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 Post subject: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 3:04 pm
  

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Knight

Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:20 pm
Posts: 4916
Location: Right behind you.
Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
More screwed up adventures of everyone's least favorite mercenary. This time it's about the money.

Spoiler:
OPERATION WINDFALL: FIRST HALF
If I had a cred for every time a merc tried to fleece me, I’d be rich enough to use Prosek’s john.

PART 1
Texas big country; land of bandit empires, one horse kingdoms and arms dealer monopolies. Dern, Arstad and I are crammed inside a Big Boss driven by Melana, some kind of hunter with kanji etched into the black armor plates that replace her right arm. Looks like something a knight would wear, not a cyber-rig. Goggles on her black head of hair, leather pants, Wilk’s over-under at her thigh, metal from her arm spreads over half her upper body, seen the flaming sword that burns out of her forearm.

Bounty hunting. Big payoff for Big Raz, Razzulghar, cyber-demon raider even the skullheads can’t catch.

Easy job.

Roll into Nob End, town on the Pecos bandit border. Big Raz and crew run the area, the normal bandits stay out. Ghost town, not merc friendly, but they want the demon out, let us in. Not the first. Roll to the bar, see a refit Mark V parked outside, three guards in Crusader heavy armor, Wilk’s 457’s and pineapples on watch.

“The hell are these guys?” Dern gravels.

“Slags.”

“Yeah, but who’s?” Arstad asks as we park.

Step out, work the legs, light a cig. Mercs are giving us the eye, mind their own business when Dern grackle-grins.

Inside the bar, belly up, first round’s on me. Not in body armor, wearing the mesh-weave coat, NE-4 and .45 on opposing drop rigs, vibro-knife in the sheath, TX-5 in an under arm. Eight troopers inside with us, mix of humans and d-bees, see a finger-wiggler and an operator, maybe a TW in the back with a guy in all black and a bad mustache. They give us the once over, maybe give Melana’s leather pants the twice over.
Ultra-ear picks up the conversation at the back table. Creeper with the ‘stache does all the talking.

I turn to Arstad, “Looks like mustache is the leader.”

“Want me to get rid of’m?” his cyber eyes dance in excitement. Makes me wonder how old he really is.

I shrug, “They stay out of our way, they can do what they like.”

Melana pipes up, “I don’t like them. Their mage stinks.”

“That hair an implant? Didn’t know you were a psi-hound”, Dern asks after pounding half his beer.

“Just a feeling”, she shrugs.

I tug the bartender, “Hey, pal. This the town offering the bounty on Big Raz?” He nods. “Where you get the kind of scratch to pay it up? This place ain’t exactly posh, dig?”

“The money’s there, friend”, mustache answers from across the room.

Walk over, the others stay put, watching my back. “That a fact? Who are you?”

“It is a fact, and you can call me Clawson.” Shakes his tumbler full of bourbon at me. The tech and mage don’t meet my eyes.

“Alrik”, I say with a nod. “You paying the bounty or something?”

“Indeed I am. Protecting this town for a small fee, paying the bounty on the demon. At your service if you need any help in the field.”

“Long as you got the money, we’re fine. Just stay out of our way.”

“I wouldn’t dream of interfering. Happy trails, friend.” He salutes with his glass again and I walk away, heading out of the bar. The rest fall in.

“That wasn’t creepy”, Arstad whispers. “Never trust a guy who calls you friend, right pal?”

***

A walk about town tells us Clawson has thirty men. There are buggies, two decommed SAMAS and a dozen drones for combat and recon to go with his APC. The guy’s just sitting here, waiting for someone else to find Raz for him while he mooches off the town. That’s the definition of a slag.

Bounty’s listed at 2mill, how’s a guy pay that sitting on his flabby rear?

He doesn’t. I smell a scam, but we need to know more.

Arstad has maintenance on the Big Boss, Dern says he’ll investigate around town, leaving Melana and I to do the same, but on the outskirts. Townies are right under the merc garrison’s thumb, but farmers see the bandits up close and personal, got guts enough to do some talking.
Small kit-hovercycle in the Boss, fold out, wrench it up. Got enough space for two if they’re friendly. The lady wants to drive at first, but when I give her a satisfied smile, she orders me to instead.

Speeding over big country, find a few farm houses, first is an empty wreck. Next one has Farmer John with a shotgun pointed at us. Hard to tell if he’s telling the truth about the ramjet rounds he’s packing.

“Not here to cause trouble”, I’m not very reassuring. Doesn’t help that I look like scum.

“Please, mister. We’re here hunting your demon problem, we just want to ask some questions”, Melana tells him.

We dismount and show our hands, Farmer John looks us up and down, spits, grunts and lowers his weapon. Seems anyone will trust a good set of hips these days.

“They just appear?” I ask after a sit and our host tells us how fast the bandits show up.

