A Game of Light and Shadows

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A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by BgKnight » 10:17:45 Wednesday, 03 December, 2014


The dust ("Its Regolith, MAGGOT!" is what the Commandant-general would yell at him, if he ever said it in front of him. But that guy was an asshole.) was so fine, that it entered through the filters of the heavy armor of the Legionnaire. He was earthborn, so he was obviously shorter then most Legionaries (obviously lunae-born), generally taller then anything humanity in general had to offer. His lighter complexion made him stand out even more, it was just painfully obvious that he was not from around these parts.

But that was what the legion prided itself on, wasn't it? Well of course it was all propaganda, the Legion on Mars was mostly made out of Lunae-born, the same way as the Legion on earth was made up of mostly Africans. He was neither, so he was always ostracized and alone, but while his comrades socialized and wasted their time on drinking on their days-off, he was taking additional shifts. He gave his life to the Legion, literally, and he was rewarded for it, when the Europol came to him one day.

Just like that, he became the Europol liaison on Mars for the Legion. Of course, both the Legion and the battle-group men hated him now more then ever, they called him shit like "gestapo", "politcommissar", "NKVD" , but only behind his back, and he could give a flying fuck. Mostly because he was way more important then the lot of them now, and a lot of people sucked up to him, but part of it was because he was more then aware that he was exactly that, a politcommissar, he was there to keep the soldiers in line.

"That damned regolith." he spat as a hover tank kicked up a lot of it, he could feel it entering his filters, he knew he will have to clean that shit later on. The Commandant here, an old German or Dutch (the difference was so negligible, that he had a difficulty telling them apart, or any other European for that matter) Junker, with a tightly shaved face and a face carved out of granite, had ordered all men to ditch the Euro armbands, because they were getting bleached by the regolith and he though it was a disgrace to harm the flag like that. What a load of crap.

As he walked slowly through camp, Feldfebel Almas Mansur was smiling to himself under his heavy armor, as the hydraulics whined in their distinct sound, heads turn from all the Europeans in the camp, and as people noticed the black color with a single gold star painted on his chest, they instinctively stiffened. Mansur passed a few western europeans who stopped their game of chess to stare at the man, one can easily see their hatred in their faces, but he ignored them.

Soon he found what he was looking for, a single small tent huddled between two larger ones, he slowly entered, using his implants to force the helmet to retract, revealing his face and a small, heartily smile.

"Dragisha. My boy, why would you make me come here again?" he said with a warm voice, but he could easily see the tall Serbian stiffen as he said it, a shorter Greek emerged from the back of the tent and sweating took his place next to the Serbian. "You know why I am here, boys?"

"N.. no Mr Mansur." the Greek stuttered "We d..dont?"

"The badge." Mansur's voice screeched coldly and both men took a step back. Although taller then Mansur, they seemed to have a mortal fear of the man. Dragisha stiflingly moved to the back of the tent and from a pile of clothes, he pulled out a small badge. It was blue with the European flag in the background, the twelve stars surrounded a representation of the earth, above which a white pigeon holding the olive branch. It was a simple image, nothing weird or out of place, but the letters on the side were the problem. "HELBROC" Mansur muttered. "You know who they were, right?"

"Yes sir. The Balkan battle group..." the Greek said in an almost dead voice. "...HELlas, Bulgaria, ROmania, Cyprus"
"The Traitor Battle-Group."
"You know the very mentioning of that battle-group is forbidden. Let alone carrying their badge." Mansur looked at the blue eyes of the Serbian who was even more terrified now. "I will let you go this time, since I know you had a father who served in HELBROC, but Dragisha... if I catch you with something one more time. It will be your last, you get that?"


Commander Pepe İsmail was in no ways a happy person, not only did he have to cooperate with all sorts of lowlifes from all over Mars, he had to be happy about it. His orders were in his hands, he was going to be one of the four joint commanders of the force. At least Colonel Aslan Konev of the Russians was going to be around with his merry gang of Spetcnaz, so its not a total waste, but İsmail had to also cooperate with assholes like one of the colonels of that American PMS and a Chinese douche. And they will command a force that includes Nightingales and fucking Rangers... command is not really what is going to happen. He realizes that while in nominal command, the four major powers are sending the same contingent of men as the rest, so they will have to cooperate.

