alyson felt the pain from the sword cutting into her. As she hits the floor and feels life leaving her. She knows that she just gave the BHG a few seconds with her death. Then as blackness started to win. She felt a pinch and warm feeling coming back to her, then hands going over her. "Maybe, just maybe I might make it!" She thinks to herself. Alyson opens her eyes to see the alien visage of Sn'iktl leaning over her, taking readings with is medscanner. The medics antennae twitch, indicating a vrusk smile when he sees the flicker of life from his patient.
As xZot struggles to regain control after reaching the adrenaline soaked heights of an authentic yazirian battle rage, he descends the ladder from the tower, back into the compound. Heading north toward the gate he glances to his left at the entangled door way when he hears the sound of a muffled shot, inside the building. A grenade explodes inside the doorway, filling the immediate area with an almost invisible mist of doze gas. Trapped in the tangles, the Streel guard slumps unconscious in the threads. xZot thumbs his chronocom. "Siu-Ling, report to the front gate and use your explosives to widen the breach started by Gloo. All units rally on Gloo outside the gate or on me inside the gate." The young yazirian commander turns off his chronocom and heads for the double doors at the main entrance of the building.
Siu-Ling lowers her head and eyes and rests her elbows on the heavy laser before raising her eyes again and scanning the perimeter. She notes xZot's victory, his vengeance for Sp'ock manifested. Without a word, she allows no more than a single tear to escape each duct as she gathers her equipment together and trots off to join Gloo at the front gate.
Over the next 60 seconds the BHG regroup, restore and reload as they gather at the assigned rally points.
Alyson opens her eyes and says, "I guess the team won? Did you get inside yet? Thank you for bring me back. I thought I was a goner there."
"That's alright." Sn'iktl answers. "You will be just fine. Just rest a while."
"You could use the Hover vehicle to smash the fence down. Or if you have to use it to make a hole in the wall of the building. Or though the main doors. I wished I knew how many were left? I can't recall how many guards we had here." Alyson continues.
Once he's certain Alyson will pull through, Doog loads up everything he's looted and grabs the heavy machine gun to lug down the ladder. While the rest of the team converges on the inside of the compound he climbs to the roof and loots ammo and weapons for the team.
At the front gate Gloo deploys Gleep and Kane to each side, the three of them covering the main entrance while Crisbel crouches further north, watching the doors in the north side of the building and covering Borovski, McKilin and O'Malley as they struggle across no-mans land to rejoin their friends at the gate.
Kane assesses his own situation. Being both injured as well as low on ammo, Kane hopes to salvage whatever SEU clips, belts, or packs, as well as a functional albedo screen, from the fallen Streel guardsmen as soon as he can enter the compound.
Enforcer Con finds his way to the nearest medic and collapses. "I'm in no shape to go in after them right now." Says he to Sn'iktl. "Can I get some kind of treatment to hold me over until the battle finally ends?"
Sn'iktl checks his medscanner for Con' recent medical history.
"I could attempt major surgery but that would drain all my available biocort if I attempt it right now. We should wait until McKilin arrives with O'Malley's medkit." Sn'iktl opens a comm channel to X'anthe. "You don't happen to have your med it with you X'anthe?"
"Sorry Doc." She replies "I didn't bring it down on the shuttle. With you James and Mack I thought we were covered for medics."
. "What's the 'butcher's bill'?" Asks Con. "Look. That is going to be some nasty fighting going in after those weasels. Do we have any TD-19 or TD-20 and a demolitions guy to blow that thing to hell. Or in the very least, take out a wall to catch them where they least expect it? It might cut down on some of out losses."
In answer to Con's question xZot indicates the imminent arrival of Siu-Ling as she rounds the corner of the compound. Outside the gate a growing crowd of lokkuku is forming as X'anthe arrives on the scene with the team's Alcazzar allies.
Reaching the damaged post, Siu-Ling produces her last charge of TD-19 and begins placing the explosive. She steps back, smiling gratefully as Gloo hands her one of his variable timers.
"Thanks. I think I'm out." Siu-Ling calls out the gathering crowd of bystanders. "Fire in the hole!"
Bang! The charge pops (29 points). The fence post remains.
"Damn!" Siu-Ling curses.
"Hrmph!" Gloo grumbles. "Anyone got any frag grenades?" Gloo asks as he pulls out his last fragmentation grenade.
Half a dozen hands appear in front of the dralasite warrior and Gloo smiles as he takes a frag grenade from the out stretched hands and pseudopods of Siu-Ling, Gleep, Boro and even OMAC. "You got some tape in your tech kit?" Gloo asks Gleep.
