NPC: Chuck, Uengghae, Kagfak, Ngarssou
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Ghoekang Starport
The meeting has just adjourned when a buzzing bell is heard coming through the
ship's external microphone. Gvarokh notices a burly vargr with a clipboard
standing by a gate underneath the concourse. "I almost forgot about our cargo
transactions." He tells the vargr over the external speaker that someone will
be right down.
Gvarokh sends Vlad, Kagfak and Uengghae out to handle unloading the old cargo. Lakir, Chuck and Slade get underway for setting up the VRF gauss gun mounts. Ngarssou watches attentively. Vincent calls up a holo of the base whereupon Dougok assists him and Simrii in committing the layout to memory. Gvarokh heads to his quarters to make a call.
Gvarokh informs the crew that he has a meeting with a trader he met earlier in
the day. He expects to be back in time for the 10:00 meeting and wants everyone
ready to go, but if he isn't, Vlad is to pretend to be him. In the meantime,
Lakir is in charge until he gets back. If there is any trouble, they can comm
Over a private channel, Lakir asks, "I need to confirm the direction for the meet in the park, just in case. Are we still good to go with the 5k? How do we get to Auction? We're looking for bodies to fill skilled slots on the ship? Do we say we have merch to move, as well as lookin’ to move shit? And how the hell did I get picked for this second in command shit, when I can’t even fly?"
"For the meeting in the park, yes, it is perfectly OK to pay the 5K. We are really just seeking the invite. Actually, getting an invite would be cool, as it would give us a legitimate reason to go. I don’t want to pretend to have any merchandise as well. However, we can always pretend to be potential buyers. That was always my original thought for getting people back, anyway. Before I decided we had to kill them.
"As for being in charge, it doesn't require flying skills. Just like being in charge doesn’t require trading skills. While both are pluses, they are never requirements. Rather, the real requirement for being in charge is a level head, clear thinking, and leadership. All of which you have in abundance. I trust your judgment, Lakir. I trust your ability to think clearly in any situation. Quite simply, I trust you."
"Roger that. Movin’ on."
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae, Kagfak, Ngarssou
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Ghoekang Starport
Gvarokh returns to the ship to find Lakir, Chuck, Ngarssou, Kagfak and Uengghae
ready to go. He quickly grabs his gear and suits up. He's wearing his tailored
cloth armor and carrying his 9mm semi-auto with the 3 pre-loaded clips and his
comm. He also brings the money (only the amount agreed upon) in a small case.
Lakir isn't wearing armor but he's carrying his comm, PDA, plastic knife, combo tool, and his gauss pistol in its holster. For ammo he has 4 mags of dart.
Uengghae and Kagfak are identically dressed in cloth armor and carrying a semi-automatic with 3 clips of DS.
Chuck isn't taking any chances. He's wearing his TL-15 flex armor. He has his dagger, comm, PDA, LI/IR goggles and shotgun. When the others look at him, he says, "What? The law level's four. And I don't own any pistols. Don't worry, I'll keep it slung until we get there."
Ngarssou wags his tail in approval.
Gvarokh has pledged to keep the comm lines open so that the rest of the crew can listen in. He doesn't expect any problems, but if there are, the cavalry can come to their rescue.
The train ride was uneventful. Even a mixed group of humans and vargr didn't
raise any eyebrows or ears. Apparently, it's not an uncommon sight.
At the park, Chuck wishes he had bought a sniper rifle back on Silverring last year. Gvarokh assures him that everything will be ok.
At 22:00, three lanky vargr stroll up. Ngarssou instantly recognizes his contact and charges ahead to meet him.
"Hey, bad wolf! How's the hunting?"
"It's good, little wolf." He nods towards the group. "Are these the guys you told me about?"
"Yeah! Aerruenodoekagha, this is Gvarokh. Gvarokh, Aerruenodoekagha."
Aerruenodoekagha and his pack sniff the air, gauging the scent of the group. Gvarokh and the two ex-corsairs do the same. Gvarokh, Lakir, and Chuck all note that Kagfak and Uengghae are puffing themselves up to assert their strength.
Gvarokh takes a confident, dominant posture. Aerruenodoekagha and his two packmates don't impress him. If he had to guess, they're second rate criminals who want to be (and think they are) something more. Even Lakir and Chuck have enough streetwise savvy to pick it up.
Aerruenodoekagha says, "So, Ngarssou says that you want to go to the Auction."