And he hated that, but they had to destroy the Dusters, before the Dusters destroyed them.


(OOC: RIght, send me your characters quickly, I will role-play mainly as Feldfebel Almas Mansur, almost all factions on Mars are going to have about 50 elite dudes in this force, so you all get to command something (of course, shit like Corporate ESA security and the Liberation Movement of Unity City don't have people to spare, so the players of such factions will have to roleplay as either Pepe Ismail, or some local commander within the force. If you want something more unique (priest, Europol dude, drone operator) hit me up and we will discuss it. If you just want to play as a lowly soldier, sure. Updates will be super quick, so be sure to be around. I will skip inactive players.

Send me all your characters via PMs.))

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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by Smyg » 20:41:20 Wednesday, 03 December, 2014

Smoke in, smoke out, smoke in, smoke out. The foul stench of artificial tobacco spread faintly in the area.

Ilya Semyonov hummed, equally faintly, in-between drags on the cigarette. A song from his childhood, half-forgotten. Apple trees were blooming... An even fainter smile spread on his face as Aslan Konev stared him down, rounding up his instructions. "... is that clear, Comrade Captain?"

"Yes, Comrade Colonel." The man, a proverbial golem of sinew and muscle, loomed above him. "The objective is crystal clear. The Martian Defence Initiative can count on GRU, sir", Semyonov continued.

The Colonel, replacing his frown with a scarred smirk, grabbed the lower-ranking officer's hand and shook it hard. "Good to see you again, Ilyusha. It's been too long. Let's hope we see each other again for a drink back in Gorchakov once all this is through."

"God willing, Aslan. God willing."

The barely visible smile turned into naught once Konev turned away, heading out to oversee the troops.


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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by Gesar » 06:33:12 Thursday, 04 December, 2014

Maybe the first clue was the dull roar of engines and the sudden appearance of a dozen jeeps outfitted with .50 caliber machine guns, RPG launchers, and mortars courtesy of the North American Union. Maybe it was the vintage 2120s electrodub blaring at an ungodly volume or the black and red flags hanging on for dear life off the back of the vehicles. Or if that didn't give it away, maybe it was the red sword of Asclepius opposite the tallied kill count on each operative's Ranger-inspired black duster over salvaged power armor.

Whatever it was that tipped the camp's more internationally-recognized inhabitants off, it was suddenly obvious to everybody. The Black Column of the Nightingale Society-Bogdanovist Movement had arrived.

Better late than never, right?

At the head of the motley caravan of former activists and professional guerrillas was an Earthborn man who had quickly traded his helmet and gas mask for a more romantic-looking scarf and aviators. Taking a moment to look over the various Commando units that had elected to follow him, he glanced over at the European section of the camp, grinned sardonically, and spat out a large wad of khat.

"Alright, ladies and gents. Turn that shit off and listen up, 'cause I'm not gonna say this twice," Subcommander Tybalt barked, a certain amount of harshness flavoring his Californian accent unpleasantly as his comrades set up shop near the Ranger encampment.

"You all know me, so I'm not gonna give you a whole speech about who you're dealing with. It's why you stellar minds chose me and put Orestes in charge back on the lines." Not that it bothered him any. The Society had improved greatly when the original troika laid down the guidelines for democratic organization, even if it meant for awhile he'd been fighting for the Greater Movement in that shithole they called Clearwater. Besides, al-Malika was probably sleeping better now that he wasn't having to manage some fucking relief effort or other.

"You also all know what's at stake here. Ismail might be the next best thing they got to Uncle Tom over in Europe, and I'm not looking forward to dealing with those fascist assclowns from Gorchakov any more than the rest of you, but let's all be cool, nut up, and get this over with." He paused, absently touching the holster of his Sakai Corp revolver. If they ever found Jericho, he'd have to send the guy a thank you note. "Dig it? Good. Oh, yeah." A crooked smile crossed his face as he uttered the Movement's byword. "Solidarity."

