The ‘Miller-Cell’ Firewall team has taken on the task of seeking out known Kemetic Orthodox artifacts and returning them the Church headquarters on Venus for safekeeping. The ‘Nebt-Het’ helmet/headwear/asa-assimilator is thought to be enclosed within a 3-meter diameter black impenetrable sphere at the bottom of the new crater near the Quarantine Zone on Mars. The team decides to go after this artifact first in the hope of penetrating the sphere with psi-sleights to communicate with or otherwise activate the artifact within. As a secondary objective the team will capture any scientists found, or at least retrieve their cortical stacks, particularly the chief scientist on the project, Dr. Karl Ulstadt.
- Dr. Karl Ulstadt, the martian specialist on Xeno-material science
This operation is the most complex yet attempted by the team. A month of infosec, scientific and security ops research reveals a lot of details about the new research base, including security, communications, infosystems, logistics, troop rosters, defenses, base layout and scientific personnel assignments. Use of science networking and rep identifies the chief scientist assigned to the project, Dr. Karl Ullstad, and his team’s cautious and thus far unsuccessful attempts to open the ‘Sphere’. A full scale multi-day assualt operation is devised for immediate execution against the new temporary research facility constructed by the Mars Olympus Infrastructure Authority (OIA) around and within the crater. The team acquires the necessary equipment, the most imporant piece being a small but capable shuttle. Firewall is unable or unwilling to provide such a resource, so Dave exerts her influence to borrow a shuttle from Gorgon Arms. The team installs a hacked Martian OIA IFF.
- Borrowed Gorgon Arms unmarked Shuttle
Crater Base Security
Perimeter and Crater Base (5km radius): 1. electronic fence with monitor posts every 6m (IR, visual, ?); 2. Up to 12 Troop Insertion and Air Superiority (TIAS) transports with 2 crew and 6 troops, carrying 1 externally mounted OIA BattleSuit; 3. up to 55 Mars OIA Regular combat personnel (up to 24 deployed in 4 airborne TIAS transports at any given time).
Exclusion Zone (30km radius); 1) patrolled by an unknown number of synthetic patrol drones that have standard senses plus enhanced motion and sound sensors, and probably t-ray emitters (stay out of LOS). The Sentry ‘Dog’ Drones are programmed to stay 100 meters apart, minimum; 2) patrolled by 4 airborne TIAS transports at any given time. The TIAS transports orbit the Exclusion Zone in a programmed equidistant patrol pattern.
- The Soldiers of the Olympus Infrastructure Authority
OIA Troop Insertion and Air Superiority (TIAS) transport
OIA Sensor Sentry Dog Drone and Synthmorph Handler K-9 Trooper
- Nomad Relations: Sandy (Nomad Contact); Stan (Negotiator)
- Infiltration: Sandy; Dave
- Infosec: Jak
- Sphere: Marbles (Async); Mr. Thursday (Security); Agent23 (Security)
A week prior to mission h-hour, the Sphere and Infosec teams conduct a reconnaisance of a known spy or communications satellite serving the OIA Crater Base. The satellite proves to have a 30km exclusion/detection zone around it. It is determined that the satellite is using encrypted laser point-to-point communications with various OIA ground stations including of course the Crater Base communications truck/tower. Agent 23 uses his hardware and physics skills to build a reflector/refractor/laser transmitter so that Jak can attempt a hack during h-hour. Jak will join the ‘Nomad Relations’ team and attempt to hack the satellite from planetside.
Three days prior to h-hour, the Nomad Relations and Infiltration teams land and begin operations. Stan and Sandy are successful in negotiating with the Nomads and Barsoomian rebel groups respectively. These two groups turn out to be closely related and have no problem running a joint operation. The Nomads volunteer at least 15 fanatical ‘Jihadi’ fighters, all heavily armed and armored. More are likely to join the cause. The Barsoomian rebels review the operational plan and decide to make the most of this opportunity to hit the OIC in their exposed position at ‘Sphere Base Omega’. They will go ‘all in’, committing some of their best tech and warriors to the assault. Courtesy of Dave and Gorgon Arms, Stan delivers 4 laser guided thermobaric disposable seeker launchers to the Nomad/Barsoomian teams, for use in taking down TIAS transports, or as needed, and 2 homing HEAP variants of same (for use against OIC BattleSuits).
- Barsoomian Rebels in the assault on Sphere Base Omega
- Martian Nomad Jihadi Fighters
With a day to spare Sandy and Dave reach their infiltration entry points, 180 degrees opposite each other.
