The ORION Files (Closed/Started)

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The mission was now officially underway. While Elliot prepared for the drop like everyone else, Grace had taken the Archer and separated it from the ship to begin her part in atmospheric watch and response execution. In short, she was aware. Focused on all things sensory, she would take into account every movement with sensors and every ground action locally with the ship's rail gun scope. She saw Ed's drop pod head down, followed shortly by their secondary paycheck taking her new fighter down to wach him. She paid close attention to Mary for a moment, as per their contract to keep her alive. She would re-focus as necessary throughout the mission, eyes-on with all things at the drop of a hat.

Elliot was the demo man. With his own armor load-out and default weaponry - Utility HandCannon with Crowd-Pleaser Shotgun, as well as a few hidden holdout pistols and a combat knife - he was loaded down with the mission's explosives and his own remote triggers. He'd use their own boom-booms on this mission and replace his stock with what he took from Chronus. He'd been pretty sure they couldn't do anything remotely to their simpler equipment during the bug check, but until he had a few hours extra time, the triggers would be his. What they were...were his remote-detonating with a very hairy proximity-detonation sensor built in if the remote signal is jammed, basically the best explosive insurance you could ask for without being massively expensive about it.

Still, with Shanoa mentioning that their equipment shouldn't be jammable by Chronus anytime soon, he decided to go back and get his Plasma Rifle real quick. Just a little something to be sure of. This wasn't heavy combat, but he wanted something that said 'assault' on the label. He got back in time for Mar to make her 'Devil-Fish being go for launch' announcement with a smile. From here on in, they would be in her capable hands, on an expressway elevator to hell...going down.

After closing the meeting, he quickly went and got change into his hard suit as fast as he could. While he normally hates the damn thing, he wasn't going to a hostile environment type planet with nothing but his normal clothes. Once finishing up he put on his helmet and walked out and headed towards the hanger bay. Walking inside just before Elliot.

Giving him a nod as he had a smiled under the visor. Walker was a bit excited to see his new team in action. Though as they took off, Walker felt a part harden in his stomach. He felt something was going to fucked up big time, but what would happen he couldn't say. The next second after taking off, Walker was more worried about Mar and her flying. Bracing himself in his seat as Mar flew like a bat out of hell.He was used to rough flying at times during his Marine time, but nothing like this. Walker wonders if he should say something but he would rather not distract the crazy flying four arm woman at the moment from her job.

Meanwhile, as Mary and Edward were heading downward and getting closer to the drop site, the Turrets would slowly pick up on their targets. While just outside their firing range. The turrets prepare to open fire as soon as the one target came into view, that was until their screens were filled with targets all over the damn skies. Opening fire on some of the targets as the turrets was just falling on protocol.

Brian stood silently taking in what information he could as the planning went on, and his questions were somewhat ignored as Walker went over the basic plan. It didn't matter. His role was simple, shoot and break anything that moved. The op seemed simple and it seemed to be left to the individual how they were to work and what they were to do. Disorganized.

The enemy was likely disorganized as well. Irregulars. Any regulars amongst them would likely be commanding operations and either away from obvious targets or guarding key points as professionals. Nothing more than regular ammunitions would be required. HEIAP munitions would be kept in the reserve belts, phase jacketed munitions would be held in the emergency belts.

Pay was exceptional for what was being asked. The fear they had of being purged after the fact was reasonable. Likely. Though it was questionable what the point of using them in the first place was. Or why they weren't just payed a contractor salary.

After the meeting he slowly prepared his equipment once again as others moved around him, resuming and ending his lengthy maintenance rituals, checking and reloading his weapons, restocking the drug dispensers, checking his flare launcher, etc...Everything checked out as he sealed his suit and moved into his armour, allowing the tendrils of wires and tubes to work their way into his flesh once again, confirming his identity, welcoming him, and merging his mind and body with the machinery.

Without the support of effective infantry or clear anti-armour capability amongst those he saw, he questioned whether he would need the gun he had brought aboard with the unlikelihood of the opposing forces having armour and so left it behind as he got in place, questioning if the devilfish transport had room for himself beside the others within or without, and if so considered alternatives.

The Orion Files | Planetoid: Sasleyria | Upper Atmosphere | Catican: Drop Pod
Burning, Fiery, Flaming Balls of Fire.
Edward Aubergine | Irina Rostikova

Even with the amount of jamming that was being provided by the TGR, The Four Fisted Purple Planet Invader was thankful for the additional protection being provided by Irina's drones. Even without radar, a soldier that had at least a minimally working set of eyes would have given the bright fireball coming headed in the direction of the surface a reflective pause, even more so when the soldier realized that the flaming object descending on their position was not breaking up as a regular meteor would. That would be able the time the soldier would break out some sort of visual magnification and realize that the fiery pod of doom headed right for them was not a shooting star that would make his wishes come true but rather a Drop Pod of Catican manufacture. That would be about the time that...

"Incoming surface fire." The Shock Trooper reported over an encrypted channel setup for all Orion Company personnel. The first of the surface to air projectiles passed near the pod just as Edward completed his transmission.

"Bah!" The Shock Trooper grunted over the comms sounding severely disappointed, "They are not even using flak or missiles!"

"Good. Nothing that those shield drones can't handle. No need to waste your missiles, Edward." Came a response from Irina, who was drifting high above on the Redeemer, "I'll send one of the drones to gain control of the auto-turrets."

"Affirmative." Edward responded, his tone a little more than disappointed that he would not get to use his compliment of Four banks of Three Eights and Six of missiles [1]

Moments later, the anti-aircraft fire from the surface ceased. Despite this, Edward's blood was still singing as the best part of the drop was about to start. Passing the Eight Eighty-Eights meter mark on the altimeter, the drop pod's on board computers started scanning the surface for suitable landing points and calculating telemetries to get the pod and its passengers to the landing site in one piece.

"Landing Site selected... counting down to deceleration procedure" The computer reported before displaying an 8 second count down.

8...7...6...4...3...2...1...

"Initiating deceleration procedure"

Viewing the deceleration procedure for a Catican Drop pod was most likely a surreal experience as the flaming object intent on crashing down on one's location suddenly transformed into a rocket attempting to take off, causing the pod to gracefully reduce its descent speed to a survivable velocity. This experience inside the pod was not so much surreal as it was painful. The sudden deceleration cause a sudden increase amount of gravity felt by the pod's passengers thanks to inertia.

**THUD!!**

"Attention all crew: The Cat has landed. Repeat. The Cat has landed" A rather chipper Irina reported over the Orion Comms as she moved her shield drones into a position around the hatch of the landed Drop Pod, protecting Edward as he exited his landing vehicle, guns at the ready.

[1] Reminder (to self mostly): Because Caticans have four fingers on each hand, their numerical system is base eight. So Four banks of Three Eights and Six is 4 x (24 + 6) is 120 missiles.

Outside, Mary's world was fire and storm as her big fighter plummeted down, riding in the shadow of the drop pod; inside it was an oasis of calm as music played softly over her headset. Interference from her entry degraded her onboard sensors to some degree, but this bird was outfitted with some pretty top shelf gear, so the degradation was far less than what she was used to dealing with in such a situation. Oh I am most definitely in love... She thought with a smirk as she played with her new toy.

She couldn't help chuckling at the big Catican's tone in regards to the defender's response, though on the other hand, she was grateful of their lack of effective anti-air weapons; one doesn't get paid if they're dead after all. Suddenly the music cut out as her threat radar chirped in her ear; it'd picked up several active targeting radars approaching the drop location, though between the distance of the targets and the local conditions, it wasn't giving any more concrete information beyond 2 or 3 probable targets.

She was well above her intended break-off point, but so be it, she had the speed and altitude and she'd be a fool not to use it. Rolling out of the descending pods sensor shadow she angled towards the incoming unknowns, keying her mic as she did. "Red to Sweety actual. Tally three possible bogeys six zero zero klicks and closing, angels uncertain. Moving to confirm, full music." Still belting out a full spectrum of jamming, she dove on the targets at supersonic speeds.

Moving fast enough that she didn't really need extra thrust, she throttled back to idle and essentially coasted towards her targets. As she bled speed, external interference dropped, and with the rapidly decreasing range, she was able to firm up her target picture. It looked like four small ex-military craft judging by their sensor and power emissions, and four civilian counter-grav haulers.

The haulers were burning bright on her scope, but barely making one hundred kp/h, and the ex-military birds while at a higher altitude didn't seem to be doing a whole lot better. Probably some pure atmo gunships. She thought. "Red to Sweety actual." She comm'd again. "Tally eight bandits. Four Mud Ships, four cans with probable boots. Angels three, Cherubs five."


Captain Dewier of the Sasleyrian Militia was not a happy man. While the ever damned Grandies and their corporate masters of the Chronus Corporation where launching a fucking armed assault on the Capitol, he'd been told to drag together two platoons to go check on some Goddamned miners. Sure he'd heard the rumors, just like everyone else, that something had been found in the mines; but he failed to see why he and the handful of men he'd been able to scrounge together had been ordered to go check on some damned miners that had apparently gone silent.

At the very least they could've let us have a couple of APCs. He thought with much venom; instead, he'd had to stuff all his foundlings into four bloody counter-grav utility vans. Covering the nearly seven hundred kilometers in a tub that could only cruise at a meek one hundred kp/h was going to take hours. Glaring out the passenger window of the lead van, he looked up and let out a quiet sigh. At least they'd been given some gunships to provide support and recon...though in his darker moments he suspected that he only got them because they were of little use against an orbital assault.

His foul mood however was interrupted by a call from the gunships. "Gypsy One to Gunner One One, how copy?" "Gunner One One copies clear." "Roger. We've tagged an inbound at the edge of our sensors possibly dropping on the AO." Dewier blinked and sat put straight in his seat, peering through the windshield as if there was some way to see what was going on. "Gunner One One copies. Relay to Command, request back-up." "Negative One One." Came the reply from Gypsy One. "We've already tried that. Nothing but static across the board-SHIT! Gunner One One SCATTER!"

Gypsy One didn't realize he was still transmitting, and Capt. Dewier could hear the frantic voices of the gunships as they dove away from the vans; over the platoon comm net he told his drivers to break and run, he had no idea why right now, but the gunships seemed worried and that was enough for him.


Gypsy One, also known as Leftenant Wills cursed once more. Her scope, in the direction of the AO, was nothing but static and the static was growing...whatever was jamming her scanners was closing...fast. "Gypsy Three break right and come to bearin-" She never got to finish giving the order as, nearly simultaneously, Mary's short range anti-fighter missiles slammed into each gunship.


Mary let out a 'whoop' as she blew through the little formation and zoom-climbed for altitude, her scope showing four clean kills on the gunships.This is almost mean. She though with a chuckle. Throttling back as she rolled over, she grinned as she brought her twin plasma cannons online and tagged the four counter-grav trucks that were trying to scramble to safety. Coming in at full burn the onboard computer actually fired the cannons as the ship crossed it's optimal firing point; the disparate speeds involved between Mary and her targets meant there was almost no way she had the required reaction time to nail them, the computer didn't have that issue.

