Thursday, 21 July 2016

Episode 3: Mysteries on a verdant planet ; A Starport Scum AAR

Finally they set foot on Thylla I.
 "I'm glad the rest of the trip was uneventful." CC stretched as the trio walked down the ramp from the shuttle.
 "We need to get ahold of some new gear. If the pirates finding us was anything to go by, we aren't going to go in blind again." Vic looked around and set off in the direction of a squat building.
 The building was naturally a bar, the best place for intel if Vic was to be believed. After a while he came back out, a splash of blood on his cheek.
 "You ok boss?" Kai asked. "Eh? Oh, that. It's not mine, somebody got a bit brave." he chuckled. "It's this way, got a line on a place where we can get some upgrades."

Some time later, Vic had aquired some custom shells for his shotgun, and the entire team got some stimpacks just in case.

"So, what do we know about this Rakuen facility?" Kai asked as he was fastening his body armor.
 "Appearently, the facility has been locked down by some mercenaries that came in a week back. And before you ask, I don't know if they are the people we ran into last time, I dont know."
 "Did you find out who they were?" Kai followed up with. "They are called the Void Stalkers, a fairly high end merc outfit, known to work for many of the big corps from the core." Vic replied.
 "That doesn't sound great, I guess we should stake out the place before going in." CC said, thinking out loud.

Later that day, in the forests outside the Rakuen compound. 

"This is a weird place to have a Corp facility." CC stated. "The facility can't be reached too easily, there are little in ways of getting here. But I guess no-one would go all the way out here on a whim." she finished whispering, from her vantage point in a tree.

 "I can see two patrols on the outside, no intel on the inside." She reported as she returned to Vic and Kai.
"From what I heard in town, the Void Stalkers had around a dozen or so people with them when they came in, but some of them were reportedly porters and support personel." Vic told his team.

"Ok, same as last time then, we try and get in and out without alerting the patrol. The mainfraime should hopefully hold some more information on project BW, and maybe we'll even be able to figure out why they came after us so hard." Vic finished, looking out over the forests hiding the entrance to their target.

The patrols both started moving north, away from the compound. Vic, CC and Kai started to move south, circling around towards some rocks in a clearing between stands of trees.

 "They are moving further north boss, we should get a move on." Kai looked over, than sprinted across the open ground. Stopping to catch his breath behind the rock, CC is soon panting, hands on her knees next to him.

Vic makes good pace, but trips into the clearing and only just makes into the cover of a boulder.
Instinctivly turning around and doubling back, one patrol catch CC as she sneaks around the corner of the rocks she was hiding behind. Kai had just managed to make it into the copse directly infront of CC. But now the alarm had been raised, and the second patrol was moving to stop the intruders as well. 

CC quickly realize that she'll need some cover as the second patrol was soon on them. Diving into the copse, she slapped a shot against the closest mercenaries. The bullet rang the helmet of the patrolman like a gong, dropping him on his behind.

The sound acting like a cue, Vic stepped out from behind his cover and took aim at the very same man.
 His high-velocity armor piercing tungsten darts filled the air like a swarm of particularly deadly metal insects, screaming towards his targets.
 Distracted by the ringing in his ears, the soldier was hit by the majority of the darts, sending him sprawling.
 Meanwhile Kai burst across the next clearing, aiming for one of the patrolmen who came running. He slashed as his target, but the merc managed to dodge and deflect his blow..

..But as he forced his foe back, he got the upper hand and slashed down savagely, catching the man in the gut. As he dropped to the ground, Kai kicks him as he wrenches the blade free, and pounces after the next merc.
 The air sizzles as the fusion rifle unloads shot after shot at Kai, setting fire to the underbrush, but missing their intended target.
 Kai's first slash cuts through the barrel of the gun, cutting into the merc's leg. The second stroke silences the screams as it chops through the collarbone.

Taking the chance as Kai is distracted, the last remaining patroling merc brings his rifle to his shoulder and fires. The energy bolt strike him in the back, knocking him to the ground as the armor absorbs the worst of the energy, but still hurting like a kick from a Lurian riding lizard.

Just as Kai hits the ground, the door to the facility screeches open and another squad of mercs open fire. "Get them boys!" A woman, obviously in command, yelled with glee. Vic managed to throw himself out of the line of fire, but a few blasts hit home, winding him. 

