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Re: REKT: BTE Mission 1: Nanyej Colony

Noticing the pain in my leg again, I turn the gravity belt on again.
While Bob is putting the stellaplex on the harness, I quickly search the central chamber for Frank's sword.
If I find it, I give it to him, and help Frank outside and in his ship (waiting until he got medical assistance, if Mekkin wants to give it to him).
When/if we are attacked by infantry enemies, I use Spoon to shield Frank and myself, and proceed towards the enemies, trying to take them out with Spoonwhacks (up to 4).
After helping Frank in his ship, I also remove my tether from the plant door and put it back in my CASKET.
Then I open the comms and say
"Cho? We got the stellaplex and are about to head back - likely with some fighters on our tails, so keep the AA guns ready, if we have any left. (( I seem to recall we do as she suggested at some point to fly back and lure fighters to the Nemesis for that reason )) And I'm fairly sure all of us will need some medical attention once we're back...
Anabais, thank you very much for keeping the Hiltorel off us for so long."
Then I get in my ship and wait for the others - if they're all lifted off I lift off as well and fly to the Nemesis.
When attacked while flying, I dodge, using PSI to assist, and fire a shot of bubbles back (not exceeding 1 attack in this turn)
While flying, I also sing The Irish Rover and feel giddy, because we actually pulled this mission thing off!
Last edited by Dinosawer on Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:15 am, edited 4 times in total.
Warning: do not ask about physics unless you really want to know about physics.
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Re: REKT: BTE Mission 1: Nanyej Colony

Dinosawer wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 3:29 am
"Don't worry, it's dead... but I'll see if I can find your sword."
. . .
By the way, did anyone see Frank's sword? He seems to have lost it."
Frank relaxes slightly at that, but still shivered as memories of that last engagement swam through his mind.
He wanted out.
He wanted to get away.
He felt weak, so weak...and about to puke his soul out.

Struggle to get up
Struggle to stay concious and to keep from throwing up
Head back to the CASKET as direct as possible through the right wing of the building
If medical assistance is about to be given
-Don't resist, but keep watching the medic and the surroundings with a paranoid gaze
If the sword is returned to him
-Keep it clutched in the hands
Scramble in the CASKET
Get back to the nemesis as direct as possible

The farther Frank manages to get from the colony, the more the dull mindspace he's in turns fearful and paniced
Apparently, sometimes stuff might happen.
- - - - - - - -

Re: REKT: BTE Mission 1: Nanyej Colony

Hema wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:52 pm
"Gene! It's good to hear your voice!
Those were your shotgun blasts I heard if I'm not mistaken. Excellent shooting! Much improved.
I'm achy and lightheaded, but I'll live. What is the extent of your injuries? I would assume you got some while I was out.
And Meakin, please see to Gene and Frank first. I've had worse."
"Those were indeed my blasts. Thank your for your compliment, Brom. It means a lot to me.
There're several gashes on my chest, but they don't seem to be bleeding. Must be the coags kicking in. I'll be fine for a moment, Meakin-please make sure everyone else is in good shape."

Re: REKT: BTE Mission 1: Nanyej Colony

"Alright everyone, time to get to the ships.
Help your squad mates out as necessary, but don't take too long.
I want those skilled at aerial combat on the sides of our formation, and those who've taken serious damage in the middle.
Don't assume a guard position unless your ship can take a hit.
I'm going to help with the stellaplex, and I will meet you outside shortly.
If anyone has any recommendations, please say so now."

Gather up my gear and get to my feet.
Take a brief look around to get my bearings, and approach the Stellaplex receptacle.
Retrieve the stellaplex, and load it into Vynkor's harness ((which as I recall, Brom took after she had passed out.)).
Should someone arrive to help before I'm finished, work with them to speed things along. Once the Stellaplex is in the harness, head out of the building to my ship - taking our precious cargo with me.

On the way out of the building, visually scan the ground for anything that might be of value to the Nemesis crew, or that I might be able to fashion into something for Bob's Bear.
For the Nemesis, look for weapons and loose tech.
For Bob, look for small pieces of scrap metal, wires, or anything else that he might find interesting.
Should I find anything, I'll grab it as I go and put it into my pack. Unless I see something unusual, I will not stop or slow down.
If I see something unusual, I will pack it up and proceed to the CASKETs without further delay.