"Sure thing" The tech answers as he slips off his techpack and fishes inside for some on bonding tape. Gloo takes the offered tape and being careful to avoid the live sections of the fence, attaches the frag grenades to the post around the damaged portion of the structure. "Get everyone back." Gloo announces as he sets the timer for maximum on the last grenade. Pulling the pin he dives back away from the cluster of grenades and hurtles toward the safety of the truck just before the jury rigged bomb explodes.
This time Gloo's efforts are rewarded with a small round of applause from his audience as the fence post collapses, tearing down a chunk of the fence along with it.
All of xZot's team are finally reunited inside the compound, covering the east side of the building. xZot has the salvaged machine guns placed to cover the doorway blocked by the tangler grenade. He sends Gleep and Raid to check the locks on the main entrance and the doors to the north while the medics quickly redistribute the contents of OMAC's medkit and triage the walking wounded of xZot's command.
While ever alert and ready to fight, it is not until after Kane finishes his scavenging does he join in the mop-up operation. Kane manages to acquire an albedo screen and replace his empty powerpack for a fully charged unit coming from one of the gunners in the north east tower.
Up on the roof, Doog and Raid gather together the usable equipment from the neutralised defenders and join the rest of the team at the gate. Crisbel seizes the yazirian skien suit from the 1st lieutenant and begins squeezing himself into the suit, arguing that xZot should not need it as he will not be in the front line. Kane takes the human skien suit for himself and Doog claims the dral skiensuit. A pair of Inertia Screens, Power Beltpacks and Stunsticks are also added to the team's arsenal from the goons as well as 3 automatic rifles, 4 laser rifles, an electro stunner, a needler pistol, a sonic sword and 2 tangler grenades from the officers and guards on the roof.
Siu-Ling volunteers to enter first, asking for some medical relief before leading the assault.
"We have some bad news on that from Commander." Sn'iktl reports to xZot. "There were only 4 doses of biocort in OMAC's medkit. We have a total of 8 doses between us. Not enough to heal everyone, just a couple of major surgeries or maybe 3 or 4 minor surgeries."
"OK, minor surgery for Siu-Ling (20 points), she is leading the assault." xZot looks around at the rest of the team. "Kane is also going in, he's next (20 points)." his eyes make contact with Gleep's eyespots he senses the dralasites desire to enter the building with as much as he can. "Gleep next (20 points) and Con (20 points)."
"That's the lot. We have no more biocort." Sn'iktl announces after completing the minor surgeries on xZot's selections.
"Suggestions?" xZot invites comment from his forces before deciding on a course of action.
Doog smacks himself in the head. "Hey would a map of the interior help?" He begins punching codes into his chronocom and sends a digital file to all team members. "Sorry, I just remembered that I downloaded a map of the facility to my chronocom when I first reached Alcazzar. Wasn't supposed to but I liked being able to find my way around." Doog shrugs sheepishly. "I hadn't referred to it in months. If we're going to blow holes to divert attention then the security office might be a good place to start and even a little satisfying. This is why I suggested ramming the truck into it with explosive. Drop the bodies out of the north east tower and pile them up as a makeshift wall with a machine gun behind them and we'll have a firing position to keep their heads down in security. We could also blow a hole into the corridor on the back of the building to let the lokkuku in un-opposed and they should add to the confusion. Though I suppose we'd want to get to any equipment we want before they do. And there is still the reactor to shut down and I'd like to doctor or delete Alyson's and my personal records if there is time." Laughs, "We may need to 'die' here for our own good, Streel is a very dangerous enemy."
When Alyson sees the map and recalls the size of the guard room she remembers the garrison size of the Streel force.
"There were 12 guards plus the officers and gunners so we have accounted for more than half the defenders now." She offers.
"I like the idea of blowing a hole in the ceiling and through the front door at the same time. I'd go in through the ceiling under cover of smoke grenades and using a rope." Raid suggests "Let's make the ceiling hole on the other end of the building away from the front door. How many ropes do we have and how much explosive?"
"Yes!" Con says in agreement. "Hit them from two ends. If we can drag along a machine gun for each group it would definitely help add to our fire power. Old special forces trick, when we first start firing throw a lot of it at them to disorient them and to confuse them as how many people are in front of them or behind them." adds he.