With that, he made his exit from the rest of the Column, stained fingers reaching for a few loose khat leaves to steady himself. The sooner this show got on the road, the better. Looking around for what his intel said was the Ranger commanding officer, he nodded in greeting. "You weren't gonna start without us, were you? Say it ain't so."


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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by Coin » 14:41:09 Thursday, 04 December, 2014

Ceannard-Sgioba MacIain - that's Squad Leader Jones to the ill-informed - cursed as he shut off the comms link from the camp with New Glasgow. If he'd known it was going to be Redwallace and Constantine on the line, he'd have at least had time to shine his exosuit. Redwallace was a good lad, but Constantine was civvy to the core. Still, best to know how things stood back home before they got underway.

Lord knew there were a hundred other places they could have been sent. He punched the comms link to his officers.

"Citizens MhicLabhrainn, Lawson, Beaty, MhicChaluim. My tent in 5. Some updated orders."

He reset his comms scrambler to tune back into the international unit leaders datalink. The hum of the technicals being revved up and the APC diagnostics just outside shook the glasses as he poured 5 whiskys. Then a sixth. Time enough for one for himself before the rest arrived, and before he had to start dealing with God-knows how many fucking foreigners trying not to shoot each other.

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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by Langben » 17:32:08 Thursday, 04 December, 2014

Damned feed on Unit 2 was still cutting out at random intervals... *WHAP* Ah, another problem solved by percussive maintenance. That was the last serviceable drone malfunction, and from the sounds of things in camp, the less uniform members of this operation were finally arriving. Time to get ready.

Lt. Jean Camano resealed the casing on the surveillance drone and replaced it on it's rack. The briefing would surely be filled with all sorts of colorful sod trodding loonies, but Euro brass still expected their flight techs to present as clean as the grunts. Must make the poor bastards feel better.


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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by Serenissima » 00:27:21 Friday, 05 December, 2014

As the pair of unarmed transport aerodynes, in the mottled sand and brown colours of the New Galilee/al-Jalil Defence Force, began their final descent, Captain Sadia Goldman-Tanboura looked out at the hive of activity below, the side door sliding open and letting her feel the blast of air against the clear faceplate of her helmet, staggering her slightly with its force and speed. The flight from the airbase complex outside New Tiberias had been a long one, time enough for everyone on-board to have felt the need to get up and pace the passenger compartment, but the captain had wanted to see what it was they were getting themselves into. She tightened her grip on the hanging handhold as they hit some turbulence, and thought, not for the first time, about what she saw. Almost every armed force on Mars is represented here. Capitalists and statists, bureaucrats and anarchists, vigilantes and corporate shills. And then there's us. Casting her eyes back, she regarded the thirty-five other men and women that she shared the cabin with, with more affection. People she could trust, many of whom had fought alongside her before.

Sadia was a tall, attractive woman, dark-haired and athletic, with pronounced cheekbones and firm, piercing eyes. A second-generation settler, born to a Jewish father and a Muslim mother, raised in the hardy environment of a border kibbutz, and part of the communal militia long before she had transferred to the Defence Forces, she was the epitome of the Martian sabra - ruggedly individualistic, fiercely opinionated, and with the natural charisma of a born leader. At least, that's what certain, adoring sections of the media would say, even outside of her homeland. The newly-decorated captain made a perfect poster girl for her country, and for the expanding, professionalising Defence Force, and the press had latched onto her like lampreys, hungry, as ever, for a good story and a heroine that they could build up highly. Even if, perhaps, it was only so that they could crow over her as she fell a greater distance. She had been assigned as the liason officer to the multinational anti-Duster force for more reasons than merely her military record. And the worst part is, I can't even decide if I like it or not.