When I get to my ship, I will examine my auxiliary slot to see if it's capable of holding the Stellaplex.
If it is, I will load it onto my ship.
If it's not, I will load it onto Vynkor's CASKET.
Once the Stellaplex is secured, get into my ship and take off.

If I have the Stellaplex, fly a ahead of everyone else and get to the Nemesis as quickly as possible.
If Vynkor has it, use the comms to let her know.
“I've placed the Stellaplex in your care, Vynkor.
Fly ahead of the group and get it to the Nemesis as quickly as possible.
If anything tries to hit you, I'll shoot 'em down myself!
They're not going to spoil our victory. Not as long as Alpha has anything to say about it!”

If Vynkor has the stellaplex, fire single shot from my railgun at any hiltorel fighter that comes within shooting distance of her.

When we're in range, announce our approach to the Nemesis.
“This is Brom Keegan, master assassin, emperor of the Ermhelm underground and leader of Alpha! As you might have guessed from our squad roster, we we successful in our mission to retrieve the Stellaplex. We request permission to land.”
Last edited by Hema on Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:51 am, edited 8 times in total.
Breaker of fortune cookies

Re: REKT: BTE Mission 1: Nanyej Colony

Hema wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 2:03 pm
"How are you holding up?"
"Well, my arm hurts like hell and doesn't move, and I'll probably pass out again after whatever the doc gave me wears off. But otherwise, peachy!"
I notice the stairwell in the corner of the room, and a chill goes up my spine. Yeah, let's not go down that.

I exit the building, staying away from the dead dragon. I eye it suspiciously as I pass.
While I'm in the atrium room, I look around for Brom's pistol, but I don't spend too much time there.
I get in my CASKET.
If Brom sees fit to attach the stellaplex to my CASKET:
-I wait for it to be attached and for all allies to be clear of my exhaust stream.
-I lift off and fly towards the Nemesis at full speed.
-I lift off and hover until my allies are ready to go.
-I fly in a guard position towards the Nemesis, firing exactly once at any enemy fighter which seems too interested.

Re: REKT: BTE Mission 1: Nanyej Colony

"Alright, let's get the hell out of this place. I'm sure we'd all appreciate some TLC after this clusterfukc of a 'mission.'"

Exit the building and head directly to my CASKET, taking cover as necessary.
Get in and start up shipboard systems.
Lift off as soon as it is safe and assume a position near the middle of the formation,
then fly towards the Nemesis, maintaining formation but with a bit of urgency.

Re: REKT: BTE Mission 1: Nanyej Colony



The megabeast lies on the floor, panting; a hole in its throat and the side of its neck rapidly spill its blood onto the floor. It's dying - slowly, but surely. The fight is finally over. As one, the inmates breathe a collective sigh of relief as they set about their final tasks before heading home.

You crawl out of the pond, muttering to yourself as you inject a painkiller stim into your suit. It feels good - really good. Only seconds have passed before you feel the beginning of its effects. "So, what in the hot hell is happenin' here?" you ask, limping into the center of the room. (Even with the painkillers, you can barely stand on your leg. It threatens to crumple beneath you, and it's getting weaker.) "And who the hell is Meakin?"

"I'm Mekkin, you cretin," someone speaks up. He's a middle-aged, balding man - and wearing light-armor REKT gear. He seems annoyed. "Mekkin Skaldin. Former doctor, scientist, and business manager. I'm here to provide medical support for an efficient extraction."

Hearing that, someone feminine-sounding calls out, "Mekkin! If you have a moment, Frank needs some medical assistance!" Mekkin immediately heads in that direction, and some girl appears from behind a rock. You don't really recognize her. She doesn't look nearly as battle-scarred as you guys, and you're confused for a moment.

"Who the..." you begin, and then you're hit with a wave of realization. Oh, right! It's that Beta girl! Saorise, or something. Now you remember. ...Vaguely. "Oh, it's y'all from Beta. Well, took you long enough! You're late to the party! As you can see, we dun' killed it, no thanks to you!" You gesture at the near-corpse heaving on the floor behind her.

The girl pauses, stuttering, as though speechless. She clearly has no comeback to this - and how would she, being a lazy bum like she is? Finally she stammers, "Yes, I could see you were clearly valiantly attacking it, from all the way over there with no ranged weapons."

Good that she noticed. You damn sure were killing the thing, before Beta got involved and probably screwed everything up. "It threw me over there while I was bashin' its head in," you agree. Then you get an idea and whip out your PDA, setting it to take a picture. "Anyway, smile for the camera, y'all!"