"That's right," Gvarokh says confidently.
"What sort of bones are you hoping to dig up"
Gvarokh plays up the story he's been rehearsing in his head. "Weapons, vehicles, technicians. I have several potential resale possibilities. From what I've heard, this is a opportunity that can't be missed. As I'm new to this subsector, I didn't receive an invitation. I'm hoping that you can broker an introduction so that I won't be slighted in the future."
"Yeah? Where do you normally prowl?"
"Corridor." Gvarokh scowls.
Aerruenodoekagha nods in understanding. "I know a Touzagh sales scout that I can contact."
"Good. How soon?"
"I'll contact the scout as soon as I get back to my den. Why the rush?"
"The Auction is in three days and I don't wish to leave without a kill."
"Don't worry. The Touzagh want as many paying customers as possible." He pauses. "But it's going to cost you."
"Yes, yes, I know all about referral fees." Gvarokh presents a backpack he bought earlier in the day.
Aerruenodoekagha seems taken aback. It's as if he wanted Gvarokh to squirm. "Errrr, yes." He clears his throat. "Five thousand Confederation credits is my price."
Gvarokh hands the backpack over to him. "There it is."
Aerruenodoekagha unzips the back pack and peeks inside.
"Don't count it here, you fool." Gvarokh admonishes him. "Who knows who prowls these hunting grounds."
"I wasn't going to count it," Aerruenodoekagha protests. "I just wanted to make sure..."
"That I wasn't going to short change you?" Gvarokh dismisses the thought with a scoffing sound. "Please. A wolf doesn't get to where I am by throwing gristle around to the pack. Now, do we have a deal?"
"Yeah, I'll call you..."
"No, call Ngarssou. His teeth are sharp enough for this hunt."
Ngarssou's ears perk up. He wags his tail and smiles at Gvarokh's praise.
"Don't leave me waiting," Gvarokh warns. "I don't like to be kept waiting."
Kagfak and Uengghae snarl slightly to emphasize Gvarokh's words.
"I won't," Aerruenodoekagha replies with a small amount of defiance. He and his pack walk away. When they're about 30 meters they elevate their pace to a trot.
"That went well," Chuck says.
Gvarokh smiles. "Yes, it did. With any luck, we won't have to rely on that invitation. Alright, back to the ship."
The group return to the ship without incident. However, Ngarssou departs from the group about midway through the starport. He explains that he has to get home for bed or else his mother will worry about him.
Gvarokh thanks him for his help and pays him what he's owed and throws in a small bonus on top of it.
Ngarssou's tail wags with vigor and he can't help but smile with his tongue hanging out. He thanks Gvarokh and the rest of the group before he dashes off into the bustling starport city night life.
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae, Kagfak
Location: Miishakaal, parked at Ghoekang Starport
After an insanely long first day on Ikhog, Gvarokh ordered everyone to sleep. He
wanted everyone to be wide awake and alert for the raid.
At breakfast he asks for an update on the crew's readiness.
"The gun mounts are all set," Lakir offers. "It's been so long I'd forgotten that we had the guys on Silverring handle the work. The air/raft is set too. We're good to go."
"Not quite," Dougok interjects. "When the Touzagh kicked me out. They stripped me of my weapons and my money. Gun control laws are fairly low here compared to other worlds so obtaining some shouldn't be a problem. However, I have no money so I would need a loan."
Chuck says, "Well, if that doesn't pan out, we have some shotguns and rifles in the armory. Plus a couple Ma-57 auto pistols. I know the law level is low, but I don't know if you can legally pick up anything better than that."
Dougok replies, "I used to have sources. I don't know if the Touzagh turned them against me."
Gvarokh says to him, "You're free to use the ship's stores for weapons on the raid and for as long as you're with us. I would prefer that you didn't go out on a spending spree today as it might tip someone off that an ex-Touzagh malcontent was up to something."
Dougok says, "Well, I'll still need armor."
"We've got that too," Chuck calls out from the armory. He returns with a suit of vargr cloth armor. "This one looks like it should fit you." He hands it over to him, then heads back to the armory to bring back a sample of weapons. One is a NeoArms 18mm shotgun, a standard rifle that looks about TL-8, and a Ma-57 auto pistol. "It's not much. Will it do?"