"Coming in for landing now. Hold on tight." crackled the pilot over their helmet comlinks, in neutral, apolitical English, and the aerodyne roared a a hundred metres over the camp, the multinational concentration of troops and materiel below briefly flashing past Sadia's half-opened door before the vehicle settled down on its landing struts in a quickly-dissipating cloud of dust, the variable-cycle engines swiftly falling silent. Sliding the door open the whole way and dropping the few feet to the ground, she looked behind her and saw the ramp on the second, larger transport beginning to descend, even as her own platoon began to disembark. With a nod to the senior lieutenant who served as her second-in-command, she stalked over to the other transport, with long strides. Essential as they were, Captain Goldman-Tanboura was hardly known for her patience with the support troops, and her eyes sharply flashed to the technical officer overseeing the proceedings, standing with his hands on his hips.

Fortunately, the man, standing amidst the dozen or so non-frontline personnel who had also just left the transport, noticed her approach from the corner of his eye, spotting the stooping eagle motif of the HaTzanhanim on the armour on her upper arm, and he turned, nodding an acknowledgement. "Captain."

"Arif." the captain replied, swiftly. The Defence Forces did not salute; they were citizens first and soldiers second. Sadia regarded the man as he did so - a lanky, bespectacled Earth-born Palestinian, more used to working from a desk than out in the field, looking more like the millionaire creator of some Web 4.0 concept straight out of Al-Technion than a military officer. But officer he was, and a professional one, too, and it showed in his easy manner towards his commander, as she interrogated him. "How long until you can have that crate attached to the trucks? I don't want any delays."

"That depends on how long it takes the 'Mars Express' to get their crews over here and hook it up." Lieutenant Arif replied, gesturing over towards the main body of the camp. "Once we're loaded on, though, we're self-contained, generating our own power. Then we'll be able to start providing this little expedition's... sting in the tail. Also, we'll want to find out who is providing the medical cover. The trauma team can't do much on their own." he said, gesturing again with his other hand at the trio of military doctors who were trying to get out of the way, their equipment following at their heels on automated antigravity sleds like clingy, rectangular dogs. The Portable Technical Servicing Unit, looking like a large, highly advanced shipping container on wide, retractable wheels, was being carefully extracted from the aerodyne's hold, its many aerials folded, and the swarm of Aldabyr dormant, clinging to its exterior like bees on a honeycomb.

"Sounds like we have a lot to do." said the captain, even as she lifted her hand and clicked her helmet comlink to broadcast to the entire platoon, looking around again at the collection of sandstone brown-armoured men and women, the flag of Israel-Palestine emblazoned in dulled colours on their shoulders. "Alright, listen up. We made our introductions back home. You know me, and you know what we're here to do. You are all professionals. You have all volunteered for this mission, and this isn't amateur hour. Not only are we going to help our fellow Martians, make a real difference, but I expect best behaviour - not only are we representing ourselves, and the Defence Force, but we're representing our home and our way of life. And finally, we're going to show them what we can do. That we're not to be trifled with, that freedom does not mean weakness. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Captain!" came back the unanimously enthusiastic, though staggered, response. Sadia smiled, slightly, though no-one could see it. Beginning her long strides through the regolith, and leaving her executive officer to deal with the logistics of setting up the tents, she moved off, into the heterogenerous temporary town, seeking out the officer in charge of the transport and whoever was in charge of the medical arrangements - whichever she happened to stumble upon first, given the chaotic and thus-far unorganised nature of the punitive expedition.

"Imagine lies, and then write them down in order. That is literally all authors do!"

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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by Snacks » 17:38:56 Friday, 05 December, 2014

"About time you showed up, songbird. Was starting to wonder if you were going to miss the party." The dark-skinned Ranger smiled a little but didn't look up from securing her gear at first as Tybalt approached, prompting one of her comrades to suppress a chuckle as he cleaned a large rifle beside her. Finally, she finished and offered a hand to the Nightingale, "Really, though, I'm glad you all made it, since Little Pepe from Europol will probably try to get everyone 'organized' soon. I'm sure the regulars will want to know where 'their' medics are, too."

She shook her head and looked over her squad of snipers, busy preparing for the mission ahead, before pulling a headscarf up to shield her from a kicked-up plume of regolith as she turned back to look at the subcommander. "Trying to make sure most of us make it through this alive will be a thankless challenge, I'm sure. Just don't alert the Dusters with that 2100s house before we even spot them or I might have to offer you up as live bait.