“Sure as the sun. Magic, I tell you. Hell fire and magic.”

Mrs. Farmer John pours us some water and doesn’t tell me to put my cig out. Seems like a nice lady.

“They leave just as fast?” Melana asks.

“After going into town, yeah. They get shot at by the mercs now, but they can’t stop Big Raz. He come and go like a snake in the ground.”

“They got a Line Walker?”

“Not that we seen”, says the farmer’s wife.

“Julia, I told you over and over, don’t say if ya don’t understand!” Farmer John takes a breath and turns back to us. “They gots them a mage, yeah. Don’t know what he is, some kinda robed guy, talks to spirits, says I.”

“Why’s Clawson really here?” I ask.

Farmer John licks his lips. “I hear it’s the horde, see?”

“An army, or loot?”

“Loot, boy, come on now.” He laughs. “Word is Big Raz killed himself a dragon, hid the gold somewhere’s safe.”

Everything’s starting to make sense. We kill Raz, turn in his head, go on our way. The mustache gang picks what’s left of his brain, or summon his spirit and force a confession, find the horde and they make a hundred times the bounty. Good plan. Wish I’d thought of it.

“You mentioned a robed man”, Melana says. “Have you ever seen him do anything magical?”

“Well, now, little lady, I don’t know much about that, but I can tell you one time I seen that demon stamp his foot, make a big circle and markings appear, drawings-like. When that happens it’s like an earthquake, see? Dust and wind, can’t see much, but I kept my feet once, saw that pole cat in the robe make a chant and rocks come up and swallow the whole group of ‘em!”

Hell of a trick.

Later, Melana and I leaving Farmer John’s, the wife made sure we took a pie with us. Hospitality and all. I stuff a slice in my mouth. Apple, good times.

“They aren’t going far”, she says as we get to the bike.

“Eh?”

She turns and looks at me. “We heard Raz drives the other bandits away, right? He doesn’t trash the town, he just terrorizes it a bit and leaves. Then he and his crew go underground. It’s like the slugs up north where I’m from. They don’t destroy their own environment, they don’t over feed, just take enough to let other predators know the area is occupied. Get it?”

Swallow apple awesome. “Cyber-demon is scaring the bandits off because the treasure’s hidden under the town.”

She winks. “Smarter than you look.”


PART 2
Meet up. Arstad’s been bored, wants to blow something up. Don’t blame him. Dern has intel. Clawson and the town’s mayor are in bed, more ways than one. The mercs haven’t figured out how Raz and his crew keep disappearing yet, seems their mage isn’t too smart, or there are bigger problems we don’t know about. Either way, we make a plan.

Only good ground radar we have is Arstad’s internal system. Have to find a way down so he can ping a large, open area. Should be pay dirt.
Learned a few other bits, Raz’s gang is psi-stalkers, humans, a few quick-flex, an ogre or two. Easy day. Also, there’s no sewer system in town, everything is outhouses with waste disposal in a peat furnace. No underground access inside the populated area, fine, do some scouting.
Melana takes the bike, Arstad can go borg-speed and Dern squeezes into the Big Boss. I stay in town. Got more leads to follow.

Post up in the bar, do the three-ring circus (bourbon, scotch, beer). Buddy-buddy with some of Clawson’s men. Tight-lipped for a bunch of slags. Works for me, tell them my guys are closing in on Raz’s hideout as we pile out the door. They bite.

“You ain’t even been here a day, slag. No way you know where he’s hiding.”

“Easy, chump. Just better than you at this.”

We walk down the street, into an alley. I noticed one looks to the others, signal-like, then back at me. “How about you fill us in, mate? Can make it worth your while. No four-man is gonna deal with Big Raz and his gang, anyway. Doin’ you a favor.”

I smirk, “Maybe we can, maybe that’s why you don’t cross the line, dig?”

They don’t like my tone. “Smooth talk, huh? How about we boot it out of you?” The brute squad closes ranks, pins me in against a wall, I’m all smiles.

“Think you should wait, see if a few more slags show up before something bad happens”, figure a warning is the polite thing to do.

Troop 1 goes for his pistol, but I’m already breaking his knee with my boot, knocks him down. Troop 2 is surprised by his pal’s sudden gasp of pain, more surprised when he leaves his feet and ends his trip making out with Troop 3 on the floor. Move quick, fall on Troop 1’s face knee first. Grab his ears, pick him up, head first into the alley wall. 2 and 3 stand.

Elbow to the temple, KO on 3. Troop 2 tries his kung fu, I show him drunken merc style. Boots and crotches mix like beer before whiskey, down boy. Heel in the face like a jackhammer, no defensive response. Troop 1 is struggling, cursing me and my mother, trying to work his pistol. Kick it out of his hand, snatch it as it goes through the air, point it down at him.

Yeah, I’m pretty good.

