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The area surrounding Belden is mostly ruins. Once a mix of tall, mighty buildings and palatial mansions, months of hard combat have reduced the city outskirts to a jagged mass of ruins with the occasional skyscraper in questionable condition. No one, or almost no one lives in this area, officially evacuated and little enough to draw looters given the degree of destruction.
Here and there among the ruins, often hard to see until very close, are small clusters of military vehicles parked around an intact first story, or else patrolling the broad avenues. The armored vehicles of the Durasteel Tigers are painted to blend in with the debris, making them hard to pick out at first glance, even when moving.
[Exits : [In] To Belden, and [CA] Contested Area ]
1LT Ben Magnum checks INT(0) + MECHANIC(0): 2d6 + 0 + 0 = 9 Pvt Micheal Harris checks INT(1) + MECHANIC(1): 2d6 + 1 + 1 = 6
Mike and Ben are still working on patching the armor on their mangled tank. It's better than it was when they first pulled into this forward firebase, though it's seen better days. After ignoring Ben's useless and unhelpful comments for a couple days, Mike finally comes up against a startling conclusion. Ben was right for once. Mike's gonna have to remove the adjacent plates that he just spent 3 hours getting attached, replace the section he'd been complaining about, then replace those adjacent plates again. One step forward, two steps back. Just then, the skipper walks by, as he does most days, surveying the progress of the repairs that are going on in a rush during this lull in the fighting. Two days being a lull. Ben smirks to himself and gloats a bit as the Captain comes up to ask you two, "Yo, you two want to take a break on the tank repairs for a couple days?"
Pvt Micheal Harris offers a salute. "Thank you captain. The lieutenant was just telling me that after a small mistake of mine, costing us hours of work, that he'd rather do the repairs alone. I myself would love a chance to take a break, clear the cobwebs and assist more fruitfully in another way for the time being, sir." Did he just give Ben a hard to catch side grin?
The captain gives Harris a puzzled look. So does Ben, actually, either missing the side grin, or misunderstanding it. With Ben, either case seems about equally possible. The Captain goes on, "No, it's gonna take both of you, really." Because what Mike did was break the first rule of the military: never volunteer. He tosses a briefing cube at Ben, and says, "The Oscars have some sort of pillbox or something, and it's blocking one-four company. The pillbox has too much anti-air to drop a missile on it, and apparently too many tribarrels for the combat cars to lay into it without losing half the company. So they decided that two saps, I mean sappers, could get in there with charges to take it out."
Pvt Micheal Harris is possibly going insane as time goes on...because, that doesn't sound bad to him at all. Of course. why they want to send Ben along for this one...eh. Maybe he'll actually have him support him in this one. He doesn't say anything further, though, which would probably be dumb...plus the officers are talking, so there's probably little point.
1LT Ben Magnum ahems nervously, and says, "Er, Captain, I'd love to do this, but ... you see," he pauses, and goes on, "Er, my lumbago is really acting up, and the doctor said I should avoid operations outside the tank. And suicide missions," he adds hesitantly. "And Mike's nearly got the tank put back together, of course, the armor repairs are really coming along well -" The captain cuts him off with a, "Shut it. Jeep five-two has the charges and remote gear already loaded onboard. Get your asses to the site and take out the pillbox so one-four can get up here with supplies. Move out." Ben's objections shelved, the captain moves off, and Ben looks forlornly at the briefing cube, and then apologetically at Mike.
Pvt Micheal Harris offers another salute and looks relatively content. Yeah, these kind of missions are insane. ...Well, he didn't join to sit around smoking cigarettes and shooting the shit after all. He offers Ben a grin yet again and pats him on the shoulder. "We'll be fine, sir. I'll have you come along this time and we'll go back over some of the basics." Yeah, Ben's gonna love this one.
1LT Ben Magnum extracts himself from the half-repaired tank and will join Mike in walking over to the jeeps. One of them has a remote control rig and a stack of small explosive-laden drones, attached to the remote set by wire. The spools are marked 200m. Magnum puts the mission briefing cube in the cube reader in the jeep as he forlornly takes the commander's seat. He's still skittish about taking the gunner position, it seems. The briefing cube is mainly area maps of the pillbox. Well over 200m around the pillbox is fairly flat, so it's going to be hell to approach and get into position, much less get the drones to do their thing.
