Author Topic: [Battle report] Smoking Guns at the Temple- Mishima vs. Capitol vs. Ilian (SG2)  (Read 6496 times)

Offline Horned Owl

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Hey, had a new game! Stargrunt II rules, Sunset Strikers vs. Mishima soldiers at the Graveton Archipelago.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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Lieutenant (Senior Grade) Calqhoun O´Neill, of the Capitol Sunset Strikers, enjoyed an unprecedented degree of relaxation. Tall, lanky and handsome in the way of Capitol´s media stars, with clean features and a roguish smile, twice decorated for valour, the Lieutenant did not usually lack for female attention, but now, on the fourth day of his R&R, he was content to lie quietly alone on a deckchair in the shade of the palm trees, nurse a Graveton longdrink and watch the vacationers play in the surf. Children played ball on the white Venusian beach, couples kissed, youths splashed each other with the cool salt water. O´Neill did his best to ignore the concrete blocks and corrugated metal of the military radar post, some nine hundred yards (sniper´s trained eye measure, he thought sourly) down the shore, intersecting the clean beach like an ugly scar. Here, as everywhere, the Capitolian Eagle had to keep a careful vigil. Capitol enjoyed freedom and prosperity, and freedom and prosperity brought with them the envy of those who did not enjoy them at their own home. A thoroughbred military man, Lieutenant O´Neill was proud to be part of the bulwark that kept the envious eyes and grasping hands at arm´s length, so that those children could continue playing, the couples continue kissing, the youths continue ducking each other in the water. But today, he was on vacation, and entitled to an afternoon of thoroughly un-military thoughts.

„Excuse me, sir?“ asked the elderly lady in the deckchair next to his. She had pinned a flower in her white hair, which was Graveton Archipelago style for young women and girls. O´Neill immediately liked her. He took off his Bauhaus-Talsen aviator sunglasses and smiled back at her. „Yes, ma´am?“

„You look like a soldier, Mr. -?“

„O´Neill.“ He held out his hand. She took it daintily. „Lieutenant O´Neill, ma´am, in the Strikers.“

„Very pleased to meet you, Lieutenant O´Neill. I´m Marjorie Adams. I had a son in the AFC – a fine boy, he was. You remind me of him.“

O´Neill sensed her meaning and said, „I´m sorry.“ He did not let go of her hand. But she shook her head. „It´s been so long... one gets used to it. I´ve his picture on my nightstand, so I know he´s still watching over me, over all of us. I´m proud of him. We owe so much to soldiers like you and him, Lieutenant.“

O´Neill frowned. „Just doing our job, ma´am -“

„Marjorie, please, Lieutenant.“ There was a shy little-girl smile on her face that suddenly made her look like sixteen. He was forced to smile too. „We´re doing our job, Marjorie. When I´m looking down this beach, or when I´m talking to you, I know that we´ve done it well. Your son, he made the world safer for you, and for those children. You can be proud of him.“ But the words came out too easily, too glibly, and he was uncomfortably reminded of all the mothers, wives and lovers he had already had to break the news of their loved boy´s death in the line of duty to. She seemed to sense it, too. Her smile faded.

„Do you suppose we will be all right, Lieutenant?“

„We will have to, Marjorie. Because, for all its faults, Capitol is the light. We´re free where all the others are oppressed. I know -“, and here the rhetoric failed him. He started anew, and then the words poured out. „I know oppression. I´ve been on Mercury, in Longshore. I´ve seen children executed or tortured or sold to a sweatshop for a pittance. I´ve seen the commoners pushed into line with electric prods in the factories.“

„It´s like that in the slums. In San Dorado, in the Sprawl.“

„Yes, but that is at the fringe of our society. In Mishima, it´s everywhere. Everywhere. Even in the palaces. They´ll carve up a servant girl if she serves the tea too hot. And they got the right to do it.“

„I don´t see how that is too different from our own rich people, Lieutenant. Look at this -“ she took a crumpled newspaper out of her handbag, „What Thomas Irving-Jorgensen did to that girl. She won´t ever be able to walk again, poor thing, and it looks like he´ll just buy himself out of the trial -“

„Well, but the newspapers report it, do they?“

She looked surprised. „Why, yes.“

„In Mishima, this is so commonplace – and legal - that it wouldn´t even make the fifteenth page. Over here, it´s an outrage. Look at the size of that headline... it must be four inches high. And Irving-Jorgensen had to beat up his little mistress behind closed doors. The samurai do it publicly, they even flaunt it. And the citizens aren´t armed. They got no legal recourse. They got no civil rights to exercise. They can´t even fight back. And if they try, it´s the death penalty the minute after. They´ve got no courts, no juries, no bail. Don´t blame our society for its shortcomings until you´ve seen how the others live. After seeing Mishima from the inside, I can live with gun crime and corporate greed and the pushy rich getting their way.“

A shadow had fallen on O´Neill, and he turned his head to look at the source.

