JUPITER The Only Way To Be Sure

Discussion in 'Open Roleplay' started by HSAR, Jun 16, 2018.

  1. HSAR

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    [​IMG]
    Image Credit: Alien Isolation, Creative Assembly 2014

    Just over a month after the Eros situation, another incident arises that threatens the fragile network of trade and economics that gives the Belt life: the protomolecule hybrid has broken out of Protogen containment and is loose on Ganymede.

    The United Nation Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence, forewarned, plays out a series of war games while it gathers troops under the guise of a rescue mission to capture the hybrid - or, failing that, to deny it to everyone else by destroying it.

    No-one is aware of how dangerous it is.



    Ganymede Orbit:
    • UNN and MCRN forces in orbit are on alert but not expecting imminent combat
    • There is no decisive tactical or strategic advantage on either side; all-out conflict would be devastating to both sides
    • Gravity is 0.15G
    • Light lag to Earth: 45 minutes
    • Light lag to Mars: 40 minutes
    • Light lag to the Belt: 20 minutes

    Ganymede Surface:
    • Gravity is 0.15G
    • No external atmosphere - spacesuits required for external movement
    • Ganymede is in sunset (Ganymede receives, at maximum, about 1/5 of the Earth's solar illumination) and it is too dark to see without assistance
    • UN and Mars coalition forces on the ground remain in a state of cautious co-operation, though intelligence channels are closed
    • There are large numbers of patrolling ground forces on the ground, but they are spread out across multiple outposts

    Ganymede Station:
    • Civilian population of Ganymede Station number well in excess of the military population, but unaware of any situation
    • Ganymede Station is at shift change - first-shift workers are going in to work, second-shift workers are preparing to finish their shifts and third-shift workers are in the middle of their sleep cycle (think of it as roughly 0730, 1530 and 2330 for each shift respectively)
    • Constructed in a hexagonal pattern, each hexagon tile is 500m from one side to the other - but tiles are not domes
    • Some tiles have a few small domes, while the largest domes cover three or even seven tiles



    [​IMG]

    Places of Interest:
    • 11-38-29 - Crash Site Avatar
    • 12-36-2A - Protogen Offices
    • 13-34-2B - Foothills Lowrail Station
    • 13-37-28 - Bridgewater Highrail Station
    • 13-3A-25 - Ravencroft Lowrail Station
    • 14-37-27 - Bridgewater Halls Arcade
    • 15-36-27 - Crash Site Molok
    • 15-38-25 - Ravencroft General Hospital
    • 16-37-25 - Ravencroft Transport Terminal & Cargo Facility
    • 17-33-28 - Iridium Square Highrail Station

    Bridgewater is a high-density area. The grey tiles show the Lowrail cutting south-west and north-east, and the Highrail going west and east. Above both are wide roads with plenty of space for electric vehicles and people on foot. The roads have shops and station infrastructure on both sides, and are used at all hours of the day.

    The green domes are the agricultural farms and their associated watering and climate control equipment.

    Blue tiles are malls and commercial blocks, mixed in with high-rise residential.

    Yellow tiles are corporate offices, almost entirely tower blocks. Some particularly corporations may own entire blocks, but most commonly will be located on a floor or two.

    Red tiles are places of special interest, which are listed in the places of interest above (but not every entry above has a red square).
     
    #1 HSAR, Jun 16, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2018
  2. HSAR

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    [​IMG]
    Image Credit: Halo Wars, Ensemble Studios/Microsoft 2009

    Rear Admiral Luther, commander of the United Nations Navy Jupiter Fleet Destroyer Squadron 19, watched his ships spin together above Ganymede. They were dark metallic shapes speckled against a pale background, their formation only loosely held, completely calm and showing nothing of the veil of military secrecy that had led them there. That deception was many layers thick - convincingly portraying that an accident of supply timetables had led to this grouping of strength above the oldest settlement in the outer planets.

    The Martians had been duly informed that DESRON 19 would be taking the chance to run a integrated training exercise in the moon's loose, 0.15G orbit. COMDESRON 19 had assured the MCRN that the exercise was "cold", without live weapons fire, and that his ships would endeavour to stay out of the way of Martian vessels. Exercises like this were occasionally conducted out here, and only minimally provocative. Business as usual, or so it seemed.
     