"Unfortunately we don't have any more explosives and grenades won't do this job for us." xZot calls together his techs. "Raid, Gleep. Come with me and we will check the locks on theses doors." Looing back at the combat specialists. "Con, Doog. Set up the machine guns to cover the east door where that guard is trapped in the tangles. We might leave OMAC and Alyson out here to man the guns while we go in through the breaches."
The techs trek north to examine the large doors on that side of the building but are back very quickly with news that the doors can only be opened from inside the building.
"Move one of the machine guns up to cover that door just in case they try to counter attack that way when we go in." xZot decides. The commander turns his attention to the lock on the front door but after a couple of minutes steps back for one of the others to have a look. Raid replaces his commander and goes to work. Sixty seconds later.
"Got it." Raid announces. "We can go as soon as you say boss."
"OK we can go in through the tangles using solvaway or through the front door now that Raid has cracked the lock." xZot says to his assembled strike force. "The solvaway option is slow and messy so that will be our distraction. Siu-Ling will lead the main force in through the front door. I will lead the decoy team. OMAC cover the north door, Alyson, you cover my team at the east door with the machine guns." xZot continues with the mission assignments. "Gloo and Crisbel are with me. Sn'iktl, I want you and X'anthe to keep the lokkuku back unless we run into serious trouble inside. Everyone else in through the front door on my signal."
xZot dons his gas mask in defence against more dose grenades from the inside. "Crisbel, you hang back and cover me with dose grenades if they come up close. Gloo, you put on your gas mask and come with me. xZot advances on the blocked doorway with the solvaway in his hand. Reaching the doorway he begins spreading the solvent over the sticky thread. Shortly after the first threads begin to give way he hears the same pop as previously and realises his enemy is using a grenade launcher from inside the building. A dose grenade shell explodes nearby and xZot's choice of the gas mask is justified.
"Siu-Ling! Go! Go! Go!" xZot shouts into his chronocom and Siu-Ling bursts through the front door. Given Sp'ock's death and the imminent threat these fuckers pose, Siu-Ling takes two laser pistols, borrowing one from OMAC and (set to 10 SEUs each) aimed directly in front of her. She fires twice at the pair of guards inside the door, hitting the right hand guard twice, (11 & 13 SEU's) rapidly draining his power pack for the albedo screen he is wearing.
Raid is through the door behind Siu-ling, charging forward to hit the other guard with his stunstick. The yazirian guard staggers and falls as the stunstick makes contact, stunning him into submission. Con steps through the doorway to Siu-Ling's right and fire twice with his laser rifle set to maximum. His second blast lights up the albedo defence (22 SEU's) sucking up more power.
Gleep is next to join the fray with his gyrojet pistol, rushing in behind Raid, to Siu-Ling's left and firing three times, wounding the human slightly with the third shell (11 points, half to suit)
The guard return fire, shooting at Con. The blast strikes Con's albedo screen and is quickly absorbed when the guards power supply is drained completely (3 SEU's). Doog, Boro and Kane crowd into the room behind the front rank and all three present weapons but Boro fires first, finishing the job with a blast to the head (75 points) killing the guard instantly.
As xZot continues spreading solvaway along the edge of the door, Gloo pokes the barrel of his gyrojet rifle through the threads to fire off several rounds and try to keep the guards distracted
Siu-Ling leads her crew across the security room to the opposite door. If there are any other prisoners in there, they'd best be pretty unambiguously inoffensive or they're going to die by her dire trigger fingers. The members of the BHG answer the call once more, surging forward, ready to overcome the next hurdle. Never prepared to admit defeat.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:35:00 hours
"Into the breech." Con thinks to himself. "The forlorn hope." he says to know one in particular. Con has heard stories of the forlorn hope when he was a child. Tales told to him by his father and other marines. Stories told to him as old soldiers relive their glorious campaigns of old. If he remembered the stories right there would be a promotion if the volunteer were to survive, or not. "Like Sgt. Vaughn". Remembered Con. "He volunteered. He would have been made an officer right from the ranks. He made it through the breech. Planted the flag of Clarion on the battlement. He proclaimed himself Lieutenant Vaughn and was shot dead before he finished his sentence." Con hopped for a better outcome!
Alyson says, "Thanks Con." When she hears the maudlin story over the teams chronocom link. She focuses on the words, "The forlorn hope." and how it ends and then says, "Sir I think it should be easier now we do have the fence down. We have their heavy weapons." As she pats the machine gun then adds, "Do you want me to open up to keep their heads down as the team moves in close? Then follow them in and set-up in there to give them cover? Is this plan?"
From the doorway xZot replies, his voice muffled by the gas mask.