„Enjoying your leave, Lieutenant? Still having the girls falling at your feet, I see.“ Captain Harrison was short and burly, clad in immaculately pressed khakis. His army car, similarly squat and clean, was parked at an awkward angle behind the rose bushes that circled the sun deck. „Sorry to keep you from extolling the Capitolian way to the young lady“, - Harrison touched the peak of his cap at Marjorie, who acknowledged the salute with a dignified nod, - „but you are needed at base. Fifteen minutes to get into gear, I´ve got a Purple Shark waiting to pick you up at sixteen-hundred.“

O´Neill didn´t budge. „This is my R&R.“

„This is your duty. Leave´s cancelled, Colonel´s orders. I´ll have that“, and the Captain deftly appropriated O´Neill´s drink, „Sergeant Grady will fill you in on the details while you´re underway. Excuse us, ma´am, we got a bit of soldiering to do.“ He took a sip from the glass, then took out the umbrella stick and swallowed a cherry.

O´Neill heaved the tiniest of sighs and folded his lanky six-foot-eight out of the chair. He reached for his towel, scratched his crew-cut and threw Marjorie an apologetic half-smile. She looked up at him, then reached out an age-flecked hand and patted him on the arm. Looking for all on Venus like a mother giving her brave little soldier son a farewell. O´Neill suddenly felt like a schoolboy. She tenderly picked the flower out of her hair and pinned it to his khaki shirt.

„Thanks“, he said, feeling touched but vaguely ridiculous.

„Take care of yourself, Lieutenant.“

„Calqhoun. I´m Calqhoun.“

„Take care, Lieutenant Calqhoun O´Neill. Thank you for what you do.“ And with a last smile at him, she picked up the newspaper, shook it firmly and frowned at the crossword. Somewhere behind the Lieutenant, Captain Harrison impatiently honked the car´s horn.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 01:33:53 PM by Horned Owl »
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline micmellon

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The intro is just superb. Can't wait to read the next episode.
It's just a flesh wound - Black Night

Offline Horned Owl

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Thanks! Had to substitute "longdrink" for "****tail", though.

(Let´s hope no one ever does a report on chicken breeding on this forum.  8) Or mention the sniper Carlos Hath****. Or a ****ed gun.)
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

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The Graveton Archipelago is Capitol´s paradise on Venus. Lush tropical islands, surrounded by a turquoise sea free from the usual taint of industrial pollution, harbour not only huge media studios and spas for the rich and famous, but also ports and facilities for Capitol´s largest fleets. Sprawling plantations keep the corporation´s holdings on Mars and Luna supplied with exotic fruit and grains. 

And yet the paradise has always been tainted with strife ever since Capitol pried it away from Bauhaus (while the Homebuilders´ attention was tied up with fighting the Dark Legion). Lord Heir Maru´s troops recently seized a large chunk of the Archipelago and fortified the islands beyond Capitol´s ability to reconquer. Nepharite Overlords of Algeroth and Ilian both came close to spread their corruption over the entire chain of islands, and only the concerted efforts of Mishima, Capitol and Bauhaus could check them. Even now, there are rumours of entire Heretical communities and legions of Algeroth´s reanimated dead hiding on the stagnant bayous and in the heart of the jungle.

The tiny island of Makaulau – now officially dubbed Tsurugashima – housed a large shrine of the Kakibara family, a minor industrial fiefdom of Kwan-to. In the war, it was briefly occupied by Ilian´s Templars and never reclaimed when the Nepharite Uragashai was beaten into retreat. Now Kakibara Hideo, heir of the family, arrives by private helicopter to reinvest the shrine and pay his respects to his ancestors.