And thus is taken a picture that will be remembered on the Nemesis for hopefully ages to come, populated with numerous individuals:
  • Buck, the Valiant and Painfully Sober
  • A flabbergasted, limping Saoirse
  • A weak, snarling, dying megadrakedog taking up most of the pathway
  • Vynkor, high on drugs with her lips pulled back in a ghoulish grimace
  • Gene, full of holes and gashed up on the chest
  • Brom, also full of holes, gashed up, and trying to come to terms with the fact that he sucks
Frank is missing from the photograph entirely. You don't notice this until much later, partly because Frank's typically pretty hard to notice, and second because... you have no clue how to work your PDA beyond the starting screen. Damn newfangled gadget has too many bells and whistles to make sense.

With everything taken care of, you head back towards your ship. Once inside, you quietly detach the nuke, intending to leave it behind after everyone else takes off. It isn't long before Bob and Gene show up and take off, so you follow suit.

"Bob-Boss!" Saoirse calls. You shoulder your minigun and walk into the main room. There's a big dying monster on the floor. It's scary stuff, and you're glad you have Jimmy with you. Saoirse continues, "Bob, we need you to put that, on that." She's pointing at two different things - a big, shiny, flat-sided piece of something metal, and a hovering board-machine-thing. "And then we need to get out of here immediately - no time for anything else or the bad guys are gonna come and kill us."

You frown. "So Bob no has time to collect shiny pieces?"

Saoirse shakes her head in regret. "Ah... no, sorry. Maybe next time."

"Aw," you mutter, slouching. "Sad no pickup shiny stuff." But, dutifully, you go over to the stellaplex... and find that it's far too heavy for you to lift with only one hand. Fortunately, some other guy comes to help - you recognize him from the mission briefing. B-R-O-M. That spells "Broom"! Broom appears to have a messed-up arm too, but he helps you lift it onto the hovering harness thing, and helps you strap it in. Then you leave, headed for your ship. You're happy to be headed back. (You also pick up a shiny rock on the way out, just because it looked cool and had wavy bands in it. Wavy bands are cool.)

Broom is a helpful guy. Terrible name though. You feel a little sad for him. Maybe he'd like it more if his name was short, like yours. B-O-M. BOM. BOM is a good name. It's almost like BOB. Just one letter different! You'd like him more then.

After strapping yourself into your CASKET, you take off and get ready to go.

You feel rather dizzy and lightheaded. "What's our status, Alpha? Is everyone all right? I must've gotten knocked unconscious... They can't keep me down for long, though!"

Buck's voice is the first you hear. "Brom, ya dumbass, you fell asleep at the best part! You should've seen how me and Frank fuckin' obliterated this thing! It stood no chance."

"Did Vynkor ever wake up?"

"Nope!" Vynkor shouts, quite loudly. "Still asleep, and definitely not standing right next to you." You grimace at her volume and look up - she's right there. Huh, neat. Her face looks bizarre though - lips drawn back in a ghoulish grin, eyes wide, muscles tense. Doesn't look too pleasant. She seems jittery, too. You feel like keeping your distance.

As the rest of your squad fills you in on everything you missed, you get to your feet, make sure you have your gear, and head to the central stellaplex tower. When you last saw, the autohack device was busily churning away. Now the tower has "opened up", and lowered the stellaplex to a level that's easier to reach. Bob is currently in the process of trying to lift it onto the harness, so you help him out - while he only has one usable hand, you're in the same boat. He seems to feel like this gives you some kind of kinship. You're far superior, but with his help you manage the feat, and strap the stellaplex securely into the hovering device.

Then you push it out of the plant to your ship. Along the way you try to pick up a few scraps of things - bits of shiny metal, a laser gun, whatever you see - without losing any time. You're a bit rushed.

Outside, you put the stellaplex in your aux slot and take off, flying well ahead of everyone else to get to the Nemesis.

You feel jittery. Standing still feels difficult. You want to move. Your thoughts race.

You wonder when the drugs will wear off. They did amazing things for you, that's true, but you don't need them anymore. Their effects seem to have a longer duration than you needed.

"What's our status, Alpha?" someone mumbles. You look down. Brom is holding his head and trying to sit up. "is everyone all right? I must've gotten knocked unconscious. They can't keep me down for long, though! ...Did Vynkor ever wake up?