A minute later, she was rolling her craft around towards the LZ and gaining altitude. "Red to Sweety actual. Clean sweep, all bandits terminated. Moving to cap LZ."

Throughout the remainder of the strategy meeting, Velka helped organise the last few steps of the mission before being dismissed; everyone being given a final couple of minutes to make last minute checks to equipment before they all reconvened in the hangar bay to be loaded into Mar's Devil Fish transport shuttle.

As they set departed from the Sweet Child of Mine, they set up a private communications line between the various elements, with Velka coming forward to manage them for the first stage of the operation; given her processing capabilities, this was something she could handle with a minimal degree of effort.

For the first few minutes the lines were quiet, sure, there was a bit of back traffic here and there, but nothing noteworthy to report on. Velka took the lull to think on what the relative newcomer, Resha, had said about not trusting the equipment that had been given/bought/requested from Chronus; whilst the idea that there was still a few booby traps left behind, or that Chronus could take remote control of the equipment had a sense of logic towards it, why cripple a group you hired and supply them with equipment if you didn't want them to succeed? Such a question would have to wait for now as the comm-bead came to life.

"Attention all crew: The Cat has landed. Repeat. The Cat has landed." Spoke Irina from the location of the Redeemer. Velka placed her finger to the bed and activated it.

"Roger that Operator Irina. Hope the Cat landed on all its feet. Over." Seconds after she had finished, Velka got another communication, this time from Mary.

"Red to Sweety actual. Clean sweep, all bandits terminated. Moving to cap LZ."

"Receiving you loud and clear Red, nice job with those targets. Over." With that, the communications line went quiet again and Velka turned to face Walker.

"Captain, just got word from Operator Irina and Pilot Mary. Pilot Edward has successfully made planetfall, and Pilot Mary has cleared the first objective marker of hostiles and is moving towards the landing zone. Any additional orders for them?"

<<< Mar >>>
Outside Local Sasleyria Space | Devil-Fish - En Route to Sasleyria Surface | Devil-Fish Cockpit
"One small step for Mar, one substantial paycheck for ORION."

When entering the atmosphere of a planet, even at comparatively sedate entry velocities, the ship in question generally gave the pilot at the helm a struggle as increasing air resistance created turbulence. Though the amount of struggle a ship gave depended largely on the ship as well, when entering at a speed that exceeded recommended safe parameters, the amount of struggle tended to be more than the average pilot could bear.

As all four hands gripped the control sticks, the Shree in the pilot's seat managed to adjust for most of the turbulence even while multiple voices blared through ORION's secure comm network. From what she could hear, Ed and Shanoa landed safely, and not long after Mary managed to eliminate most if not all airborne hostiles between them and the LZ. Both messages being something that she could hear Velka confirm to the others back in the cargo bay.

Which left the Devil-Fish as the last one on scene as it finally broke through the outermost layers of Sasleyria's atmosphere and the turbulence started to even out.

Walker noted Velka messages as he gives her a thumbs up. "Tell Edward to keep guarding the perimeter like a good kitty and tell Mary good job on her flying skills."

Once Walker felt that the turbulence was fine enough, he got out of his seat and walk up behind Mar. Giving her a quick pat on the shoulder. "A bit rough but good job so far Mar." He said as he overlooks the LZ from their point. "Irina shut down the turrets so we should be safe, hopefully." He smiled. 'So far so good,' Walker thought.

Mar didn't so much as look back as she felt Walker's hand on her shoulder.

"Let's just hope that that was ALL they had in the way of defenses. If that isn't everything, then getting to the LZ will be pretty... Interesting." she said with a huffing chuckle as she started to bank the Devil-Fish in a surprisingly gentle turn in the direction of the waypoint marking the LZ on her HUD.

"Ha..I'm sure they won't have all that much. They are a pretty low-tech colony world. They are mostly just miners who barely scrape enough weapons to hold off the TGR. The TGR could easily just blast these people from space and be done with it. The only reason they choose not to is to keep a good appearance for other colonies out there." Walker shook his head a bit. "They would probably lose a lot of business deals with the Outer Colonies if word got around of the TGR abusing their power."

Speaking of the TGR, Walker wonders how the fight was going. It shouldn't be that hard to put them down. Though Walker shouldn't doubt these colonies. They might believe their fighting for their lives and give everything they have. All over for a stupid artifact. "Anyways, let's get to landing and getting this mission over with."

"You betcha." she said with a smile behind her helmet, this time taking a moment to glance back at him and give a snappy salute with her right true-hand.

Then she turned her focus back on the controls in front of her, and beginning their approach as she turned on the intercom, saying, "ORION Ground Team, prepare to drop. The shuttle will be entering drop-zone in one minute. Repeat, prepare to drop."

As it was, the LZ seemed surprisingly quiet. They were landing about fifty meters away from a large warehouse, presumably where the artifact they were after was being stored. To either side, there was a hastily built defense tower with a turret each, but unlike the nearby automated turrets that were currently on stand-by, these required someone to actually man them, and they were empty. There was even a parking lot to one side, which strangely enough, wasn't completely empty: There were a few personal vehicles still parked there.

All-in-all, if Mar had hairs on the back of her neck, they would be standing on end with just how strangely deserted it seemed, at least from the outside. Inside the warehouse, however, that was probably a different story altogether.

The Devil-Fish touched down, and Mar punched the release for the cargo-bay door and looked back at the others.

"Alright, everyone out. Time to make some money." she called out.

Reaching over to one side, she grabbed the ELF Gun from it's mounted rack with her false-hands, and drew one of her new Impaler Pistols with her left true-hand. Then she moved to join the others as they disembarked, exhaling softly behind her helmet.

This was the first time she was ever going to set foot on an actual planet's surface. The first time any Shree she knew of had actually set foot on actual planetary dirt in almost three standard centuries. It was enough to give her a fresh pang of anxiety.

Walker look around the place and thought this place was just a dump. He didn't know why anyone would want to live on such a planet like this. His thought turns towards the parking lot nearby as he wonders why anyone would be here in a time like this. Something doesn't seem right about this at all. "Keep a look out, everyone. Something doesn't seem right here." Walker said as he starts to head towards the Warehouse. Mary could catch up when she lands, he wanted to get in and get out.

"Hey Shaona" Walker smiled as he got to the door. "Ready to be our little gatekeeper?" He had a bit of a smirk when he said that. Wondering if he had to do anything for her to hack into the system.

This post co-wrote with Outcast

"I suppose so." Shanoa said as the feline like machine walked by, cloaking as she did. "I'll send word when I own the place." The took off to toward the base the light sound of her metal body running being the only real tell she was around.

"Roger, go and get 'em." Walker said as he watch the feline cloak. As she she gets to the warehouse, it would be on lock down. Though it seem simple enough to unlock.*

As she approached the warehouse she slowed from a sprint to a jog to a walk, and started scanning around for any combatants that might still be around, as she approached the control panel. The place seemed to be on lock down. She rolled her metaphorical eye's at the security in place. 'Would it kill them to put a real lock on the door and not a bike chain.' she thought as the door opened and she went in.

Inside was empty and oddly enough very quiet. None of the machines were on, the droids that help around the place were on standby. At the right side of the entrance hallway was a computer screen. It was there for the employees to log or for the higher up to active the building. A perfect place for Shanoa to log in.*

As Shanoa made her way through the building toward the terminal she was after, she kept scanning around. Machines where ether off or on stand by, and it was quiet. To quiet given what was going on outside. As she approached the terminal and plugged in something about the situation was starting to rub her the wrong way.

As soon as she plugged in she easily found her way to start controlling the whole warehouse. Though as she checks all the system, she would find that the cameras and security were turn off. The only thing was left on was the lock down for the outside doors.

Though as she peaks more and more into the system itself, she would feel another presence within the system. A firewall went up to her body, leaving her trap within the system.

"You..Do not..Belong here." Spoke a odd sounding voice. It didn't sounded human, but spoke in English. "Stay where you are...to be rip code by code'

Shanoa looked around for the source of the voice, giving only a half hearted glance at her cage. "Really? You think this 'paper bag' can hold me?" she said, as she already started dismantling the firewall around her.

She still scanned around as she broke down her cage. Expecting some kind of move once she was free.

A large tri-claw arm comes crashing down in-front of her as she tries to dismantle the fire wall. Above her was the enemy AI. Though it has a odd look to it. Its shape kept changing from one to another. From a square, to a circle, to a triangle and so on and so forth. Around the middle were long arms with tri-claws attack to the end. "Please do not fight back. Your death will be quick and painless." It spoke as it starts up it attack.

Shanoa watched the first claw swipe by in front of her, following the 'arm' back up to the source. A shape changing AI. "Died once already. I'll pass on a second go of it thanks." She snarked as she took control of the data used to form the Firewall and used it form a protective barrier.

It wouldn't hold for long though, not that it needed to, she really only needed to get mobile again, and more over, decide how to handle this new development.

"Eye's up, the system was compromised before I got here, and there's an unknown AI already in the system." Shanoa announced over the coms to her team.

The Orion Files | Planetoid: Sasleyria | Ground Floor | Storage Facility
Breakfast of champions!
Edward Aubergine | Irina Rostikova

Much to the rather large Catican Shock Trooper's disappointment, securing the landing zone for the Orion Company shuttle was as uneventful as the drop. During a typical drop, a shock trooper's exit from their pod was the most dangerous, and thrilling, part of the operation. Those who were not killed when they were at their most vulnerable would unleash their revenge for those that were killed. It was during this first contact with the enemy where the seeds of a beachhead were planted and nurtured and protected from interlopers until it had grown into an area large enough to land multiple troop ships.

Standing just outside his drop pod, Edward Aubergine, the first Catican Shock Trooper in history to single handedly secure a drop zone, grumbled as he sent a signal to his comrades that the LZ had been secured. Moments later the Devil Fish touched down, unleashing her passengers while the Redeemer, hovering a few meters overhead picked up the Drop Pod before resuming a patrol around the perimeter of the Area of Operation.

Stalking towards the facility, the Shock Trooper did not bother to avoid open areas that would have made him vulnerable to Sniper Fire or either of the two guard towers that rose high above the wall. There was no movement. All was quiet... too quiet... except for Shanoa who charged past him, unseen by Edward's eyes but heard by his vigilant ears. Passing through the gates, the Catican noted the presence of quite a number of holes that had been punched through the walls, as if someone had decided to use the metal walls as target practice. Despite the excessive number of bullet holes, there was a curious lack of shell casings one might expect.

"Entering the facility" The Catican Pointman radioed as he walked in the direction of the building that appeared to contain the facility's personal quarters. Closing in on the dusty brown structure, his nose detected the scent of something cooking... burning to be perfectly clear... as if the facilities guards had been roasting meat for their morning meal before being called off to defend the Sasleyrian capitol. The operation was unfolding in an unnaturally smooth fashion and the fact that the group had not yet made contact with the enemy was concerning. Openning a channel to the Redeemer, Edward issued a request, "Irina. Scan the facility for heat signatures."

"Scanning. I've got a heat bloom about 30 meters ahead of you. It's pretty concentrated... so be careful, Ed." Came the response after a moment.