 As he lands among the roots of the trees, Vic let fly as many shells as he's able. As the metal darts ricochets around the structure, a great number of them hit the mercenaries. Two were downed but still very much in the fight, but one of their comrades get's hit and drops to the floor, perforated.
Kai swings with frenzy at his attacker, but only drives him back, and CC takes a shot at the mercenary boss-lady, but her armor prooved the tougher of the two.  She slips in through the doorway again though.

 As soon as he is able, Vic opens fire again,  turning the entrance into a abbatoir.
 The two guards remaining inside the doorway are sprawled across the floor as the tungsten darts punch large holes in them.
 Kai's fiercesome attacks bear fruit as his attacker falls to a well-timed one-two swipe at his legs and then his unprotected side. Spinning around the side of the building, he then plants both blades firmly into the back of the last standing mercenary.
 CC calls out to the leader of the mercs, pressed into the corner of the facility: "There's no point in us fighting any more, give up and we'll spare you and your men."
After a few moments the silence breaks as she sees the wisdom in our heroes offer. Her rifle slides into the open doorway. "I've put down my gun, I accept your terms."
"I figure you know your way around this place?" Vic came around the outside corner, shotgun pointed at their prisoner.
 "Enough to know what you might be after. Captain Bella, XO of the Void Stalkers" Bella offers a hand in a professional gesture. Vic cautiously accept the offered hand.
 "Well then captain, if you would show us to the mainframe?" Kai interjected.
"That's not where you want to go."
 "And why is that?" he replied.
"Because the project BW logs aren't stored there, they are in a separate lab. If want, I'll take you."
 "Let's go then."

Vic and the others started following Bella as she took them further into the heart of the facility.

"Here it is. The lab that we were supposed to keep you out of." Their captive shrugged.
"I don't know why you are going after this, considering all the heat it's bringing down on you. You can still walk away you know." She added, looking at her captors.
"Kai, could you get the door?" Vic asked, ignoring the captains unspoken question.
"I'll have it open in no time." Kai started messing with the wiring inside an access panel, then promptly the doors slid open. "Open sesame!" He chuckled.

 "If you would be so kind and pull up the logs, Captain?" CC oversaw Bella as she started working the terminal.
 "I was given a command override to wipe the core if I couldn't stop you, but I figure I owe you since you didn't kill us all. Not everyone is as gracious a winner when facing mercs." She shot over her shoulder as she kept working.
 "I'd rather not add a company of mercs to my enemies if I can avoid it." Vic looked around at the displays, running simulatory models and some sort of genetic data he didn't understand.
"CC, are you able to get any of this? It's way past my basic science knowledge."
 "Well, It seems like they were trying to integrate human cells with some form of non-humanoid life, as well as bonding tech with whatever they were trying to create."
 "So some Frankenstein shit is what you're saying?" Kai cut in.
"Yeah, basicly."
"But why go to such lenghts to hide it? It's not illegal anywhere in human space anyway?" Vic mumbled, trying to make sense of it all in his head.
 "There must be something fishy, otherwise they wouldn't go after us like this." CC stated, and unjacked the data stick from the terminal. "All the data available on this terminal is downloaded. we should get out of here, and find somebody to help us analyze it."
"No, wait! There is something left in the labs cryo storage!" Bella called from the terminal. "It's thawing whatever is in there!"

"You stay put, we'll have a look!" before she can protest, Vic and Kai are out the door, heading for the storage. CC quickly follows the two, checking her rifle as she jogs down the corridor.

Peering into the gloom of the lab, the trio can just make out the cryo pod's low glow.  
"I can't see any thing.." Kai strained to see through the murk.

A loud hiss accompanies the door slowly swinging open.
The light from inside the pod backlit the horror stepping out into the lab, all spines and claws.

The creature is a drone, the lowest of the Swarm warrior caste. The Swarm is a ravenous species of aliens from unknown parts of space, intent on harvesting all biomass they can come across.
 "What the hell! What is a bug doing here?" CC shouted in horror. "I don't know, but get ready to fight!" Vic shouted back.
  Before they could blink, the drone launches at Kai, knocking him into the corridor.

 As he falls back, the screeching of the creature only partly masks the sound of heavy footfalls pounding across the lab floor.
 Out of the shadows an armored form appears, smashing into the drone. The creature makes a strangled noise as it slams into the lockers next to him, bending the metal and causing more blood to pulse out of his rent carapace.