"You keep the machine gun trained on this doorway, just in case they try to push past me and Gloo. If they do, you and Crisbel cut 'em down." xZot admires Alyson's spunk. Although seriously wounded she is still willing to take the fight to the enemy, despite the odds. "She should fit right in." xZot observes as he continues spreading solvaway across the edge of the doorway, loosening more of the sticky strands from the earlier tangler grenade.
"Who's covering the north door?" Doog asks aloud.
"OMAC" Borovski answers beside him.
"The next room is the workshop, that's the room the has that locked north door." Doog continues "OMAC should knock on that door with some machine gun fire before we enter." Doog says as he double checks his power setting on his pistol and sets its power use to 5 SEU.
"Roger that." O'Malley responds and opens fire from the corner of the building at the outside of the northern doors. Bullets hammer into the solid door and the dirt in front of the doorway creating a great deal of noise and hopefully a distraction for the defenders to deal with. At the sight of his patient involving himself in the action once more, McKilin moves to O'Malley's side with a sprayhypo loaded with stimdose just in case OMAC runs into trouble.
Siu-Ling reports over her chronocom, "All clear here, boss." She surveys the bodies of the felled yazirian and human guards, looting anything valuable on their persons and taking their identification badges and chronocoms. "We should try to find some supplies while here. Maybe they have some biocort, and some TD-19. And it looks like we could use some more SEU clips and powerpacks." A cursory look around the room reveals bunks, chairs and tables for the guards. A locker near each bunk contains a few credits, clothing, and assorted personal effects. Mostly pictures and holobooks, etc.
"I would recommend that we tie and gag the stunned guard, or put a sonic sword through his heart." Gleep offers "I would prefer not to get attacked from behind. While I feel the need for speed, I think we want to go a little slow to protect the team." As Gleep produces some rope from his pack and begins tying up the stunned guard, Doog punches his access code into the internal door. Siu-Ling forces her way through the door into the machine shop. This large room contains the heavy equipment needed to work the mines. Four heavy duty robots and six ground trucks are parked here when Siu-Ling enters.
Movement behind the robots catches Siu-Ling's eye and she fires twice with her laser pistol. An albedo screen flashes briefly before burning out and Siu-Ling's second beam strikes an undefended target. The human guard screams and dies among the robots as Siu-Ling's companions surge into the room, squeezing between robots and vehicles, searching for their foe.
Con and Doog slip around the side of the robots when the enter the room as Boro and Raid crowd into the doorway behind them. Raid flicks off his holoscreen now and switches on his albedo screen. He doesn't want to be cut down by point blank laser fire in these tight quarters. His stunstick is still ready to swing and he keeps a smoke grenade handy in his left hand should the need for visual cover arise. Raid checks his equipment for a gas mask to wear, when he remembers he doesn't have one he glances at the downed guards to see if they have them.
"Looks like I'm out of luck on the gas mask front." He comments to himself.
Boro checks the settings on both his laser pistol and rifle, the judge and jury. He primes both weapons to setting 10 as he prepares to charge through the door behind Siu-Ling and dispense some more justice.
Kane prepares himself for the siege of the workshop area. He puts a fresh power clip into weapon and rechecks his albedo screen to make sure that its activated and functional. Kane is looking forward to the chance for some payback for Spo'ck's death. From inside the room Kane hears the sound of laser fire, confirming there are more defenders hidden amongst the vehicles and machinery. Siu-Ling ducks when a laser beam lances out in her direction, narrowly avoiding further injury, a second blast damages the mining robot beside her.
xZot swears and pulls his fingers back just in time as another tangler grenade pops open inside the doorway. The gap he had opened between the existing tangler threads and the door jam is blocked again as the defenders seal up the hole with another tangler grenade. Gloo approximates a human shrug as xZot indicates they should withdraw, motioning for Crisbel and Alyson to stand down.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:35:06 hours
Outside the main building, Sn'iktl and X'anthe begin herding the lokkuku back through the hole in the fence, urging them to gather their wounded and dead together for the return trip to their village. X'anthe telling the elders that her friends will do what they can to help the injured when they have finished the battle for the Streel compound.
O'Malley fires a second burst of machine gun fire into the northern access doors of the machine shop before his weapon runs out of ammunition.
"I'm out of ammo!" OMAC cries. "See if there is more in the tower." He says to McKilin. "I'm fine here, just get me more ammo." Rather than argue with the wounded warrior, McKilin heads for the tower in search of more ammunition for the machine guns.