She gave him a dark smirk and grabbed a helmet sitting next to her, leading him inside a small tent in the reinforced frame of a half-finished blockhouse. "Abeer Al-Fayeed, by the way. 'Ranger' optional. You're 'Tybalt', right? Didn't expect them to send an activist from Clearwater, but I suppose if al-Malika sent you, you must know your stuff." Digging a small bottle and glasses out, she poured a murky liquid into one of them and slid it to the Nightingale, raising her own. "The Outliers don't make pretty moonshine, but it's strong enough. Welcome to the edge of the world, Subcommander."


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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by Gesar » 23:02:02 Friday, 05 December, 2014

Tybalt nodded along as al-Fayeed gave him the 411 on the situation, laughing loudly (and perhaps a little obnoxiously) at her comment on the music. "Hey, least we've got something better than those Maroon songs. All due respect to those beautiful bastards, but if I hear El pueblo unido one more damn time I'll walk straight into Whitecliff and open fire."

"Operative Tybalt, Insurgente Galeano Commando. The Black Column. Cheers," he said, concluding the formalities with a morbid little smile of his own and tossing back the moonshine with practiced ease. "I knew a woman who used to say that this stuff's poison. Told her that she was thinking of Ivan." Licking his lips, the Subcommander added, "I'm glad to be here, Ranger Al-Fayeed. Even more glad I'm not about to be stuck with some Eurotrash pencil-pusher and whatever monster they dragged out of Siberia." He examined the empty glass for a second before turning his gaze to his erstwhile companion. "Besides, if you're half of what I've learned to expect from you guys...well, there might be somebody out who can tell you about my style of 'activism'. Not many, though." There was a reason that the journalist, Ortiz or whatever, had nicknamed him the Red Queen's Black Knight, after all.

The Subcommander glanced out of the blockhouse, idly observing the preparations of their respective forces. "So. Word is that Ismail and company brought their own medics. Now, don't get me wrong, I'll play ball with those assholes, but that's not gonna stop me from doing this my way. So tell you what, you need somebody patched up, when the rest of my people get here, I'll see what we can do." Chuckling to himself, he let out a light sigh and eased up against the frame of the tent, only for the moment of relative quiet to be interrupted by the buzz of his commlink.

"Looks like we weren't the last to show up, Subcommander. The Defence Force sent their golden girl and she's looking for the medical staff." Well goddamn it, Mara, what do you need me for? Whoever came up with that metaphor about herding cats obviously had never tried leading the Movement.

Shooting Abeer a look of mock exasperation, Tybalt touched a hand to his commlink to reply. "Copy that, Operative. Be a doll and send the Captain my way before Izzy gets his mitts on her, yeah?"

Turning the link off, he shrugged. "Speak of the devil...you don't mind if we have a little company, do you? Al-Jalil's about the only one of the bunch that's not gonna make me throw up."

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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by Flamelord » 02:13:43 Monday, 08 December, 2014

The camp was a bustle of activity as new units arrived all the time from other nations and groups, an eclectic bunch of which half despised the other half to some extent, all gathered together to launch a mission into the territory of the Dusters. It was a mission that could potentially change the course of Mars itself. Very dramatic, very poetic, if one were to ask the tabloids, media, or the New European Colonial Government PR office.

For his part, Colonel Korneliusz Sokolksi just hoped that they made it through this mission in one piece, and without any friendly fire incidents. For be it for him to contest what the PR officials thought they knew, but sitting in the European section of the camp right now, he was very aware of the mutual distrust that festered here. Past history could not be overcome so easily, even in the face of a common foe.

His gaze drifted almost naturally across to the Russian section of the camp, old hatred of upbringing and heritage hard to look past, to say the least. But he had to for the moment, mostly as a result of the Chinese and Americans, and the attack on Phobos. The enemy of your enemy is your friend, and for the moment, that meant Russia. So he'd put up with it.

