NPC: Chuck, Uengghae and Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Ghoekang Starport
Dougok has sketched out a
map of the underground prison.
Everyone is in agreement that the base should be attacked before the Auction, which is in three days.
Vlad thinks that the attack should be at night as Dougok has given him the impression that the base's guard detail will be at a minimum and the corsairs will generally be asleep.
Gvarokh states that the tower needs to be taken out ASAP to prevent them from calling for help, to incapacitate their sensors, and sow confusion on the base by killing intra-base communications.
"Tomorrow night is probably a good idea. Tonight is too quick; waiting later will just let more guests arrive, potentially complicating the attack."
Lakir, Simrii and Vlad all voice their agreement.
Gvarokh continues, "Speaking of tonight, we still need to go to that meeting. At best, we'll get some good information. At worst, it will be a waste of time. Either way, dropping out now would probably look pretty bad. I have to go. Do I have any volunteers?"
Dougok answers, "It would be best if I didn't go. If this contact isn't lying and he recognizes me, he could tip off the Touzagh that an outcast was aiding some strangers. They would immediately become suspicious."
Chuck raises his hand. "I'll go. I've been there so I've got some feel of the place."
"I'll go too," Lakir says.
Kagfak and Uengghae volunteer. Kagfak speaks for both of them, "As we were here only a couple of times, it is unlikely this wolf will recognize us."
Once this evening's plans are settled, the discussion returns to planning the attack.
Gvarokh says, "First off, the tower has to go. I expect that we will be taking the ship on the attack. The question is whether we should have a forward group making the initial attack, presumably on the tower, or if the ship is the biggest and fastest thing we have, not to mention the biggest guns to take out the tower."
Lakir nods. "We need to take the ship. The plasma turrets will work well on the tower and any ships on the pads."
"Don't forget their power plant," Simrii adds. "Let's keep the base in the dark before we get those ships on the pads. They'll need time to warm up."
Gvarokh continues, "Also, we have acquired an impressive collection of weaponry over our time together. Enough that we had to register as mercenaries at one point."
Vlad smiles hungrily. "The VRF gauss guns."
Gvarokh nods. "In light of that, I would very much like to make sure none of it is ignored."
Lakir continues, "The ground assault looks pretty straight forward. Ship provides cover with the plasma turrets, and the VRF’s, if we can rig them. Breach the doors to the underground, clear the stairs, secure the armoury, and breach the cell doors. What have we got for door breaching?"
Chuck answers, "No C4 or anything like it. We've got grenades and that laser cutter."
Lakir frowns. "Dougok, What are the exterior and interior doors and frames constructed of? If they are electronically controlled, we can have Vincent take control of them."
"They're just steel doors with mechanical locks. The guards will have the keys."
Simrii makes a mental note to study the map carefully to make sure he knows the targets well. He says, "I'm assuming I'll be in a turret on the ship as it sounds like the idea is to fly in NOE like a bat out of hell and then use the ship as a kind of AC130 gunship to flatten anything that moves on the base."
"That's what I envisioned, but with the VRF's in use." Vlad says.
Vincent brings up a point. "I think that depends on how many men we need elsewhere. We should consider slaving the turrets. One extra guy to put somewhere else. I don't know if we have time to mount the VRF's to the ship and have them hooked up to any fire control system on the ship so that's going to be one or two guys. Then there's the air raft. Do we want to put that to use to draw fire or just have it ready to go in the hold?"
Chuck adds, "We've got 20 people to pick up. We don't want them running across the compound. Loading them into the air raft might be possible but that means we'd have to make several trips. We might want a VRF on that for cover."
Lakir says, "We need to plant the ship as close as we can to the door underground. Use the plasma guns to 'daisy cut' an LZ, and the VRF's to secure the immediate area. Plasma guns will provide overwatch, and the side scatter should keep the smart ones behind cover. Ship orientation will be critical to max the firing arcs and minimize the travel distance from the door to the hold. We gotta do this fast, as we don't wanna get hit from orbit."