    #2 HSAR, Jun 16, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
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  3. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    Image Credit: Halo 3: ODST, Bungie/Microsoft 2009

    There was, of course - as the Office of Naval Intelligence always preferred - an undercurrent of truth to the lies. There really was an exercise underway, and the Marine company embarked on the UNN Yeager were getting ready to board shuttles for simulated combat on the surface of the moon. But in separate corner of the hangar, a pair of Black Kite stealth transports were cycling through pre-takeoff checklists. They would not be taking part in the exercise.

    Lieutenant Iverson strode down the flight line, giving final briefings to Lieutenant van Dijk, who was leading the other squad today. She, too, was ONI - after the situation on Vira, she was only going to work with people she knew. She'd brought the Marines from Calypso and had only grudgingly taken the remainder from Yeager after Captain Kasari personally assured her that they were up to the job. Each squad was reinforced with Force Recon power armour operators wielding heavy weapons.

    They were taking no risks with this operation. This was a chance to strike decisively against Protogen and take matters into their own hands, out from the shadows of corporate interests with their double-blind games of mergers and share liquidity. But first, a few more lies for the Marines, for the benefit of unwelcome listeners.

    "All signs are that the target is both highly intelligent and an extremely capable combatant. Do not engage unless you have a substantial tactical advantage. Are we clear?"

    "Affirmative."

    "Go ahead and give the briefing, then. Maintain information security for as long as practicable."
     
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  4. Jonah Heaton

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    [​IMG]
    Image Credit: Star Citizen, Cloud Imperium Games 2018

    Jonah Heaton checked the time once more and adjusted his grip on the handrail nervously. He was running over quarter of an hour late today; a misunderstanding about his water ration had led to his shower refusing to activate until he had sorted things out with a Ganymede Station rep. Thankfully they had been understanding, and he had let his supervisor know before leaving for the maglev. He was usually the first into the Eden Environmental offices, so he hoped they would overlook this one lapse - but he had only taken this job recently, and he needed the money badly.

    I hope this won't go in my record.

    The news reports running on the overhead screens were much the same as before he'd gone to bed. A few desultory updates on Eros, then the headlines were all about a new acquisition by Bush Orbital Shipyards that was going ahead despite an accounting scandal revealing tremendous discrepancies in its profit reporting. There were whispers of a bailout.

    Jonah pulled out his hand terminal. The only shipyard he cared about was Tycho, where the Nauvoo seemed so close to completion he daily imagined her sailing out into the stars in majesty and glory.

    What a day that'll be, he thought happily - immediately cheered by the idea. Unbidden, a hymn floated into his mind, and he hummed along. The train car seemed to fly a little faster, as if sped on by the wings of angels.
     
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  5. Aaron Price

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    @Tobias Krehl @Janus DeCosta @Krzysztof Wierzbowski

    A series of hisses and pops came from Aaron as he went though a few basic tests. He bounced from the deck and used the suit's jets to control his fall in the low gravity. It was always strange moving equipment around. Very little weight, but just as much mass and momentum when moving.

    When he saw the group starting to gather he locked his rifle to his suit and walked close to Tobias.

    He had his helmet open but had entirely forgotten that his had the squad channel open so his comment would be heard by the lieutenant.

    "Good. Briefing. Get to find how just how much this isn't a training mission."
     
    #5 Aaron Price, Jun 17, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
  6. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    Krzysztof let his gaze flicker over to the operators, envious of the hi tech kit and gear they were packing. It was almost good as the stuff the Dusters were rumoured to have, it looked bloody terrifying. A bit bulkier, a bit more imposing than the standard combat armour the UNMC had but it hid servomotors and other surprises that would let the operator tear open doors, sprint faster than an Olympian, and tote around tank-killing weaponry one handed. So why the fuck were they here for a training exercise?

    He winced as Aaron's message came over the squad channel. O God, don't do that. Anyone could be listening in. He moved to join the other two, fighting back the uneasy feeling he had in his stomach. "Let's try and be optimistic now shall we?" he said, careful to keep his comm shut off. Sophie's cryptic warning hadn't seemed real until he'd heard more details about this 'training exercise'.

    @Tobias Krehl @Aaron Price @Sophie Iverson @Janus DeCosta
     
    #6 Krzysztof Wierzbowski, Jun 17, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
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  7. Carson Boussaa

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Captain's Office, MCRN Simurgh, Ganymede

    Captain looks him in the eye, they're alone in his office.