The Shock Trooper grunted in response as he raised his weapons and proceeded through the building's door and down a corridor that was in as equal a poor state as the building's exterior. From the directions that Irina had given him over comms and the signs that were painted onto the walls of the corridor, it appeared that the Catican Shock Trooper was headed towards the dining area, which, coincidentally, appeared to be the source of the odor that Edward had detected earlier.

"Still no sign of enemy contact. Continuing towards Irina's reported heat source." The Professional Soldier reported as he reached a set of metal double doors that lead into the dining area. A sign on the right door cautioned the Catican against opening the door too quickly lest someone be standing on the other side. Grinning as he readied a stun grenade, the battle hungry shock trooper kicked the door, ripping the hinges out of the door frame and sending it flying.

Fortunately for Edward Aubergine, it appeared that all of the facilities guards were located in the dining hall. Unfortunately, being that all the enemy soldiers were on fire, they all appeared to be the source of the smell that the Catican's sensitive nose had detected upon entering the facility. This was definately a most unexpected turn of events.

Keeping his weapons at the ready, the Burly Shock Trooper scanned the room with his eyes, noticing streaks of blood on the floor, Edward surmised that the bodies had been dragged into a pile before they'd been set ablaze... or rather the large chunks of meat were dragged as there were various appendages that had appeared to have been sheered away from the torso by a high velocity projectile. It quickly dawned upon the observant predatory bipedal militaristic feline that whomever was responsible for the carnage found in the dining area had been using caseless projectiles, which was an ideal weapon when attempting to leave as little trace of one's presence at the scene of a mass slaughter. The radio crackled to life as Shanoa called out a warning to the crew.

"Eyes up, the system was compromised before I got here, and there's an unknown AI already in the system." The A.I. called out, stating the obvious.

As if on cue a wall on the far side of the room exploded outward as a rather large looking droid crashed through the flimsy metal, its arm mounted weapon already spinning up to fire at the Catican Shock Trooper, much to Edward's delight.

"IT'S A TRAP!" The battle craving kitty called out gleefully as he launched himself behind a pillar, tossing the stun grenade as he did.

The Catican made it down ahead of them, while they were still waiting to reach the ground. It was seriously chuckle-worthy, the way he behaved. He was like a big hairy club that was self-guided and gruff. It was funny. Elliot waited to hear either more reports or for their descent to end, sitting in total peace with his surroundings, even appearing at rest, while he was not sleeping but actually quite aware.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Mary Williams was a good pilot. This could not be denied. Using the Archer's main cannon scope, Grace followed her movements in order to ensure that her dogfighting did not lead to her death from mistake or overconfidence. It didn't. That was good. Her coded reports of enemy air defense activity was coded in a non-standard way, possible due to her time affiliated with pirates. Idly, Grace wondered - speaking of pirates - if she knew the owners of the infamous Devil-Ray, a terrifyingly brutal high-speed aggressor. The bounty for its destruction or capture was quite high. This was a mere curiosity, nothing to do with the mission. She resumed her observation.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Devil-Fish was nearly down. Thanks to Ed and Mary, Mar was touching down without any complications. Elliot 'awakened' and did a last-minute check of his things. Armor good, shotgun slung, sidearm on belt, rifle in hand, ammo of all types ready, and explosives still in the pack. He was ready. The door to head out was opening.

"Alright, everyone out. Time to make some money."

"Definitely better pay than the service."

This planet was a hole. It was an unrefined shitty colony world, a clear sign that mining was way more important than comfort here. The immediate area was also deserted, which meant that Ed was doing his job...or just that no one was here. The latter point might've been odd, but Elliot let suspicion stay low until any better claim for a trap or an ambush made itself known. Rick confirmed his suspicion. If he thought something was wrong, as well, something was probably wrong. Elliot spoke on his comm channel to the Archer.

"Keep an eye on us and your scanners, Grace."

"Yes, Elliot."

As the boss-man sent Shanoa in, he came up on his flank while watching the area.

"If there isn't anybody lying in wait already, the ships we took out will be missed after a while. They will send more when they realize what must've happened."

It was soon after that Shanoa reported that there was an AI in the facility and the Catican had found something to fire upon, as gunfire could be heard over comms.

"Ah, shit. Second team gambit. They come in ahead of us, take the target and run, we look stupid and become fall guys. Shanoa, Ed - wreck their shit. We need to move for the target and fast or we'll miss it going out the back door."

He was quite serious about that. A compromised area devoid of life with infiltrators already hard at work fit in with what he was saying. They bedazzled them with new armaments...to cover for the heavy guns they were sending in first. Chronus would probably report them and state that they stole the hardware they now had too. It was expected, of course, but the manner in which it was happening was the curveball here.

The AI Kept up the attack as it started to break through the firewall shield. While the AI was attacking Shaona, he also sends out a message to his forces. "Rogue AI within servers, Commander. Eject anything of value and start the evacuation. I shall hold it off until we are ready to go."

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Walker heard what both Shaona and Edward said over the comms. "Shit!" Then he heard Elliot give our quick commands. "You heard him! Get the lead out of your asses." Walker starts to rush in, hoping Edward can deal with whatever he is fighting. "Ed destroy that thing and catch up as fast as you can."

Pushing through the doors, the rest of the ground team entered the main storage warehouse. Packed to the roof with crates of ore waiting to be processed, the cavernous building was oddly quiet; scattered about sat forklift drones, halted in the middle of their work, red 'Standby' lights glowing on their chassis as if they had shut down unexpectedly.

Walker didn't like the quietness of this place. He wonders what else was here when two more of the Droids, that attack Edward, and a man between them came around one of the corners from the left. The Droids' guns already spinning as they were about to open fire. "MOVE TO COVER NOW!" Walker said as he went behind one of the containers on the ground floor. The Droids and the unknown armed man open fire at them. Doing suppression fire, for now, to keep them pin down.

Walker wanted to look around the corner but couldn't. There was too much heavy fire at the moment. "Damn it..Those Droids look to be Old Titan class. I thought those things were rounded up and dismantle." Walker was trying to think of how to push upwards under the heat. Until he saw the Forklift Drones and smiled. "Hey Velka, can you hack into those Forklift drones for me?

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The Titan Class Droid was stunned a bit from Ed's stun grenade. Stopping as it system were frozen for a bit. Though the Droid systems flush out the effects and aim its gun back at Edward position. Opening fire with its heavy guns. "Gonk..Gonk.." It spoke out. Walking towards Edward as it kept opening fire.

"Tell Edward to keep guarding the perimeter like a good kitty and tell Mary good job on her flying skills." Captain Walker said as he gave Velka a thumbs up.

"I'll be sure to pass on the request, sir," Velka replied as she quickly typed up the updated orders and sent them to their respective parties. With that out of the way, she decided to go over reloading procedures for her rifle, the Fulcrum; although this was something that she had done countless times in the past, in this line of work, it paid to keep your skills sharp.

She could hear the banter going back and forth between Walker and Mar, apparently, Irina had been successful in shutting down the defence turrets that would be shooting at them once they got closer to the landing zone.

"ORION Ground Team, prepare to drop. The shuttle will be entering drop-zone in one minute. Repeat, prepare to drop." Velka could feel the shift in the engines as the shuttle made its final approach and the sudden dip as the landing gears engaged.

"Alright, everyone out. Time to make some money." Mar announced as the cargo-bay door dropped down, revealing what looked like a rather desert, arid planet. As Velka saw the planet herself, her rifle in sniper configuration as she scanned the horizon through the scope, Velka realised that it wasn't exactly a nice looking place to settle on, no doubt the only they even set up shop here was for mining rights.

Shanoa was quickly deployed ahead to gain access the building as the remainder of the ground team began their steady approach towards the target warehouse. Shortly after they had arrived, though, the team-wide communications blared into life.

"Eye's up, the system was compromised before I got here, and there's an unknown AI already in the system."

"IT'S A TRAP!" Shouted Edward as sounds of loud concussive gunfire could be heard in the background. On that note, after Elliot and Walker gave their respective commands, the rest of the team charged into the warehouse proper. At first, the area was quiet, almost too quiet to use an overused trope, then the bellowing sounds of heavy metal feet as they pounded the ground were heard, as two large droids following someone humanoid in looks wearing hi-tech armour appeared around one of the corners, their guns already firing when they noticed the group.

"MOVE TO COVER NOW!" Walker bellowed as he went behind a nearby cargo container. Velka pulled back a bit towards the entrance but took cover behind a cargo container as well.

"Damn it..Those Droids look to be Old Titan class. I thought those things were rounded up and dismantle. Hey Velka, can you hack into those Forklift drones for me?" Almost immediately did Velka fire up one of the surveillance drones in stealth mode which she'd used to piggyback off the signal to her wrist computer.

"Can certainly try Captain; with Miss Shanoa and that other AI going at it, some of the facilities background systems are left a bit more open than they should be. Give me a moment to see what I can accomplish."

Setting herself into a 'racetrack' orbit around the LZ, making sure to keep well clear of the Archer's line of fire, she switched on the autopilot and began monitoring the diversionary assault, while keeping an ear on Sweety's ground team.

With her new bird being a multi-role platform, it came with some powerful ELINT equipment, especially for a ship of its size. As Mar landed and the ground part of the mission got underway, Mary used her new toys to see what was happening. Since the Corporate techs hadn't had a chance to purge the fighters computer banks, it was still loaded with all their jamming counter software, letting her brush aside all the interference the Grandies and Chronus were putting out.

That said, what she could pick up was rather boring; being well outside the range of personal comms, all she was hearing was encrypted transmissions between attacking ground units and their ships in orbit, and the 'smoke screen' broadcasts claiming that the Terran Grand Republic Navy and Chronus Corporation where there to liberate the population and arrest the local government on charges of supporting a terrorist organization that had attacked a few Grandy worlds and Corp installations. And if you believe that I got a Cruiser I want to sell you at a bargain price. She thought with a chuckle.

As the computer flew its programmed course, her comms chirped and dumped a message from Walker into her HUD. "HA!" She barked with amusement into the cockpit. Those poor fuckers barely qualified as target practice. Shutting down the live feed to the 'warzone', she was considering what else she could do to stave off boredom, when Ed-plant's voice boomed over the ground team's channel. "Shit..." She could hear weapon's fire in the background of the battle chatter. "And things had been going so well..." She muttered quietly to herself.

The Orion Files | Planetoid: Sasleyria | Orion Company: Area of Operation | Storage Facility
Incoming!
Irina Rostikova | Edward Aubergine

It should have been noted that what most individuals considered multi-tasking was inefficient asynchronous division of focus between two mental or physical processes rather than what multi-tasking should have meant, the ability to simultaneously divide focus on multiple tasks without loss of efficiency. For example, it was impossible for most humans to mentally calculate a vector that would allow a ship to slingshot around a super massive black hole while simultaneously considering what they would be wearing for dinner with their significant other for their anniversary dinner. Such feats of mental acrobatics generally required either extreme intelligence or good genetics. Irina considered herself a little of both.

As the Catican Heavy Transport loitered above the Area of Operation, the Catician Merchant Mechanic guided the large ship away from hot zones, keeping herself out of the way of the more professional and skilled pilots, while she listened in on TGR/Chronus communications traffic, via the bug she'd planted aboard the Chronus ship, while ordering her drones to support the Orion crew members as they rallied against the not so surprising TGR/Chronus trap.