16 hours prior to h-hour, Dave and Sandy begin infiltrating the Exclusion Zone. Communications blackout is now in force. Both manage to reach the 5km perimeter fence undetected. Dave discovers the fence is a powerful electromagnetic barrier with motion detection. She is held up by the fence and unable to find a way around, so sets up several EMP grenades near the fence and waits for h-hour. Sandy discovers a weakness in the fence and uses her amazing acrobatic/catburgler/freerunning skills to climb atop a post, execute a handstand, and complete a vaulting/flip over the top and across, barely avoiding detection by a scanning laser which begins searching the area after her chameleon cloak briefly contacts the EM barrier. Proceeding 5km past the fence to the crater rim, Sandy locates the communications truck with 10-meter mast and mines it with 8 shaped charges set for remote detonation, then takes up position to interdict OIA troops at h-hour (now 2 hours away).
30 minutes prior to h-hour, the Sphere Team begins their descent from orbit on a Crater Base approach vector. The shuttle is co-piloted by an Alpha Fork of Mr. Thursday. Agent123 straps into his orbital re-entry suit and prepares for drop.
10 minutes prior to h-hour, the barsoomian rebels and jihadist fighers launch over and into the Exclusion Zone near the crater rim using rocket-accelerated transsonic pods, artillery style. Five minutes ballistic travel time puts the rebel fighers on site at 5 minutes to h-hour.
5 minutes prior to h-hour:
- Agent 123 launches from the re-entering shuttle and meteors toward the Crater Base in an arc of flame.
- The shuttle is now in terminal re-entry mode and breaking hard for a hover near the Sphere Lab Dome at the center of the crater.
- Activating the new laser comlink to contact the satellite from planetside, Jak fails to overcome the VPN security, but burns a moxy point and makes it in anyway. Then in two amazing rolls, the brainy feline hacker defeats the satellite firewall (crit success) and dances past the AI monitor (2nd crit success) to gain HIDDEN/ADMIN access to the satellite systems. The team tactical VPN is linked into the satellite feed, while OIA is now locked out.
- Dave takes out the 5km perimeter fence with EMP grenades and begins moving for the crater at top speed.
- Sandy blows the communications truck and tower successfully.
- Scores of Barsoomian rebels and jihadist fighters, along with Stan, leap from their smoking artillery transport pods and begin taking out K9 Dog Drones, Synthmorph K9 Troopers, and most importantly arriving TIAS transports.
- Agent23 guides his re-entry suit toward a just-airborne TIAS transport from the OIA reaction force and manages to pass close by. Making an amazing shot with his spindle climber, Agent23 begins reeling himself in toward the accelerating transport only to be caught and tossed about in the jetwash from the underwing turbines. Agent23 reaches the back of the transport just as the occupants realize what is happening and dispatch a solder to the attached BattleSuit. Agent23 shoots out the right turbine engine, causing an explosion of composite fan blades and sending the transport into a spiraling death spin toward the ground a few hundred meters below. Agent23 is violently thrown from the cartwheeling transport and barely manages to activate his drag/descent chute before impact. As he gently descends the last 100 meters to mars, the now detached BattleSuit slams into the ground below and flies apart. The spinning TIAS transport plows a 200 meter flaming trench of destruction through the martian sands. Agent23 quickly climbs out of his charred re-entry suit and begins running for the Crater Base rim 5km distant. That’s gonna make one heluva XP movie.
- The rebels and jihadists + Stan are now heading for the Crater Base rim, taking out additional TIAS transports and a squad of OIA soldiers.
- Sandy begins taking out Base security personnel, soldiers and other high-value targets as they emerge from barracks into the martian night.
- Having sprinted 5 klicks through the chaos and carnage around the crater, Dave reaches the rim and sights in her Railgun Sniper Rifle on the Sphere Lab Dome and entry passage.
Two minutes later the Gorgon Arms shuttle comes in hot on a column of flaming plasma, thrust braking directly over the 2km crater into a hover position only 20 meters above and beside the Sphere Lab Dome. Agent Marbles swallows a dose of Drive and begins transmission of a realtime video/voice/data log to Firewall using a Portal QE Comm and backpack-mounted Low-Capacity Qubit Reservoir, then quick-ropes down from the shuttle beside Mr.Thursday’s heavily armed and armored Conquistador ‘Air Force Variant’ synthmorph. Mr. Thursday moves to the pressurized passage connecting the surrounding crater base ring structure and Sphere Lab Dome, then cuts a hole into the passage using his structural demolition attachment (30 seconds). Marbles unwisely rushes through the opening first, eager to reach the Sphere, and finds the 1-meter thick sphere dome entry door is wide open. Just as he turns to run down the passage, two Project Ozma Special Agents appear in the opening. While Marbles fumbles with the safety on his Shredder, Mr. Thursday steps through the gap, turns and downs one of the agents with two shots from his particle beam bolter while Dave blows the other one away with a 1500 meter RAP shot through the passage wall (tacnet entoptic painted over the target).
Project Ozma Special Agent (What the hell are Project Ozma Special Agents doing here? Not good.)