The Kakibara clan´s claim to fortune was based mainly on their conquest of the Irving-Jorgensen steel foundries in the Archipelago. While this raised them from near poverty to a respectable industrial power, it made them a powerful enemy in the Irving-Jorgensen family, major stockholders of Capitol. When Thomas Irving-Jorgensen, head of the family´s private intelligence service on Venus, was informed of Hideo´s planned visit to Tsurugashima, he called in a few favours from the military and had a platoon of Sunset Strikers assigned on a raid on the shrine.

Kakibara Hideo´s ashigaru retainers have reasonably secured the island, patrolling the outskirts of the temple and the weed-choked landscape gardens. They even reactivated the twin Dragonfire HMGs in the lion-shaped towers at the gate. Hideo´s own élite guard of Samurai are with him. Hideo is not exactly an experienced warrior himself, but he was trained in the arts of Ki by his family´s blademaster, and he has a heirloom set of swords that sets off his mediocre combat abilities. He is accompanied by a score of monks that immediately set about cleansing the shrine. Casualties among the clergy could be disastrous to Capitol-Mishima relations, so the Sunset Strikers have to pick and choose their targets.

Both sides are armed with only small arms – the Mishimans do not expect a concerted military attack, and the Strikers are paradropped on the temple´s precincts in small, self-sufficient teams. The jet chute drop means that only basic weapons can be carried, but two teams of Strikers carry disposable one-shot RPG launchers to deal with armoured doors or similar obstacles.

Neither side suspects that the temple still houses six Templars and a machine-beast of Ilian, all of which were hibernating in secret chambers beneath the shrine. The palpable waves of violence awaken these abominations, and they rise from their frozen slumber to attack the interlopers. The Templars in themselves are tough nuts to crack for both sides´ rifles (being power armoured and able to use Gifts of the Dark Symmetry), but the beast is impervious to small-arms fire and so can only be taken out by RPGs or dodged.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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« Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 02:44:37 PM by Horned Owl »
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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THE SUNSET STRIKERS

--- 1st fireteam:
--- VETERAN-1 (D10 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Team is equipped with three grenade counters (negate cover bonus in the first round of CC when used)
------ Sergeant Cooper (Team commander) – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and M50 rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D10)
------ 3 Sunset Strikers – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and M50 rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D10)

--- 2nd fireteam:
--- VETERAN-1 (D10 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Team is equipped with IAVR disposable anti-tank launchers.
------ Corporal Carson (Team commander) – armed with a M516D assault shotgun (close range only, Firepower 3, Impact D8, +2 close combat)
------ 3 Sunset Strikers – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and M50 rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D10)

--- 3rd fireteam:
--- ELITE-1 (D12 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Team is equipped with three grenade counters (negate cover bonus in the first round of CC when used)
------ Corporal Kaminski (Team commander) – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and M50 rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D10)
------ 3 Sunset Strikers – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and M50 rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D10)

--- 4th fireteam:
--- ELITE-2 (D12 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Team is equipped with IAVR disposable anti-tank launchers.
------ Corporal Roseboom (Team commander) – armed with a M516D assault shotgun (close range only, Firepower 3, Impact D8, +2 close combat)
------ 3 Sunset Strikers – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and M50 rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D10)

--- 1st Sniper fireteam:
--- ELITE-1 (D12 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D10 (spotting scope)
------ Lance Corporal Donahue (Sniper) – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and SR-50 sniper rifle (Firepower D10, Impact D10)
------ Corporal Lewis (Spotter) – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and Ironfist sidearm (Close range only, Firepower 2, Impact D8, +1 close combat)

--- 2nd Sniper fireteam:

--- ELITE-2 (D12 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D10 (spotting scope)
------ Lance Corporal Miller (Sniper) – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and SR-50 sniper rifle (Firepower D10, Impact D10)
------ Corporal Dunley (Spotter) – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and Ironfist sidearm (Close range only, Firepower 2, Impact D8, +1 close combat)

--- Command fireteam:
--- ELITE-2 (D12 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Team is equipped with three grenade counters (negate cover bonus in the first round of CC when used)
------ Lieutenant O´Neill (Platoon commander) – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and M50 rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D10)
------ 3 Sunset Strikers – armed with Ceremonial Blades (+1 close combat) and M50 rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D10)


SUPPORT

--- 6 stripped-down Great Gray grav vehicles (size 1, open-topped, can carry 5 soldiers), at company level (no die shift) for med-evac and extraction.
--- VETERAN-1 (D10 Quality die) – Sensors D6 (aided vision) – ECM D8 (enhanced ECM) – Armour 1*
----- 1 crewman, armed with an Ironfist sidearm (Close range only, Firepower 2, Impact D8, +1 close combat)
----- 1 medic, unarmed


Tsurugashima has LOW air defense environment (D6) due to the Dragonfire MGs in the towers.