"Assault team to Pillar of Winter actual. There's a large amount of resistance at the LZ. 40% of landing craft damaged. Requesting orbital bombardment"

"Pillar of Winter actual to Assault team. Column of Summer is moving to bombard... hold on Assault Team. Pillar of Winter actual to Column of Summer. Long range scans report multiple ships inbound. Did you signal for reinforcements?"

"Column of Summer actual to Pillar of Winter. Roger on the..."

The Ever so Curious Catican Eavesdropper frowned as her signal suddenly went dead. It appeared that the TGR had gotten smart to the fact that she'd been listening in to their communications chatter before switching to a different frequency or communications method. Whatever the case, it was clear that things were about to get more heated. As she attempted to patch back into the TGR and Chronus communications channels, she deployed four of her kinetic cannon drones and moved them towards the Storage Facility. While it might have been a bit overkill to use weapons that were designed to punch holes through ship armor on personnel, they'd get little sympathy from the Irina when one of her bowling ball sized projectiles punched a bowling ball sized hole through a soldier's armored chest.

"Captain Walker. The TGR fleet's got some friends coming to help them." The All at the same time Drone Controller/Pilot/Hacker called out over the communications channel, "I'd suggest we pick up the pace if we want to get out of here in one piece."

Despite the fact that the Catican Computer Crasher had been locked out of the communications channels, she hadn't been locked out of the computer network... which was a good thing considering that since the TGR and Chronus had decided to back stab them, it would only be fair for Irina to find out who was keeping their pay in escrow. As she ran the search for the escrow agent's identity, she kept her eye on Edward's position and status.

There was a saying on Terra that a certain things were attracted to stimuli in the same way a small winged insect was attracted to animal waste. Apparently this expression worked for TGR soldiers and gun fire. Watching as her four armed compatriot blasted a hole through the Titan class combat droid, she noted that four of the droid's more fleshy comrades were attempting to circle behind the Catican shock trooper, who closed in for the kill and was in the process of ripping off the droid's head, and take him by surprise.

"Ed. Duck!" Irina called out as she targeted the four soldiers before ordering her drones to fire a projectile at each one of them, which in turn didn't simply kill them so much as they cause the four soldiers to explode into a dine red mist.

DING!

That would have been her query alerting her to the fact that the search had been completed and the identity of the escrow agent had been revealed. Looking at the results, the Confused Catican wasn't sure whether she wanted to laugh or curse loudly... so being the brilliant multi-tasking being that she was, she did both.

"heheheh... Son of a... hehehe... [b]BITCH!!" She screamed at the screen that was displaying an image of what looked to be Irina or her identical twin, "YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! HAHAHAAH!"

DING!

That was another alarm bringing attention to the fact that something was headed towards the Area of Operation, something that consisted of a rather large object which was also being followed by several dozen smaller ones. It appeared that the TGR had decided to take off their gloves and send a landing force and escorts to deal with Orion Company.

"Captain Walker..." Irina called out before adding in the pilots to the conversation, "it looks like the TGR and Chronus are sending a landing party and escorts towards our location. I'm moving to get a better look. I might need some backup..."

Before she could get a response from either Mary or the Archer, the Amateur Catican Pilot maneuvered the Redeemer into a steep climb, attempting to gain as much altitude as possible in as quick a manner as possible. Feeling the planetoid pull her towards the back of the ship, the Female Normally Not Combat Involved Catican adjusted the ship's artificial gravity until her eyes didn't feel like they were being pulled into the back of her skull.

"ETA to AO of enemy force is 10 minutes." The Catican Calculator added as she started pumping all of the air inside the ship into storage tanks[1].

Pulling up through the first layer of cloud cover, Irina Rostikova noticed that the sky above her seemed noticeably brighter, as if someone had ignited a second sun above the planet. Another layer revealed that the light source appeared not only brighter but larger... massively so. Checking her instruments, Orion Company's little scout that could calculated that the enemy ships would be visible within a few seconds.

Cutting her forward velocity, the Redeemer hovered in the skies above the storage facility and as Irina waited to catch a glimpse of the incoming TGR ships, she watched as the clouds were ripped apart by the bow of the massive TGR ship as it descended through the atmosphere, its hull glowing red hot from its rapid dive through the Sasleyrian atmosphere. The ship seemed so large that it was comparable to the Pillar of Autumn of the Column of Summer, the two TGR ships that served as escorts to the Chronus ship, however, from the readings she was seeing, the ship cutting through the cloud layers above the Redeemer was only half as massive as either of those ships ... for good reason

"Captain... you'd better hurry up..." Irina called out, her voice audible but barely a whisper as she trained a camera on the bow of the Pillar of Autumn, the ship appearing to have been blasted in half before losing a fight against the Sasleyrian gravity well.

[1] A standard Catican procedure before heading into a space based combat zone. As there is the potential for ships to spring multiple leaks in their hulls during combat, the ship's valuable atmosphere is stored in storage tanks until the end of combat and emergency repairs. Until then the crew is forced to wear vac suits.

A quick assessment of the situation and a full understanding of he problem can lead to quick and positive action. Elliot was a man of tactical ability and great skill. If he allowed himself a little pride on the matter instead of keeping it nice and professional, he would be able to brag some pretty impressive feats. As it stood, he let his merits and deeds do the talking instead of himself. Having given the team all the reason to hussle on in there, he and the others did so, and soon arrived in a large area filled with crate and autolifts. Like it'd been outside, it was quiet. Too quiet. Elliot noticed like Rick did that the loaders were not in operation, which was a bad indicator, although he didn't need anymore proof that the situation was bad.

The situation got worse when it went from quiet...to a pair of bogeys similar to what Ed was dealing with appeared, and apparently a soldier accompanying them. He didn't look like Chronus or TGR. Who he was - who THEY were - was up for grabs, but it could still be a second team from Chronus... The lot of them then suddenly had to duck back out of the room because the two big robots were dropping suppression fire into the mix with their big nasty guns. They'd keep that up pretty much forever, at least until something got them to quit.

"I just had to leave my Scorpion upstairs."

Wouldn't exactly do too well if he couldn't get a clear shot, anyway. Fortunately, you could do a nice bit of bank-shot work with launchable grenades... Elliot pulled out his HandCannon and loaded a grenade. The weapon magnetically launching them the way it did, they'd be moving pretty fast, and these crates were pretty good for a shot. And since they went floor to ceiling, Elliot had his choice of multiple angles. So, he took them, all of them. It was fire high, quick snap-on of the next grenade, fire low, quick snap-in, fire mid-way, and he changed the angles of impact with the boxes too to make sure he wasn't predictable as he launched - in this order - EMP-Shock, EMP-Shock, Explosive, EMP-Shock, Explosive, and Explosive.

However, there were more problems coming in over comms...and it wasn't just Irina's warning.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Irina was alot closer to some of the action, but Grace was the eye in the sky, apart from the not-in-the-action-at-all Sweet Child Of Mine. She had been listening to all communications, keeping a eye on all scanners, and watching the ground from the sniper scope of the Archer. Because of this, the white-haired mercenary was acutely aware of a situation that had suddenly cropped up during the mission. The ground team had a problem with a black ops team? The Archer's scanners suddenly detected the attack of a black ops fleet on the other ships in the area.

It was a small fleet, but it seemed to be enough to cause the other vessels - their primary targets - a considerable amount of trouble. This might not happen at a time where they were not presently engaged in dealing with the planet below, but it seemed as though it had been timed thus, and so Grace knew that her position might be compromised soon. She sent down a message via the Orion channel, not just Elliot's.

"This is Archer. We have a problem. A small fleet of unknowns have engaged TGR and Chronus. Sweet Child and I are currently not engaged, but this may not last."

This was the reason for WHY an escort vessel was ripped in half and would be crashing. They had been attacked and were in serious trouble. With the Archer's guns on auto-track, Grace took aim with the on-board railgun. Elliot and the others could handle ground forces, but he was right about an attempt to get the artifact out the back door. There was an unknown ship that just begged the attention of a magnetically-driven shot from a frictionless environment. Several of them, if need-be. Grace targeted engines for the vessel that was all the more likely to be the escape vehicle for their interlopers and fired. That was going to leave a mark...whether it crashed and burned, or just exploded.

Shanoa re-enforced her shield as need be, but she was also very much tired of this AI already. So while she was evading it's attacks she was also subtly taking control of the system, and reactivated it's defenses, naturally giving her self full admin privileges and thus preventing her from being targeted her self.

With the Defenses back up, taking the form of turrets thanks to Shanoa's tampering, and now attacking the enemy AI. "Hey, boss man, want me to try and get any info from this AI asshole? Or should I just destroy it?" she asked, having to do a bit more micromanage with the systems defenses then she would have liked.

Orbiting around the AO, Mary caught Irina's warning to Dick, and tied her own readouts into both the Redeemer's and Archer's sensor feeds. "Fuck balls!" She spat, pouring on throttle to climb with the gunship, as she saw the new arrivals; maybe she should see about getting some sort of RIO...if it wasn't for Irina, she'd have not seen the incoming assault until much later.

"Fuck me running..." She muttered as she picked up the dying warship hurtling planet-side...and the unknown fleet attacking the Grandy and Chronus ships. I am not getting paid enough. Shaking those thoughts from her head, she refocused on the situation and she really
Didn't like what she was seeing. "Red to Walker. You guys better hustle! Those inbound bogies are at least as good as my new bird; even with back up I can't stop them...fuck the mission, get back to Mar and get out!"

Not waiting for a reply, she swapped comms over to Sweet Child of Mine. "Red to Sweety Heavy. If you're not doing it already, get your drive hot now, the mission has gone very pear shaped; and tell the new meat...Resha to get airborne, odds are we'll be coming in HOT!." Cutting the call, she focused on the assault team bearing down on the AO, and began working on a plan. Even if Resha and her 'ship' was with them, the numbers were not good enough for Mary to want to risk getting into a furball with these new escorts, something else was needed. Leaving the autopilot to handle flying for the moment, her fingers flew across her navcom as she put together a rather audacious flight plan.

It was a crude rush job, but it looked like it would suffice. Making a copy, she sent it to Irina. "Kitty, I'm going to need you to load this onto a drone with the best jammer/scrambler you can spare, and slave it to me. The odds are too bad to fight these inbound, but if the Redeemer and Archer can physically cover the extraction, I can buy them time."

<<< Mar >>>
T.G.R. Backwater Planet, Sasleyria | Sasleyria Surface | Just Outside Devil-Fish Cargo Bay
"From bad to worse every second."

Mar was the last to step off of the ramp leading groundside, and she couldn't help but take a moment to absorb just what it was like to actually set food onto the surface of a planet as Shanoa served as the vanguard. In a lot of ways it wasn't all that different from walking through one of the specially cultivated parks that some of the larger, wealthier space stations could afford to have. But there was something to having natural sunlight at least.

Her reverie was quickly broken when a pair of voices called out over the comms: Shanoa saying there was another AI in the system, and Edward calling out that it was a trap. She clutched her ELF Gun in her false hands and her Impaler Pistol in her true hand and started forward. Then she hesitated.