    ''The UN has informed us of a training mission. We'll let them do their "exercises. But the MCRN believes it hides something else.''

    The captain takes a long breath followed by a long exhalation.

    ''Recent intelligence reports indicate that the team will deploy a team equipped to the teeth with a clear objective. Another report from our internal sources tells us that it would be a team from the Office of Naval Intelligence. Funny exercises I think.''

    ''What's that got to do with us, sir?''

    "You know that the MCR and the United Nations have not really been on good terms since Eros. We can no longer afford to give the UN carte blanche. The best thing would have been to deploy a team of marines to follow them."

    Carson begins to fear where the Captain is taking him. The Captain clears his throat.

    ''Carson, you're going down to Ganymede and keep an eye on that team.''

    ''Don't we have satellites and shit like that to keep an eye on them?''

    The Captain just raises an eyebrow

    ''You've got to be kidding me, Carson. We talk about a team from the Office of Naval Intelligence."

    The captain stands up in his chair. A nervous tic is passing over his face.

    "I want you ready in less than five minutes! And you know what, put civilian clothes under your EVA suit. My little fingers make me say that you may need to go unnoticed in a crowd in case of trouble."

    Carson raises an eyebrow in search of further explanation.

    "If you have any problems, the MCR will obviously deny that we are sending you on a mission. It's best if you can disappear into a crowd...preferably dense."

    Carson makes a military salute, back straight and shoulder up, to signify his understanding.

    "Now, get out of my office, I have to send reports."

    Carson turns his heels, and his eyes see the contents of the captain's screen. He would have thought he saw his father's name, Zay Boussaa, in the addressee bar. No, he must be hallucinating. It's impossible for a man as honest as his captain to work with a man like his father.

    Carson then took the elevator down to his quarters to be ready to be deployed....
     
    #7 Carson Boussaa, Jun 17, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
  8. Eva van Dijk

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    @Aaron Price

    There was no doubt that both of the officers had heard Price's remark - two pairs of eyes locked and tracked him across the bustle of men grabbing equipment and weapons. Neither of them said a word, however, until Lieutenant van Dijk spoke to him on a point-to-point personal channel. Her voice was low and husky, not at all like the bright chirp of her younger colleage.

    "Best check that mic, Marine. You wouldn't want a failure like that downrange."
     
    #8 Eva van Dijk, Jun 17, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  9. Emma de Vries

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    Specialist de Vries ran a hand over her magazine pouches one last time to double-check the muscle memory, then went over and picked up her automatic support weapon. She rolled it left and right, raised it into her workspace, dropped it into patrol ready - re-familiarising herself with the physical mass of the weapon. It was a well-practised routine, very much like the ones many others around her were doing.

    Out there, familiarity and awareness counted. In her experience, people didn't die by missing a shot or taking a bad position. They died because they fumbled a reload and looked down, or by failing to clear a jam and looking away from a threat sector within their arc of responsibility.

    She racked the charging handle a few times, locked the belt chute into position in the feed tray and hit the bolt release before checking the ammo counter on her heads-up display showed the correct number. Time to go.
     
    #9 Emma de Vries, Jun 18, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
  10. Anton Krakova

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    @Krzysztof Wierzbowski @Aaron Price

    Private Krakova watched de Vries look up at a call from one of the other Force Recon operators. She trapped the stock of the huge machine gun in the crook of her firing arm and reached out the other to catch a light antiarmor weapon thrown at her, for one moment holding in each arm the heaviest individual service weapons that were in the Marine armoury. Then she slid the launcher, without any hesitation, straight down onto its locking latch on her back armour plate and took the machine gun back into patrol ready. She joined an SPC MASTERS, L and headed down to the briefing area without a backwards glance.

    The Slovak marine closed the feed tray of his much smaller support weapon, indicated the imposing Force Recon operators with a shrug, and spoke up.

    "Screw optimism. Why are they here?"
     
  11. Tobias Krehl

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    Tobi stalked into the room, hungover, grumpy, and feeling rather unenergetic about this entire exercise.