“Listen slag, I went easy on you and your girlfriends, dig? You got seconds to tell me what your boss is planning or we play easy-bake with your skull, copy that?”

“Yer not getting’ away with this, man, Clawson will—“

“Mustache man is the filth off the heel of my boot. You know who you’re dealing with here? Maybe you heard of the Devil Doublecross at Tolkeen?”

“You’re Human Devil Alrik?” he gulped. Suddenly I had his attention. The telling and retelling of that story gave me a rep, for better and for worse. Works for me.

He talked. Everyone talks.

***

After getting the goods, I contacted the others.

“Finding the horde is half the problem”, I tell them. “It’s in some kind of dimensional vault, you need a key.”

“So these mercs are just sitting around waiting for it to turn up?” Arstad asks.

“That’s where their mage comes in. Mel, you ever heard of a Spatial?”

“They work in dimensional spaces, they can even make them.” Then her voice comes in hard, “And don’t call me Mel.”

“So he’s like a pocket dimension safe cracker? Smart move”, Dern grunts.

“Wish we had one, but we gotta slog the old fashioned way. Report on that?”

“Comm-prohib, let’s regroup”, Dern says.

“Copy that, two klicks north of the pie shop.”

The rest copy and I start skulking my way across the countryside in the night.

***

Farmer John’s house is a small light in the flat distance as I run. Come across Melana first, she speeds up next to me and lets me hop on this time. I try not to goose her too much. Who am I kidding? She doesn’t throw me off the bike, not thrilled either.

Meet up with the others, Dern’s in his battle armor. Hard to find the grackle-size, but he managed a custom fit heavy Bushman. Armed up with a vibro axe and a black market CP-50, has a camo cloak and three NG demo-fusion charges. Arstad is in his battle armor, pulse lasers ready, vibro-blades humming, mini-missiles loaded. He hefts the NG-202 with increase ROF mod. Melana puts on her light Huntsman armor, scribed with the same kanji as her arm. Neural attachment to the left forearm, keeps the Wilk’s in holster, bringing an L-20A, dual barrel rifle to the party, has a bag of alchemical tricks. Don’t ask.

I get fitted and kitted, usual firearms and knife, suit up in the NE Camo armor, snag the NG-R50 with underslung, chaff grenade, one frag and a k-hex AP grenade. Lastly, new toy, NE force field, fit with changeable power pack for more juice when the shield fails. Best toys are reusable.
As we finish gearing out Dern gives me the lowdown.

“East of here there’s a canyon, deep and rough, but the ATV can handle it. Went down to the bottom for a peek and found some shrub a bit too green for the area. Too much moisture, ya see.”

This is what I get for befriending a Grackletooth wilderness scout.

“And?”

“Seems like underground water so I stalk around, but I don’t find the source with my bio-scanner. Too far down. The wind in the canyon is pretty tame, so when I felt the breeze on my right, from the green shrub, it caught my attention. Went over and found a break in the ground. Cool air, cool moist air. Dug around a bit and found a seam in the rock, figure it’s a door.”

“Must be how they move around without their warlock”, Melana adds.

“Warlock?”

She nods, “They can command elementals, can do a lot of nasty things. If he’s really a warlock, he’s earth aspect, which explains how he makes the land swallow up large groups. If we’re going underground, we’ll be on his home turf.”

“Sounds fun”, Arstad adds with cheer. “Lead on, Dern. I want to fight this guy, never been punched by a rock before.”

***

Twenty minutes later, we rolled into the canyon. Dern parks the ATV well short of the spot he spoke of, running without lights the whole way. We stop and exit, put the camo tarp over the Big Boss and huddle up.

“Dern and I will patrol in, look for guards in case security’s tightened up, dig?”

The others nod. I activate the variable camouflage on my armor and we move up. Going slow and quiet we avoid the noise of the surrounding shrubs. I can move more or less freely in the dark while blended with the environment and I signal Dern up after me. He’s bigger, even with the camo cloak he can still be a target. Stop at a dried up stream, Dern pats my shoulder, signals three. Thirty meters to target. I take a look around with mutli-optics, no heat signatures. Give him a nod and we patrol up slow and quiet.

Grackle-sneak signals hold, kneels down and starts moving dirt, looking for the entrance again while I test the radio for traffic. One chirp comes back.

“Move up, two hundred meters east and hug the wall. Come slow, rust bucket, don’t see anyone but they might have lookouts hidden.”

“Copy that.”

Dern’s got the edges clear, gives me a thumbs up. A moment later Melana and Arstad arrive. The ‘borg settles on his haunches to lower his profile, stays motionless and silent. Creepy like a metal sculpture. Melana sweeps her L-20A around, peeking through the NV scope.

“Arstad, give me a hand with this”, Dern says after giving the door a tug on his own.