"Nope!" you say, careful to control your volume. "Still asleep, and definitely not standing right next to you." Grimacing, Brom looks up at you. You give a smirk and a pleasant smile. He missed out on all the fun.

"Jeez!" he says. "No need to shout - this is why we have a comm system!" You weren't shouting, though. Were you? "Things are still a bit hazy for me... Also still feeling light-headed. Quite a peculiar experience... one I wish to avoid in the future. How are you holding up?"

"Well, my arm hurts like hell," you reply, wiggling your shoulder. "I'll probably pass out again after whatever the doc gave me wears off. But otherwise, peachy!"

Buck takes advantage of this moment to take a picture of all of you. You smile attractively for the camera, dead arm and all, and then head out of the building. While you do so, you stay well away from the dead mega-drake (it snarls at you) and glance around unsuccessfully for Brom's pistol. No idea where it went... it really could be anywhere, what with Buck throwing things around and the gravity being bonkers.

Back at your ship, inside your cockpit, you watch as Brom loads his Stellaplex on the back of his CASKET. Looks like you have self-assigned guard duty. You take off and get ready to go.

You did it. No - you all did it. No man left behind, nobody died. You're honestly amazed. It feels wonderful - a great relief.

However, you feel quite exhausted.

Brom, behind you, gets up starts talking to your squadmates. Mekkin goes to help Frank. Buck takes a picture of you and everyone else. You probably look terrible, but you don't really care. Not at this point.

You address Mekkin, who is coming over toward you. "Meakin - or Mekkin - or whoever-the-hell-you-are - I believe both Brom and myself would appreciate some medical support."

"We don't have time for much," Mekkin says, jamming a syringe into a port on your chest. You choke from the blow - which wasn't really much of a blow, honestly. Your chest burns with fire - a fire that fortunately soon begins to dull. "I'm giving you some painkillers, but they'll have to fix you up on the Nemesis. Get to your ships ASAP. I'm on my way out too," he says tersely, starting to jog off (after jamming a similar syringe into Brom's suit).

"Gene!" Brom exults, finally noticing you. "It's so good to hear your voice! Those were your shotgun blasts I heard, if I'm not mistaken. Excellent shooting! Much improved."

"Those were indeed my blasts," you confirm, feeling a bit odd about his change of demeanor. Maybe in order to be a decent person, Brom just needs to be knocked out regularly. You think you could handle that. "Thank you for your compliment, Brom. It means a lot to me. How are you holding up?

He coughs and winces, then says, "I'm achy and lightheaded, but I'll live. What is the extent of your injuries?"

You look down, quickly taking stock. "Uh, several gashes on my chest, but they don't seem to be bleeding. Must be the coags kicking in. I'll be fine for a moment. Anyway - let's get out of this place. I'm sure we'd all appreciate some TLC after this clusterfukc of a 'mission'."

As Brom goes over to help Bob remove the stellaplex, you go back to your ship, keeping an eye out for hostiles. Then, you climb into your CASKET's cockpit and, after starting it up, take off, intending to assume a position near the center of the formation.

Whoa. You... really don't feel so good.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" some beautiful lass cries, rushing to your aid. You think it's Brenna. In your dream-like state you see her face above yours, her long hair dangling like a curtain about you. It's positively romantic. You groan in agony.

"The sword," you choke out, gurgling and rasping. "The sword - where's the sword? It - it might come back..."

"No, no, don't worry," the beautiful dream-maiden croons, cradling you in her arms. "It's dead, it won't come back." Love is truly in the air - a picturesque, idyllic scene. You gag, struggling to breathe.

The girl turns and calls someone else, and you see more blurry shapes. Some guy stabs a syringe into your chest, and things finally start to clear up a bit. Just a bit. Enough at least to hobble to your ship - apparently with the help of Saoirse (the 'beautiful lass', of course).

By the time you're situated in your cockpit, you're beginning to feel a little better... but you're still short on blood. You can't wait to get back.

Stepping carefully around the fallen super-lizard-dog-thing, you rush over to Frank and try to help him back up. He groans at you. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry!" you apologize, urgently and profusely. "Are you okay? I didn't mean to hit you too!"

Frank gurgles and rasps. His eyes flutter open, and then close again. "The sword," he murmurs in a small voice. "Where's the sword? It might come back..."

"No, no, don't worry," you say, trying to prop him up so he can breathe. "It's dead, it won't come back." Then, hearing Mekkin announce himself as a doctor, you turn and shout, "Mekkin! Mekkin, if you have a moment, Frank needs medical attention!"