If worse came to worst, they would all need to get out of there as soon as possible, artifact or no artifact. Which meant that someone needed to guard their way out, which was the Devil-Fish. She was about to call out that she was going to secure her shuttle for a quick extraction when she heard the heavy gunfire of one of the Catican Drones. She swore under her breath before rushing into the warehouse with the others.

The Shree was quick, and it only took a few of her long strides to make her way inside. When she joined Walker behind a Cargo Container, she glanced around the corner to see Edward taking on either a large droid or a small mech, along with a few already-dead soldiers. Beyond that, she couldn't tell what the hell was happening in all the chaos surrounding them. Glancing around the container's other corner, she immediately spotted a group of four making their way toward them. Three of them looked like light but well-armored soldiers, but the fourth seemed to be in proper power armor.

Taking a deep breath, she stepped out and pressed down the firing stud of her ZF-1 Electron-Flux Rifle.

The few who actually saw an "ELF Gun" in action had a tendency to nickname it "Lightning on a Leash", and in that moment it lived up to that nickname. With an almighty crack echoing through the warehouse, followed by a loud, harsh buzz, a streak of blueish-white electricity arced between her and the first two lightly-armored soldiers. They only had time to scream for a split second before they collapsed and convulsed on the floor of the warehouse, and still holding down the firing stud, she turned to the other two. And she aimed for the power armor-clad trooper next.

The miniature lightning bolt took a moment before it whipped over to him, and there was a few moments when Mar was afraid it wouldn't do the job. But after a few seconds of concentrated fire, he fell. It was then that she noticed the smoking ruin of the soldier behind him, and realized that the two were close enough to share the lethal amperage.

Ducking back behind the container, Mar looked over at Walker.

"They're trying to flank us." she said with a strained voice.

It was then that she heard Mary's voice over the comms.

"Red to Walker. You guys better hustle! Those inbound bogies are at least as good as my new bird; even with back up I can't stop them...fuck the mission, get back to Mar and get out!"

Though her expression was hidden by the helmet she wore, her entire body stiffened at the sound of that. Things were getting worse by the second, and she didn't want to be stranded there in a kill-box. None of them did.

"Captain, we need to go, or at least have someone guard the shuttle. If we can't get out of here quick, we're in trouble." she told him quickly.

In Space

Seven Frigates and a Destroyer came out of light speed and soon open fire on the small fleet of Chronus/TGR. All aiming at the Column of Summer. The salvo rounds hit the side of the CoS. The salvo tore the Pillar of Winter apart as to started to fall down to the planet.

After that, the fleet starts to disengage and separate so they would create more targets for the remaining ships. Chronus flagship started to head towards one of the ships. Intent to take out each ship as fast as it can. While the Column of Summer stuck close by. Not wanting to be picked off by this unknown fleet.

While the two fleets engage with each other, a Frigate snuck behind the two ships and a transport ship was seen leaving the ship for the planet. Though before it could get far, it was destroyed by the Archer. Picking up on where the shot came from, the lone frigate started to head towards the Archer, intent to finish it off. While a new transport ship was seen being sent, with two escorts as well.

Warehouse: Inside the Main office
A soldier check outside as he heard the sound of combat. He was fidgeting a bit as he couldn't wait to get out of here. "Shit..fuck..shit..fuck.." He kept saying over and over again to himself. The Commander had just told them that transport was delayed, the soldier walks away from the door and walks near the desk, frustrated as he kicks the trash can nearby.
The commander just sighs as she looks over what remains of her forces. Eight remaining units she had. Just two of the lights were left, four of her heavy hitters, and only two droids left. Those things weren't cheap when they got them on the black market. "Calm down soldier. You know we will make it out of here. Orkoros is watching over us."

The soldier looks at her, if he wasn't wearing a helmet he would look at her with disbelieve. "Come on Commander. Don't get all religious on me now!"

"I hardly believe it's coincident that higher up got word of this Artifact on this God-forsaken planet." She coolly said as she looks at her remaining soldiers. "The God of Justice is on our side. We will prevail in his name. We shall not let the vile Chronus or the TGR take this Artifact and use it for their evil ways. Our brethren shall not fall in vain today. We shall make our way to the roof and hold off. If need be, I shall destroy this Artifact myself if we fail!."

The Troops around her gave her a shouted out and prepare to move out. The Commander pick up the briefcase that held the Artifact and started to head out. Putting on her helmet as she exits the main office with her squad on either side of her, being her escort out.

Walker

Walker couldn't believe the shit they were in. This was supposed to be a quick get in and out the mission. This has gone bad so badly that he couldn't even think of a phrase to say for this situation.

Walker peeks around the container he could see Elliot attack was effective as the two droids and soldier were vaporize in the hail of grenades. "Nice barrage." Walker smiled as he heard someone coming beside him. Turning to see Mar there, a bit surprised at her speed but glad she could join them.

He was about to welcome her when he heard Shaona over the radio saying, "Hey, boss man, want me to try and get any info from this AI asshole? Or should I just destroy it?"

"If you can get any info out do it, but don't waste too much time. We are getting the fuck out of here as soon as possible."
He turned back to Mar to talk to her, but she was already on the move to cover our sides. She returns once the last guy was dead and said "They're trying to flank us."

"Thanks for covering our asses." he smiled as he then got word from Mary. "Got it, Mary, we are trying but we ran into more trouble than we expected..."

"Sir, I have gain controls of the forklifts." Velka just told him.

"Awesome. Now move them to our containers and move us upwards. I want to make sure were covered. Elliot and Mar, make sure nothing gets close to us." He smiled as he kept watch upfront. Seeing a group walking up ahead, at the end of the building, from the right side to the left. They must be heading somewhere else within the Warehouse. The Commander looks over at them and gives off orders, at least it seem so with the way she moves her arms at them pointing. Two of the Heavy soldiers and the two remaining droids came up and started firing. It was great to have the forklifts in front of them, taking all the hits. Though everyone could tell that the containers were getting hit hard.

The heavy soldiers seem to have stopped a moment in firing. Walker peeks around to see both were grabbing a grenade from their belt and throwing it at their position. "Shit! grenades!" Walker shouted.

<<< Mar >>>
T.G.R. Backwater Planet, Sasleyria | Sasleyria Surface | Storage Facility
"Don't get any ideas."

It was said that certain individuals could almost achieve an odd, temporary state of zen in the most chaotic of situations. Where outer turmoil could somehow trigger a kind of calm, collected state of clarity. Mar was pretty sure she wasn't one of those individuals considering how she was very far from being calm, and was only barely managing to be collected. At that moment, she was even inclined to believe that the very idea was nothing more than bovine droppings.

And so, she pressed her back against the container both Walker and herself were using for cover and clenched her teeth as she waited for another opportunity to pop out and shoot. Instead, Walker said two words that made her eyes widen.

"Shit! Grenades!"

At that point, she didn't even think. She grabbed the Captain bodily and launched them both over and behind a nearby crate and pinned him to the ground with her own body.

"GET DOWN" she roared as the grenade detonated behind them.

She had no idea if anyone heard her over the explosion. She didn't care either as she felt the heat of the blast wash over the two of them. Still, she felt no shrapnel. That was good.

Keeping Walker pinned, she pushed herself up and straddled him as she looked backward and leveled her Impaler Pistol at the soldier that presumably threw the grenade. With three quick, harsh blasts, a trio of sizable spikes stuck out from the soldier's chest and neck and he collapsed.

The others accompanying him opened fire, prompting her to quickly press back down before rolling off of Walker and snarling. Even with her helmet on, it didn't do much to muffle the guttural sound erupting from her throat.

"Well, Captain? What's the plan?" she asked.

The Orion Files | Planetoid: Sasleyria | Orion Company: Area of Operation | Storage Facility
Bowling for Information
Edward Aubergine

The mission was starting to come apart at the seams. While the crew had predicted an inevitable betrayal by the TGR/Chronus coalition, it seemed that no one had been prepared for another organization to make an attempt at stealing the artifact. Having cleared the dining haul of enemy soldiers, the Catican Shock Trooper listened in on Orion Company's communications channel for a sit rep.

"Captain... you'd better hurry up.."

"This is Archer. We have a problem. A small fleet of unknowns have engaged TGR and Chronus. Sweet Child and I are currently not engaged, but this may not last."

"Red to Walker. You guys better hustle! Those inbound bogies are at least as good as my new bird; even with back up I can't stop them...fuck the mission, get back to Mar and get out!"

"Captain, we need to go, or at least have someone guard the shuttle. If we can't get out of here quick, we're in trouble."

Frowning as he listened in on the communications channel, Edward felt the chances of a successful outcome for the mission slipping away. There was always the possibility of a future mission with the same objective but the only way that a future mission would be possible was if they gathered enough information about the unknown force. The easiest to gather intelligence on the enemy would have been to salvage whatever memory cores could be salvaged from the heavy autonomous soldiers. Unfortunately, Edward lacked the technical background to know which of the components installed on one of the robot heavies would have been the most useful. This left him only one choice.

*SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE*

The sound of metal grinding against the bare plasticrete floor was agonizing on the Catican Shock Trooper's sensitive ears, causing the massive shock trooper's ears to flatten against his skull reflexively. It appeared that dragging one of wrecked chassis of one of the downed robots was going to be a rather painfully loud endeavor, however, if any information could be salvaged from the wreck, it would be worth it.

*SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE*

Pulling the Titan Class Combat Droid's chassis behind him, Edward was appreciative that the Catican Geneticists had the forethought to design him with enhanced strength, otherwise pulling wreckage all the way back to the shuttle before the facility was would have been impossible. He felt rather proud of himself for having come up with this plan all by himself, grinning as he turned the corner and saw the Captain and other members of the crew.

"Shit! grenades!" Captain Walker shouted, his eyes focused on a couple of heavy soldiers that had pulled grenades from their bandoleers.

Well it had been a good plan but, just like the mission, it never really had a chance to bear fruit when it came to this mysterious third party. Reacting on instinct, Edward Aubergine threw the wrecked combat droid at the two heavily armored soldiers, spinning as he did to give the mass of metal and extra bit of force before charging behind his impromptu projectile. If Edward had been lucky, the projectile would have crushed both soldiers and there would have been no need to charge forward. Fortunately for one of the heavy soldiers, the projectile missed them and drove his comrade through a solid wall. Unfortunately for the soldier, there was a Catican running at full speed behind the projectile.

*SNAP!!"

The sound of a human radius and ulna being broken at the same time was surprising loud over the din of combat as the Massive Catican Colossus grabbed the soldier by the arm and snapped it like a twig before grabbing the other arm and started to pull, causing a massive amount of strain on the soldier's shoulder joint. If no one interjected on the soldier's behalf, chances were that they would be covered by the enemy soldier's internal fluids as they were ripped in half.