The Capitol player has four priority counters. All Strikers are parachute deployed.

Mission Motivation is MEDIUM. All Strikers start the game at the FRESH fatigue level.

« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 05:20:54 AM by Horned Owl »
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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THE KAKIBARA SILVER BLOSSOM REGIMENT

--- 1st guntai (squad)

--- REGULAR-2 (D8 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Destroy or defend – shift Quality up by 1 die type for purposes of morale and reaction checks at the end of a round of close combat but may not voluntarily retreat from CC
------ Sergeant Yang (Squad commander) – armed with a Shogun rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D8)
------ 5 ashigaru – armed with Shogun rifles (Firepower 2, Impact D8)

--- 2nd guntai (squad)
--- REGULAR-1 (D8 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Destroy or defend – shift Quality up by 1 die type for purposes of morale and reaction checks at the end of a round of close combat but may not voluntarily retreat from CC
------ Sergeant Singh (Squad commander) – armed with a Shogun rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D8)
------ 5 ashigaru – armed with Shogun rifles (Firepower 2, Impact D8)

--- 3rd guntai (squad)
--- REGULAR-2 (D8 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Destroy or defend – shift Quality up by 1 die type for purposes of morale and reaction checks at the end of a round of close combat but may not voluntarily retreat from CC
------ Sergeant Inoue (Squad commander) – armed with a Shogun rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D8)
------ 5 ashigaru – armed with Shogun rifles (Firepower 2, Impact D8)

--- 4th guntai (squad)
--- REGULAR-2 (D8 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Destroy or defend – shift Quality up by 1 die type for purposes of morale and reaction checks at the end of a round of close combat but may not voluntarily retreat from CC
------ Sergeant Li (Squad commander) – armed with a Shogun rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D8)
------ 5 ashigaru – armed with Shogun rifles (Firepower 2, Impact D8)

--- 4th guntai (squad)
--- REGULAR-3 (D8 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Destroy or defend – shift Quality up by 1 die type for purposes of morale and reaction checks at the end of a round of close combat but may not voluntarily retreat from CC
------ Sergeant Katô (Squad commander) – armed with a Shogun rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D8)
------ 5 ashigaru – armed with Shogun rifles (Firepower 2, Impact D8)

--- Command section
--- REGULAR-1 (D8 Quality die) – Armour D6 (Partial) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Destroy or defend – shift Quality up by 1 die type for purposes of morale and reaction checks at the end of a round of close combat but may not voluntarily retreat from CC
------ Lieutenant Rao (Squad commander) – armed with a Shogun rifle (Firepower 2, Impact D8) and officer´s katana (+1 close combat)
------ Platoon Sergeant – armed with an Airbrush shotgun (close range only, Firepower 3, Impact D6, +2 close combat)
------ 2 ashigaru – armed with Shogun rifles (Firepower 2, Impact D8)

--- Bodyguard section
--- ELITE-2 (D12 Quality die) – Armour D8 (Full armour) – Sensors D6 (aided vision)
--- Destroy or defend – shift Quality up by 1 die type for purposes of morale and reaction checks at the end of a round of close combat but may not voluntarily retreat from CC
--- Banzai charge – terror effect in the first round of Close Combat when charging
------ Leader – armed with an Airbrush shotgun (close range only, Firepower 3, Impact D6, +2 close combat) and Ceremonial blades (+1 close combat, non-cumulative)
------ 3 samurai – armed with Airbrush shotguns (close range only, Firepower 3, Impact D6, +2 close combat) and Ceremonial blades (+1 close combat, non-cumulative)

--- Kakibara Hideo
--- REGULAR-2 (D8 Quality die) – Armour D4 (corporate suit) – Sensors D4 (unaided vision)
--- Destroy or defend – shift Quality up by 1 die type for purposes of morale and reaction checks at the end of a round of close combat but may not voluntarily retreat from CC
--- Banzai charge – terror effect in the first round of Close Combat when charging
------ armed with heirloom Ceremonial Blades (+2 close combat)
------ Ki powers:
--------- Yorama´s Deflecting Hands: Spend an action. Until next activation, roll both Quality die and armour die against damage, use higher number.
--------- Nomura´s Quickened Step: Spend an action. Pass a reaction test to gain a second set of actions. May only be used once a round.
--------- The Toad´s Great Leap: Double movement when charging into or falling back from close combat.
--------- Yizo´s Prescience: If shot at, may make an immediate reaction test to go prone before fire is resolved.