Marbles uses the Unconscious Lead psi-sleight and races down the passage into the dome chamber beyond. Seeing a catwalk to the 3-meter Sphere, Marbles races along the periphery and then down the catwalk. Mr. Thursday notices Dr. Ulstadt attempting to hide behind the Sphere earthquake-shock supports and moves to retrieve him. Marbles then removes his armor glove and touches the Sphere, using ‘Grok’ successfully (< COG35*2). That’s when things get weird.
From the Sphere radiates a wave of anti-energy/anti-electrical force which puts out the lights and disables all powered equipment in its path. I’m not sure if Marbles’ Portal QE Comm continues to stream data to Firewall or not, we’ll have to check on that. After apprehending Dr. Ulstadt, Mr. Thursday realizes the null energy field wave will devastate his synthmorph and flees the Sphere room while broadcasting the danger to his teammates. Meanwhile the sorely wounded Ozma Special Agent previously shot by Mr. Thursday regains consciousness and attempts to call in reinforcements. Dr. Ulstadt climbs a ladder to the catwalk and runs for the Lab Dome door. Marbles turns and runs from the Sphere.
At this point the Sphere emits a beam of pure disassociative energy which effortlessly lances through the 2-meter thick Dome, then begins oscillating wildly about to quickly slice the dome into sections. Marbles is the last out the door…just as he reaches the opening, a psychic sub-susurrous impinges itself upon the async’s consciousness, inviting a look backwards. Succumbing to the message, Marbles looks back to see the Sphere replaced by a glowing womb of light, within which floats the macabre fetal-form of IVORSSEN-NEBT-HET-INTEGRATION. Dr. Ulstadt is beyond terror and runs right into Mr. Thursday and Agent 23, who had just arrived at the Sphere Lab Dome along with the OIA reinforcements called in by the Ozma Special Agent.
The Sphere team must dodge a wall of automatic weapon fire as they run the gauntlet through the depressurized access hall, out the ragged gap and back toward the shuttle. Dave fires a seeker minigrenade at OIA troops entering the hall from the surrounding facility. The resulting thermobaric explosion flattens them. The shuttle, piloted by Mr. Thursday’s primary biomorph and assisted by an alpha fork replacing the shuttle’s AI, dodges for survival as the deadly beam of annihilating energy spins wildly outward from the IVORSSEN-WOMB floating up from the center of the collapsed Lab Dome. Marbles and Mr. Thursday, with the crazed/gibbering Dr. Ulstadt in tow, reel up into the open cargo bay door of the gyrating shuttle, followed by Agent23.
Several OIA Special Forces teams have brought portable missiles to the roof of the surrounding structures and launch a wave of seekers toward the shuttle and the IVORSSEN-NEBT-HET apparition.
- Olympus Infrastructure Authority Special Forces Soldier
As the team straps in for acceleration, IVORSSEN-NEBT-HET emerges from the Sphere of light to annihilate the OIA missiles with a blaze of other-worldly energy, then takes up a gigantic hammer of light from the glowing Sphere and strikes all about the demolished Dome, flattening structures and OIA special forces troops all at once. IVORSSEN-NEBT-HET descends a bizarre staircase of scintillating terrain that forms just under his feet, reaches the martian surface, then peels off NEBT-HET to reveal an exposed brain and face frozen in a rictus of unknowable emotion. The Nebt-Het falls to the ground and Firewall Sentinel Asa Ivorsson staggers forth, regenerated and apparently physically intact. The ship delays for a moment longer while Marbles ropes down and retrieves the Nebt-Het. Asa and Marbles are hauled back up the spindle line into the shuttle. Dave is picked up from the rim of the crater which is now in the hands of the Barsoomians and Nomad Jihadis. Mr. Thursday rockets the shuttle away toward Noctis at max acceleration and minimum altitude.
During this time Stan and Sandy battle OIA troops and special forces above the crater. Sandy sacrifices her morph to destroy the last operational enemy BattleSuit. Her ego survives intact thanks to an Emergency Quantum Farcaster. Stan survives the melee and is picked up by the fleeing shuttle. See the Session 25 log for complete details.
Jak is a safe distance from the action at the crater, but close enough to see the beams of pure energy spiral up into the martian night sky. The shuttle briefly stops to pick up Jak on the way to Noctis.
Nebt-Het retrieved. Karl Ulstadt captured (morph intact).
The original Asa Ivorssen, lost here months ago in the Antimatter Event is now safely aboard the shuttle. The effects of extended Nebt-Het assimilation on Asa’s mind are unclear at this time. The Asa created from Firewall backup after the Antimatter Event is living a new life, retired from active Sentinel duty and undergoing extensive psychotherapy. It is doubtful if these two personalities can or even should be re-integrated.