The Orion Files | Planetoid: Sasleyria | Orion Company: Area of Operation | Storage Facility
Cat Dogfights!
Irina Rostikova

Neither the Redeemer or her pilot were particularly adept at the roles that they found themselves in at the moment. A wing of enemy fighters had followed behind the wrecked TGR capital ship's shadow, hidden from Irina's sensors, before peeling away and making their presence known with streams of gun fire. Strapped into the pilot's harness, the temporary pilot winched as a number of projectiles cut into the ship's hull breaching the ship's armor. Throwing the ship into a dive, the Casteless Catican Merchant Mechanic attempted to put some distance between her and the better spec'd for combat fighters and as she did so, she brought up a schematic diagram of the ship to check for any damage done.

"Damn those fighters," Irina Rostikova muttered, relieved that there was no major damage done to her ship, its biological armor sealing the holes created by cannon fire like a scab over a wound. Waving her hand, the Female Catican Drone Wrangler ordered a shield drone to take position behind her, keeping some of the enemy fire at bay while she angled the ship's turrets to provide point defense against missiles and other ships.

"Kitty," Mary's voice crackled over the ship to ship channel, "I'm going to need you to load this onto a drone with the best jammer/scrambler you can spare, and slave it to me. The odds are too bad to fight these inbound, but if the Redeemer and Archer can physically cover the extraction, I can buy them time."

"Got it." Irina responded as she called up a scrambler drone and slaved it to Mary's fighter. Pausing for a moment, she launched 2 additional kinetic cannon drones and slaved them to both Mary's navigational systems as well as targeting data, giving her a couple of wing-men that would follow her anywhere are fire at whatever she was firing at, " Sending you some backup as well."

Noticing that one of the enemy fighters had peeled away from the battle to follow her back towards the storage facility, Irina waited until the smaller, more agile craft to fall in behind her and line up for a shot. Cutting the ship's engines and engaging its air-brakes, the novice pilot watched as her more experienced pursuer did the same, maintaining its distance behind the Redeemer. Grinning for a second, Irina directed her shield drone to fly directly through the enemy fighter's cockpit, ripping it from the rest of the ship.

"Captain... I'm on my way back to the facility to provide cover." Irina reported as she brought the ship back up to speed.

"Awesome. Now move them to our containers and move us upwards. I want to make sure were covered. Elliot and Mar, make sure nothing gets close to us."

"Understood Captain, beginning movement cycle now," Velka replied with as she tapped a few more commands into her wrist computer before the display changed to one that matched the physical controls of the forklift drones; with a sudden creak signifying they hadn't been used in a while, the three drones began to move towards the containers. As soon as the first drone clamped down onto a container, Velka could see that the two more heavily armoured soldiers removed something from their belts and hurled it towards the group.

"Shit! Grenades!" Velka could hear Walker shout before she dived for cover behind a support beam, after the detonations, the Reshani poked her head out from cover and tried to gage everyone's status; it appeared no one was seriously injured. Changing the Fulcrum into assault rifle mode, she began firing off a few bursts of rounds to provide some suppressing fire, or hopefully to scare the attackers off.

Once they had backed off a little, Velka returned her gun to its holster before returning to the drone controls. After the carnage that was Edward hurling one of the droids at the soldiers did she have all the forklift drones in position.

"Captain, everyone, the drones are in position and I'm about to start moving the containers. Be careful when near them in case one of the drones loses its grip." Velka silently messaged the ground team.

"Kill it, right."

Shanoa turned back to the AI. "Sorry, no more time to play with you." she said as she tuned her turrets up so the damage they'd do way more damage, not just to the AI, but the system as a whole.

With her defenses in place, Shanoa headed back to her body, cloaked and started back to the LZ. "I'm heading back to the LZ, If we've been set up, I would expect some sort of Cyber Attack."

Elliot only nodded at the comment about his grenade-launching abilities. He was in full combat mindset, not really up for banter at the moment. It was something he and Grace tended to prefer. Business while in business, banter for before and after. It was a good policy to live by and allowed them to keep focused. The minute you get cocky instead of careful, some asshole might blow your head off. You know...like the guy who had ricochetted some grenades to royally fuck up their initial opposition? Yeah, that's the guy you watch out for. Fortunately, that guy was Elliot, so you can all calm down. Still, with the first trio of immediate troublemakers handled, they could advance. And wouldn't you know it? They had the forklifts activated to act as mobile shields. A nice boon, if you had to say so. Not the be-all-to-end-all, but it makes life harder for the other guy. And you're right. As two heavy guards and two of those droids came into view to fire away, it was nice to have them there, eating up the incoming ammunition.

However, it was only a matter of time before somebody adopted Elliot's way of doing things.

At the very instant he saw one of those suckers landed, before Rick said "Shit! Grenades!" at a speed that Elliot could've sworn sounded like 'Shit Grenades', the seasoned merc reacted. It was as natural to him as would any soldier, easily. He moved, and he moved with speed and agility. He had both of these, already, but lest we forget that his Paladin Armor streamlined his running and jumping, strengthening his ability to do either, to a degree. It was because of this that Elliot would be found suddenly ON one of the forklifts, and climbing atop its cargo in a stealthy fashion so that he could get the high ground on the enemy unobserved. That much didn't take much effort. The concentrated efforts of the bad guys made it so god-awful noisy here that Elliot could've been singing while climbing. Hell, even yodelling might've been missed!

Well, at any rate, Elliot had been unslinging his nice new plasma rifle...when a hunk of robot went flying into the mix to smack at their opposition at some prope Holy Shit speed! Damn, that Catican was strong... Well, no matter. Whatever the case, he was in position now and he took to firing at the enemy with lovely metal-melting wads of plasma. Robot or human, Elliot was going for joints and face, but he'd settle for center of mass. Here is where Velka updated them with information on drone-related movements. He decided to speak into comms so that Velka got his voice next to her ear, not across the room.

"I'm on one of these crates, Velka, and I'm gonna be riding the forklift along with it, for now. I can jump off at a moment's notice, so don't worry."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Back up in space, Grace was glad to have eliminated the enemy's dropship before it could get down to pick anybody up. However, she knew that that was the last free shot she had to do that. From there, it would be effectively run-and-gun...which was always a bit trickier. The frigate that had sent the transport now made a beeline for her and Archer. Because she had been eye-in-the-sky and separate from the big ships, the frigate hadn't quite been close to her, but it was advancing while sending out a new ship and escort. The technical specifications said that she could still take the trio of smallish vessels, but the frigate was a definite No. The manual said cuttthroat attacks only. It was bigger, it was better, and it was not happy. So, first move: Put the Archer's speed and maneuverabiliy to good use. She was putting space between her and the frigate as the transport and fighters descended. Then...

"Archer to Orion Company. Enemy transport has been eliminated, but they're sending another. I'm pursuing in order to give you time, but the enemy frigate will probably be next."

"Grace, do not engage the frigate if it makes planetfall. You're not equipped to destroy it and we may need you as a way out."

"Understood."

Grace had put Archer on an escape maneuver with its narrow profile making it difficult for the frigate to hit. It might decide she was scared off, it might not, but with the other smaller ships on descent, they too were separated from mother...which is where she acted. Archer was put on a downward spiral return trip towards the transport and escort at speed. No precision aiming this time. It was sudden 'Hello, Dolly!' and 'Hasta la vista, baby!'. She swooped in for an interception and fired the Riot Blast Missle Pod, sending half a dozen missles at the enemy while her auto-cannons all locked on target to open fire in passing. This is what Archer was built for. From here, she didn't think she was going to be much help on this front, but that was down to whatever happened next.

"Got it. Sending you some backup as well."

"Copy that." She replied, taking control and burning for altitude as Irina's drones rushed to meet her. The sky was rapidly fading to black as she climbed, her little ad hoc flight forming into a finger four formation. Her new bird was fast, and before long the sky began to fade to black as she reached the outer edge of the atmosphere.

Watching the bandits closing on the AO; she cut her engines, and let momentum carry her upward as she began prepping for her attack run. As practiced fingers flew across the interface, the ship's computer bleated at her.

WARNING: OVERRIDING FUEL CONTROL INTERLINK MAY CAUSE EXTREME DAMAGE OR FAILURE.

"Yes, yes, yes..." She muttered, ignoring the warnings. As she worked through disabling the various safety features that where trying to stop what she was about to do, and rolling the craft onto its attack vector, she began to sing. It wasn't her usual choice in music, but it'd been a favourite piece of one of the few people she would have considered a real friend. "Faaalling towards the skyyy, waaaiting for myyy...ride!"

As the last word left her lips, she punched the 'Engine Start' button and jammed the throttle forward. The engines sparked to life and the highly volatile fuel, which Mary had deliberately let gather in the exhaust nozzles by disabling the shut-offs, ignited with a colossal explosion. From a distance it almost looked like a tac-nuke had been detonated in the upper atmosphere; and the reason that she'd done such a borderline insane thing was the massive kick to acceleration it gave.

Pinned back in her seat, she grunted against the g-forces as she dove in from low orbit, with the onboard inertial compensators fighting desperately to stop her from being crushed. Warning tones chimed all around her as pretty much every system protested to the harsh abuse, but all she could do was hang on. Her targets spotted her reckless attack and deployed their counter measures, and Mary and the drones replied in kind, filling the air with whipsaws of jamming and scrambling.

AS she'd prepped for the dive, she knew she'd be lucky to get any hits; these guys had gear that was as good as her new toy, unlike the poor sad sacks she'd potted earlier. This was more about just buying the ground team time. Once again the computer handled the actual firing, dumping her entire swarm of anti-fighter missiles, a few plasma bolts and massed fire from her loaner drones, into and at the cloud of jamming that was the enemy. As the atmosphere began to thicken, an 'overspeed' alarm began to nag her as well. She was well into hypersonic territory by now, and getting far too low for such speeds; but she'd planned on that, and her flight path was now taking her away from the scattered bandits in a large arcing track that took her over the LZ at only a couple hundred meters and just over Mach 5.

Losing speed and climbing once more, and without the massively crushing gees, she took stock. Kitty was down low over the LZ, having dealt with an unfriendly interloper, Grace was bugging out in the face of a light capital ship...smart move...and seemed to be playing merry hell with the small craft the larger ship was deploying and she was alone for now. Most of her systems showed at least some damage from her dive, and one of the drones appeared to be missing. Well, still alive... As she thought that, she coughed slightly and tasted something coppery in her mouth.

"Red to Sweety actual. Why the hell aren't you airborne yet!? There's a frigate closing on us, and I can't do another 'boom-and-zoom' pass like that to keep the airspace clear." She was getting sorely tempted to burn back to Sweety and just hijack the freighter. Dump all the pods but mine might just boost the accel enough to get the fuck out in time...

Unknown force

The commander of the unknown faction looked behind her and watch as the small defense team she order were wiped out. "Damn..LET'S MOVE" she shout as she and the rest of the squad move up the stairs. Most of her forces were gone and she lost all of the droids. Today couldn't be worst. After a few minutes of going up the stairs, they finally got to the door to the roof and the landing pad.
Opening the door the Commander, the last of the heavies, and the rest of the light troops exited out. Looking around as one of the soldiers asked: "Um..Where the fuck is our ride?!?!"

Cyberspace

The Ai didn't stand a chance against Shaona. He was a jack of all trades type of AI. Before he could double his efforts against her, she had already turned the tables and blasted him and the entire system to oblivion. Leaving nothing behind as she exited the system.

