The armored silhouette appeared in the passageway, blocking the dim lights completely. Vir'Tak looked up from his datapad. It was Gragaz, his group finally arrived at the rendezvous point in the Traffic Control.
- Commander Gragaz, good to see you made it. Any problems on the way, you were behind the schedule?
Gragaz took of his helmet.
- No problems Commander. We encoutered some human forces on our way and had some good fight... No casualties from our side however.
The Morat looked very pleased. Vir'Tak glanced at his armor. There were some bullet markings on the plates and some chunks of them were missing. There was also a lot of blood spatters. It looks like the fight was really intense.
- I see... Well done. The medical and engineering team is right down the hallway. Check with them if you or your unit need anything, we will be boarding the freigth ship in 2 hours.
- Yes, Commander - The huge Morat saluted, turned around and left.
Vir'Tak looked down on his datapad again. There was only one team still left out there: Kraals. He lost contact with him after they managed to cut the power to the security gates in the Japanese Bottom. Their last report stated they had to take another route due to
human reinforcements closing in to the power station. Kraal was a shrewd commander, but in this circumstances...
- C'mon Kraal - he whispered, looking through the commmunication data - Time is running out...
Lieutenant Kraal cursed again. Due to all the ruckus they caused in Japanese Bottom they inadvertently caught attention of O-12 and Aleph forces nearby. They were forced to change the escape route and now they were lot further from the rendezvous point than intended.
He glanced at his map and pondered for a while. Behind him, the Unidrones chatted merrily about this whole "Pogemons GO" thing.
- Incredible, they still keep their interest in this - he thought involuntarily - Normally their attention span is much shorter...
He shook his head, focusing on matters on hand. The rocky terrain around them was very unstable, according to his readings. They should leave this place as fast as they could but their current route was blocked by O-12 forces. There were no way of bypassing them, so they will have to double-back on their way. He looked at the chronometer. Time was running out...
- Hey, look! Its Squirtle! How cuuute! - one Unidrone suddently yelled and trotted forwards, along the corridor.
- Would you please stop it and pay attention to your surroundings?! This is not a time or place to... - Kraal shouted angrily, when the Unidrone tripped on the uneven rock floor and with a high-pitched scream tumbled towards the rock wall. She hit the wall with a lound "thump".
- Owww... Now that hurt... - the Unidrone sobbed, cluthing her head in her hands. There was a large crack on the wall where she made her contact with the stone surface.
- Thats what you get when you don't watch out. Get back here and... - Kraal stopped when the crack began to expand. It moved quickly across the whole wall, making loud crackling noises. Some rocks begun to fall off, first small ones then bigger ones. The whole wall began falling apart.
- Stay clear! - Kraal shouted, the happles Unidrone jumping away like a dazed rabbit.
With a crushing sound, the whole setion of the wall just crumbled to pieces, sending waves of dust and debris everywhere. Kraal rose up, coughing up and brushing off the remains of the rock formation from his armor. He looked up and through the settling dust his eyes met a suprised look of a human in a red uniform, who was standing right across the fallen wall.
They gazed at each other for a few seconds, then almost simultaneously shouted: "ENEMY!"
Kraal fired at the human, hitting him and sending him to the ground. His unit jumped from behind him and rushed through the gap, into what looked like a huge warehouse. It seems the rock wall they accidentally breached was also a wall of some sort of cavern. At the distance, he could hear the alarm going out and a lot of rapid movement.
- This is just great, as if we didn't had enough problems already... - Kraal muttered while advancing around cargo containers, his team forming up on him and taking positions.
- I'm sorry Kraal-san, I didn't mean to... - the Unidrone started explaining, but he just waved his hand angrily.
- Later. We have other things to do now.
A couple of bullets whistled around them, hitting the containers. Kraal dodged behind a barrel.
- Return fire!
His unit began shooting at the humans positions. Kraal checked his readings. This cavern was not on their maps, but it looked huge. It also expanded in the direction they needed to go...