Edging along the southern wall of the machine shop, Doog discovers another human guard, this one crouched among the ground trucks. Doog fires twice with his laser pistol, draining the clip and missing with both blasts as he alerts the guard to his presence. The guard fires back with his laser rifle, hitting Doog once and lighting up his newly acquired albedo screen (7 SEU's).
Stunstick and smoke grenade still in hand, Raid clambers behind robots and trucks, moving along the southern wall following Doog's route and arriving just behind the dralasite ex-Streel employee just as Doog's albedo screen flares up.
Borovski strides down the middle of the crowded machine shop, heading straight toward the opposite door when he sees the guard fire at Doog. Boro raises his pistol and fires twice, the first shot slams into the corner of a ground truck but the second beam takes the guard in the side of the chest (46 points) and kills him instantly. Siu-Ling dashes forward, past Borovski and over the fallen human guard. As she passes between the next pair of ground trucks, Siu-Ling runs into a pair of yazirian guards with automatic rifles. Before either yazirian can fire, Siu-Ling fires twice with her borrowed laser pistol at the yazirian on her left, hitting and killing him with the first shot (47 points). With both laser pistols now empty, she dives for the floor hoping to roll under a truck before the other guard can return fire.
Both Con and Kane bustle their way through the machine shop, squeezing around robots, vehicles and team members, trying to reach the front line and join the action. Behind the pair of human soldiers, Gleep finishes tying up the stunned guard and enters the machine shop, following the trail of Streel guards left by his team mates.
The sound of automatic weapons fire fills the machine shop as the yazirian guard fires a burst at Siu-Ling. With her lighting reflexes, the lithe woman rolls underneath a ground truck and the bullets slam into the ground where she had been. Then an explosion rocks the room behind Siu-Ling. Doog and Raid never saw where the missile came from, they just head a metallic thunk as the frag grenade bounced off the wall beside them and exploded between them. Both adventurers would be dead if not for the skien suits liberated from other guards only minutes before. Raid is stunned and rattled by the blast and Doog is slammed against a groundtruck, badly injured by the blast (39 points each, half to skiensuits).
Outside the building, xZot leads Alyson, Gloo and Crisbel back toward the front door.
"We might as well support the main assault now. We can't get in through those tangles now and it seems like Siu-Ling's team has managed to penetrate their defences."
Frontier Date 53.171 02:35:06 hours
Hearing the sound of gunfire and grenades inside, Alyson rushes into the Streel admin complex, still carrying the heavy machine despite her injuries.
Inside the building, Con slides around the northern end of the ground truck behind the yazirian firing at Siu-Ling. With his laser rifle set to maximum, Con fires twice. The first blast misses the yazirian guard but the second almost vaporises him (126 points) as Con burns a massive hole through the guards chest. The dead guard falls forward like a tree, his finger frozen in death on the trigger of his automatic rifle as his lifeless corpse crashes to the ground, firing as it falls.
Kane steps past the dead guard, heading for the opposite door when he finds the source of the grenade. The vrusk Streel 2nd Lieutenant hiding behind the last ground truck with another frag grenade in his claw. Kane fires his laser rifle and vrusks' albedo screen flares alight (10 SEU's).
Raid staggers forward, shrugging off his injuries and pushing forward along the southern wall. As he reaches the corner Raid finds the vrusk Kane is shooting at and takes a swing with his stunstick but the vrusk, seeing Raid's approach, avoids the blow.
Stepping away from Raid and toward Kane, the vrusk drops his grenade as he attempts to lob it at Kane. Reacting on instinct, Kane dives behind the nearest ground truck, avoiding the worst of the blast, although some fragments penetrate his skien suit on his legs (20 points, half to suit). The vrusk is less fortunate, having to rely on his skiensuit to save himself from major injury (40 points, half to suit).
Underneath the ground truck, Siu-Ling ejects her empty clips and begins reloading while she watches various sets of feet, pseudofeet and claws rush past her.
Now badly wounded by the first grenade blast, Doog crawls behind a ground truck to take cover. As Gleep pushes further into the room he nods at Borovski who he sees still pressing forward down the centre of the room and then comes across Doog who calls him over behind the truck.
"Keep your head down." Doog gasps at his fellow dralasite. "I think I'm out of the fight for while now." Doog explains as Gleep tries to make him comfortable.