Pvt Micheal Harris rolls into the drivers seat, as he tends to do. He says to Ben, "You don't want to man the main gun, sir?" It's fine either way. This is going to be 'fun' no matter how they approach it. Ah well, no one wants to live forever! "We could probably use the Major but...they probably wouldn't even SEND her on this one."
The jeep, sort of the hover equivalent of the old WW2 jeep, driver and commander seats in front, and a tribarrel gunner in back. Ben shakes his head about manning it. He can duck much easier in this seat. "I don't think the Major would ... well, it's not a sensors or intel sort of mission, is it?" The drones are little hover drones about as big as a trash can lid. Piled with bricks of explosive, by the look of it, so even if they do move, they're not going to do acrobatics.
Pvt Micheal Harris shrugs a bit. "Yes sir." She's not a slouch in combat after all. Plus, Ben's here and it's not a 'run and hide while trying not to let anyone see the yellow stain' kind of mission either, is it? Well, no reason to hurt Ben's feelings so Mike'll keep that one to himself. He starts up the jeep and takes a deep breath. He looks back, "I'm ready whenever you are, sir."
1LT Ben Magnum nods to Mike and says, "We'd better get to it before the captain sends someone to yell at us." Anyhow, can you imagine the bitching you'd get if you went and got a Major killed? "She's ... maybe a little too aggressive, face to face, if the encounter with those guys in the mountain pass was any indication." He's pulled up a map of the pillbox site and studying it as you drive. "Maybe if there's someway to sneak up on it?" he ponders. Of course they don't normally build blind spots into pillboxes, so ...
Pvt Micheal Harris keeps it level and 'slow' for now but he's ready to crank it if need be. He nods at the former comment. "Yes sir. She's...quite a shot, really." Did he flush a little? Pffft. Ah well. He mentions on the latter, "Are there possibly any relatively unknown topology in the area they may have neglected when building? Underground tunnels? Weak structure to the ground somewhere further than the main attack point?..."
1LT Ben Magnum says, "Nothing on the briefing about tunnels, and here's the topographic map." He'll show you on the display. A few /shallow/ depressions, but nothing that you would really call cover. The site's not so far away, really, maybe 20 minutes and you're standing with Captain Boveri of the one-four armored cars company, towing guns and carrying supplies to the front. The heaviest guns they have won't scratch the pillbox, though, and while he could take the armored cars around, the towed guns are on wheels and need to use the road, which the pillbox is right next to.
Pvt Micheal Harris checks INT(1) + RECON(2): 2d6 + 1 + 2 = 7
Pvt Micheal Harris shakes his head. He's got nothing, evidently. "I'm not sure, sir. I'm sorry. Perhaps they intend us to do a suicide run of sorts?..." He's not really sure what else to say on this one. n.n;
Well, the Captain did kind of imply it was a suicide mission, but command doesn't typically do that. So maybe there -is- a way. If there is, it isn't super obvious. The pillbox is essentially hexagonal, with a tribarrel on each facing, and several facing upwards, giving it excellent counter-artillery capability. Captain Boveri here does acknowledge having smoke shells for the guns, "But it's not like we can fire them, and then re-mount the guns for towing and get through before the smoke is gone."
Pvt Micheal Harris sighs slightly, shaking his head. "Tactics aren't necessarily my strongest point, sir, but...as I see it, we have the worst position possible. I feel as though creating a less stable battlefield might work to our advantage. We mostly need the explosives in place...perhaps the main guns can stick to throwing smoke and if we drop down chaff to take care of any auto-targeting, we might have extra time while they manually start to target. It's still incredibly risky but...I..." He stops short of saying anything about their command and looks back at Ben, a grim half-smile on his lips.
1LT Ben Magnum checks INT(0) + SENSORS(1): 2d6 + 0 + 1 = 11
1LT Ben Magnum nods to you as you explain your plan, and he nods, and says, "Yes, that's exactly how I thought, too." He gets done with something inside the jeep, and explains, "I've rigged the sensors to transmit and spoof and basically complicate their detection also." How he did it .... well, he's not -that- good, but the sun shines on a dog's ass once in a while. So the two of you get ready to crawl forward, Ben with his power rifle ready, you, pushing the pile of drones abd gear along. And Captain Boveri gives a few commands, and suddenly a salvo of shells fires just over your heads, trailing smoke. They're detonated about 100m from the pillbox, but that leaves plenty of smoke to cover you.