    After their last incident his enthusiasm for...anything at all had died off almost instantly. They had been caught in an ambush, nearly left behind, and no one had ever even said a thing about it. The German was feeling more than a little bitter about it, and of course the fact that it was very likely to happen all over again soon.

    It was part of being a Marine.

    With what had happened with Eros and everything in between he couldn't help but think that things were growing more and more combative. As a kid he'd read the history books, the war between Mars and Terra. A part of him wondered if that was where things would inevitably end up again, only this time with some Belters thrown into the mix.

    He frowned slightly at the thought, walking over towards @Krzysztof Wierzbowski and @Aaron Price.

    Without a word he fell into a spot behind them, waiting along with the others.
     
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  12. Krzysztof Wierzbowski

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    It was hard to not gawk at the Force Recon gear. Some of it looked like something out of a science fiction novel. He shrugged at @Anton Krakova 's question, "Nie wiem" he murmured with a shake of his head, distracted by what he saw. His eyes narrowed as he recognised an anti-armour weapon. The Dusters had mechs on Ganymede, had they deployed tanks as well? The Belters definitely didn't have them.

    He gave a nod as he saw @Tobias Krehl approaching, "Servus" he greeted, finally moving his gaze away from the spec ops team. The German looked less than enthusiastic. His moods changed more than the sea. On nights out he was a terror, half guaranteed to smash a chair off the wall or someone. The hangovers were moody and God help the person who crossed him. Most of the platoon accepted that there were a few screws loose upstairs.

    @Aaron Price 's guess was as good as his. "Definitely not like any training mission I've been on before. At least it can't be as bad as our last op".
     
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  13. Aaron Price

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    Aaron gave a shrug. He checked his suit and made sure his radio wasn't flicked on this time.

    "Maybe the dusters are out on ganymede. We're just going down with the big guns to run around where they can see us to make sure they know we're still here."

    The martian navy had a renowned superiority complex. It was backed up by their prowess, but it was still relatively untested. The UN had the numbers and the funding. Their vessels were reliable and their equipment would slowly catch up in quality if it came to war.

    He just hoped it didn't. A boarding operation against a capable enemy was the last thing he wanted to be involved in.
     
  14. Eva van Dijk

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    Lieutenant van Dijk separated from Lieutenant Iverson and strode to her own briefing area, joining Masters and de Vries. Calling up the falsified mission briefing notes, she powered on a small holographic projector and loaded a hologram of Ganymede Station's sprawling hexagonal layout. With a brief series of taps on her hand terminal, she zoomed in to the densely built-up domes of its Bridgewater and Ravencroft suburbs.

    The final Marine arrived around the hologram as she did this, which meant she could begin. She cast a critical eye over them and, reassuringly, found relatively little to complain about. Not as tight as her usual special forces command, not as disciplined - but veterans all the same, and if they lacked a respect for command she didn't care as long as they could keep up and point their guns in the right direction.

    She highlighted a trio of large ag-farm domes to the south-west of Bridgewater and began.

    "Eight hours ago agriculture technicians reported irregular signals coming from automated feed systems between Ganymede Station domes 11-3B-26, 11-3A-27 and 12-3A-26. At the insistence of the duty commander, they were accompanied by a two-man patrol; they set off west from Bridgewater Station via maintenance trunklines. Their last regular report suggested nothing was wrong and they were continuing to move towards dome 11-3B-26. Then, six hours ago, all power went down in the area - illumination, feed systems, surveillance. Attempts to regain contact failed."

    The hologram zoomed in tight on the seven domes inside the brownout zone. The domes were hundreds of metres across; several of them already put the area at multiple square kilometres. A lot of ground to cover.

    "Five hours ago, the duty commander mobilised a squad-sized Force Recon element of the Ganymede Station garrison in order to investigate the missing personnel. They took an armed utility vehicle and departed at high speed from their outpost to the west. Three hours ago they reported no sign of the technicians, nor the patrol, around the last point of contact. They proceeded on towards dome 11-3B-26, reporting mild electronic interference of unspecified nature. They confirmed the start of the power brownout at domes 10-3A-28 and 11-39-28, then proceeded into the farm to investigate. As with the team before them, contact has not been re-established since."

    She paused for breath. Specialists de Vries and Masters, her two Force Recon operators, were only pretending to pay attention. But they could be excused, given that this was almost certainly their fourth or fifth time going over the mission details.