Meanwhile outside the building, McKilin finds the other machine gun and begins removing the ammunition belt as xZot and Crisbel enter the security room. Gloo stumbles along behind them, doing his best to keep up.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:35:12 hours
Before anyone in the machine shop can respond, the vrusk 2nd Lieutenant steps through the western door of the room, slamming the door behind him. Kane climbs to his feet and heads for the door but Siu-Ling's voice stops him before he can open the door.
"Hold on a second Kane." The sniper says. "Let's see what we've got here first."
Siu-Ling, Con and Borovski all stand guard at the door while the rest of the team search the machine shop for anything of use or value. Doog is escorted to the security room where McKilin and Sn'iktl begin setting up an infirmary with the available beds.
xZot joins Siu-Ling and the others at the door as they consult Doog's map of the interior.
"OK when we go through the door I expect we will be under fire immediately. We need one team to return fire while someone gets around this corner." xZot indicates the passageway running parallel to the rooms they now controlled. "I'm betting they will have at least one guard stationed here. xZot looks around at the gathering. "Alright, Siu-Ling and Boro go through first and lay down suppressing fire. Con you and Kane head around the corner and secure that option for us. Gloo and Crisbel will go through next to support Siu-Ling and Borovski. The rest of us will follow the spear head down the corridor." Heads nod up and down as each participant acknowledges their role. "We will probably have to rush them." xZot finishes up. "We are low on meds, ammo and stamina, but so are they, so let's take it to 'em and finish this." xZot bares his teeth. "For Sp'ock!"
"For Sp'ock." The chorus replies as the BHG set themselves for the final assault.
Frontier Date 53.171 02:35:30 hours
The door opens and Siu-Ling tumbles through, firing a pair of beams from her laser pistols at the two figures at the other end of the hallway. The Captain and his 2nd Lieutenant's albedo screens flare (11 SEU's each) as both of Siu-Ling's shots strike home. Kane is hot on Siu-Ling's heels as he rushes out the door and around the corner to his left, almost running into a human guard armed with a laser rifle. Using his pistol for close up work, Kane empties the 15 SEU's from his clip in two shots, both hitting the guard. The first blast is soaked up by an albedo screen (12 SEU's) and the second burns out the power supply (4 SEU's) of the screen allowing a small amount of light energy through to the target (3 points).
The vrusk officer waits for Borovski to step through the door before throwing his third frag grenade. The throw is too strong, going over the heads of his targets but unfortunately for the Siu-Ling, Borovski and Kane, the grenade bounces back off the wall behind them only to explode at their feet. All three react immediately, diving away from the centre of the explosion and avoiding the worst of the blast (15 points each, half to Siu-Ling and Kane's skiensuits).
Enraged, Borovski returns fire at the vrusk but both blasts from his laser rifle miss, his wounds now beginning to affect his combat performance.
Gloo and Crisbel follow through the doorway with Raid pressing close behind. Gloo and Crisbel add their fire to the barrage heading south down the corridor at the enemy officers. Crisbel fires twice with his laser rifle, hitting the Captain's albedo screen (13 SEU's) once, while all three of Gloo's gyrojet rifle shells miss the same target.
The Streel Captain opens fire with a grenade launcher, the dose shell landing bang on target between Gloo and Borovski is devastating to the badly wounded team members. Borovski, Raid and Crisbel all quickly succumb to the dose gas. Even Siu-Ling is unable to resist the effects of the gas, slumping to the ground. Gloo is still wearing his gas mask and is unaffected by the gas and Kane is outside the affected area and safe for now.
Con takes a deep breath and runs through the doorway, keeping as close to the wall as possible. Stepping past Kane, Con strikes at the guard with his sonic sword (35 points) wounding him savagely with the sonic blade. The guard fires back at Con from point blank rage with his laser rifle but Con's albedo screen sucks up the energy (5 & 6 SEU's).
In the doorway, xZot halts the rest of the team after seeing the first wave collapse from the dose attack.
"One more dose grenade and we could all be finished." He exclaims as he tries to think of a way to finish the battle quickly. "Alright, he has to reload that grenade launcher, we hit him in another wave. Hopefully Con and Kane can clear a path for us."
Frontier Date 53.171 02:35:36 hours
Kane's pistol is empty but Con is now attacking Kane's opponent hand to hand so Kane turns his attention to the enemy officers. "It's a long throw, but it's gotta be worth a shot." He mutters as he plucks an incendiary grenade from his belt, pulls the pin and hurls the missile. In the end, Kane mimics the vrusks's earlier attempt with his frag grenade. Kane's missile lands behind the officers, hits the back wall and bounces back to explode just behind the pair and the Captain fails to get out of the way, taking the full blast (31 points each, half to suit).