‘Borgs are strong, but their force is directly applied. Dern is technically much stronger, he can lift more, seen him end over end a ground car for cover. Machine strength has incredible leverage though. It can give Dern the start he needs. He pushes his cowboy hat up, spits on his hands and gets his fingers in the bottom seam of the door while Arstad puts down his rail gun and gets set.

“Ready? Go!” I hear a grunt, followed by a groan mixed with the slow but sure winding of ‘borg parts in motion. Rock grinds, dirt falls from the top and the two big lugs open a three foot thick wall of rock like a garage door. A counter weight catches on the inside, keeping it in place when they heave it up all the way.

That’s a big door.

“Melana?”

“All clear behind.”

“Good, everyone inside, close the door. I’m going to scout head to see what we’re really dealing with. Understood?”

They all nod. Here we go.


PART 3
It’s dark, mutli-optics do their thing. Got my step silent, see like daylight, blending with the cave. Ghost in and adjust the ultra-ear, pick-ups tell me we got a party going on downstairs. Tunnel leads down and down, eventually switches back into a steeper drop. I crouch at the edge, hear shuffling ahead, see two shapes moving up the way. Night vision says guards, patch work, road warrior armor. Big Bore pistol for one, caseless 10mm for the other, no helmets. One’s hairless, tattoos on every inch of face, psi-stalker.

Stay calm. No magic, but if you get a hard on thinking about popping those guys they smell the danger.

Creep backwards to the switch, listen to them jibber-jab in Spanish.

“Stupid robe with a mouth, all he is. Raz should eat his heart.”

“He’s into voodoo, buddy, don’t talk so loud. He’ll hex you, no?”

“I ain’t afraid of no finger-wiggler. He’s crazy. If the door was open, we’d feel the air by now, like yesterday.”

“Eh, man, don’t be so stingy with your time, someone finds this place it could all be over. Those mercs topside are serious.”

“Mustache? He’s just a spider, a pest.”

“No, man, no. The other guys. I saw one of them drag three Mustache Men into an alley and beat the hell out of them for fun, made the last one cry and crap himself.”

Go me.

“Forget about that, crazy mercs just find trouble, not us. Let’s go, we’re missing the party.”

“But the door…”

“Forget the door! Let’s worry about some wenches.”

A moment passes and when I’m sure they’ve shuffled on I creep down the hallway in their wake, slow and silent. Getting to the bottom I hear the merry-making long before I see it. Mariachi music sung by demons. Hell on earth.

I crawl on my belly for the last few meters, get to the lip of the tunnel exit and I’m in an enormous cavern. Unnatural, probably dug by the earth warlock and his dial-9 friends. The top is smooth, but varied, lots of shadows. Doesn’t look very climbable but given enough determination lots of things are possible. Look below, see the Alpha Inferno frat party. Banditos gone wild, bunch of half-naked men, women in less. The band in the corner are working their magic, must be, the tune’s actually kind of nice and I’m not a mariachi fan.

The chamber is about two hundred meters at the widest, sixty at the shortest, oblong shaped. I see stalkers, humans, some kind of alligator lizard man, an ogre throwing girls in the air, laughing at their screams, the far corner has a frayed curtain pulled around it, but the orgy inside is visible from above. Seeing things I could do without.

Don’t see a huge demon named Razzulghar. No brown robes. My eyes scan the room carefully, flipping through the optics, the place is too well-lit for night vision, but I adjust thermal just right and can make out a line of heat coming from the far side along the cavern floor. Another doorway, looks constructed.

Head count says the room is twenty-two slags strong with eight other beings, mostly female, getting passed around like party favors. I’m about to radio check when the door I spotted opens and out walks the warlock. Brown robe, high collar, chains dangling from his wrists, neck and waist. Not binders, weapons. Rocks on each chain end, floating like balloons almost out of gas. Just behind him comes a demon-engine. Fifteen feet tall, armor plates riveted to flesh, helmet like a welder’s mask. Right arm is a spiked mace, twice the size it should be, armor plated. Looks like the arm off a giant ‘bot, a pilot light burns on the underside. Flamethrower. Good to know.

“Our master wishes you merriment!” says the warlock, his voice echoes through the cavern. The music dies, everyone pays attention. “For tomorrow, we go on to glory!”

Cheers from every corner of the hole. Big Raz steps forward, roars and discharges his flamer up into the air of the cavern, more cheering.

“We have no more need of the villagers, they have served us, true, but our fortunes are made, friends! When we open the vault and claim our destiny, we will burn Nob End to the ground, sacrifice the humans to Mar’gro’gth our master Rot, the Dark Earth itself, and we will have unstoppable power!”

Great.

Crawl like a snake back to safety, Alrik. This place is hosed.

***

“It’s pretty bad down there.”

“How bad?” Dern asks.

“Scum-sucking-slag-with-a-hard-on-bad.”

“That’s bad”, Arstad notes.

“How about you tell us more than how you feel about it?” says Melana.

I give them the whole down low.