Simrii asks, "Well, no matter who's in what turret or firing which gun, how do we ID friendly targets from unfriendly ones? I'm thinking of the AC130 mission in Battles of Ancient Terra where the friendlies had some kind of UV or IR strobe on their gear so they stood out for those in the plane so they didn't get accidentally splatted."
Vincent answers. "We've got our individual comms. Their signals are fed into the ship's comm system which, with a little calibration, can deduce distance and direction and then feed that info over to fire control. The turrets will have that info. I don't know if the VRF's have a comm port or HUD. If they do, we can just plug them into the comm system.
Dougok replies, "I suggest we make liberal use of tear gas and smoke to add to the confusion. If the wolves have to take a few more minutes to gather masks and IR goggles to see through the smoke it may be the margin we need."
Slade asks, "How will we sort our 20 people from the others that may be there? Are we prepared to be somewhat cruel and turn people away, or will we fill the cargo hold with people? If we do take extra, where will we leave them?
"And it won't do to get halfway through a jump and have to kill our passengers to save the scrubbers, then eat them because we don't have enough food."
Chuck glances over at Slade to see if he's serious or not about cannibalism.
Gvarokh replies, "I intend to take them all. I expect we will have to run with them, but that is OK. I don't want to leave any behind, whether they are 'ours' or not.
"Don't forget that we will hopefully get a chance to get the ship back, too. I figure with both ships we can get everyone out no problem." He rolls his eyes. "Plus, with the extras, we will have more forces to arm and help fight. Hopefully.
"But, I am not going to just leave the other prisoners behind to their fate."
Vincent raises a fist. "Agreed, we go in and get all the prisoners out and kill the captors!!!"
Dougok adds, "There may be rewards and ransoms to be had if you free the other prisoners. The gain in fame and the loss of face will be greater if you free the entire cell block." Dougok looks pleased with the idea of his former comrades losing prestige.
Chuck says, "The last I checked, we have enough life support supplies to cover 55 people for a week."
Gvarokh nods, "I bought food, too, when I was out at the Trader's Hall. I'd intended it for just our crew but there's enough to feed and extra 20 people, if need be, for a couple of weeks."
Lakir steers the topic of conversation back to the attack plan. "Dougok, do we really want RAM coverage? Vlad is the only guy who has a RAM, and he'd be better off leading the assault."
Dougok replies, "I don't care who releases the smoke and tear gas, just that we should do it."
To Gvarokh, Lakir says, "So, after it drops in the pot dirtside, it'll be pretty tough to sneak up on the other ship, after we launch. Unless Vincent has some magic up his sleeve. Then we need to dock, board and clear, with forces we don't know the condition of, with only a few minutes to arm and brief them. Can we threaten them into a surrender, or are the likely to fight for the boss dog? Any chance we can read the status of the ship, as well? No point in grabbing it, if its not ready to jump."
Gvarokh replies, "Vincent has already worked his magic. He hacked a back door into the Qa Livk before we landed."
Vincent crosses his arms in front of his chest, a self-satisfied grin on his face. "I can make those bitches do whatever I want."
Satisfied, Lakir asks Dougok, "What'll the local COACC forces do, as soon as word of the strike gets out?"
One of his ears droop and his head tilts to the side. "As I said earlier when Captain Gvarokh asked a similar question, they will do nothing. It is a corsair affair. So long as the battle doesn't spill over into the civilian population, they will not interfere. And the Touzagh will not ask them for help. The loss of charisma would be epic!"
Lakir wags a finger, "Planning the approach will be the tough part, so as not to alert the base. The meeting tonight may shed some light on how we can approach. Do we spin a tail of 'merchandise we want to move'?"
Lakir calls up a map of the base. He sketches out his proposed attack plan. "Ok, we hit targets 1, 2, 3 on the way in. Once grounded, the plasma turrets cover buildings 1, 4, 7, and 6 while the VFR's cover the blind spots. Ground assault from the starboard side cargo door. We breach the exterior door to the prison with a RAM HE round or the cutting torch. We also mass load the prisoners from here too.