--- 4 unarmed priests (individuals)
--- UNTRAINED-3 (D4 Quality die) – Armour D4 (robes) – Sensors D4 (unaided vision)

The Mishima player has eight booby-trap and eight dummy counters. All units start the game as unidentified counters and must be identified (or identify themselves by shooting) before they can be shot at.

Mission Motivation is HIGH (the Mishimans fight to protect the heir of their liege). All ashigaru start the game at the TIRED fatigue level (they have been asked to take part in repairing the shrine, they have booby-trapped the garden and dug defensive positions). All others are at the FRESH fatigue level.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 05:24:51 AM by Horned Owl »
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

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"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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THE TEMPLARS

--- 1st circle
--- VETERAN-2 (D10 Quality die) – Armour D12 (Power Armour) – Sensors *
--- Immune to morale rules. Sense all units on the tabletop.
------ 3 Templars – armed with Kratach rifles (Firepower 2, Impact D8) and void-forged swords (+1 Close Combat)
------ Dark Gifts:
------ Stitch in Space-Time: Expend an action. Pass a reaction test to teleport anywhere on the battlefield. Scatter squad as if paradropped.
------ Chill of the Void: Pass a reaction test at a threat level of +2 each round of close combat. If successful, enemies fight as if untrained (D4 quality die). All enemies defeated in CC are frozen in time (dead, wounded or alive and captured as the Templar wishes – don´t roll for injury).

--- 2nd circle
--- VETERAN-2 (D10 Quality die) – Armour D12 (Power Armour) – Sensors *
--- Immune to morale rules. Sense all units on the tabletop.
------ 3 Templars – armed with Kratach rifles (Firepower 2, Impact D8) and void-forged swords (+1 Close Combat)
------ Dark Gifts:
------ Stitch in Space-Time: Expend an action. Pass a reaction test to teleport anywhere on the battlefield. Scatter squad as if paradropped.
------ Chill of the Void: Pass a reaction test at a threat level of +2 each round of close combat. If successful, enemies fight as if untrained (D4 quality die). All enemies defeated in CC are frozen in time (dead, wounded or alive and captured as the Templar wishes – don´t roll for injury).

--- Beast of Ilian
--- REGULAR-1 (D8 Quality die) – Armour 3* – Sensors *
--- Size 3 vehicle
--- Immune to morale rules. Sense all units on the tabletop.
--- armed with a void flamer (Close Range only, Firing System D6, Impact D12x1)
------ 1 „crewman“ (animating spirit) – Terror Effect. May attack in close combat if it disembarks.

« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 05:35:34 AM by Horned Owl »
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

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With a last wistful look at the faded painting of scantily-clad Liza Bergman on the Great Grey´s flank, Sergeant Cooper pushed himself off the handrail and fought the familiar feeling of vertigo that accompanied the drop. For a few seconds he seemed to hang motionless in the air, a tall, black-skinned man in tan-coloured Panther armour and combat khakis. Then the straps of his jet chute dug viciously into his armpits when the little monster fired, and he felt the flame licking at his ankles. (A veteran of some eighteen combat drops, Cooper had protected the heels of his boots with fireproof caulk baffling.) Then he hit the ground, shucked the chute´s harness and was already rolling for the cover of a Venusian fern tree.

Overhead, tracers from the lion-shaped temple gate slashed across the sky as the Great Greys´ pilots threw their machines into frantic zig-zag maneuvers. One exploded with a huge boom that rattled the debris and caused a dilapidated wall to collapse on itself. Then the mangled shark´s remnants came screaming down and impacted on the huge statue of Kanji in the courtyard, which continued to smile beatifically despite the newly-created ragged hole in its chest. Small drops of burning fuel rained down and hissed on the ornamental pond´s surface.

His knees aching (touchdown was always hard on the joints), Cooper cautiously moved forward around the patch of bushes, his M50 in ready position. He heard the leaves rustling on all sides: his fireteam moved to join up with him. Then he rounded the corner of a pedestal, saw a movement and immediately jerked up his rifle. The Mishiman monk he had cornered dropped a gardening rake and looked at him pale and wide-eyed. Slowly, without taking his eyes off the priest, Cooper pulled back and gestured with his rifle for him to move aside. The man nodded nervously and complied.