Mekkin soon shows up and brushes you away, so you surrender Frank to him, get up, and walk towards everyone else. Buck soon sights you and looks at you quizzically. "Who the... Oh! Oh, it's y'all from Beta. Well, took you long enough! You're late to the party! As you can see, we dun' killed it, no thanks to you!"

You've never been particularly witty, and you stammer for a few moments as you try to come up with a response. What? No thanks to you? You're the one that dealt some of the final attacks! This is nonsense. Finally, you come up with a halfhearted, sarcastic remark: "Yes, I could see you were clearly valiantly attacking it, from all the way over there with no ranged weapon." Terrible wording, maybe. You begin to doubt your ability to compose sentences, especially as Buck seems to take it as a compliment.

"Yeah, it threw me over there while I was bashing its head in," he beams. Then he whips out his PDA. "Anyway, smile for the camera, y'all!" And he snaps a picture. You're sure it's horrendous. You're limping and must look terrible.

You turn your attention to Bob, and get him (because he's so strong) to carefully lift the stellaplex and put it on the stretcher-hover-thing that Alpha had already assembled without telling you. Then, you turn your gravbelt back on (to help your leg) and start looking around for Frank's sword. You have no idea where it fell - it could be anywhere - but fortunately, while the place is a wreck, it's not as much of a wreck as the entrance area, and you're able to pick a sword (is it the right one?) out of a bush. On bringing it back to Frank, he seems grateful, so you assume you found what he wanted.

With Frank calmed, you help him back to his ship, and he (feeling better thanks to some of the stims Mekkin gave him) takes off, headed back toward the Nemesis on his own. Then you get into your own CASKET.

And then, out of the corner of your eye, you catch sight of something on the ground... something someone left behind. It looks like a large box of some sort. You stare at it, puzzled, and notice a radiation symbol on the side.

Your eyes go wide.

It's a nuke.

Your mind races. Buck had a nuke. Right? Shit. Shit shit shit!
Spoiler:      SHOW
Dinosawer wrote:
Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:37 am
Guess I'll do this as well for once then:

Instead of what I wrote:
Then I get in my ship and wait for the others - if they're all lifted off I lift off as well and fly to the Nemesis.

I will do:
Then I get in my ship and wait for the others - if they're all lifted off I lift off, I notice Buck dropped his nuke, and curse expansively in Irish.
The Hiltorel didn't do much wrong, we're not going to commit a genocide on top of what we already did just because that drunk idiot thought it was a fun idea!
I wait a second till Buck's ship is pointing away, and then jump out again, run towards his nuke and do an electrical scan with my PDA, looking for the detonation electronics. If I find them, I try to fry them with my electro amp.
Then I run back to my ship, jump in, take off and fire a large bubble stream at the part of the nuke where the electronics are, or at the nuke in general.
Then I full throttle fly to the Nemesis.
When attacked while flying, I dodge, using PSI to assist.
While flying, I also sing The Irish Rover and feel giddy, because we actually pulled this mission thing off!
You curse expansively in Irish. "D'éirigh le duine éigin dom go bhfuil an domhan ag dul orm! Níl mé an uirlis is gasta sa seid, bhí sí ag lorg cineál balbh lena méar agus a ordóg i gcruth lín ar a clár éadain!" These are not words that should be repeated or brought up in civil conversation.

Then, hurriedly, you climb back out of your ship. You have no idea how much time you have left. Buck, having already flown off, could blow the nuke at any time. You sprint towards it and do an electrical scan with your PDA, looking for the detonation electronics.

No dice. The outer shell is too thick and you screwed up the settings in your haste. "Máistreacht máthair moncaí maonaiseacha," you groan, dashing back to your ship. Then, taking off, you frantically fire an enormous stream of bubbles at the thing, terribly screwing up your aim. You think some of them may have hit, but you honestly have no idea. - but you don't have any more time. You have to get out of here. You don't plan on dying just yet.

Abandoning the nuke, you head back towards the others' formation at full blast.

You breathe a quick prayer of thanks to the FSM. Then, you turn around, starting to head back towards the others. You fly low, close to the tops of the buildings.

Arrr, Anabais! Why would you do that? There must be a heart of gold behind that callous exterior of yours! But now it is ruined! Everything is ruined! She squandered all the opportunities me and our Esteemed Engineer provided...oh.