"Once inside, the cutting torch is used to open the interior doors, if we can't find the keys that is.
Vlad shakes his head. "Control tower must be first. All of their sensors and communications are there." He stabs the target with a finger for emphasis. "Dougok told us that the ship on the landing pad has been there for a couple of weeks so it's got to be cold. Vincent hacked into the satellite before so he should be able to do it again and access the IR to confirm. If it is, we'll be long gone before it can power up and be a threat. In fact, we could take shots at it while we're ascending into orbit.
"I think the motor pool is more of a threat.
"Also, landing on top of the mess hall could be a problem. If the ship doesn't land right, we could break one of the landing struts. Flatten it, sure. But don't land on it. Hover. Our esteemed Captain has the skills to do that, right?" He smiles at Gvarokh to let him know he has the utmost confidence in his piloting abilities.
Simrii agrees, "Definitely the tower first, if they can't call for help we don't have to worry much about friends showing up to the party.
"We should put a couple through the starship just to be safe and definitely flatten the motor pool. Do we know which of the captains are likely to be in their quarters? Chop the head off the snake and all that."
Dougok shakes his head, "Those are general officers quarters. Whichever of them are present will be staying there. Select guests may even be there. That hairless bastard Kagiisha will certainly be in his quarters if we strike late enough.
"And I strongly suggest the liberal use of tear gas and smoke in the attack."
Lakir asks, "Who has the gas and how much do we have available?"
Before anyone can answer, Dougok says, "If we have none we could buy some. Since it's non-lethal it should be easier to get. We'll just need to be careful about tipping our paws."
Lakir adds, "We'll also need to make sure we get the proper protection gear as well, unless we want to ground assault, buttoned up. It will also be a problem for secondary exposure of the rescuees, depending on wind drift, and the method of delivery, which would be, how, and to what range?"
Dougok rolls his eyes, "I wasn't thinking of gassing the cell block but rather the barracks and housing to suppress the defenders. We could go in with goggles and respirator masks."
Lakir raises his voice slightly to emphasize his concern. "All I'm sayin' is gas is a tricky tool. We need to deploy a boat load, quickly, to form a persistent cloud, of sufficient radius, and if the wind shifts, or is blowing the wrong way, we gas the ship -- the cargo hatches will be open -- as well as our passengers. The stuff is tough to manage, within the ranges we're looking at - say a max of 200 meters. Maybe Vincent can run the numbers, for an effective cloud, able to blanket the buildings. It won't penetrate to the interior, without a substantial time factor. Smoke would be a lot better, but we still need a way to deploy a boat load, quickly."
Vincent chews on that for a second. "Well, I suppose I could model the terrain but I'll need to log in to the weather satellites to get some idea of what to expect for strike time."
Dougok continues, ignoring Vincent's musings, "Even a few grenades in the buildings will tend to keep heads down."
Vlad finally interrupts, "I have 20 each of smoke and tear gas!"
Chuck offers, "I've got 20 sleep gas hand grenades."
Simrii says matter of factly, "I've got 20 sleep gas, 20 incendiary and 10 sticky hand grenades."
Vincent pipes in, "I've got a case of thermite grenades."
Chucks adds, "We don't have any respirator masks though. Our filter masks won't cut it. No eye protection."
Dougok replies to Chuck's inventory fact, "We'd need goggles to go with the masks."
Lakir counters the tear gas and smoke approach, "As a side note to gas, we require a burst radius of 50 meters, to cover each of the barracks and housing complexes. 2x 20cm equivalent warheads equals 2x 115 kilos equivalent of gas, delivered quickly. Note the cloud will encompass both the ship and the cell block. Lesser size payloads equal more time to form the clouds which equals more time to get shot. If we have time to gas them, we've got time to hit them with plasma - way more final.
"In my opinion this is not a great use of Vlad or his ACR/RAM weapon. Point of diminishing returns cuts in somewhere."
Dougok wags his finger. "Outright slaughter may earn you enemies that a more non-lethal approach might not garner."