„Little Tiger, Little Tiger.“ His comm set crackled; that was the Lieutenant´s signal. „Little Tiger, this is Little Tiger Seven. Status.“

„Seven, this is Two. One man down, broken ankle.“

„Seven, Five. We´re fine. We´re on your three o´clock, at the statue.“

„Seven, Six. Seems we hit the roof of a wall. Establishing post.“ That was one of the sniper teams. It seemed they had managed to land precariously on top of one of the plaster walls and would have to remain there – Cooper estimated them to be thirty feet high. On the positive side, that would give them a nice wide field of fire to work with. Even now, Miller and his spotter would be moving broken shingles to create a hideout on the tiled roof.

One by one, the fireteam leaders called in. Two and Three both had wounded – the rough drop had injured three soldiers. By the time they had finished, Cooper´s men had caught up with him, and he could aleady hear Mishima teams closing in on their position. He tapped his throat mike.

„Seven, One. All clear, ready to go. I´ve got bogies on my nine.“

„One, Seven. Observe, report enemy strength and engage. Keep in mind Two is in your rear. Out.“

This was it. The familiar tension stiffened Cooper´s spine, and a broad grin threatened to split his face. He was back where he belonged: stalking an honourable enemy on their own ground. He adjusted his Striker headband, checked his ceremonial blades, and signalled for his men to move out.


"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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Lieutenant Rao pushed back his shako, took off his round, wire-framed glasses and polished them on his sleeve. He often did that when he was nervous, and nervous was what he was right at this moment. His round brown face did not betray it, and he kept his movements deliberately calm and slow to keep face in front of his men. But he was nervous, and tired, and irritated.

His hand stole into his breast pocket to finger the tiny silver Brotherhood cross he kept there; despite being a follower of the Cardinal´s word – unusual in the Mishiman domains on Venus – he had been promoted to a position of trust through ability and hard work. For this, he was duly grateful: not every lord was as indifferent to religion as his liege, and he was determined to show loyalty and aptitude in his service. So part of him welcomed this opportunity to prove his worth, but the other part, of course, was worrying about the very real potential of failure.

The Capitolian enemy had deployed into a rough half-circle, with the corners providing support, and the bulge pressing toward the temple entrance. On the left, a fireteam of Capitolians led by a large black sergeant had fanned out into a searching pattern; they had become aware of the two guntai that were angling in on their position. A single shot rang out, and the terrified ashigaru ducked: from somewhere, a sniper had fired. Sergeant Katô´s life signals peaked once, then faded out on the Lieutenant´s combat coordinator.

On the right, Rao heard the chatter of Shogun assault rifles as Sergeant Li´s guntai fired short bursts into the dense vegetation, but intuition told him the fire had been ineffectual. Return fire from the Capitolians´ M50s was decisive and tightly bundled, but the firepower was low; the enemy was probably only trying to keep the ashigaru occupied.

A second sniper fired from somewhere on the right, and Sergeant Li collapsed, dropping his rifle. His life signals were still up, but faint, indicating a major wound. Things were getting worse. Rao whispered a few orders into his comm headset, hastily withdrawing the troops from his left; all possible sniper positions were on the wall, and he was successful in denying the Capitolian assassin lines of sight to most of his guntai. Only Katô´s squad was still in the field of fire, but no amount of encouragement could get them to leave their exposed position; they had dropped to the ground and tried desperately to find cover where they lay.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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Corporal Roseboom carefully moved along the overgrown path. What had been landscaped hedges was now a tangle of dense foliage that effectively hid her movement. A faint hint of silver drew her eye: booby-trap! The wire was almost invisible to the naked eye. She stepped carefully over it, then pulled the grenade out of its little hollow and disarmed it. At her signal, her fireteam filed down the path.

„Four, seven.“ That was the lieutenant. She tapped her mike and responded. „Seven, four. Copy.“

„Enemy in squad strength to your eleven. Three will provide cover fire. Engage.“

„Wilco, seven. Four out.“

Immediately, she heard the distinctive staccato of M50s, and the answering light popping of Shoguns from dead ahead. Without thinking, she broke into a run. The Mishimans were taken by surprise. One tried to bring up his rifle but she swung her M50 left-handed, like a club, and batted it aside. Her sword stroke cracked his armour and sliced him from shoulder to hip. Beside her, ceremonial blades flashed as her team pitched in.