    "The duty commander has declared a general security situation. A cordon has been established with armoured vehicles and automated turrets. The mission primary objective is to locate and extract the Force Recon element - callsign Komodo. Secondary objectives to accomplished if possible: recovery of the technical and patrol personnel, and - only if possible - engage and neutralise the threat."

    Zooming back out, a series of domes highlighted in turn. The Lieutenant looked over her squad again - the claimed search-and-rescue mission was somewhat unlikely, given the mixed Marine and Force Recon group armed with heavy weapons. But, then again, the ruse didn't need to be convincing for long.

    "The situation is delicate, Marines. To the east, domes 14-38-26 onwards are high-density civilian residential and commercial zones. To the north-east, domes 11-38-29 onwards are corporate research and development. The station is not currently in a state of emergency, but expect chaos if the situation deteriorates. Managing and containing the threat is a high priority, even if it cannot be neutralised."

    An angled view of a large maintenance trunkline with two armoured vehicles in blockade, and with smaller tunnels branching off.

    "Tactically speaking, access to the farms are via maintenance tunnels that vary in size from vehicle-capable to single-person width. The trunklines are wide enough for vehicles, while the smaller tunnels are just enough for two to walk abreast. Illumination will be limited with power gone, but ventilation should be running on backups."

    Behind them, the Black Kites that would ferry them down to the surface cranked open their rear ramps. de Vries and Masters stood pointedly.

    "The callsign for this mission is Titan. Lieutenant Iverson's squad is Avatar. We are Molok - mike-oscar-lima-oscar-kilo. Are there any questions?"
     
    #14 Eva van Dijk, Jun 20, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  15. James Ung

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    The Black Kite departed the hangar in a single short burn and immediately commenced a combined yaw/pitch/roll maneuver to orient them for deorbit. James resisted the disorientation with practised ease and instead called up the best-guess image of their target on the heads-up display on his visor.

    It was blurry, despite the best efforts of inverse synthetic aperture imaging across the terahertz and even far infrared frequences. It was humanoid, that was for sure. Human-sized, even. The analysts back at ONI HQ had cautiously estimated that it weighed no more than a couple hundred kilos, but had been silent on the subject of its capabilities.

    To be safe, they were armed with the kind of heavy firepower normally used for taking on Martian Marine Corps Force Recon. Semi-automatic grenade launchers, belt-fed automatics... disposable anti-tank rocket launchers. A plainly ludicrous amount of heat for a single target.

    Yet, as the Special Forces veteran looked at the best-guess image, he couldn't help but swallow apprehensively. There was something subtly wrong about its proportions. Its limbs were a little bit too long, its hands and fingers elongated. Something in his mammalian hindbrain recoiled with ancestral recognition before he suppressed the reaction by running a hand over the smooth polymer casing of his support weapon. Chamber empty. Safety on. Ammo belt locked. Rangefinder calibrated. Simple, well-rehearsed motions that settled his mind with routine calm.

    There would be time enough for nerves when they got to the surface.
     
  16. Carson Boussaa

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    [​IMG]

    MCRN Simurgh, Ganymede



    Carson gets on the ops deck, gear on his back and weapons loaded. The bridge is crawling with a certain activity. The ship has just made a manoeuvre to get a little closer to the surface of Ganymede. It remains in orbit, but closer to the ground than before. When the captain saw Carson, he told him to approach with large hand signals.

    ''Listen, my boy.''

    An image hologram projection of Ganymede occupying the space of the bridge. A black kite is about to land on the surface. Its trajectory in red to distinguish itself from the others.

    ''Carson, the United Nations just deployed this black kit and we suspect he's the one carrying the team you need to "watch".''

    Ganymede's hologram changes to zoom in on Bridgewater's agricultural domes.

    "Our computers have calculated that these have this place it has the best chance that they will be deployed."

    The captain points the area with a severe look on his face.

    ''This area no longer responds, the electricity no longer works and we have no news of what is happening inside.''

    "Carson your mission is now double! Watch this team and find out they're fucking going down!"

    At the time that says that, the hologram zooms even more and switches to infrared observation mode. A monster out of a child's nightmare now occupies the bridge.

    ''WTF!''

    "Figure you that no one knows! This image was taken recently by our sensors. I'm ready to put my hand on the fire that Earth wants to capture this thing!"