Another look over saw the other groups arriving at the entrance to the camp, the subsequent arrivals of Israel-Palestine, as well as the Nightingales. The last earned something of a grimace of distaste, the thought that they were working with people directly opposed to their presence on Mars at all not exactly pleasant. Still, he didn't give the orders here, and if he was told to work with them, he'd work with them.

That left to itself, he went back to the important thing he had to be doing. Paperwork. "God, I didn't think I'd have so much writer's cramp," he muttered to himself as he got to work once more. Sadly, if there was one thing Europe did well, it was bureaucracy. He'd just have to hope Commander Ismail or someone else saved him from this soon, before the stack of dead trees beside him was taller than he was.


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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by Litos » 04:48:49 Wednesday, 10 December, 2014

"Colonel." One of the local guides addressed, approaching the man in the green exosuit with the red markings on his shoulders. Colonel Cai Dang, or Dang Cai, as the inferior and uncivilized Western tradition of placing the cognomen last would dictate, had always thought that the PLA's uniforms were stupid, but as a convict whose tact was the only reason he could obtain his position, he was in no place to complain.

"Colonel, we've identified the local locations of the other forces; Israelis, Europol, we have been unable to locate the nightingales and other non-government forces."

The man was dressed in black and his face was covered completely. He had a tattoo on his arm... no doubt from one of the gangs.

"Your payment is in the suitcase." Cai Dang replied, nodding to him. His eyes from underneath his black viser narrowed, his men stood by with the assault rifles.

"We hope to do more business with you, Colonel Dang." the man replied, taking the suitcase and opening it to inspect the product inside. A scaled appendage leapt out to sting him in the face, and Cai's squad raised their rifles, firing several silenced bursts into the suitcase afterwards. A genetically engineered scorpion, completely unnecessary, very excessive, but fun to watch.

The paralyzed gang member was on the ground. Dang walked over to him and bent over, opening his mouth to deliver a cold lecture on pragmatics. The mans' eyes rolled into his head, and Dang's attempt to maintain a cool poker face was a catastrophic failure. He scowled, and that erupted into shouting as he felt his insides burn at this small frustration. Hurling his railgun aside at one of his men, who deflected and caught it, he tore a knife from out of his belt and stabbed it into the man's stomach, twisting it through the stomach as if he were administering seppuku, and disembowling the lifeless corpse as he screamed profanities and shouted at the top of his lungs.

Inhaling deeply, he rose, grabbing the criminal's bloodied holopanel and looked at it, panting through his nose.

"They're far. They didn't hear us." Dang reported.

"We're to move to position in the middle of all the forces. Stay near the vehicles. We have our mission. Contact on friendly terms is not required."

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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by OYID » 05:29:54 Wednesday, 10 December, 2014

Operative Vitaly climbed off the truck and looked at the camp around him. He hated long desert rides, but at least the music had been nice.

Y ahora, el pueblo....

His brothers would unpack and set up shop. He was supposed to meet his superior, brief him on the situation back in his zone of operations, and report that the Ricardo Flores Magón Commando had arrived.

Que se alza en la lucha...

At any rate, he had everything he needed on his backpack. Well, it can be unwieldy, but then again I'm not one of you poor grunts running around shooting up alleyways now am I, comrade. Plus, the veritable field clinic he could set up with this huge backpack had saved the life of many an operative a dozen times. No, I don't want to be the stupid Subcommander. There shouldn't even be a Subcommander. This is Ricardo Flores Magón...ah, you really don't get it do you.

Con voz de gigante...

Fascists, fascists, and more fascists. Jackboots as far as the eye can see. Father, if you could only see this. A tall, pale, slightly arabic-looking man in a black coat and checkered scarf passed by carrying a first aid kit stacked on top of a box of grenades. Vitaly signaled for his brothers to follow their fellow Operative.

Gritando ¡adelante...!

Yeah I'm looking for the Subcommander. That tent over there, huh, the one with all the Rangers. Guess I can never escape finding out my friends and enemies can I. Yes yes I'll go in a minute. He can wait while my song finishes. This is the best part...