Vic had just managed to get his gun clear and deciding that the drone is the bigger threat, his shotgun booms. The cloud of flechettes rips chunks out of the drone, almost severing it's head.
"Are you alright Kai?" Vic and CC shouted.
 "I think so, might have broken a rib or two though." he replied   

Vic turned his gun on the newcomer "Who are you, and what are you doing here?"
 "Zak. I mean you no harm, the people I'm hunting have moved on it seems. I was hoping to find some data on them here before moving on."
"Fair enough, as long as you don't intend us no harm. Who are you after?" Vic tried.
 "The people that betrayed me. Since I didn't find them, I'll be going now."

At this point Bella came walking in. "I saw what happened on the monitor."
As she entered, Zak stiffened, then grabbed her by the front of her vest. "Where is he! Where is Graham!" he shouted at her, lifting her off the ground and shaking her.
"Hey, put her down Zak!" Vic shouted as the trio all levelled their weapons on the newcomers.
 "What do you want with him?" She asked cooly.
"He is one of the men I seek, I'll kill him!" The armored man shook with rage.
 "He's not here, Our next assignment is supposed to be in a system called Quineg. He's there, but you can't go after him!" Bella is starting to turn blue. "Why?" Zak drops her uncermoniously to the ground, heaving in precious oxygen. "Because I'm going go bring him in."
"Not if I can get to him first." Zak leaves.

Explaining herself, Bella tells the group how she grew up and joined the Unity agent program, and was tasked with infiltrating and bringing in Graham, the leader of the Void Stalkers.
After securing the data and making sure they wouldn't come after our heroes again, they let her and the rest of the Void Stalkers that survived go.

"We need to sort through the data and and figure out what they were doing with the swarm creatures?" CC waved the data stick as the trio gathered to plan the next move.
 "We know that the Void Stalkers are likely to show up next time too."
"Let's find a place and someone to help us sort this, then we make a plan to move on to Quineg."
 "Are you okay CC?" Vic asked, concern on his face. "I'll be fine, it was a long time ago." she said woodenly.
 "We can drop this if it's too hard." Vic he in the eyes as he put his hand on her shoulder.
"No, we've come to far. I'll contact some people I know, see if they can make sense of what we found."

"You and Kai should focus on raising some money for out trip, unless you can find us a ship."
 "Don't worry, we'll get what we need." Kai assured her, a rogueish smile on his lips as usual.

The plan set, our trio gets to work on their assigned tasks.

What will happen as they get ready to follow the clues to the Quineg system? What will await CC on her homecoming? What were the Swarm doing in the facility, and what is project BW anyway?

Check in next time to find some of these answers!

Til next time! 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Invaders on the horizon; A set of Horizon Wars AARs

While making a few pieces in preparation for the next episode of  Starport Scum, I decided to try one of the scenarios from the book to play a game of Horizon Wars. It ended up being one scenario and one straight up battle, since the scenario was finished by turn 2.

The scenario; Deliberate attack, 12 Presence per side.

The SADU had picked up a presence of the invaders on a frontier world,  and sent out a small unit to defend against the invading force. The Invaders wanted to hit hard and fast to establish a beachhead for furthering their incursion.

Only two mechs had made it to the battlefield in time, the rest were kept in reserve.

The invading CHQ open up with it's shoulder cannons. The shots rip through the the foliage and set fire to the brush before crashing into the Turtle mech, knocking off some armor and damaging the targeting systems.

The defender moves up to retaliate, it's micro-missiles exploding all over the CHQ. Armor shards fly and the legs of the mech is damaged as well! 

 Capitalizing on the exposed mech. High velocity slugs shred trees,dirt and mech alike. Hitting something vital, an acrid puff of smoke announces the end of the mechs involvement in the engagement.

Start of the 2nd turn. After a near miss from the SADU CHQ, the Invader line mech swing around to fire on the enemy. A lucky burst makes it through the vital armor covering the powerplant, killing the mech and it crashes down, lifeless.

Reinforcements from both sides arrive, but the defenders are essentially overrun at this point. They make a valiant attempt, damaging movement and firepower of a Invader mech, but fails to bring it down.

By the end of the 2nd turn, only two SADU defenders are effective and on the field. The Invaders have successfully overrun their defences, and win the battle!

As this was so quick (over in about 20 minutes) I set up a second game, pitting the Invaders full 12 points against the full SADU contingent:

Setting up along the other edges, Invaders took the initiative and was soon attacking the defenders.