    Carson is shocked! This thing looks strangely like the monster from his childhood nightmares! His night terrors then return to his memory. The long nights his father stayed with him to reassure him that no one would devour him slowly.

    The captain puts his hand on his shoulder, which makes him come out of his stupor.

    ''Look, I trust you! If you find this thing before the United Nations you have to send us a signal.''

    The captain signals an officer on deck to bring him a briefcase.

    ''Boy, you have the honor of using a prototype fresh out of our most ingenious lab!''

    "The contents comes down to a simple looking gun with almost no difference with the other models.
    This rifle has a higher than normal firepower. Grace has an ingenious magnetic propulsion system more powerful than normal and has a new ball model. A single shot can pierce a concrete wall several meters thick!
    "

    Another officer brings only one grenade.

    "Let me guess...This grenade blows up little pink straws to celebrate the monster's death?''

    ''No, it's a new kind of grenade. The kind that blew up neurons. Well, I'm exaggerating! But a single explosion is enough to overload the neurons of those in the area of effect. The result is simple, the weakest die and the others fall either unconscious or into a coma. Obviously the electronic equipment nearby is...disturbing!''

    ''I feel like a secret agent in these old movies.''

    "Ahhahaah, very funny. We entrust you with these prototypes because we have complete confidence in you Carson!"
    On the other hand, you guessed that we want this monster to fall into our hands as much as possible. Don't get smart as soon as you find him, use a signal to warn me. Just to send a marine crew more competent than you in mastering an unknown monster.
    But if you see that the United Nations will recover the monster before us....Use the tools I entrust to you to make sure that these sons of bitches only recovered flesh strips, if this monster is made of pulpits!
    "

    "We're ready to drop!"

    "Carson, to get to the surface without those sons of bitches seeing you, here's how we're gonna do it.
    A shuttle will leave the ship and land far away! The united nations will think we just approached the ground to help this shuttle land. But you're actually gonna jump with a suit to the surface!
    "

    "WHAT!"

    "But seeing Carson, we taught you how to land with a simple suit!"

    "In case of emergency only!"

    "Well, this is an emergency!"

    Captain claps his hands

    "Come on, I don't have all the time in the universe! Good luck son!"

    Carson turns his heels and enters the elevator with a ball in his stomach

    Several moments later he was there in the hangar (open door) with his special EVA I'm-dumped-in-space
    The technician confirms with him , by voice comm's system, that his camera is well activated.

    In front of it the surface of Ganymede spreads out and its HUD interface indicates the path to take to reach your destination.

    A long fall, two or three strikes of thruster then falls then a long strikes of thruster then falls then thrusters then falls then thrusters in reverse direction in order to reduce the speed and finally grit the teeth.

    He had already done it several times in training sessions on Callisto. It was to be for fun. Right now it's anything but fun!
    The unhealthy dizziness is tormenting him. And this is not the right time.

    "Go''

    Carson launches into the vacuum of space and activates his thruster towards the surface, praying he doesn't screw up his descent.....
     
  17. Aaron Price

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    Aaron hadn't been blessed with a creative imagination. A set of orders were on the table and he was given another chance to prove himself. The ambush couldn't look good on his record. If this tour went badly he would go back and join the last few generations of his family on basic.

    It wasn't the luxury Martians and belters imagined. It was hunger and need with no room for self respect.

    Aaron had enough clips and plenty of food and water. Walking with the extra mass in low gravity took some getting used to. He could carry it easily enough, but if he tried to change direction too quickly could lose his balance.

    The image of the target was vague. So was the briefing. Perhaps someone had been testing a man-sized battle mech. At least if such a thing existed and it had gone rogue they weren't out of a job just yet. That would explain the heavies. Aaron decided to rearrange his clips to keep one with a red stripe close to hand. HE, self propelled rounds. A soldier in even the heaviest armour would be shredded by a few of those.

    It was a good job he was seated. With a good 50kg of gear and armour he would have felt it when the shuttle fired its thrusters to decelerate.
     
  18. Sophie Iverson

    Sophie Iverson Tell me your secrets

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    The ramp locked into its open position, giving them a stunning view of Ganymede's urban sprawl - but now was not the time for sightseeing. Sophie released her straps, ignoring the vista, and stood to grab her pack. Opposite her, Specialist Gruneham did the same but paused and tapped his helmet meaningfully. She looked at her HUD in time to catch an incoming transmission.