The lady passes a breath. “Yeah, that’s bad.”

“So what’s the plan?” asks Dern.

“Well, considering we don’t have a pack of banditos down our throat already, I think it’s safe to say none of the stalkers can do astral projection. I say ambush, chaos, confusion. The usual. All we need to do now is worry about their danger sense.”
“You really want to go down there?”

I give Arstad a shrug. “You tellin’ me you don’t want the money?”

“Well, Alrik, where’s the vault? You said their earth guy hasn’t opened it yet or something?”

Shake of the head, “As far as I can tell. We’ll have to take him alive.”

The boys seem a little unhappy about that. I don’t blame them. Capturing a finger-wiggler is dicey at best. Melana looks more confident
“Leave the warlock to me. Just deal with larger group and the giant.”

Dern nods, “If the lady says so.” He looks at me. “Think you can keep your cool long enough to set my fusion charges?”

“Wanna bring the house down, huh?”

“You know it.”

“I can deal. Though once they’re set, it’ll be seconds before they know something’s up. They won’t know what or where from, but they’ll be on edge, probably send guys up the tunnel looking for trouble. You got it handled?”

Dern and Arstad nod.

“I can be up close, the cave-in won’t stop me”, Melana says.

“Roger that.”


PART 4
Feel like my fingers are about to fall off. Climbing in armor and full gear, upside down on the ceiling. Fight a cramp in my foot, try not to look down. Thirty meter drop, might not kill me, bad news. Horny bandits are worse than a broken neck.

Camo armor is blended with the darkness and rock of the cave, I’m a piece of scenery sewing death over the party. Second charge sticks to the rock, adhesive’s good. Better than the rock-stick on my gloves and boots. Construction workers use it, advertisement shows a guy hanging from his shoes like it’s nothing. Mulligan, I’m about to break my ankles and I’m right on.

Skitter like a bug to the far end of the cavern, pop-stick-pop-stick. The adhesive is losing some of the magic, fortunately my load is lighter. The party down below still rages, just a mess of hedonism and forced revelry. The air above it probably stinks like the dumpster of a ‘burb whore house. Glad I have my helmet on.

At the edge, closer to the ground, no good place for the charge above. Just over the door Big Raz came out of, hear demon grunting and sobbing from behind the door, fight to keep the pie I ate earlier in my stomach. Concentrate, Alrik. Set the charge, sticks above the door, nine meters up, hope no one spots it.

One head pops up, then another. A psi-hound springs up from the floor, unconscious a second ago. Hell, surprised I made it until now. Pop-stick my way up the cavern ceiling as the stalkers rubberneck. Instinct is at head level. No one looks up. Won’t be long before they start, keep moving.

Chirp my comm, “Natives are getting restless.”

“Copy that”, Arstad answers. “Signal when you’re clear.”

Raz’s bedroom door opens and the demon giant comes out, still in his armor. Coulda been worse. He snorts fire from under his helmet and one of the psi-stalkers falls to their knees at his feet.

“Master, danger! We are not alone here!”

Almost there.

The warlock emerges, robes fitting loose, “Find them, our master demands their heads!”

And a room full of murder leaps into action. Bandits arming themselves, mostly humans. The psi-hounds practically run on all fours toward the tunnel.

“Incoming!” I shout into the radio. “Blow the ceiling in three!”

Stand up, the adhesive starts to give faster. See a high rock in the chamber, maybe eight meters away. No time to wonder. I leap. Airborne for a second and the blast wave from the fusion charges throws me like a leaf on the wind, miss the rock entirely, but I manage to activate the force field harness. Barrier impacts the ground and I bounce, the projector keeping me centered. Feel like my guts tried to escape through the seams of my armor but I flex and hold on. Visibility is blocked by the inferno and melting rock. I keep tumbling and run into a wall, come to a stop as molten earth slides over the energy cocoon I am only renting at best.

Conventional explosives next time. Bad enough to get buried under tons of rock, don’t need to melt to death as well.

The magma stops short of closing around me entirely. Still lucky. Force field’s skittish though, can’t decide if it likes me enough to keep hanging out. Moving fast I roll away and the barrier gives out, spend a few layers of armor on the molten rock before I get clear.

Stand up, the remains of the cave are a demon’s fun house. A large pile of rock falls over, exposing Melana with shimmering field of light around her. Still on her feet. Arstad is already in the rubble, drilling anything that’s still squirming with the NG-202. Dern is headed for me, CP-50 popping scattered shots at Raz as he rises from the debris.

Stops short of me, goes for more accurate fire, “You alright?”

Bring up the NG-R50 and make to put a tungsten slug into Raz, dings off the armor. Look at Dern.

“Nope.”

He chuckles, it’s all you can really do.