Pvt Micheal Harris nods to Ben, offering a thumbs up. "Nice work, sir." THIS is the time to get that backbone working...since...we might die otherwise. He grunts to himself as the shells fly overhead and he waves Ben on, dropping down to a belly crawl with his rifle out and getting ready to start moving as fast as they can get away with, on Ben's mark of course.
1LT Ben Magnum rolled 6 extra dice for autofire. 5 2 4 3 4 4
1LT Ben Magnum marks. The tribarrels from the pillbox open up, and some of the shots come kind of close, but nothing to worry about yet. Apparently they're just firing wildly into the smoke, assuming that /something/ is going on. Crawling like this is super slow, but standing up is a sure way to get hit.
Pvt Micheal Harris does mention over to Ben. "It SEEMS like at least some of it's manually targeting, sir! Can we have the guns set another set of smoke rounds? If so, can we place them from the other side? Maybe it'll make them think we're 'bigger' than we are!"
1LT Ben Magnum rolled 6 extra dice for autofire. 2 4 3 2 5 2
1LT Ben Magnum says, "Uh, we probably should have said that to the captain before we started. I'm not super-keen on heading back." If anything, he's pressed so hard to the ground it's almost like he's swimming as he crawls forward on elbows and belly. Tribarrel fire shoots through the smoke, but well away from you for the moment.
Pvt Micheal Harris peers back... ... Nods. Gotta give em that. "Agreed. Oh well. Who wants to live forever, huh sir?" He laughs a bit and keeps crawling forward, grim determination alighting his face. He spends the time trying to locate ANY topological advantage but...he didn't catch anything before and NOW there's smoke and crap everywhere so...oh well!
1LT Ben Magnum rolled 6 extra dice for autofire. 4 3 2 5 2 2
1LT Ben Magnum whimpers, "Forever might be asking too much, but I'd really like to live past today, Harris." He whimpers as he crawls forward, a bit behind you now, and as you get closer to the pillbox, you do note a few small craters. Apparently some of the shelling they tried was far enough off the mark that the anti-artillery didn't bother shooting the shells down, resulting in shell craters at some distance from the bunker. The tribarrels are shooting an entirely different area of smoke for the moment, though Ben still whimpers.
Pvt Micheal Harris nods. He doesn't SAY anything but he gestures wildly back to Ben, then over at the craters. It might be a little out of the way but it's ALSO a path they might not expect...and it's kind of cover...
1LT Ben Magnum rolled 6 extra dice for autofire. 6 5 1 3 4 1
1LT Ben Magnum might not have heard you, but then again he might, he follows you into the crater, and just in time as a powergun bots snaps /just/ overhead. There is actually enough cover, the crater is deep enough to set up the drone controller while completely out of line-of-fire from the pillbox. He's shivering with fear, but looking at you worriedly as he asks, "Er, you /do/ know how to use this, right?" It's a basic remote suite, of the sort Mike's used a couple of times to pull the wounded out of firefights too hot to get into personally. A couple extra controls are labelled 'Detonate' and 'Abort'. You can guess what they do.
Pvt Micheal Harris checks INT(1) + REMOTE OPERATIONS(1): 2d6 + 1 + 1 = 9
Pvt Micheal Harris looks back at Ben. He offers a smile and nods. "You're doing great, sir." He hands over a canteen of water while staying low around all the enemy fire. He takes the controller and after just a moment of examination, figures it out. I mean, kind of like what he's used already, right? He directs the drone slowly through the acrid smoke and loud noise of combat, trying to be as careful as possible. Once he manages to nudge up as close as he guesstimates should do the right damage, he hits 'detonate' and a deafening scream of expanding hot gases soon fill the air! His victory cry is cut a tad short...and results in cussing instead. "FUCK. Sir, effect on target...but...I think it's still operational."
1LT Ben Magnum is watching with a sort of periscope as you get the crawler close, meter by meter. It's too low and slow for their sensors to detect, because Mike can get it pretty close to the wall. Suddenly, there's a lot of shouting as someone spots it with a Mk 1 Eyeball, but Mike detonates it before the Oscars can destroy it. A massive explosion occurs just outside the gunport of the pillbox, and it takes a couple minutes for the smoke to clear. When it does clear, however, the pillbox is still intact, which Ben reports reluctanty. "But there's a giant black spot right near the gun port, and I think you might have taken out the tribarrel." There are 5 more drones, though. Looks like Command knew it'd be a tough kill.