- All units, this may be our way out. Get rid of those humans!
- Lieutenant, this looks like a storage for mining equipment - his Med-Tech reported, scanning one of the containers - There is also a lot of mining explosives around. We should be carefull about our aim.
A couple of stray bullets pierced a container next to Kraal. It begun to leak some strange blue liquid.
- Yeah, tell that to them... - Kraal fire some shots in general direction of the enemy and ducked behind his cover again.
- If my calculations are correct, this cavern should take us near our original escape route. We could use this equipment to blast our way through - Med-Tech stated, confirming something on her datapad.
- Reeeally... - Kraal made some quick calculations in his mind - Ok then, scan those supplies for anything that could help us and mark them. All units, retrieve the marked supplies. Its do or die, get on it!
Onyx won the roll, so decided to keep the initiative. Deployment was pretty straightforward, with Unidrone link on the left side, backed up by Q-Drone. 2 Ikadrons and Rodok Paramedic were deployed on the other side, with Rodok placed as far as possible to deny Morans their Koala advantage. Due to some thinking problems, the Noctifer with ML was placed also on right side on top of the building. As it turned out, he was unable to see anything from there and so he just stood there the entire game...
Nomads deployed behind buildings and on roofs, guarding the way with Koalas and some Camo markers. There was a big clump of Remotes and Zondnautica on the right which looked VERY promising...
Onyx turn 1
As Alfred Hitchcock once said, "A good film should start with an earthquake and be followed by rising tension". So the first thing that happened was Fraacta with Boarding Shotgun making her appearance on the right side, just before the Nomads deployment zone. She rushed the flank and with second order fired at Zondbot, covering Zondnautica, Transductor and Salyut with template. Some good dice throw and all of them are dead or unconscious. Trying to follow up, Fraacta moves a little forwads to shoot Transductor again, hitting Morlock in his back with a template. Morlock goes unconscious too, but in ARO one of the camo markers responds. Something I missed, he had a clear LoS to Fraacta at her current position. Oh well... The camo reveals himself to be Intruder HMG, and he promptly puts a wound into the Fraacta. Fraacta tried to reach lone Auglacil, positioned on the container near by with move+dodge but fails her PH roll and is taken out by secon Intruder ARO. Well, You can't have everything... With last order, the Q-Drone moves and gets an angle on Koala under the wall on the right side, taking it out. Switching to the first combat group, Unidrone link activates and rushes the Nomad deployment. Lead Unidrone FO takes the Koala for the team, goes Dogged and then climbs the ladder in order to reach Moran. She shoots him with her trust plasma carbine, catching the Camo marker on the wall behind him in the blast. Zero KHD dies after failing his dodge, as well as Moran. The same Unidron, still in Dogged runs past the wall, taking out Intruder. Then she tries to take both Morlock on the left side and Auglacil Spec Ops on the right. Morlock dies after failing smoke, but Spec Ops beats Unidrone rolls. Low on orders, the rest of the Fireteam retreats to cover, leaving her to her fate and reforming. Unfortunately, Nexus Spec Ops accidentaly goes into 8 inches of the another Koala and dies painfully. With this, Onyx passes the turn.
Nomads turn 1
Battered but not broken, Nomads retaliate. Morlock runs towards the remaining Unidrones, but is stopped short by a missile. Ouch. Wild Hellcat with HMG appears on the far left side and shoots Unidrone PSR in the back. Failing 2 ARM saves, she decides to be a nuisance and goes dogged and turns around. Hellcat shoots second time, but she manages to pull one shot through and drops Hellcat to unconsious. Angered, Auglacil Spec Ops charges in, puts a wound onto the Unidrone FO who goes dogged and tries to do the same from a different angle to the Unidrone ML. Unidrone answers with light shotgun and drops the brave Spec Ops. With no more options, Nomads ends the turn.