Big-R comes right at us, flailing his meaty arm and his oversized skull-basher. Time to move. Dern and I separate, he puts a rifle grenade into the giant’s face, doesn’t slow him down. With the whip of robot arm, Raz belches plasma fire into the cavern, lighting everything up. I tumble, feel the heat, but don’t think he got me.

Need to get this done. Raz is too dangerous in tight spaces. Roll up, see Dern engaging him at close range, CQC with a demon in tank armor. Grackle-axe finds the joint in Raz’s leg armor, sparks and blood, but he takes the giant shock mace to the face and goes for a ride across the cavern.

Aim the rail gun, Melana draws down on Raz as well, Arstad swings the 202 around. Focus fire and the supersonic crack from the rail guns split the ears of anything without protection. Score a few good hits, Raz staggers. The 202 does most of the armor penetration, then suddenly rounds fly in every direction but the target.

“Get down!” Melana warns.

Drop into the rubble as the earth around Raz explodes, sending shrapnel all through the cavern, bringing down more debris. Take a rock to the helmet but it doesn’t snap my head hard enough to break my neck, just tosses me hard.

Up again, Raz is charging Melana, she’s got another barrier. Don’t see Arstad, buried. Brown Robe is by the collapsed entrance to his room, looks granite grey. Sees me, but I take my shot. The ferrous metal bounces off his skin with a spark. Great.

NE-4, let’s see if he can take the heat. Charge and fire, rocks on chains deflect the hits, but the boulders melt. Get close and the chains try to wrap me up, use the molten rocks to slag me, but I dodge inside and hand to hand him. Good resistance, he’s like a rock, but bodies have balance problems. He tries to back away on one foot and I strike fast, take him down to the floor and wrap him up, arm under the chin.
Time to say good night.

Not a chance. Chains grip my limbs, rip me off him and he’s got me elevated, can’t resist. Little **** smiles as I feel the grip start to pull me apart.

No help from Melana, she’s dancing with the devil. Good technique, guesses the moves like she can read his mind, flaming sword melting armor plates. Raging Raz, can’t catch his plaything. Wonder how long before he gets a lucky hit and crushes her face. Arstad is getting up slow, not in time, can’t see Dern, he’s behind me.

Cast to the four winds by the power of earth. Not the way I’d like to go, but we all have to.

Suddenly my vision shakes, the room spins and I go flying wrapped in a mess of broken chains. Rifle grenade from Dern. Atta boy.

Get up and shed the iron, find my NE-4 in the rubble, see Dern taking shots at the wall of earth rising between him and the target.

“Arstad, Dern, get on Raz. Mel and I will handle the warlock!”

Melana ducks and rolls past a wild strike from the demon as Dern charges in with his axe again, followed by ‘borg vibro-blades. I run to join the lady.

Warlock slams the ground, rocks the shack and I nearly lose my feet. Out of the rubble comes big daddy earth. Just a few hundred tons of flailing mass looking to make human paste out of us. No big.

“Fire in the hole!” and I toss my k-hex grenade, aiming for the right arm as it rears back to slam Melana.

Near-nuclear level flash, shaped charge cuts like the sword of an elder god through the rock. Shears a few tons of arm off and the elemental staggers. Melana charges past to engage the robe, reaching in her bag of alchemy.

Big-E lumbers forward to crush me with its left but he’s slow. Side step, leap up on his arm and take the ride to put a plasma cartridge into his mound of a head. The damage is good. Got a plan. Jump off behind him and empty the mag into the left leg. Big-E’s red hot at the knee, his own mass forces the body to separate from it. Timber.

Turn and see a green mist, multi-optic shows me the fire of Melana’s sword stabbing at the Warlock. He’s got a blade but he’s slow, coughing. Earth arms grip but she’s too quick, steps through them and cuts through the robe’s defense. His magic is strong though, the strike doesn’t kill. Then the ground rips around them entirely and thermal vision overloads for a second, heat sensors in the armor go wild, a river of lava erupts from the ground around them.

Melana makes a move to dodge, but didn’t expect such a large area, she’s caught. I charge in, swapping e-clips on my force field. The lava is only twenty feet wide, melting the rubble on the cavern floor, but not so big I can’t make a jump.

Leap at the edge as Melana is slogging out, losing her boots, reaching into her bag. I tackle her and hit the force field, rolling us out the rest of the way. Just as we stop a large geyser of lava strikes the field, but it holds. Melana breaks a vial on the ground and everything inside the barrier is encased in ice for a moment, then it melts, turning the lava into brittle rock.

We shake out and stand, the warlock is retreating, staggered. The lava geyser consumed the elemental and most of the cave is melting around us.

“We need to stop him, he can escape through the rock if we give him time”, she says.

“Leave it to me”, I tell her. “Your boots won’t hold over the lava.”

She hands me a black vial. “This is blood-slug extract, contact poison. If you get it on his skin he should be in too much pain to cast.”

I smirk. “You didn’t think to us this earlier?”