¡El pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido!
¡El pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido!

Headphones off. Look sharp. Enter the tent. "Subcommander". Stand up straight. Excessive reverence is a way to protest hierarchical elements within the Society, surely.


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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by RinKou » 23:30:04 Friday, 12 December, 2014

A Game of Light and Shadows - Profiles from the Duster Expeditions
Soraya Ashhad-Mohan, reporting for the Libertine

Corporal Lance D. Johnson is the last thing you'd expect when you picture a NAU Special Operations soldier. Young, blonde, with an unsure smile. It's not a smile you'd find in the trenches, but it's also not a smile you'd find on a recruit whose only combat experience was VR sims. It was the kind of smile somebody who wasn't sure what he was doing, but doing his damndest would flash you while he tried to fix your engine on the side of the road.

That's the kind of person Corporal Johnson is. He's helpful, cheerful, and not entirely sure what he's doing out here. He was trying to fly a delivery quadcopter when we first met.

"Just got 'im tweaked for Martian atmosphere," he said, meaning 'gravity'.

He looped his drone around and buzzed my head, either his idea of a joke, or his tweaks hadn't gone quite as well as he'd like. Corporal Johnson's been flying - and modifying light drones since childhood. This one is an Amazon Phoenix QD-3. Semi-autonomous, 80km range, 20kg lift capacity - and that's at 1 Earth Gravity. This last point was important - Johnson had a massive ENG camera mounted on his drone, which he'd affectionately (or not) named Kilgore, after his last commanding officer.

Most aerial photographers use a dedicated camera drone - or at the least, mount a GoPro on a much smaller platform. Johnson even admits there's no benefit to attaching a camera of this size to a drone meant for deliveries, which lacks the finer controls needed for filming, but he doesn't do this because it's easy.

"Getting a good shot with KG here's a game," he says. "A game of light and shadows. You gotta nudge him just right and make sure you can get the lighting perfect. Plus, it's good practice."

He says "good practice" because the modded delivery drones Johnson flew as a boy were used for remote hunting - and the lower Martian gravity means that Kilgore can still fly efficiently if mounted with a heavy machine gun and enough ammunition to last a firefight.

When asked if that's something that command would even allow him to have, much less operate on the front lines, Johnson shrugs.

"Hey, that's the beauty of 'semi-autonomous'."

In a way, this reflects the attitude of everyone here. Each of the more than a dozen state and non-state armed forces taking part in this expedition are loosely organized and largely left to their own devices, with varying degrees of support and supervision by the European force nominally in charge. Not too unlike a semi-autonomous delivery drone hauling a M20.

Heartache by the Numbers: Caravan Master

If you say that prancing mailman of a GM is ever going to run the gangster game WELL THEN I SAY GOOD DAY SIR -oyid

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Re: A Game of Light and Shadows

Post by BgKnight » 07:36:43 Monday, 22 December, 2014

"It all passed in the haze. I remember the crash, the screams as we tried to escape the burning wreaks, the Europeans firing at anything that moved, and there was a lot of them. They were coming form the dust, from the rocks, it was like they were coming from thin air..." Mansur's voice broke for a second, as his sobs, the soft voice of the Europol interrogator asked slowly

"Lets take it from the start, what happened after the shuttles crashed..." and suddenly he remembered, the machine connected to his brain extracted the memories from him, squeezing him like a fruit. And he was there...

He was breading heavily and screaming at his men "Out out out out!" as they were all ejected from the falling machine. He could feel the machine getting heavier and heavier as it plowed towards the ground. An explosion rocked the side of the machine, tearing a hole right through it. The shuttle rocked the side and he heard yelling behind him. Looking backwards he caught a glimps of the Nightingales in their jeeps, revving the vehicles and driving right out of the gaping hole on the side of the craft with Tybalt barking at his drivers to move faster. Mansur activated his suit's hydraulics and followed them, jumping out after the last jeep had flown out of the falling shuttle. The air whizzed quickly by him as the hydraulics strained to cushion his fall.