You watch in horror as Gearhead's CASKET impacts the ground with great gravitas. Subtle sad music is playing in your head. You see the whole thing in slow motion with a monochrome filter, and wipe away a tear.

May he find rest in the FSM's noodly embrace. He wasn't a good Pastafarian, but he died fighting for the Cause. May the Lord welcome him at his side, and may the Beer Volcano never stop giving him the finest ales in existence!

Then you send a message to Anabais. SCAMPS sent you there to die. It was her responsibility to survive. She should know that. You are sorry you didn't make it abundantly clear.

"Piss off, shithead," Anabais quickly responds. "Don't know what the hell you wanted to accomplish with that crap, but listen up: We're going straight over the mountains. Don't want to? Tough shit. We'll group up with the others soon. If you don't follow along, then when we get back, I'll shred your fingers like spaghetti so they match your fukcing religion. Got it?"

You understand, all right.

You chuckle a bit at Aloka's remark. "Showering is by no means the same as swimming, but more power to you, I guess!"

"I know it's not!" she spits back in response - but then seem to realize she sounds too harsh. She softens her voice a little. "I just don't see the point. That's all I'm trying to say."

There's several seconds of silence. You're not really sure how to respond to that. "Um..." you start back hesitantly. "Ah, if you don't mind me asking, what happened to your father? Why are you out here on this rock?"

"I didn't have a father," she radios back. "Unless you mean Da. He wasn't my dad. That was his name - Da Krivuks. We lived on a station around Virkla, orbiting one of the moons of Elnausa. It's mining country, farther out than Derge. ...Derge is a big blue star near where we are. Can't miss it. Brightest star in the sky here... well, at night. Anyway, some of the local gangs got pissed that Da wasn't paying his 'protection fees'. There wasn't anybody to protect him from. It was just tribute to keep them from attacking us... which they did. They killed Da, and would've killed me too if a few mercs hadn't shown up then - Red Eclipse. Dark name, darker people. I was young though. They saved me and, I thought, tried to save Da, so I joined them. It perhaps wasn't a very good idea... But then I... well..." Seeming to feel uncomfortable, she trails off.

The awkward silence is quickly broken by your PDA making a buzzing sound. You'd forgotten it was with you. Surprised, you reach down to your waist and pick it up; a message appears on the screen:

Did you retrieve my package. ~Havor Maluk

A hovering yes/no option hologram appears; you tap your finger through "yes". The screen immediately changes:

Upon retrieval, I will add 3000 creds to your account. Congratulations, and thank you.

The screen goes blank - and just in time. A bigger, heavier CASKET than yours slows to a hover nearby, and you hear someone new speaking over the comms. "Kendall here!," he says in a smooth voice. "I'm part of the crew that saved your hides an hour ago. I'm here to pick up your CASKET and return it. I hear you have a prisoner on board?" You radio an affirmative response. "Great! You can follow me back. They won't shoot at us now. Reyha says Nemesis just got word that your allies are on the way home. Nobody left behind! 'Grats on a successful mission. Can't wait to get off this rock and break out the beer. It's been a tough one."

Kendall picks up your busted CASKET with his ship's robotic arms, letting it hang beneath his, and together you fly back towards the Nemesis.
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Re: REKT: BTE Mission 1: Nanyej Colony



The group settles into a ramshackle formation, mostly just trying to stick close together - there's strength in numbers, after all. Brom is in front, with Vynkor and Saoirse taking up the rear. Bob and Buck fly ahead,

"Okay, bitches!" Anabais radios. "I can't do anything else from back here. As soon as you grabbed that rock, they hit the gas - my efforts aren't doing shit anymore! I'm out and headed home - see you there, if you make it."

Saoirse, acting as leader, radios her back politely and cordially. "Anabais, thank you very much for keeping the Hiltorel off us for so long." It goes over like a pregnant pole vaulter.

"Don't fukcing thank me, shitstain - it's my job," she spits back caustically over the radio. "Not like I had any choice! I lost TWO good squadmates thanks to you bastards taking so long! Fukc you guys, fukc your mothers, and fukc your sisters too!"

Feeling somewhat uncomfortable, Saoirse radios Cho, now that the group is just getting into range. "Cho? We got the stellaplex and are on our way back." This goes over much more pleasantly.

"Oh my gods, that's great news! I'd started to think we'd have to leave you behind and you would've gotten killed - that would've been awful! I really wanted to meet you guys first at least!"