“His skin was stone, it wouldn’t have worked, now get going!”

I run and leap as far as I can, clear most of the lava but singe my right boot and keep running, hoping it doesn’t melt through. Don’t break my stride clearing the debris at the doorway to the warlock’s hide hole, got the NE-4 ready for action. See the caster grasping his chest, holding a hand toward one wall while a small group of human and d-bee women huddle in terror against another.

I open fire on the ‘lock, catch him in the back but somehow it doesn’t kill. The wall opens up and he shambles through. I run, hoping it doesn’t close and cut me off. Doesn’t seem he’s got the strength to shut it at all and I come through after him.

Inside, I see the horde.

Cavern about the size of the communal one outside, wall to wall riches. Swords, armor, rifles, gold coins, cred cards, precious stones, paintings, statues; even a pure jade throne is sitting in the sea of glittering wealth.

Holy ****.

My inner greedy merc forces me to pause for a second at the enormity of what I’m looking at. It gives the ‘lock enough time to get his business done. He takes some kind of potion in a single gulp and suddenly he’s standing up straight, looks like he just reset and got all his juice back.
Time to knock him back down.

Charge and shoot, but the ground rises and takes the plasma. I run around, faced with his stone sword coming for my head. He went offense, big mistake. The guy’s trained, but he’s got the reflexes of a dead cat when compared with my skills. I get inside his guard, wrap his sword arm up, trip him and smash the poison vial into his face as he hits the ground.

He screams, cursing, holding and clawing at his flesh as I stand. The poison and his finger nails destroy his face pretty quick. With that kind of agony, the plasma cartridge to his head is a gift.

Look back, the way is still open.

Go outside, look at the huddled women.

“This stay open on its own?”

An elf girl nods, “His key opens and closes it, but you need magic to use it.”

“Stay here”, I tell them.

I didn’t see the key, but I’d figure it out. Had to help the others first.

Run into the common chamber, see Arstad get flung by a golf swing from Raz’s weapon arm. Flying ‘borg, he ragdolls past Melana and into a wall then gets consumed by plasma fire.

Damn it.

NE-4, put several rounds into Raz’s helmet but don’t take him down. He turns the flamer on me and I run forward to take cover behind fallen rocks.

Heat slags the rubble, but the armor does its job. Before I can open fire again Dern is already in Raz’s face, finally axes the flamer. The demon returns the favor, grabs Dern by the grackle-chomps, throws him on the ground at his feet and holds him down with a heavy tank-armored boot. I aim a shot at Raz’s weapon arm as he raises it, electricity snaps around the spiked macehead and I pull the trigger. The round catches in the action. Misfire. Worse, the round went live in the chamber. Ditch it and pop my force field. Plasma cataclysm. Duck and cover.

What else can go wrong?

“Dern!” I hear Arstad shout.

Get to my feet, field’s dead again. Go to swap charges, see the grackle-splatter where Dern’s head used to be. Lose my ****.

TX-5, emptied into Raz in two seconds, he loses armor and chunks of flesh, ditch it. Frag grenade, doesn’t do crap, don’t give a hell. Skin the .45, loaded with silver HEAP rounds, they do nearly as little, care even less. Close the distance, knife out. Lost enough friends and comrades. This guy’s going to pay in the worst way.

Arstad rushes, heavy armor still melted-soft from the flamer, vibro’s slagged but I know he’ll beat the hell out of Raz with his ‘borg hands if he has to. Melana is barefoot, exposed calves from melted and frozen armor. Doesn’t stop her from being on my wing as we close in, flaming sword ready.

Arstad gets there first, ‘borg legs, linebackers into the demon, pushing him back. Melana flanks, getting her sword in so far she punches Raz in the knee with her fist. I snatch up Dern’s vibro axe, use my knife to climb up the demon’s armor as Arstand drives the off balance demon to the ground.

See the soft spot my NE-4 made in Razzulghar’s helmet, bring the axe down, screaming my throat raw.

Hit him so hard the handle breaks, axe head shatters, vibro-active field did its job, though. Jagged shard of metal through the helmet, buried nine inches deep, through the skull and brain matter.

We keep stabbing and kicking just to be sure.

To Be Continued…

_________________
Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:58 pm
  

User avatar
Palladin

Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:32 am
Posts: 6675
Location: 'Murica
Comment: Avid Cyborg and Braka Braka enthusiast.
Woah.


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:37 pm
  

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Wanderer

Joined: Mon May 05, 2014 7:44 am
Posts: 50
I like the style. reads well.

_________________
No one is against you, they are for themselves.


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:41 pm
  

User avatar
Palladin

Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:32 am
Posts: 6675
Location: 'Murica
Comment: Avid Cyborg and Braka Braka enthusiast.
I know. Everytime I read Alrics stuff I'm like protect the left flank pass an e-clip. Dude! That guys whole face came off!! Truly exciting stuff. My favorite is the merc lingo. 15 joules to the head slag!!