The only thing the Europol commander felt was a slight pinch in his legs, even though he smashed into the ground with enormous speeds. All around him, Nightingales were landing with Parachutes attached to their jeeps. Already he could hear the fire all around them, he saw other shuttles crashing and soldiers jumping to save themselves. Some didn't make it, he saw bodies falling form the air, their suits still trying to keep them upright, but their brains turned to mush. Mansur looked at Tybalt who was dispensing fire at what initially looked like a dune, Mansur could detect something was hiding behind it though.

He looked around for his soldiers but was partially blinded by the Russian shuttle "landing" without its wheels, kicking up regolith everywhere as the belly of the shuttle turned into a mess of twisted metal and dead men. From inside he saw Colonel Semyonov pull the body of a dead comrade, holding him with one hand and dragging him while shooting with the other, discharging his pistol at the enemy. Semyonov yelled at Mansur "Goddamn it, get your fucking drones in the air!"

That snapped the Europol operative out of it, as he looked back towards the shuttle that used to transport the Europeans. There he could see the frozen face of his commander, barking orders at everyone, Colonel Sokolksi was also holding someone, a half dead ranger woman who bleeding through her throat. As Mansur rushed to his commander, a rocket smashed into where he used to stand, throwing him forward, he felt enemy fire hit him all over the armour, but he could complain as that same piece of tech pulled him out of the hole he was stuck in and forced him to move with the heavy aid of the wheezing hydraulics.

As he closed on Sokolski, he heard another noise, this one was of burning engines and a combination of curses in french and arabic or hebrew, Mansur could never make it out, even though he was descendant of Arabs. He could clearly see Lt. Camano and Captain Goldman-Tanboura screaming at both each other and their men, as the drones that survived the crash came to life all over the place, some were knocked out almost instantly, but other scored hits right away. Mansur finally found his boys, dressed in their black armor they were firing at the enemy, joined by groups of Scottish and Ranger commandos, all screaming and cursing in their language. With the drones in the air, they finally had a clear view on the front and the feeds of all the suits showed the same thing. All around the shuttles, where they had fallen, he saw only one thing.

"Why is the regolith black?" he heard one of his men yell above the cacophony, refusing to use the mikes that they all had
"That is not the regolith, mate!" he heard a Scot respond "Those are dusters!"

Mansur's insides froze, but his instinct is what kept him going, as he dispensed fire at the hellish creatures that were firing back. Everywhere all around them, the drones were raining hell-fire from above and he saw the Russians fighting several of the creatures with their bare hands. European and Maroon medics where all over the place, trying to rescue everyone who wasn't seriously hurt. The lead Maroon was singing, one of their stupid chants, but Mansur found it strangely calming, so he ordered it played on the background of all communicators. And so, the force slowly caught the rhythm, those that didn't know what the cultists were singing in Latin just hummed along, the force fighting for every inch, and the dusters climbing on top of each other's dead bodies.

It was here where Mansur begun to catch wind of the movements of the dusters, they were moving in droves, they were treating each part of their body like it was expendable, in fact they were treaty each being as expendable. Suddenly it became clear, he got it. He looked around for the reporter, that vile creature that the Americans brought, he needed her now. He saw her lying on the ground, covering her head in fear, her microphone was in her hand.

He ran to her, his shields deflecting the duster bullets, he picked her up like she wasn't a rag-doll and shook her, her terrified face froze on his eyes "GET THE CAMERAS WORKING" he yelled, snapping her out of it. The Drone came to life and the camera shed light on the entire front, he put the feed of all the other drones on the side screen, he was sure they were broadcasting all over Mars.

"Whoever is watching this, listen up! The Dusters are not many organisms, they operate as if part of a larger organism, not a hive mind, but more like cells of something larger! They are everywhere and we may not survive this, but don't let this operation be in vain!" just before the camera cut off, a ranger grabbed Mansur and pulled him out of the way, as a rocket fired from the dusters smashed into the camera and exploded. The last thing he remembered was the Chinese commander fighting in hand to hand combat with a creature that was attacking him, the small man jumped on the back of the creature and plunged his knife in it, as it let off a piercing shriek.


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