"Right," Saoirse says, still a bit put off. "Well, we likely with some fighters on our tails, so keep the AA guns ready, if we have any left. And I'm fairly sure all of us will need some medical attention once we're back..."

"Fly straight home!" Cho orders with great emphasis. "Do not stop to fire! You can't take those fighters, and you don't have time! Please stay safe out there, okay? It's almost over! I'll have Medical waiting for you when you land!"

The comms cut off.

You're on your own until you get back.

The fighters behind are closing - and far north, on the horizon, you see a massive fleet of airships approaching. The hiltorel cavalry has finally arrived.

At this point, Saoirse manages to catch up with the rest of everyone. "I'm going to try to draw some of their fire," Vynkor announces, taking a rearguard position. Saoirse settles in near to her - and not a moment too soon.

Plasma shots begin to fly past - one of them hits Frank's ship, ripping a huge hole at the top and wrecking his starboard engine, which begins spewing smoke and coolant. "I'm hit!" he calls out. His ship sways from side to side as he tries to adjust, but he's lost too much blood for steady hands. Vynkor and Saoirse, in the rear, take the majority of their shots - Saoirse is taking the brunt of it, while Vynkor, still hopped up on drugs, manages to dodge the majority of incoming attacks.

The Nemesis looms far ahead, at the distant end of the valley. "Just a little farther! You can do it!" Cho radios urgently. "You're almost here!"

But Saoirse's ship is in bad shape - an engine goes out, and the rear thrusters - her bubble blower quickly gets damaged beyond use as a powerful laser cuts a deep gash, nearly severing it. "I'm not sure I can take much more of this," she radios.

"Don't worry about a thing!" Buck laughs. "It's 'mission accomplished', fellas! Humanity 1, Alien scum, 0! Nobody look back, I got this covered! Man, we'll all be, like, heroes when we get back to the big ship!" He flips up the detonator cap and hits the button.

Nothing happens.

Puzzled, Buck smashes the button again and again with increasing fervor, oblivious to Gene taking shrapnel, oblivious to Bob struggling with his thrusters, and oblivious to Cho urging everyone to hurry. Finally, he roars with all the wrath of an angry drakedog, "THE FUKC DID THOSE ALIEN BASTARDS DO TO MY NUKE! BROM, I TOLD YOU THEY HAD THEIR DIRTY TENTACLES ON MY SHIP! THOSE FUKCING ALIEN SCUM! FUKCING HELL!"

Saoirse, silently pleased, says nothing in response to this, only being sad when her radios turn out to be too damaged to play The Irish Rover. More urgently, her ship is a flying wreck; she's starting to fall behind Vynkor, who is still dodging shots like nobody's business.

A fuel fire breaks out on the right wing of Gene's craft, and he can't find a way to put it out. Vynkor, having been successful at dodging for so long, finally succumbs to a laser that saws off her rear left thrusters, significantly lowering her ability to dodge. And Saoirse, lagging behind everyone else, takes the final hit that's to do her in - a plasma blast that causes her last engine to stutter and decimates her RCS systems. Her ship spews smoke and fire, dropping towards the ground as radios urgently, plaintively, and uselessly for help. The ground draws up close; the boulders become clear, and then the little ripples of sand and dust on the surface -

- and just in the nick of time, Anabais appears with Ishmael from above. "Useless little shit!" she growls, grabbing Saoirse's CASKET deftly with her magnetic clamps; her robotic arms twist and grab the CASKET from beneath, holding it close (if very shakily). "Getting yourself killed isn't a good way to help, little girl!" she mocks. Then she shouts again in anger as a plasma blast hits her ship.: "Fukcing bastards, I would've nuked your WHOLE CITY if I had the chance!" she shouts angrily. "Fukcing hell! Sarrice, or whatever the fukc your name is - I'm taking you home, so sit tight. You fukcing owe me."

The Nemesis draws near. Its thrusters idle at low power, jetting soft plumes into the atmosphere as they idle in preparation. As the group approaches, its point defense cannons open fire, ripping the nearest of the hiltorel podships to shreds. The rest follow closely anyway, dumping as much plasma at you as they can. One after another, the members of both squads file into the hangar tube, just in the nick of time; a force field raises across the entrance, blocking off further passage. The enemy is forced to make a retreat. You're safe.