Like a trapped tiger, one of her men fought off three assailants. The butt of a Shogun sent him reeling. Then his comrades were there and dispatched the last few. Her adrenaline-hyped heartbeat still pounding in her ears, she sorted out her men: Mendoza was wounded, a fractured skull. Travis and Shacker were fine. Three of the enemy were still alive. With Fireteam Three still providing protection, she pushed the prisoners back into the cover of the hedges and took out a length of fine wire and a knife. It would be good to learn what they knew.

On the other side of the garden, single shots from Miller´s sniper rifle picked off more Mishiman soldiers; they could do little but hug the ground and pray to whatever Mishimans prayed to. Another priest was flushed out of his hiding place and fled white-faced. A muffled explosion indicated where a Striker had triggered another booby trap. His armour had apparently saved him from the worst, judging by his ability to swear in a steady stream until Lieutenant O´Neill barked at him to keep the channel clear.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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Sergeant Singh fired his Shogun wildly, spraying the enemy position with bullets. His men followed suit. Under the covering fire of his squad, the other guntai retreated towards the armoured doors. Singh felt more than saw something moving towards him, and unthinkingly threw himself to the ground. The rocket-propelled grenade streaked past him, followed by another, and he felt heat wash over his exposed back as the doors were blasted out of their hinges. The exquisite wood carvings that covered the steel doorjambs were blown to bits. Shrapnel pattered on Singh´s shoulder pads.

The Capitolians converged on the temple. They moved more decisively now: obviously the interrogated prisoners from Li´s squad had revealed the location of some of the defenses to the enemy. The hope of stopping the enemy in the garden proper had been too high; now the battle would be decided in the labyrinth of rooms and halls of the shrine. Two squads of ashigaru still held the entrance together with their lieutenant, but already one of the Capitolian sniper teams was moving towards a position where it could pin down the defenders.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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Lance Corporal Donahue nestled into position in his makeshift sniper´s foxhole. Roots from a fallen tree dug painfully into his side, but he ignored them and concentrated on getting his breath into a steady rhythm. Below him, he watched the assault on the doors unfold.

The Lieutenant was obviously getting his teams into combat order. The wounded and prisoners had been dropped off behind the lines, with Fireteam Three to guard them. Seven had come up to provide covering fire and proceeded to hose the defenders´ barricades with bullets. One and Four – Cooper and Roseboom – moved up to assault the position. Grenades were lobbed, and Donahue saw Cooper leap over the barricade like a panther, slashing with both swords. Then he was too occupied to continue watching: he adjusted his telescopic sight and singled out the Mishiman officer. He pulled back the set trigger, put his finger on the main, waited for a second – „don´t move, don´t move“ - then, right on his third breath, he fired.

When he brought the sights on the target again, there was a confusion of bodies. „Missed him“, his spotter whispered. „One of the slants pushed him out of the way. I think you hit the other one though, he´s down.“

Donahue spared a second to glance up the western wall. His fellow sniper Miller was up there somewhere, left out of the action by the limited field of fire from his section of the roof, and there was no way he could help. His position would be useful later on, to cover the evacuation, but Donahue doubted whether they could get him and his spotter out as well. He could not for the life of him see how a Grey should be able to land on the flimsy rooftop. But they would have to try: Capitol´s special forces never left their own behind.

Just as he thought it, a pair of Great Greys dove in at treetop level in a series of breakneck maneuvers to avoid the twin Dragonfires´ tracer streams. With screaming rotors, they lined up on the rear area where the prisoners and wounded were being treated.

Always tenacious foes, the Mishimans had not fallen back despite the fierce Capitolian assault. They rallied for a second push, and Donahue heard the low bark of Roseboom´s double-barrelled shotgun. The last ashigaru went down with his head blown clean away. Then a sudden and vicious salvo of fire from within the doorway raked the victorious Strikers. Three men went down, and Sergeant Cooper was thrown backwards when he took a load of buckshot square on the front of his body armour. One of the wounded ashigaru was hit as well and jerked around in his death throes. Donahue had a short glimpse of armoured samurai withdrawing deeper into the tunnel, the muzzles of their shotguns still smoking.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."