Pvt Micheal Harris glances back at Ben. "So, sir? What now? They know the drones are coming from this side now. I think we have a corridor there but no cover and they can still fire from inside. Can we get any more shells along that coverage area? They're going to be protecting that 'hole' but that's the best place to attack at this point...but, if not, perhaps I can slip another one around the other side while they're focused. ...They're only dumb, hairless apes like the rest of us, if you'll pardon the terminology."
1LT Ben Magnum looks puzzled, in a why-are-you-asking-me sort of way. "Uh, yeah, try another drone," he says. "They might be more alert here, but they might be all dead or doing damage control now, too." He shrugs.
Pvt Micheal Harris rubs his forehead. Heaven forbid he should ever rely on a fucking OFFICER to figure anything OUT be-....*ding* An intelligent and yet somehow pessimistic and, honestly, occasionally cantankerous voice seems to echo through his head: Use 2 drones, you asshole......aaaasssshoooollleeeee... ... He's been in combat too long. He's gonna try it. He sets out for a drone at the weak point and a drone around the other side. A drone-a-tois, if you will.
Pvt Micheal Harris checks INT(1) + REMOTE OPERATIONS(1): 2d6 + 1 + 1 = 8 Pvt Micheal Harris checks INT(1) + REMOTE OPERATIONS(1): 2d6 + 1 + 1 = 11
Pvt Micheal Harris grumbles as he manages to send one the wrong way. When he said he'd love to try 'doubling with his hands', he was being dirty. This was NOT what he hand in m-THERE. Got it. He triumphantly hits the detonator on the second one, leaving a big badda-boom in it's wake. "Hoo-ah!"
The explosion is actually a little muffled, because so much more of the boom goes inside the pillbox. A couple of tribarrels and a body fly out of the other ports, and smoke billows out the roof, which seems to have been cracked at least. Once your ears stop ringing, there's a cheer from back at your lines. The pillbox is entirely silent.
Pvt Micheal Harris nods back to Ben. "Good effect on target, sir. What are your orders?" Suuuure. He gets to decide AFTER all the shit has hit the fan. Typical bosses taking responsibility for shit they didn't do. Ah well, he respects Ben a bit at this point. Mike thinks he might need a good sleep after this.
1LT Ben Magnum takes charge now that the hard part is over. That's what officers are /for/. "Well done, Harris," says Ben, even as he shakes his head slowly to clear the ringing from his ears. "I think it might be safe to climb up out of this shell crater," he suggests hesitantly, though he doesn't actually do it.
Pvt Micheal Harris can't help but chuckle slightly...but of course, he nods and salutes. "Yes sir. Since I'm more expendable at this point, I'll take the lead until you feel ready to take point." He nods and without really waiting for an ok, he starts to climb out of the crater and approach the pillbox SLOWLY. He comm's back to command. "Pillbox seems to be silent. Approaching on foot."
1LT Ben Magnum ohs, and had thought you were just going to head back to the Captain. When you go forward, he -really- cringes. "I'll just ... uh ... cover you from here, all right?" He pokes his expensive rifle from the shell crater and points it towards the empty, silent building.
Pvt Micheal Harris checks INT(1) + RECON(2): 2d6 + 1 + 2 = 10
Pvt Micheal Harris is the master of building clearing, don'tcha know?
This building is clear. And hollow, now, though there had been rooms. Just 5 minutes ago. Now there's rubble. And a half dozen bodies, at least. But no one so much as stirring, and most missing large chunks. This building is absolutely clear.
Pvt Micheal Harris radios back to Ben and anyone else who's supposed to listening on their channel(s), "Building is all clear. Oscar's all silent. Requesting orders?"
1LT Ben Magnum radios back, "I'll tell the captain, you might as well come on back to the jeep, and we can get out of here. Who knows what sort of backup the Oscars had for this post?" He rises up from the crater and sprints back across the silent killzone, waving the all-clear. He'll report success to Captain Boveri and then hop into the jeep ASAP.
Pvt Micheal Harris nods, giving the pillbox a once over. He grins a little bit and turns to head back to the jeep. ...He never really forgave this planet for his near-death explodey. He's taking that out on the OpFor...but, they're the 'bad guys' so...it's just business.
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