At what might be a bit long range, the Invader heavy hits the leg of the Beetle CHQ.

Having sought cover behind a rock prooved rather pointless, as a Turtle speed up and fire on the heavy, sending shards of armor flying.  

On the left flank an assault mech and a SADU mech trade blows, causing minor damage to eachother.

 It doesn't take long before another Turtle mech closes in on the assault mech and blow more armor and pieces off it..

 ..The assault mech's flamer belches in return, melting steel and warping supports on the defenders mech.

 Even more defenders swarm in to attack the already damaged assault mech, further injuring it.

 Moving up behind some of the new arrivals, a burst of hyper-velocity slugs shred layers of armor and synthtetic muscle.

 The Beetle react and move up, shooting at the Invader. 

 The CHQ open up with both shoulder cannons and plasma gun, blowing up a Turtle and damaging another as armor runs in rivulets, starting small fires in grass. Return fire hit him, but he keeps firing.

 With heavy damage and barely functional, the Beetle CHQ charges into the closest Invader. Tortured shrieks drown out the noise of warning klaxons and gunfire. Both mechs are still standing if just barely.

 Start of the 3rd turn, The heavy Invader opens fire on the line of Turtle mechs infront of the CHQ. The first blast of the fusion cannon cooks through the power plant of a defending mech and shearing armor of the legs and scrambling the computers of another.

 The SADU's revenge is swift and brutal, the Invaders CHQ is trashed as the combined maelstrom of fire eats through him. 

The last effective Invader fires his fusion cannon and blow up another SADU mech! But in a stroke of luck, the Invader heavy is brought crashing down as a lucky critical hit knocks the last armor off the frame before he can bring his guns to bear again.

This second game was a close one, most of the mechs were severly damaged, and a smattering of criticals at the start of the 3rd round decided the game.

Next time I'll hope to have another AAR and possibly the next episode of Starport Scum!

Til next time!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Updates: campaign prep, mechs and more

While my vacation time moves towards it's last few days, I have managed quite a few updates for a bunch of different projects.

Before running the 3rd episode of the Starport Scum campaign, I needed some more pieces, including these:

With another intrusion into a corporate facility soon after touching down on Thylla I, I needed to make a few more tiles. As I also realized I had no doors exept for a big blast door, I made a few doors as well. They fit nicely with the new tiles, and hopefully equally well with the old ones.

I also made a few more bases of woods, to be able to fill a table, on Thylla I and other temperate worlds.

As I was busy making terrain, I also made sure to finish a few things for Horizon Wars.

A new threat to the SADU and NTC, known only so far as the Invaders:

The units observed on the fringes of human space.

A heavy command mech, filling a CHQ role.

The Invader line mechs, the equivalent of the NTC Warriors or SADU Turtles. 
Armed with missiles and chainguns, these mechs also have advanced targeting computers to help optimize targeting vectors.

Assault mechs, dedicated close combat units. These units have an extra agile frame, to allow them to dodge and weave to get close enough to use their flamethrowers and short-range fusion guns.

The final unit observed are a Heavy mech. Slower and more heavily armed than the line mechs, the heavies sacrifice speed for extra targeting computers and a larger powerplant to fuel the long-range fusion cannons.

The only infantry units spotted so far, these infantrymen fill the role of light infantry.
These sightings also confirm that the invaders are humanoid, possibly of terran origin.

The USS and NIJA regulars also had some reinforcements this time around.

The two pairs of mechs.

Known as the Broadsword, this mech is a heavy frontline unit. Far faster and more agile than the average heavy, the Broadsword sacrifice active defences to maintain offencive capability and speed, prefering to hit hard and fast.

 The Longbow. It's also a more mobile mech, prefering speed and armor to heavy weapons. Advanced targeting systems help the Longbow make the most of it's armaments.   

The Ballista is a medium mech specialized in medium range combat. Sacrificing most of it's space in favor of more missiles and an advanced lock-on system, the Ballista is more fragile than many other mechs in it's weight-class, but few punch as hard at range. 

The last mech of today is another heavy. the Halbeard.  A heavily armed and armored mech, the Halbeard is a classic heavy mech, slower, with lots of armor. Carrying a hailstorm cannon and a double-barreled laser, this mech is able to wade through heavy fire to reach it's objective.

That's all for now, I have a AAR or two to share in a few days and hopefully the next episode of my Starport Scum adventures.

Til next time!