Piloting your ship carefully, you land on the spot marked for your CASKET. Engineers and hangar crew rush up and immediately secure your ship with cables, waving at you to stay in your seats.

"Please stay seated and strapped in, okay?" Cho calls over the comms. "Don't move! This will only be a minute! We have to get out of here first, Captain's orders!"

The engineers have cleared from the hangar, you notice - there's not a soul in sight. Everyone is sitting elsewhere, strapped into various seats. Through your windshield (or lack thereof), you hear the intercoms blare: "Attention - this is acting captain Havor Maluk! We're taking off in ten seconds, mark! Strap in if you haven't, and hold onto something sturdy! We'll be making a quick stop to pick up our nacelle and then we're headed out! 3, 2, 1, engage!"

All at once, things start to happen. Gravity changes: you feel lighter. The Nemesis groans and shudders with metallic creaks and shrieks; you hear the powerful hiss of thrusters firing somewhere in the distance. The rattling and firing of the point defense cannons echoes through the hangar.

Over the course of the next two minutes, an extraordinary number of events happen. These are punctuated by Havor Maluk giving instructions over the intercoms, and many loud shrieks, clatters, and clangs. Finally, the ground shakes and shudders beneath you; a few lone engineers running across the hangar sway and tumble from the sudden shift.

"Nacelle pickup is a success! Great work, great work, everyone! We've shown SCAMPS up today. Man above machine! We'll get out of atmo, take stock, and then make a quick pit stop at Huhoba Station for supplies and repairs."

The ship begins to vibrate once more - this time in a more powerful hum, as the remaining engines kick into gear and propel the Nemesis towards space.

Cho radios that it's okay to unbuckle, and that SCAMPS is going to debrief you following the next day.

Medics swarm around your CASKET, helping you out and getting you patched up. Their equipment is crude, but effective. Thank FSM for painkillers.

Engineers get to work repairing your ships, and retrieving everything you've looted. The stellaplex is carted away - apparently unnecessary, contrary to SCAMPS' claims.

Your PDA lights up with statistics on the mission's completion - how much everyone has earned - both in creds and promotions.

It's done. It's over. You've finally left Nanyej, and you're back home. The whole mission lasted only two hours, counting the briefing and the post-return... but it's over. It's finally over.

For now.

Note: Promotion points are 1000 to a level now, instead of 1.5.

Airman Bob
  Credits earned: 6450
  Promotion points earned: 0
Medical status: Left hand mauled beyond current ability to fix; will be wrapped in bandages and mostly unusuable as a main hand for two weeks. Once healed, will find grasping with that hand difficult unless arm is replaced

Airman Brom
  Credits earned: 9400
  Promotion points earned: 1210
  Promoted to Airman 1st Class
Medical status: Right arm amputated, replaced with robotic prosthetic. Chest treated and bandaged. Blood supply replenished. Some damage to lungs; running ill-advised until they heal (one month)

Airman Buck Roberts
  Credits earned: 8950
  Promotion points earned: 1060
  Promoted to Airman 1st Class
Medical status: Leg injuries treated and bandaged. May have a permanent limp; running ill-advised. Will require crutches until injuries heal (one week) and then needs to avoid running for one month

Airman Caleb Moore
  Credits earned: 5600 (+3000 from completing his side mission; total of 8600)
  Promotion points earned: 700
Medical status: Both legs amputated, replaced with robotic prosthetics. Other injuries bandaged.

Airman Frank Foster
  Credits earned: 7850
  Promotion points earned: 130
Medical status: Severe wounds to torso have been treated and bandaged. Blood supply replenished. May cough during physical exertion until chest heals (one month)

Airman Gene Weber
  Credits earned: 5000
  Promotion points earned: 570
Medical status: Leg bandaged, chest bandaged; crutch required until wound behind knee heals enough (one week)

Airman Ishmael
  Credits earned: 8350
  Promotion points earned: 930
Medical status: Much surgery and reconstruction on face; bandaged; must eat only special liquid rations for next week; scarring is permanent until better facilities are available

Airman Saoirse
  Credits earned: 10000
  Promotion points earned: 1340
  Promoted to Airman 1st Class
Medical status: Some surgery on leg; leg treated and bandaged, crutch required until it heals enough (one week)

Airman Vynkor
  Credits earned: 7350
  Promotion points earned: 310
Medical status: Left arm amputated; replaced with robotic prosthetic. Blood supply replenished. Chest treated and bandaged
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