Dougok wags his tail. "Yes, no need to risk tipping anyone off that I've found a new pack." He looks over the weapons and tries on the cloth armor. "Yes, yes, this will work nicely. It is good to have sharp fangs again."
While the crew make final preparations and go over battle plans, their ship is
visited by Ngarssou. He says that he received a call from Aerruenodoekagha, the
wolf that claimed to know the Touzagh. He told Ngarssou that a Touzagh sales rep
has agreed to meet the party for lunch tomorrow. The location wasn't given;
Aerruenodoekagha explained that he was to escort the party to a restaurant in
the city after meeting them in the park again.
Ngarssou's facial expressions and body language say that the pup is happy to be bringing this news. If there's any duplicity about this meeting, he is unaware of it.
Ngarssou adds that he's supposed to call Aerruenodoekagha back with the group's reply.
Gvarokh says, "Yes, we'll be there." He hands over some credits to Ngarssou. "Thanks for your help, Ngarssou. Meet us back here tomorrow and we'll all go over together."
Ngarssou wags his tail and leaves.
Once the pup is gone and the hatch closed, Gvarokh says, "No, we won't be going but he needs to think we are. His reaction to news of the raid has to be genuine.
"Now then, I think we should try to hit our target late at night, like around 3 AM. That should be late enough that most people are in bed. Even corsairs. Bored guards are most likely to be flat-footed and no early birds will be up yet. Plus it still gives us two to three hours of darkness to do our deed, which has to take less than an hour anyway. Any objections?"
"No objection here," Dougok says. "3AM sounds good. We'll catch the camp off their guard."
Gvarokh looks around for other replies. His eyes settle on Lakir.
Noticing this, Lakir says, "We're good to go."
"Good," Gvarokh says with enthusiasm. "I want everyone to get some shuteye for a few hours. We'll eat at 23:00 and start gearing up at midnight. Vincent, do you have a weather report?"
Vincent consults his laptop. "Some clouds are going to roll in this evening but there won't be any rain."
"How thick a cloud deck?"
"Enough to block out the stars."
Gvarokh nods. "They'll need radar to see us. Ok, you have about 12 hours to sleep, shower, or whatever it is you do to pass the time."
Dougok asks, "Before all of you leave, any chance someone can let me have a couple grenades for the raid or borrow a pair of UV/LI goggles so I can see once we know out all the lights?"
Chuck replies, "Sorry. I'm going to be using mine on the ground assault. Maybe the ship can use its external spotlights and they won't be necessary?"
Lakir says, "Hang onto my gear as we exit, until you get your ‘eyes on’. If you don’t, just hang on ‘till I tell you different. I ain’t breachin; so it should be OK."
Dougok asks, "Can I order a set of goggles from the ship and use another name? Or send someone else out for me to pick them up?" He's looking to Gvarokh for permission.
"You know what? You can just use mine. I won't be needing them for this mission. Give them back to me when the mission is done."
"Great! Thank you!" Dougok's tail wags enthusiastically.
NPC: Chuck, Uengghae, Kagfak
Start Location: Miishakaal, parked at Ghoekang Starport
Everyone is geared up and ready to go. The ground assault team is secure in the
cargo hold, ready to leap out when they touch down. All other positions are
occupied as per the plan. Gvarokh backs the ship away from the terminal and
then lifts her up into the late night sky. Once clear of the downport's flight
corridor, he changes direction and heads down towards the ocean. He authorizes
the turrets to start charging up.
Gvarokh levels the ship off thirty meters from the water's surface and flies southeast. Once the ship is 30 km from the starport, he changes course again; this time to the northeast. He increases altitude to 100 meters as he flies over land and heads towards the mountain range that abuts Ghoekang. As the terrain rises, Gvarokh eases the ship upward and over the mountains. Once on the far side he turns northwest to hug the leeward side of the mountains until the ship reaches the plateau that hosts the Touzagh's base. From there he drops the ship below radar level to avoid detection.
Gvarokh deftly handles the ship over the terrain. He relies on passive sensors the whole way. He resists the urge to fire up the radar for fear of giving away their approach.
The ship rounds the last peak and the plateau with the base are dead ahead. There's no indication that the base is aware that they're coming. Nightvision reveals a sleeping compound.
"Gunners, you're clear to take out primary targets," Gvarokh calmly orders.
Vincent has been given the control tower as his primary target. It's a concrete and glass structure with steel beams for reinforcement. He estimates that the plasma turret on 25% charge capacity should be sufficient.