Gvarokh has heard enough and jumps in. "No matter what, we are causing massive damage to their base; crippling its effectiveness for quite a while. We will be crippling their landed ship. We will be causing massive casualties no matter what. We are removing a huge source of money and profit (the slaves). And, if I can get away with it, taking one of 'their' ships.
"I can't see how they won't be hating us and wanting to kill us no matter what. I see no reason to quibble over a few extra of their deaths.
"In fact, I will go so far as to say, that, at that point, the more we kill, the less likely they are to follow. There comes a point when revenge is no longer profitable, and they will need to move on to picking up the pieces just to keep someone else from finishing them off.
"So, no, we have no intention of holding back or staying our hands."
Dougok nods. "Good point. If we can just flame them with plasma guns then we might as well go for it just as easily as gas. If we could add it into the mix it would certainly add to the confusion though."
Vlad is pumped and can't wait to speak. "To add to the captain's point, if we hit them hard enough Kagiisha's charisma will be crippled. Couple a crushing attack here with the one we carried out at Gamgilebo and," he makes a fist to emphasize his point, "the loss of charisma for the Touzagh will be catastrophic. We'll break these fukhers!"
Lakir changes the topic. "Slade, is it possible to fab up an interim mount, at the rear engineering dorsal hatch, to provide VRF coverage through the aft arc?"
His reply is succinct. "Yes."
Lakir smiles at that and steers the conversation back to Vlad's landing versus hovering disagreement. "Note the plan requires demolition of the 'mess hall' to an extent to allow landing, thus ground egress for the assault force, and ingress for the prisoners and assault party. Hovering won't cut it. we need to set down, within reasonable distance from the portal to the underground storage. If this doesn't work, for the group, then we need another LZ, or another plan."
Vlad calmly says, "I am still concerned about the weight of the ship on soft ground. We have landing pads for a reason."
Gvarokh voices his thoughts on the plan, "I agree with Vlad that we need to take out the control tower first. I agree with Lakir that the mess hall is probably our best landing location, once it is removed.
"How about this: We put a VRF on the air/raft. The ship first hits the control tower, then pops out the air/raft. The air/raft makes a bee-line to the holding cells. That allows a team to work on freeing the prisoners as quickly as possible. The ship will then hover as necessary to take out the ship, the motor pool, and the mess hall. The air/raft can provide support too, at a lower level. Once the mess hall is collapsed and the prisoners are freed, the ship will very briefly touch down to pick up the prisoners and air/raft team. If the freeing of the prisoners takes longer than hoped, the ship will be free and in the air to kill more stuff. The ship should have the mess hall removed quickly enough, if the prisoner team works as quickly as hoped."
Dougok asks, "Can we jam enough on the air raft and mount a VRF and a gunner to give us a decently sized assault team to go into the cell block?"
Gvarokh replies, "I was hoping we wouldn't need too many people for the assault team. A few grenades down the stairs to clean out in front of the door, and hopefully no one really behind the doors."
[OOC -MW: Actually, do we have anything that can scan for that through the metal doors before we fully open them?
OOC -DED: No. The densitometer would detect the underground space. Thermal would fail to resolve guards as the ground above it absorbs what little heat is generated.]
Slade speaks up, "An air raft has very few hit points, presents an obvious target for anyone on the ground, and falls like a rock when it stops working. I think we should use it to put people on the ground before the shooting gets bad and pick people up after our enemies are dead."
Lakir agrees, "I strongly recommend that the air/raft remain locked down with the VRF covering the blind spot on the ship. Our plasma guns can be dialed down to fire smaller bursts more often. We're not shooting at starships thousands of klicks away in space. With the proper fire plan we don't need to expose bodies until the defenders are suppressed or destroyed. Then we hit the underground entry with minimal exposure."
Chuck winces as he adds, "We've got two of those VRF gauss guns. Does that help bridge a compromise?"