Gloo begins advancing down the corridor, firing his gyrojet rifle as he advances. He doesn't manage to hit anything but he does keep the enemy officers' heads down as more members of the BHG come through the doorway and enter the firefight. xZot leads the motley group through the doorway and down the corridor, firing his laser pistol as he charges. xZot's firing is no more accurate than Gloo's last fusillade but he succeeds in getting past the bodies of his fallen comrades of the first wave.
Then the vrusk throws his last frag grenade, landing the projectile between Con and Kane. Both men manage to jump clear of the main blast area but the continued damage (22 points, half to suits) their bodies are accumulating is telling it's toll.
Seeing the effectiveness of grenades in the confined areas in the building, Gleep hefts one of his frag grenades, hurling the explosive down the hallway as soon as he can see the enemy. Gleep's missile seems to bounce off the roof, floor and walls before finally exploding at the other end of the corridor but both officers have plenty of time to get away from the worst of the explosion (20 points each, half to suits). That's isn't enough however, to save the vrusk 2nd Lieutenant, who's body is slammed against the wall of the corridor by the blast, never to rise again.
With the BHG advancing, his weapon empty and his sidekick down, the Streel Captain disappears around the far corner of the corridor as the rest of the BHG swarm down the corridor in pursuit. McKilin, Sn'iktl and X'anthe rush to diagnose their fallen compadres while Con quickly dispatches the last guard with a final blow from his sonic sword (25 points).
As the attackers chase the Captain down the corridor, xZot details off Doog, Alyson and OMAC to cover the doors in the corridor leading to workers barracks and dining hall.
"Cover those doors with the machine guns." xZot orders as he follows Kane and Con around the end of the corridor with Gleep and Gloo trailing behind.
Arriving at the doors leading into the officers quarters and communications room, xZot takes one look at Kane's injuries and orders him to the rear.
"Join the others covering the hallway." xZot orders Kane, himself in not much better health. "Gleep, pop one of your smoke grenades here in the corridor and we will go into the officers quarters first." xZot decides. "Toss in a frag grenade before we go in."
"Not this time Commander." Con answers
"What?" xZot asks
"It's not your job, leading these kind of attacks." Con replies. "The forlorn hope is for soldiers, preferably ones without a future. Not officers and engineers."
"He's right." Gloo adds to the conversation. "It's not your job xZot. This is our job."
"Humbled by the offer of sacrifice from his friends, xZot takes a step back. Con nods to Gleep.
"Alright, pop that smoke." Gleep drops a smoke grenade in the entryway as he pulls a frag grenade from his webbing. Smoke billows up from the grenade as Con forces open the door to the officers quarters. Gleep tosses a frag grenade through the doorway and the others wait for the following explosion before rushing the door. Seconds later, Con and Gloo emerge unscathed.
"Empty." Con states "They must be in there," he jabs a finger at the radio room door. "Or there." He points to the reactor room.
"OK try a dose grenade through the radio room door, no frags." xZot decides after disabling the lock.
Con kicks in the door and Gleep throws a dose grenade through the portal before Con charges through, sonic sword held high with Gloo close behind and similarly armed. The Captain fires a gyrojet rifle at Con three times as he crosses the room. His first shot anticipated and hitting the wall behind Con, the second shot slams into Con's abdomen (16 points) and the third wide to the right. Only stimdose keeps Con on his feet long enough to cross the room and deliver a fatal blow to the Captain (25 points).
The radio man shoots Gloo with his laser pistol, burning out Gloo's power supply and badly wounding the dralasite (44 points) before Gloo embeds his sonic sword in the humans chest (29 points). Gloo shows no mercy, swinging again with his sonic sword before the radio operator can respond but it is Con who delivers the coup de grace. Severing the last Streel guards head with a blow of his sonic sword, his last act before collapsing from blood loss.
"Medic!" xZot screams as he walks through the door behind his faithful warriors.
Sn'iktl arrives seconds after xZot's cry for help, sprayhypos at the ready. Seeing Con's state, the Chief Medical Officer immediately administers staydose, putting the warrior into an induced coma.
"This give me 20 hours to find some biocort." Sn'iktl announces.
With the dozed individuals quickly revived with shots of stimdose from the medics, xZot sets the team to searching the rest of the base for anything of use or value, especially medical supplies.
A thorough search of the base gives little cause for immediate celebration.