He takes the shot and is proved correct as the plasma bolt shatters the concrete, ignites everything flammable, and melts anything that refuses to burn.
The base is now cut off from the outside world and ships in space. In response to the blast, lights begin to pop on one by one around the base.
Simrii's primary target is the Engineering section of the Vargr Seeker on the pad. IR shows it to be cool. It hasn't fired up those engines in a while. Not wishing to use up his plasma mojo, he cycles the turret down to 25% charge capacity to ensure he burns through the hull and wrecks things inside. Having studied the deck plans on Angrorghag class Seekers as part of his mission prep, he knows exactly where to aim.
Simrii takes the shot and observes a nice big hole in the hull right where the computer says the power plant should be. That should keep it on the ground.
Moving on to secondary targets now as the ship crosses over the hangars to the LZ.
Vincent cycles the turret down to 10% and aims for the mess hall. He just wants to collapse the structure, not damage the foundation.
His shot collapses most of the roof and ignites flammable material. However, the outer walls are still standing. The fire should finish it off but it will take time.
Vincent comms the Bridge, "Captain, it looks like the mess hall will require another shot to completely collapse. Or you can just use the weight of the ship to demolish the rest of the structure."
"Take the shot."
Meanwhile Simrii targets the generators. As they're small, he figures a 10% shot should take them out.
His aim is off a bit. While he destroyed the one in operation, he didn't get both. The floodlights which illuminate the base go dark, as do the lights in the barracks and officers quarters. The base is now completely dark. There must not be a fail-safe switch.
Vincent takes another shot at the mess hall with a 5% shot and it collapses like a house of cards.
Since the ship is still up in the air, Simrii decides to take out the second generator just in case. Another 10% capacity shot does the job.
Gvarokh announces, "Ground team, I'm landing the ship now. Prepare to disembark."
"Landing team ready," Lakir replies.
Gvarokh lands the ship on the ruins of the mess hall without any obstructions to impede the opening of the cargo bay door. The building's foundation also appears to be holding.
"Ground team go!" Gvarokh calls out after he opens the cargo bay door.
"We're away," Lakir replies as the ground team charges down the ramp and heads to the underground prison.
No sooner has the ground team touched earth than Vincent's voice issues a
warning, "I've got targets."
Knowing that Vincent is in the starboard turret, the ground team instinctively turn their heads to the right. Several half-dressed vargr have exited the closest barracks. They are armed.
Before anyone can get a shot off, there's a huge blast of light and heat than temporarily blinds anyone relying on nightvision. They quickly look away.
"Got 'em," Vincent adds.
After blinking away spots, the ground team look back to where the vargr were. All are gone, as is the front quarter of the building. The remainder is on fire.
"Let's move," Lakir orders.
The ground team sprint over to the shed that serves as the entrance to the underground prison.
Dougok immediately notices something about the entrance. "There's no padlock on the outside of the door. That means there are guards inside."
"Try the door," Lakir says.
Dougok carefully tests the door. "Locked from the inside."
There's another blast from Vincent's turret and another group of corsairs perish, along with part of the next section of barracks.
Over the comm, Simrii is heard to say, "I've got targets coming out of the officers' quarters." He fires and the building closest to the motor pool is leveled.
Uengghae opens fire with the VRF at targets coming out of the second of the four officers' quarters.
Meanwhile back at the prison door, Vlad says, "I got this." He takes a HEAP grenade and tapes it to the door handle. "Get clear," he says calmly.
As Vlad sets the charge, the team stacks on the latch side of the door, in the following order: Vlad, Lakir, Dougok and Chuck. Within five seconds there comes the blast of the grenade. There's a hole where the lock used to be and the door is slowly opening outward now that nothing is holding it closed.
Vlad muzzles the door open and tosses another HEAP grenade. His ears pick out the sound of the metal canister clinking on stone a couple times, some shouts, and then an explosion.
The ground team charges in but immediately notes that it's pitch black inside.
"I can't see shit," Vlad says in a whisper.
Dougok and Chuck move forward and use their nightvision to scan the scene below.
"I see two dead guards," Chuck says.
Lakir asks Dougok, "Any chance there's more?"
"Naw. That's it for this time of night," Dougok replies.
Vlad turns on his flashlight which is taped to his ACR. "Let's go then."