    "Flash traffic - Titan, Yeager Ops. Relay from Ganymede Station: cordon breach, package moving east. Civilian areas under threat. Priority redirect."

    "Bravo Kilos wave off. Come about heading zero-four-five elevation minimum. New drop zone... 13-36-29."

    The Black Kites swung their their thrusters around for a course correction and were mid-burn when some sort of electronic attack hit them. The simpler and more resilient circuits - the lights, their HUDs, weapons - came back nearly instantly, but others showed static for much longer.

    Their ride lurched sickeningly. The pilot wrestled for stability, throwing the craft through vicious roll and pitch maneuvers for several violent seconds to bring them level, but they were now lower than expected and crabbing sideways perilously close to the domes. Also dangerously close was the other Black Kite, which had kept its position and was still climbing - closing with considerable velocity.

    "We're in trouble. Brace brace brace. Collision aler-"

    The two spacecraft came together in a crunch and squeal of tortured stealth composite. The lights went out, throwing everything into the dimness of night vision, and they gained a slew that turned rapidly into an uncontrolled spin. Those in seats were pulled tight against their straps. Sophie, who had unlatched earlier, was thrown hard against the ceiling and then out of the damaged rear ramp.
     
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  19. Jim Gruneham

    Messages:
    2
    Specialist Jim Gruneham thought fast when Lieutenant Iverson was knocked off her feet by the impact. He lunged forwards to catch the young officer, but his boots were rated for high-gee maneuvers. They didn't fail, as hers did, and he stayed on his feet while she was thrown high into the cabin ceiling. He took a step and made another attempt, but she had been knocked towards the open ramp.

    Fuck me.

    "Fuck me."

    Physics was going to have its way. He took a deep breath, gave Staff Sergeant Ung (the other powered armour operator) a nod, and dived out after his commanding officer.

    Outside the Black Kite without clear reference points or atmospheric noise, his eyes insisted he was stationary - but he ignored this with a calm born of long practice and gunned his jets. She was tumbling low and to his right, and they didn't have long. He kept the burn going, accelerating and bringing himself into her with both arms wide to catch. He got a good hold of her, swung the other arm to pivot, pulled her close in towards his centre of gravity and set a stabilisation burn. Their spin slowed and stopped, pitch moving towards a natural vertical.

    Then the upper crown structure of dome 10-3A-28 smashed into him from the side, sending them flying apart. Thrusters still firing, he tumbled into a dense forest of banana trees and cucumber vines and lost sight of her before hitting the ground at speed.
     
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  20. Eva van Dijk

    Messages:
    11
    Discord:
    HSAR
    Lieutenant van Dijk, like her counterpart, had been standing near the ramp when the impact came. Unlike Lieutenant Iverson, however, she was in powered armour and kept her footing with ease.

    "Damage report, pilot."

    "Engine one critical damage. Primary hydraulics reporting zero pressure. Fuel cells one and two self-sealed, but offline. Insufficient remaining lift to keep us aloft. We're going down, sir."

    She stayed calm.

    "Copy that, pilot. Myself, Masters and de Vries are going to disembark now. We'll be back for search-and-rescue. Close the ramp once we're out."

    It was a risk, but several hundred kilograms of powered armour rolling around the cabin would kill the rest of her squad more surely than any hard landing.

    There was no ceremony about it. The three of them lined up at the ramp, checking each other's equipment with practiced efficiency unperturbed by their craft's semi-ballistic trajectory. She went first, taking a running jump out of the back, expecting the other two to follow - then another brownout hit. HUD dark, thrusters offline, trapped inside her suit, Eva struggled to stay calm and work the problem. She rolled with her arms, looking for Masters and de Vries, but there was nobody in her immediate vicinity. The Black Kite was further ahead and above, trailing smoke and debris. There was a dot that might have been de Vries falling away from it.

    Then her HUD came back online and there was no time to worry. Thrusters sputtered to life, slowing her descent, but it was still going to be a hard landing. She flexed her knee joints and prepared to roll, aiming for a convenient dome full of greenery to absorb some of the impact. Projected LZ for the Black Kite was over by the residential units: 15-36-27, perhaps. Not that far away.
     
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