In the workers barracks they find twenty technicians and labourers cowering in this room. They are all unarmed and defenceless, and immediately surrender to the BHG. The room contains the bunks and personal effects that belong to these workers and the other 18 workers, now prisoner of the lokkuku . None of the personal effects are of use to the BHG. This room also contains the compound's computer. It is a basic, 2nd level device, used only to run the maintenance and food preparation aspects of the operation.
In the dining hall next door are four long tables, each flanked by a pair of benches. An automatic kitchen stands at the far end, along with four maintenance robots. The robots are programmed to take orders and serve food. They politely move forward when anyone enters the room, asking what they want to eat. These robots are not programmed to take combative action of any sort. A huge storage vault next to the kitchen contains dehydrated foods of all kinds.
The quarters of the officers in charge of the Streel operation are equipped with a camera that shows the hallway approaching the reactor room. The room also contains five bunks, a table, five chairs, and the officers' personal effects.
Most of the space in the radio room is used for supply storage. Kane busies himself in taking inventory of anything and everything that can be salvaged. Using skills acquired from his apprenticeship with the Capellan Free Merchants, he will be both meticulous and methodical in this assignment, believing that will be the best way to deal with the coming grief of losing a valued team-mate.
"1 subspace radio, 1 radiophone, 4 type 4 parabatteries, 10 type 3 parabatteries, 7 type 2 parabatteries, 50 gas masks, 10 kilograms of Tornadium D-19*, 20 weeks food supplies for entire staff, 4 freeze fields, 1 grenade launcher, 23 frag grenades, 24 smoke grenades, 24 incendiary grenades, 20 doze grenades, 22 tangler grenades, 86 clips of SEU ammo, 87 clips of bullet ammo, 3 automatic rifles, 3 laser rifles, 1 gyrojet rifle with 10 clips, 2 auto pistols and 4 clips. Melee weapons: a vibroknife, sonic sword, sonic knife and 4 stunsticks. A total of 8 machine guns but probably only one or two full belts of ammo, 8 albedo screens with power belt packs." Kane rattles off his list. "That seems to be most of it." Then he quickly adds. "Oh yeah and 7,970 credits in notes."
Sn'iktl immediately takes one of the freeze fields and sets to work on Con. After several minutes of work with the freeze field, Sn'iktl becomes agitated and calls for McKilin's assistance. James begins assisting Sn'iktl and succeeds in activating the freeze field, keeping Con on ice until the BHG can reach appropriate medical facilities.
"I would like to use one of these to preserve Sp'ock's body as well." Sn'iktl announces. There being no objection from any of the other team members, Sn'iktl and McKilin head out into the forest to retrieve the body of their friend. Sn'iktl has not problems with the freeze field this time, despite the futility of the gesture.
Several team members begin the process of policing up all the weapons and equipment from the Streel guards while others oversee the Streel prisoners, now including disarmed guards subdued during the assault.
Gleep turns his attention to the subspace radio, switching to the appropriate frequency, Gleep is soon in contact with Captain Dale of the "Nightrunner". Who replies with news that he can have a shuttle at their location in around 10 hours.
As the team gather around to hear the good news about the return of their interstellar transport, xZot makes a dramatic announcement to his team mates. Clearly disturbed by the loss of his right hand man in Sp'ock, xZot's confidence is at rock bottom.
"I have decided to take a break from active duty when we return to Volturnus from this mission." xZot comes straight to the point, not wanting to leave any doubt in his audience's mind. "You should begin discussing alternative leadership teams for the future. It is time for a changing of the guard." xZot gestures toward Kane, Alyson and Doog. "With new blood joining the ranks and others leaving it is time for others to show their respective talents and lead the Eorna Great Mission into the future."
Battered, bruised, bleeding and exhausted from their mammoth battle, the various members of the Black Hand Gang await the arrival of the shuttle from the Nightrunner.
Gloo calls on Siu-Ling to assist him with the explosive charges when xZot remembers their objective of destroying the Streel operation on Alcazzar.
"We need to shut this place down." xZot informs his demolition team. "Blow the reactor. Blow each of the mining robots and all the ground trucks here and from the mine site."
"Yes sir." Gloo gladly sets to work carrying out what could well be xZot's last battlefield command.
Boro contemplates the upcoming Leadership Poll and has a definite view on any aspirations in this area. He spends some time on his plan to work his way through the party involving himself in many a conversation on many a different level, all with the common theme:
"Before I go on, I would like to say that I did not have sexual relation with that Ul-Mor, and there is no evidence to prove otherwise. I would also like to take the opportunity to withdraw my candidacy from the Leadership role." Enough contemplation.
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