Chuck flips up his nightvision goggles and turns on his flashlight and joins Vlad at the front. The pair lead the way down the stairs with Dougok and Lakir bringing up the rear.
Meanwhile, Gvarokh reorients the ship so that Simrii can blast OQ #2.
Vincent and Simrii both fire another round and level two more buildings.
Uengghae strafes OQ #3 & 4 with the VRF to make sure that no one can reach the shed.
Back inside the prison, the ground party reaches the bottom of the stairs. Dougok fishes the pockets of the dead guards and finds the keys. There's a big grin on his face as he hold one up to the light from the flashlights. He steps over to the steel doors, inserts a key, turns it and is rewarded with a satisfying clunk. He then pushes the doors open.
Lakir says, "Dougok and Chuck, you guys go let everyone out. Vlad and I will head back up the stairs and make sure we don't get boxed in."
Vincent and Simrii both fire another round and level two more buildings.
Vlad and Lakir reach the top of the stairs but stop a few steps short so as to be below ground level to avoid errant fire. Dougok works the keys as fast as he can while Chuck directs the prisoners to the stairs.
Vincent and Simrii fire another round. Half of the barracks have been destroyed.
All of the OQ buildings have been destroyed.
With the OQ destruction complete, Gvarokh lands the ship back down on the mess hall foundation.
Meanwhile down in the prison, as the captives are freed they assemble on the stairs behind Lakir and Vlad.
With no targets to shoot at, Simrii keeps watch on the motor pool.
Vincent destroys another building.
Lakir turns around and instructs the first group of prisoners, "When you go out that door, run for the ship. It will be directly in front of you. Don't stop until you're safely inside. Understood?"
He gets nods in return.
"Cap'n, the first batch of prisoners is coming out."
"Roger. Your right side has been cleared out. Still taking small arms fire from your left. Go after Vincent's next shot."
Lakir tells the group, "We go after the next explosion." He and Vlad peek out the door and wait.
Another blast comes from Vincent's turret which trashes another building.
"Go!" Lakir shouts. He and Vlad burst out of the shed and lay down some cover fire. Despite not really trying, Lakir connects with a target using his Gauss PDW. That person falls to the ground. Vlad has similar luck with his ACR.
Kagfak, now backlit by a couple of lights in the hold, waves the first batch of prisoners aboard. Once this group of eight are on board, Lakir and Vlad return to the shed for the next group.
"Next group!" Lakir shouts. Another six assemble by the door.
Vincent fires another round and levels another set of barracks.
"Go!" Lakir commands.
As this group heads out, Simrii announces, "I've got a target at the motor pool."
A G-Carrier emerges from its confines. Simrii wastes no time taking a shot. He wants to make sure he pours enough energy into his shot to penetrate the G-Carrier's armor so he sets his turret at 50%. His shot melts a large hole in the front end of the vehicle. It swerves to the left and crashes into the ruins of the foundation of the closest of the Officers Quarters. There is no further sign of activity from the G-Carrier.
After the second group boards the ship, Lakir and Vlad return to the shed for the last group. Chuck is with them but Dougok is not.
"Where's Dougok?" Lakir asks.
"I don't know," Chuck replies. "I thought he was right behind me."
"Dougok! Let's go! We're moving out!" Lakir yells down the stairwell.
"I'll go get him," Chuck volunteers.
"Do NOT waste any time," Lakir says with earnest. "The cap'n wants to go ASAP. DON'T get left behind."
Another blast comes from Vincent's turret and the last of the barracks collapses in flames.
"Move out!" Lakir orders the last group. He and Vlad scan the area for return fire but all they see is flames. A good deal of the base is now on fire from all of the plasma turret action.
Fortunately they don't have to wait long. They're on cargo bay ramp for only a minute when Chuck and Dougok burst from the shed and start running for the ship. Lakir and Vlad wave them aboard.
As soon as they set foot on the ramp, Lakir comms the captain, "Cap'n, we're all aboard. Get us out of here."
In reply, the ship lifts off of the ruins of the mess hall and accelerates away from the base.
Once the hatch closes, Lakir asks Dougok, "Where the fuck were you?"
"What? You didn't expect me to pass up a chance to loot those bastards, did you?"
Lakir notices that Dougok has more weapons now than when they started the mission: An extra ACR, snub pistol, and a back pack (likely filled with ammo).
"Fine. Figure out what you're using for part two. We have a ship to reclaim once we're in orbit."
Next: Running to Orbit