Gvarokh chews over what's been said. "Ok, so to put this together, the idea of sending out the air/raft early doesn't work. That is fine. For the two VRF, it looks like we want to put on a new mount for the rear door and the air/raft. Or is that on the new rear mount and one on the sides? The plasma guns will do the primary work. We hit the tower first, then the ship. Then the mess hall so we can land. We will probably want to keep destroying stuff until no one is shooting anymore. We can then send out the air/raft to open the prison. When the people come out, we land, board them, then run like hell."
Slade offers, "One option is to set one of the VRFs down with crew by line on a rooftop that has some perspective, right after the first plasma turret hits. The ship can continue firing while this takes place."
Lakir says, "The concept is to leave the air/raft locked down, just open the air/raft hangar door and use the VRF off the pintel mount. Mount the other VRF on a field expedient mount, top of the dorsal engineering airlock hatch.
"No need to deploy the air/raft, as the starboard cargo hatch is only 25 meters from the entrance to the underground."
Chuck says, "I see it now."
Gvarokh asks, "Who wants to be on the prison strike team?"
"I should go," Dougok volunteers. "I know my way around."
Lakir says, "I came up with a rough job assignment for everyone, pending yer approval of course."
"Let's see it."
"Ok, on the ship it'll be Gvarokh flyin', Simrii and Vincent in the turrets, and Slade in Engineering. He can be on the VRF that's mounted at the rear hatch until he's needed to be an engineer.
"Uengghae will be stationed at the VRF mounted on the air/raft while Kagfak is in the cargo hatch providing cover as prisoners come aboard.
"The ground team is led by Vlad with me, Dougok and Chuck making up the rest of the team. Chuck will carry the cutting torch if other methods of breaching don't work. This ground team selection is weighted for close combat, minimal numbers, for speed, and so as to not clog up the underground prison."
Dougok nods. "Sounds solid."
Most everyone else silently nods in approval.
Lakir moves on. "So, if we're good on the body of the op, that leaves insertion, and extraction.
"For the insertion should we go for a NOE approach or go for orbit, then do a combat drop, give the turrets time to take out targets, while we drop?
"If we go for the stealth approach, does Vincent have the opportunity to control their scans and comms? We still need the cover story, if we're going to try and bluff our way to plasma range. We need to work the turret fire plan, and dial the power appropriately, so we're all on the same page, when it comes to what we can expect for fire support."
Vlad says, "NOE is best. They won't see us coming."
"On the extraction, shall we go with a hard boost to orbit, after everyone's loaded? We can have Vincent open the airlocks on the Qa Livk, to space the crew, that way we don't need to risk a ship board action."
He turns to face Vincent, "Can we confirm the Qa is ready to go for a run and jump, or do we need to cross load fuel and supplies - fill the bladders, and pump across, if required?"
"I'll check the data from when I hacked in before," Vincent replies.
Dougok says, "Do you want to open the air locks to the Qa Livk as soon as the op starts? That would catch them totally by surprise."
"Now there's a plan!" Lakir says with enthusiasm. "That would work well, if we could manage it."
Vincent looks up from his laptop. "Oh we could do it all right. I told you before, that ship's my bitch." He pauses. "According to the data I downloaded before, the ship is fully fueled and life support supplies were just loaded from Ikhog."
Gvarokh interrupts, "I wasn't being clear.
"I know they will likely start reacting as soon as we attack the base. That isn't the point.
"The point is that, if we space the ship's crew as we begin the attack, they will be able to react to that ship before we can do anything. If we space them that early, they will have plenty of time to get to the ship, replace the crew, and circumvent our access to it.
"In effect, spacing the crew that early uses the ship as a distraction before we begin, but also forfeits our chance to get it. I am not willing to do that yet. We need to hold off on that step so we can use the trick to get the ship, not just have it be a distraction."
Dougok replies, "Understood. If you can space the crew it could be that in the confusion they don't have time to investigate a lack of response from the victim ship. If you can cut their comms then anyone who does survive won't be able to pass a warning or ask for aid."
Gvarokh claps his hands together. "That does it then."
Next: Raid Preparations Begin