Asteroid Blues

Infinity

Chimneys weep

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Haqqislam
[email protected]
VS ALEPH
Thamoz

Down in the darkling underbelly of Novvy Bangkok, who knows what nefarious deals are agreed between the denizens of humanity's dark recesses. The detritus left from the collapse of Blinov-Ngamsan was the perfect breeding ground for vermin like Armitage, disgraced former corporate lawyer turned unscrupulous fixer. The sudden arrival of the Shasvastii interlopers had brought unwanted attention to his fledgling operations; what he needed now was an easy out. Fortunately he'd found a buyer, although by now both of them had attracted the keen eyes of Aleph's investigators, and more ominously, the jealous rivalries of the Sultanate.

Despite the pains Armitage had taken establishing an elaborate spider's web of illicit backchannels, word of Armitage's unauthorised Silk trading had reached the ears of the Sultanate. Armitage was a competent paranoid, at least, and that made eliminating him in the usual way rather complicated. Besides, it might be best to avoid any further obligation to The Old Man in the Mountain. Tracked into the unstable depths of the asteroid, it would be better to wait and see who came to meet him...

Armitage, the unscrupulous former-corporate insider

Fortuitously, the build-up of Haqqislamite soldiers in Novvy Bangkok offered the perfect cover for a covert operation, and who better to descend into the darkness than sure-footed and keen-sighted Djanbazans? A hastily composed strike-team, accompanied by the reassuring bulk of an Az'rail, the watchful gaze of an Odalisque, and a live broadcast on Maya to heap further embarrassment and pressure on the Hyperpower.

Approaching the rendezvous, the Djanbazan team entered a complex of abandoned mining works. From his vantage in his rooftop eerie, the eagle-eyed sniper Ybrahim caught a distant glimpse of movement. Instinctively reacting to hefted heavy weaponry, he fired, bringing down the threat with deadly force; an Aleph investigator fell.

It would seem they were not the only ones taking an interest in this clandestine liaison.

Djanbazan takes down the Yadu HMG.
Naga shoots the Al Hawwa
Takes down the Djanbazan sniper with a boarding shotgun
...and the HMG, after going Dogged

Hidden Aleph agents had also staked out the illicit delights stashed about the abandoned machinery, and had already seized one of the caches. At the studden burst of gunfire, they broke off from their searches, and dived into the shadows. One approached the Djanbazan position, paused, huddled, for a moment, then unloaded shell after shell into the strike team. Inflicting their own grievous wounds, both the Ybrahim and the heavy machinegunner fell to the onslaught, as monofilament wires eviscerated a nearby Al-Hawwa.

In the wake of this hurricane, the remnants of the team regrouped. Fumbling with their smoke grenades, clumsy Yuan Yuan failed to cover their advance, almost falling victim to the dangers of the collapsing workings. If anything, this revealed the wisdom in bringing elite agents, rather than employing unreliable mercenaries...

Meanwhile, the team secured one of the stashes (that highly addictive narcotic, Daim) for themselves, and revealed a mine laid by another Aleph Naga. Following the team, the lithe Odalisque took up a position on suppressive fire, ready to foil any further attacks.

Proxy sniper appears to cover the Djanbazan team...
Ghulam Lt goes down...

Whilst the Odalisque threatened the central Aleph investigation, the Haqq team seemed ready to gain the initiative. However, the sudden appearance of a Proxy sniper caught her out of range, and soon she lay unresponsive on the ground. The sniper's attention turned to the Ghulam support, but took out the operational link to the world above. Without this, the investigation would prove ineffective whilst communications were re-established, wasting precious minutes.

In the confusion, the Azrail decided to destroy as much of the illegal Daim as possible, if it couldn't be held securely. Meanwhile, the other Al-Hawwa moved into sight of another Naga, returning fire with a shotgun, and causing mortal wounds that sapped the Aleph agent's lifeblood within minutes.

Final push on objectives unsuccessful

As the Haqq forces stumbled, Aleph agents continued to grasp for more Daim, caught unaware in a lens, and simulcast across the Human Sphere. Suddenly they broke off again, turning their attentions to locating this hidden gaze; almost as if some remote algorithm had taken control of the strings. Perhaps Aleph was wary of another journalist's stinging pen? What did surprise the watching audience was the glimpse of none other than Dart, hero of Aristeia!, in the gloom before the image faded. Already, there were those who claimed to see her familiar silhouette framed in muzzle-flash, in the final frames.

After an agonising delay, the command came from operations control to destroy as much narcotic as possible; it seemed that Aleph was unwilling to confirm the existence of a simultaneous operation, much less reveal its nature; glimpsing sight of their quarry hidden behind the central stash, the Al Hawwa closed in to capture as much footage as possible, but was shot down after only a few seconds' blurry video.

Bravely attemting to gain as much intel as possible, the one remaining Djanbazan crawled towards what seemed like the most important of the caches, but soon the last feed fell silent too.

Last gasp of Djanbazan Dr.

Declaring the mission ultimately unsuccessful, the Haqqislamite command centre nevertheless had gained something arguably more valuable. Another of Aleph's operations in the beleaguered asteroid appeared to contradict their stated humanitarian aims; who knew whether they were seeking to recover dangerous drugs, or incriminating evidence...?

3 Ghulam most recently painted

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