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 10:54 pm
  

User avatar
Knight

Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:20 pm
Posts: 4916
Location: Right behind you.
Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
Thanks guys. Always appreciate feedback. Hopefully I can finish the second part soon and put that up as well. Glad you enjoyed it.

Also, remember to check out the previous missions. If you haven't already. They're linked in my Sig.

_________________
Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:03 am
  

User avatar
Champion

Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 1:29 am
Posts: 1765
Location: West Central region of Indiana
S#!T Fire and pass the ammunition, but these are fun to read. Are the missions in chrono order in your sig?

_________________
Look upon me and tremble ye masses. For I am The Necroposter!
keir451 wrote:
Amazing Nate; Thanks for your support!

Razzinold wrote:
And the award for best witty retort to someone reporting a minor vehicular collision goes to:
The Oh So Amazing Nate!

Nate, you sir win the internet for today! You've definitely earned the "oh so amazing" part of your name today. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:38 am
  

User avatar
Knight

Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:20 pm
Posts: 4916
Location: Right behind you.
Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
They're in the order they're supposed to be read, but it isn't quite chronological.

_________________
Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:42 am
  

User avatar
Champion

Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 1:29 am
Posts: 1765
Location: West Central region of Indiana
Ok then. If Rifts games play like you write them, it might be a whole crapload of fun. As it is, I'll stick with my TMNT and AtB2 games (minus all the political drama of the various nations).

_________________
Look upon me and tremble ye masses. For I am The Necroposter!
keir451 wrote:
Amazing Nate; Thanks for your support!

Razzinold wrote:
And the award for best witty retort to someone reporting a minor vehicular collision goes to:
The Oh So Amazing Nate!

Nate, you sir win the internet for today! You've definitely earned the "oh so amazing" part of your name today. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:48 am
  

User avatar
Palladin

Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:32 am
Posts: 6675
Location: 'Murica
Comment: Avid Cyborg and Braka Braka enthusiast.
Gives Melena's leather pants the twice over.
Bwahahaha.


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 2:14 am
  

User avatar
Knight

Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:20 pm
Posts: 4916
Location: Right behind you.
Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
Well, thanks for the kind word regardless, Nate. :ok:

_________________
Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:06 pm
  

User avatar
Palladin

Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:32 am
Posts: 6675
Location: 'Murica
Comment: Avid Cyborg and Braka Braka enthusiast.
You should do up some old school pen and paper drawings. Maybe charcoal would carry across the grittiness of the character.
P.s. can you try to work in a

"Yippie ki yay motherfracker!!"

Cause I think this guy is definately a descendant. Lol


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:31 pm
  

User avatar
Knight

Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:20 pm
Posts: 4916
Location: Right behind you.
Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
Long ago, i once had a GM tell me Alrik was like a mix of John Maclane and Dirty Harry. Makes sense.

And I can find an old drawing of him, yeah.

Alrik

Arstad

And let me just stress how old these drawings are...wow. Anyway. Maybe I'll do some new ones.

_________________
Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 8:05 pm
  

User avatar
Palladin

Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:32 am
Posts: 6675
Location: 'Murica
Comment: Avid Cyborg and Braka Braka enthusiast.
Awesome sauce.


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:59 pm
  

User avatar
Explorer

Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 5:40 pm
Posts: 145
Per usual, this is amazing. Thanks for sharing Alrik.


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 3:35 pm
  

User avatar
Knight

Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:20 pm
Posts: 4916
Location: Right behind you.
Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
Thanks, Lao. Always appreciate the thumbs up.

Think I'll put the screws to the old noggin on Sunday, see if I cab finish part 2.

_________________
Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:10 pm
  

User avatar
Palladin

Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:32 am
Posts: 6675
Location: 'Murica
Comment: Avid Cyborg and Braka Braka enthusiast.
Quit holding out on the good stuff slag.


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 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:39 pm
  

User avatar
Knight

Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:20 pm
Posts: 4916
Location: Right behind you.
Comment: Don't waste your time gloating over a wounded enemy. Pull the damn trigger.
Ease off the throttle there, power-junkie. I'm working on it. Easy job.

_________________
Mark Hall wrote:
Y'all seem to assume that Palladium books are written with the same exacting precision with which they are analyzed. I think that is... ambitious.

Talk from the Edge: Operation Dead Lift, Operation Reload, Operation Human Devil, Operation Handshake, Operation Windfall 1, Operation Windfall 2, Operation Sniper Wolf, Operation Natural 20


          Top  
 
 Post subject: Re: Operation Windfall
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:06 pm
  

User avatar
Palladin

Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:32 am
Posts: 6675
Location: 'Murica
Comment: Avid Cyborg and Braka Braka enthusiast.
PowerSurge turns the startled Scholar rightside up and sets him down.
"Need these vid comics for research, important research."he explains


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