Takma checked her surroundings again and jumped over the boulder. Using her symbiont armor, she managed to flank the humans holding the position behind some small buildings. They were not expecting attack from that side.
- Takma, are you in position - she heard Lieutenant on her commlink.
- Two more seconds sir - she sprinted towards the metal structures, her symbiont begun to moan slightly anticipating action - Ready!
Takma jumped from behind the building, blasting her way through unsuspecting humans. When the cannonade stopped, there where a couple of dead humans and a lot of broken remotes. She held her smoking shotgun, ready to engage more targets.
- All targets neutralised, moving on!
- Takma, wait! Don't overextend... - Kraal message was cut short by a heavy blow to her armor. Her symbiont gave away and died with a small whimper. Little stunned, Takma tried to seek cover but econd bullet found its way and Takma fell on the ground, cluthing her leg.
- I'm down, enemy heavy weapon at those coordinates - she frantically tried to upload the battle data before losing consciousness
- I got them, stay put! - Kraal responded, but Takma was already out. He still had her vitals on screen. She managed to apply some stabilisers on herself, but will need medical attention...
- Meerkal, get your team and push forwards. You have to take that heavy weapon out
- Roger that, on our way - Meerkal responded, runnning towards the designated coordinates. His Unidrones sprinted alongside him, covering his advance.
Kraal looked at tactical display.
- What do you know - he though - We might still have a chance...
Onyx turn 2
Only Unidron ML remains from the Fireteam, but the coast is clear. She moves towards the fallen Hellcat, taking the last Koala on the way. She fails the ARM, goes dogged, bt manages to reach the Hellcat and kills him, performing Extreme Prejudice. M-Drone grabs the left supply box and retreats. Ikadrons and Q-Drones reshufle a little, to block the access to the middle nad right supply box.
Nomads turn 2
Still fighting, the Camo (who is a Zero FO) on the building to the right moves towards the right supply box, sneaking himself around ARO paths, shoots the leading Ikadron, performs Telemetry on it and still manages to get the box. Warcor moves a little forwards.
Onyx turn 3
Last turn, time to make the last moves. Q-Drone takes out the Zero with a box, then climbs the long ladder and tries to shoot the Moran from the roof. Well, moran crits Q-Drone. Happens. Rodok springs into action finally, takes down Moran, grabs objective and jumps back. Second Ikadron grabs her buddy performing Rescue.
Nomads turn 3
Unwilling to let go, the Auglacil on the right (Lieutenant as it turned out) moves forward the Rodok. With only one order to spare, he climbs the wall on top which Rodok stood and shoots him point blank. Rodok prevails however (somehow...) and Auglacil drops on the floor. Game ends.
- I have the second target - Rodok Torak reported, while jumping back on to the high wall he descended a second ago.
- Take cover, I'm sending support. There are still some human forces around - Kraal ordered both Ikadrons and Q-Drone on his postion.
- Roger that.
Just as he was sending his orders, the Q-Drone got hit by a lucky shot from some roof and went offline.
- Damn! Ikadrons, cover Torak! We need that cargo.
- Yes Kraal-san! - they said in unison and rushed forwards. It looked they would make it, when a sudden burts of machinegun fire hit the first one.
- Kraal-san, the 3E unit is down! - Second Ikadron reported - Enemy approaching from the right!
- Those damn humans don't know when to give up... 9F, get 3E out of there! Torak, there is something coming your way, watch out!
Just as Kraal finished, he heard a loud bang followed by a thud and sound of reloading shotgun.
- Something WAS coming, but its not moving anymore - Torak reported calmly.
- Oh. Ok then. Good work. - Kraal quickly checked the combat data - It seems we are clear. Good job everyone. Oh, and 16U?
The Unidrone worried face appeared on his screen.
- Kraal-san, I'm very sorry... - she begun apologising, but he interrupted her
- It's ok 16U. Thanks to your... "accident"... we may still make it to the rendezvous point on time. Just don't chase anymore of those things around on duty again, ok?
16U face lightened up and a big smile appeared. She nodded her head vigorously.
- Yes Kraal-san, I promise!
Kraal smiled to himself. Sometimes the best thing during the mission is luck. And while commanding this force, he had it in abundance...
The silent, distant humming in the air of "Pillar of Winter" was very relaxing after the rush of the last few days. Commander Vir'Tak walked around the ship, checking on his soldiers and personell.
With Kraals team ariving a few minutes before the departure, everyone from his force managed to evacuate that asteroid. Of course, Doc's team had their hands full in medical facility and the engineering
team struggled to retrieve the Drones personality cores, but after a few day on board the things begun to settle. He opened the cargo door and looked inside. Sitting around the large storage room,
Unidrones where minding their own business. Some where recharging, a couple of them were playing some games. One of them looked at the door, stood up and waved.
- Vir'Tak-sama, you need us for anything?
Vir'Tak shrugged. He still did not know where they picked up that "-sama" thing or what it ment. He tried asking Doc about it, but she alway gave some illusive answers.
- No, just checking up on you. Everything all right?
- We are fine. Thank you for the upgrades.
- No problem. Give me a call if you need anything. We will be on board for another couple of weeks.
Gragaz and his Rodoks where, of course, cleaning their weapons and armor. And drinking. The same liquid they cleaned their stuff with. They offered him a drink too, but he graciously declined.
He made himself a promise he will not drink anything Morat-made after that night in mess hall. After checking everyone up, he made his was towards the Za'Chara cabin. Knocking on the door he checked his pockets.
- Come on in! - he heard and the door slided open. Za'chara, Doc and Kraal were siting by the table and drinking something.
- Commander, would you care to join us? - Doc asked, raising her glass.
- Of course, if you don't mind
- Nah, bro. C'mon, sit down - Za'Chara reached and grabbed additional chair - Fancy a drink? Human made. They call it "Cola-Loca", really nice.
Za'Chara poured him a brown, sparkling liquid. He took a sip.
- Not bad.
- Got it from the storage. It seems we have tons of that stuff on board.
Kraal downed his drink and poured himself another glass
- What now Commander? - he asked
- Well, we will be stationed back on Paradiso. It will take a couple of weeks to get there, so we have a time to rest. We earned it. Oh, and somehow the High Command is very pleased with our performance.
We will be given additional resources, some promotions and all that.
- Woohoo! - Za'Chara raised his glass - I propose a toast. For the best Onyx force in the whole Combined Army!
Everyone cheered and downed their drinks. Za'Chara slammed his glass on the table and reached for his cloak.
- Well then. If we are to spend so much time on board this ship together, then we should settle some things right now... - he said, taking a small black box from his pocket
- Oh, I though you will never ask - Doc reached for her tool compartment and picked up similiar box, only green.
Kraal simply smiled, already taking his deck out. Vir'Tak laughted, taking his deck out too.
- I anticipated that, my friend. And I am more than ready.
Za'Chara shuffled the cards in his hand.
- I bet you think so... - he said with a grin.
And so, the most intense game of Magic: The Conference has begun.
This is my last battle report for this campaing and I would like to thank all the people responsible for this event. Without all Your hard work it would not be possible for us to play it, so a big "Thank You" for You all.
I would like also to thank my opponents for the games played during the campaign, I had a blast. Thanks for the patience while I was trying to get pictures and for backtracking the miniature placement when I forgot to take one :)
And, last but not least, I would like to thank all the people who had read and commented on my reports! :) I hope you managed to stomache my english and the tongue-in-cheek style I have choosen for those reports. I decided to show my Onyx force in a more "funny" way, in opposition to original depiction of CA as I felt it was more entertaining. I hope that at least some of You enjoyed it :)
Again, thank You all for participation in this event and I hope we will meet again on the next one!