Walker

Walker didn't know where he was at the moment. He knew he saw the Heavy soldiers grab their grenades and threw them. He remembers shouting and warning his teammates and then he remembers something knocking him out of the way.

It was then what was on top of him moved and got into a straddling position. It was Mar and Walker couldn't help but make a small joke. "Shouldn't I have bought dinner first?" He asked. Though his small smirk disappear as he heard the others in orbit talking about the unknown fleet. 'Fuck," Walker thought as he wonders what he should do. They were close to getting their prize, but should he continue forward and risk it? Mar rolled off him as she asked him a question about what the plan. He then decided that it was time to get out and lived another day.

"Everyone. This is Walker. We're leaving. The LZ is getting too hot and I don't like to think what that frigate will do once it gets here. Resha" He called out on the radio. Sighing as he didn't want to call her into action. He didn't want to get the young alien pilot killed. "Get in your mech and provide some extra covering support. Do NOT engage the enemy. Just protect us until we can get back to the Sweety.

"Velka, I'm not sure if they have any backup coming..but keep one of the forklift drones with us as we make our escape. Elliot cover our asses from up there. If you see anyone trying to sneak up on us, waste them. Mar just keep a eye out for anyone flanking and zap their ass if they try anything. Brian, I"m sure a big man like you can clear the way back if anyone tries anything." Walker didn't believe the enemy had reinforcements but it was never hurt to be ready.

Space

The two small fleets clash with each other. The TGR's ship was staying close to the Chornus capital ship. Being the support in the defense. Where the Chronus ship fired upon, the TGR ship would fire as well.

While both ships have taken damage, the Chronus ship was easily outclassing everything here at the moment. Though this was just a distraction from the real objective. As the Archer unload on the dropship and its escort, the two escort ships exploded in a fiery explosion from her auto-cannons. The Dropship dodge out of the way in time but the Missiles were closing in on it. With little time, the Dropship let off its anti-missile flares. The dropship flew away from the Archer direction. Planning on making a fly by once the Frigate got close enough to cover its ass.

<<< Mar >>>
T.G.R. Backwater Planet, Sasleyria | Sasleyria Surface | Storage Facility
"I don't care where we go so long as it isn't here!"

Mar desperately tried to flatten herself a little more on the floor of the warehouse in the vain hope that whatever the assholes were using to fire at them couldn't penetrate the crate they were using for cover. As it was, she could see the occasional streak over the edge that told her in no plain terms that getting up right then was a bad idea. At the same time, they needed to get the hell out. Which made things difficult.

"Everyone. This is Walker. We're leaving."

That was all she needed to hear. Forcing herself to twist so that she could lay on her belly, she keyed into the secure comm-line that connected them to the Sweet Child of Mine.

"Sweet Child of Mine, this is ORION Ground Team: Prep for a short-range FTL jump out-of-system, wait for my mark to initiate the jump. Repeat, prepare for FTL jump out-of-system, wait for mark, copy?" she called out, before she switched to the channel connecting their air forces, "All ORION Air Units, this is Ground Team, cover our extraction and haul ass to the Sweetie. We're getting the fuck out, confirm when docked."

Once she was off-comms, she lifted her head just enough to look out through the warehouse exit. It was a mostly clear shot out. Just a half-minute's sprint, and she was back to the shuttle. With a moments hesitation, she pushed herself up with her false hands and tightened her grip on her Impaler pistol. She had one chance to get out there, or get cut down in the process.

So she waited. One moment. Then two. When the gunfire overhead paused, she took her chance.

"Let's go!" she snarled as she launched herself forward.

Breaking into a sprint, she glanced backward and fired her Impaler wildly in the direction of the enemy, and managed to get a few strides out of the warehouse itself. Then she felt a trio of impacts in her lower back followed by an intense, searing pain. She staggered, clutching her side with her free true-hand, before she forced herself to keep running. She managed to get up the ramp and into the shuttle a few seconds after Shanoa had bounded inside.

She didn't stop until she was in the pilot's seat and started to initiate the engine's start-up. Mar didn't bother investigating her wounds, and she ignored the pain. She couldn't afford to be slow about this.

"EVERYONE IN!" she called out over the Ground Team's comm channel.

Resha had been calming herself down and prepping incase she needed to launch. The girl had one of the few cd's she actually owned playing in the cockpit. Listening to the somewhat soothing sounds of Jimi Hendrix as she got somewhere pleasant. However, it was somewhere midway through castles made of sand that the call to help came in. "I.... aye sir!" called out the girl. She got ready to launch, but her hands were shaking with energy and excitement. a live fire mission! who would have thought!

Something felt off though. "No... not right..." she said shaking her head and looked around. Fumbling with a very tiny cd holder, she put in a disk that had "GO HARD OR GO HOME" sloppily written on it by the previous owner. The ion thrusters kicked on as she launched, bringing up the shields and starting a full burn at the planet, downwards towards the mission site.

Tearing through the atmosphere at a faster pace than anyone could reasonably wish see happen, the frame's shields began to wail through the atmosphere. It started off softly, even through the gunfire and chaos, it began to rise to a piercing shriek that vibrate most everything on the ground, a ball of fire,visible as the craft was actually burning down into the atmosphere, blue flames trailing off it as it sounded like the fighter was shrieking and wailing with noises of the dead going through deceleration in the thick lower atmosphere. The fireball broke as the fighter form Nekrola streaked over the landing ship. The few fighters aiming for the shuttle turned off as the oddity let loose lances of plasma at them, not necessarily accurate, but when something is out there gunning for you, you don't exactly ignore it.

Anyone paying attention to their comms could hear resha hadn't turned her's off, or whatever compatibility there was, wasn't fully fleshed out, so very softly, they could hear the pilot of the otherworldly frame singing along with surprising clarity despite her proper speech issues. "I can't stand it, i know you planned it... i'ma set it straight... this Watergate." It wasn't exactly disturbing any communicator or obnoxiously loud as they could still easily talk over it. However, those with a keen eye and an ear were noticing that her movements were in time to beats within the song. Despite all odds, the frequency and movements were enough, in combination of the shields absorbing the sparse hits, to enable her to dodge the incoming fire. She didn't exactly get an easy upper hand, but the girl was certainly on snuff with her ability to make the frame dance like some ghastly bird. Blue glow emanating from the frame with the blue trails the ion engines left briefly behind them certainly were an alien sight to all around.

Damn. She'd gotten the escort, but the dropship pilot had managed to shy away from the missles enough to deploy countermeasures and survive. It retreated back to the safety of its mothership's warm embracing cover fire, delayed not destroyed. Grace was disappointed, but...not every pass with her weapons was going to automatically be successful. She would have to be satisfied with having delayed them just a little longer. Unfortunately, like Mary's transmission said, they didn't have long. The frigate was making planetfall, and neither of them had the requisite firepower to stop it. Between her fighter and Grace in her gunship, they were as two nasty hornets to a human being. There could be significant damage in their stings, but ultimately any human can reach out and crush said hornets, even if the pain is significant. They could survive them, and the reverse was not true. Grace was about to communicate these facts to the ground team when she heard Walker speak up over comms.

"Everyone. This is Walker. We're leaving..."

Grace let out a slight noise of irritation from her nose. She hated when missions failed. She and Elliot worked very hard for their payout. You couldn't find two people more serious about the work as they were. It was troublesome to deal with an untenable situation, something that they have to pull back from, cutting their losses. Between the whole of the company, they'd planned out details of the operation, including Chronus' completely-predictable betrayal scenarios. This unknown third party was possibly the only thing they had not specifically thought of, and only because it seemed as though they did not work for Chronus...unless the hazard pay and the death allowance was included in the job description. Grace had recorded everything, of course, and they could go over this later.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"...The LZ is getting too hot and I don't like to think what that frigate will do once it gets here."

It'll lay down a suppression fire on the whole complex and bury them under a ton of building is what it'll do.

That's what Elliot was thinking as he retained his on-forklift-post, acting as safeguard and overwatch for everyone else in the immediate vicinity. It was a real shame, too, because it looked like they'd handedly squashed the opposition's rear-guard. If they'd given chase, Elliot reasoned that it'd be a risk, but they still could've had 'em. The only problem was the frigate, in all of that. It was too big. Archer was one lethal craft, but he'd ordered Grace not to engage for good reason: It was pissing into the wind. She'd never down it, not without significant surprise on her side first to take out something vital, and she did not have that right now. So, Elliot maintained fire on anything that was firing at them, thinking that...well...at least they got some nice hardware that had its bugs, its safeties, and its serial codes removed. Once outside, the Archer came into view, and would blast anything on the ground that was not theirs to cinders. When the going gets tough, the tough call for close air support. Too bad that frigate had bigger teeth. Elliot made double-time for their ship outta' here, knowing that Grace had his back now. They'd be out of here in a flash.

The Orion Files | Planetoid: Sasleyria | Orion Company: Area of Operation | Storage Facility
Sorry... I didn't mean to break it!
Irina Rostikova

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Since the start of ground engagement between Orion Company and the unknown force at the Storage Facility, incoming and outgoing comms traffic from the freighter christened Sweet Child of Mine had increased quite a considerable amount. This was not likely to have gone unnoticed for very long and an assault on Orion Company's mother ship should have been expected sooner or later, especially after a fighter of alien design and origin blasted out of the freighter's hanger, dove into the Sasleyrian atmosphere and started messing with the unknown force's fighters and troops.

Irina Rostikova had been piloting the Redeemer back to the Landing Zone to provide cover for the team while they attempted to make a grab for the artifact and haul it back to the Devilfish. Unfortunately it seemed the both fate and the Captain had other ideas about how the rest of the mission was about to unfold, not that she blamed him considering the amount of enemies the crew had encountered since their arrival at the storage facility. It also did not help that the hulking corpse of the Pillar of Autumn was still bearing down on the storage facility, its crew still trying to slow down the capital ship's descent by firing off retro rockets.

"Everyone. This is Walker. We're leaving. The LZ is getting too hot and I don't like to think what that frigate will do once it gets here." The Captain called out to the team over the comms, causing Irina's ears to flatten against her head in dismay. The mission was being scrubbed and the payout that she'd worked so hard to hammer out with Chronus would be lost as well. Still, it they survived this rapidly devolving situation, the Catican Merchant Mechanic was sure that another payout opportunity would present itself.

"Affirmative Captain... I'm just heading for the..." Irina reported before a streak of fire and light blazed past the Catican heavy cargo shuttle, causing the ship's acting pilot to explode in a string of Catican curses that not only questioned Resha's parentage but also the quality of her genetic makeup, " I'm heading for the LZ now to provide some cover for your retreat." She paused for a moment and switched over to her partner's personal channel when she realized that the location beacon was not moving, "Ed. What are you doing? Didn't you hear the captain?"

"I did. I am simply considering what to do with this soldier that I am carrying. Should I rip her in half or..." The Catican Shock Trooper responded before being interrupted by Irina.

"No! You bring her! Get her to the transport so we can figure out what's going on!" The Annoyed Casteless Catican Female practically screamed before she in turn was screamed at.

*BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!*

An alarm blared at her as her sensor drones detected additional contacts entering the AO. As was expected, the fighters and corvette, appeared to belong to the unknown force and they were headed directly for the Sweetie. With all combat craft already headed towards the Storage Facility, the freighter was left without any air support and was in danger of meeting the same fate as the Pillar of Autumn.

"Cancel that, Captain. I've got a group of fighters and a corvette headed towards the Sweetie. I'm heading back now to provide some cover for our taxi out of here." The Redeemer's temporary pilot reported as she changed course and headed back out towards space, taking fire from a few ships along the way.

It should have been noted that the Catican Heavy Cargo Shuttle, which served in both a civilian and military capacity, was in no way designed as a space or air superiority fighter. Instead, the flying tank relied on its heavy armor and drones to get to the landing zone and drop off its cargo before dusting off and using its four heavy engines to get out of combat. Unfortunately, no one was manning the drone control suite aboard the Redeemer and Irina was left relatively defenseless.

One of the fighters, a Paralax Corp. F-223, raked the hull of the Redeemer with cannon fire, punching a few holes into her hull. Were it not for the fact that Irina had already pumped all of the cabin's air into storage tanks, she would have lost quite a great deal of her breathable air. A diagram of the ship flashed on Irina's Virtual HUD, displaying the damage that the ship had sustained and reported that the organic compounds that were sandwiched between the external layers of armor and the internal cabin surfaces were working on sealing the holes and that the ship's armor would take three Terran solar cycles to fully regenerate.

"Sweetie, this is Irina. I'm heading back to provide cover. Prep docking collar #1!" The Redeemer's Pussy Cat Pilot ordered as she broke through the Sasleyrian exosphere.

"Roger Redeemer. Docking Collar #1 prepped" The Sweetie reported as she turned on a set of flood lights to direct Irina to the proper docking collar.

As the Captain would later be reminded in a post mission briefing, Irina was not an fully experienced pilot. She could perform a few basic maneuvers in the shuttle but a docking procedure in the middle of combat was not one of them. Why, one might ask, would Irina be forced to remind the captain of such a thing? Well... after the battle over Sasleyria, Docking Collar #1 was no longer functional barring a heavy amount of repair work.

*CRUNCH! SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! BOOOM!*

"Redeemer, what the fuck?!" The Sweetie's pilot asked loudly over the comms as Docking Collar #1 was sheered off by the Redeemer's rapid docking attempt, the shuttle's engines causing too much stress on the docking clamps and ripping them right out of the hull. Fortunately for all those inside the freighter, the airlock held, even if the docking equipment did not, "Redeemer, reroute to Docking Collar #2 and try again!"

"Roger... s... sorry about that!" Irina called out as she maneuvered the Redeemer to the port side of the Sweet Child of Mine before she made her second attempt, this time with a bit more finesse.

*CLUNK! CLUNK! CLUNK! CLUNK!*

The docking clamps engaged and locked the two ships to each other, causing The Catican Merchant Mechanic to breathe a sigh of relief, not that she could be relieved for two long. The Sweetie would be in range of the fighter's cannons in twenty second. Unstrapping herself from the pilot's harness, Irina Rostikova run back towards the drone control suite and deployed her drones.

"Captain! Defenses for the Sweetie are up and running. I can hold the fighters off for a bit but there's a Corvette bearing down on our position. I can keep it busy for a bit, but I'll lose all the drones if I do!" Irina called out as she positioned her drones in a line between the fighters and the freighter.


The Orion Files | Planetoid: Sasleyria | Orion Company: Area of Operation | Storage Facility
Edward the Ripper!
Edward Aubergine

In all the confusion no one had remembered the Edward Aubergine, Catican Shock Trooper and all around nice guy, was holding a potential source of intelligence regarding the unknown military force that had stolen the artifact from under Orion Company's nose and ruined their chances at a successful mission. Under normal circumstances, the Four Eyed, Four Armed Purple People Mauler would have been perfectly content ripping the soldier in his arms in half before casting the remains at their approaching comrades but since the crew was likely going to want to find out as much as possible regarding the unknown opposition, Edward was forced to carry the soldier around until an order of execution was given.

"LET GO OF ME YOU PURPLE FURFA-AAAAAAAAAAH!" A clearly female voice came out from the combat armor's helmet before Edward gave her a good shaking to shut her up. While the voices belonging to the other soldiers were distorted and unintelligible, her's was not, indicating that whatever device these soldiers were using to scramble their vocal communications was broken on her armor.

"Unfortunately, I am unable to do so. You are currently my prisoner until such time as my captain orders me to release you or execute you. However, if you persist with such language, I will be forced to deal with you in a manner similar to how I dealt with your comrade." Edward stated, pointing at the remains of the soldier that had been squished under the weight of the thrown heavy assault drone.

The soldier in Edward's arms seemed to consider her situation for a moment before remaining silent. While it might have been an empty threat considering Orion Company's need for information on the soldier's organization, there was no use in gambling with a creature that had the ability to rip her arms out of their socket. She was already suffering from a compound fracture of the radius and ulna of her right arm, might want to avoid a larger amount of pain, even if it was only going to last for a few seconds.

"Everyone. This is Walker. We're leaving. The LZ is getting too hot and I don't like to think what that frigate will do once it gets here." The Captain ordered over the comms, causing Edward to further question what his next move would be. If he brought the woman aboard the Devilfish, chances are that any location data that was being broadcast by the soldier's armor would give away the location of Orion Company's escape plan and make it a target for all fighters in the region.

"Ed. What are you doing? Didn't you hear the captain?" Irina's voice chimed in over his personal comms device.

"I did. I am simply considering what to do with this soldier that I am carrying. Should I rip her in half or..." The Catican Shock Trooper responded before being interrupted by Irina.

"No! You bring her! Get her to the transport so we can figure out what's going on!" The Annoyed Casteless Catican Female practically screamed, causing an unpleasant amount of ringing in Edward's ears.

"Affirmative." Edward reported as he started running towards the landing pad. Still, he needed a means to block any sort of transmission from the soldier's armor before the ship took off. Would it not be possible for the A.I. to disable the armor's location data? She had been able to defeat an enemy A.I. had she not? It was either that or rip the armor from the soldier's body.

"Shanoa." The Massive Mountain of a Catican radio'd for the A.I., "I am bringing a prisoner aboard the Devilfish. If you are able, I will need you to deactivate any booby traps and tracking devices implanted in the solder and her armor."

Continuing to the end of the last corridor, the Catican burst out into the Sasleyrian environment. Looking about, he noted the presence of multiple fighters locked in combat and a rather large capital ship bearing down on the facility. Tossing the soldier over his shoulder, the Catican Shock Trooper made a break for the Devilfish, laying down as much suppression fire as he could before he arrived at the loading ramp for Mar's prized transport. Strapping his captive in one of the seats, the Catican poked his head into the cockpit of the transport, and only his head considering the doorway to the cockpit was much too small to accommodate his size.

"You have been shot, Mar." The Mindful Catican Mammoth stated, one his arms pointing at the three bullet holes that had perforated Mar's suit, "I have some Catican Medical Gel that may help you, if you would like." Edward stated as he produced a vial of a viscous looking gel.

Mary charged orbital on a column of fire, with her vision hazy and blood in her mouth. "Oh I think I over cooked it." She muttered softly to herself. She could hear chatter over the team channel, and it sounded like finally the ground team was bugging out; the mission was scrubbed, but fuck it, shit happens.

"Resha, get in your mech and provide some extra covering support. Do NOT engage the enemy. Just protect us until we can get back to the Sweety."

"Wait-what!?" That was, almost, the stupidest call she'd ever heard. The Redeemer and Archer were in much better positions to cover the extraction, and she would need help if and when Sweety started drawing attention. "Don't you dare...do the smart thing." She muttered, staring at the sensor tag for the old freighter. "Fuck!" The new meat had separated from the larger ship and was burning planet-wards.

At the same time she realised that the Redeemer had broken off and was climbing out towards their ride out. Mary's wild dive had carried her out of position for a rapid intercept, so once she broke atmosphere, she had to reorient and play catch-up; another bout of hard burning finally got her into support range of Sweety and the fuzzie's gunship. "Red to Sweety. I'm on station, but low on ammo. You boys best be ready to jump the moment the boss lands."

Sweeping past the big ship, her sensors got a few small returns near the hull, which she first thought was combat damage. Why the fuck didn't they say they were getting shot at! But there was so very little debris, and no leaking air, and after a quick visual inspection, she realized it was just a mangled docking port. A quick over flight of the newly docked gunship revealed who the culprit was. Switching to a purely ship-to-ship channel, Mary comm'd Irina. "Hey Kitty." She said, trying to keep the note of smugness out of her voice, and not doing all too well. "Thanks for the loaners, sending them home now." She added, telling the drones that had been following her about to 'go home'. "One didn't make it, not sure why." With those handed back over, she moved out provide what little long range protection she could.

Ten light laser heads, four AGMs and a couple hundred cannon rounds...like trying to put out a house fire by pissing on it...

The events between shots firing and hearing: "Everyone. This is Walker. We're leaving. The LZ is getting too hot and I don't like to think what that frigate will do once it gets here." was a sharp blur as Brian let go of the screaming corpse and opened fire on one of the armoured soldiers, perforating him. He was where he enjoyed himself, covered in blood and being shot at. Standing over him, he held the bastard down with a foot while pulling on the other- *snap* "Brian, I"m sure a big man like you can clear the way back if anyone tries anything." Brian snapped to attention and moved to support the evacuation, annoyed that Walker wasn't staying the course in the face of capable hostiles.

"Acknowledged," he began moving towards the evacuation point to cover the others escape, firing bursts at movement as he went.

"Everyone. This is Walker. We're leaving. The LZ is getting too hot and I don't like to think what that frigate will do once it gets here..." Walker announced over comms after picking himself up from underneath Mar. So, they were evacuating the mission area. Given everything that was happening, the oncoming frigate that could very well obliterate the Sweet Child, the appearance of a third party, amongst other setbacks; a retreat made the most sense, she didn't like it, but there wasn't much else that Velka could do at the present time.

"Velka, I'm not sure if they have any backup coming..but keep one of the forklift drones with us as we make our escape..."

"Understood Captain, reconfiguring drones," Velka replied, tapping in a few commands into the controls of the drone that called for a reposition as she unholstered her rifle to provide cover fire if needed. As the group raced back to the Devil Fish transport, Velka fired the Fulcrum in controlled bursts, more content with keeping any enemies in cover rather than getting a kill, as much as she'd want to given the circumstances. She was also glad to see that the mission hadn't been a total loss, as Edward had managed to bag a soldier as a captive.

"EVERYONE IN!" Shouted Mar the moment she got back to the transport, with everyone else getting themselves strapped in in quick succession; the prisoner being strapped into the seat opposite Velka that was midway between the cockpit and the landing ramp. To ensure the compliance of the prisoner, Velka unholstered the Buzzkill stun gun, loaded a fresh cartridge and had it aimed at the soldier; all with an icy glare that read 'Do not do anything stupid.'

The Orion Files | Planetoid: Sasleyria | Orion Company: Area of Operation | Storage Facility | The Devil-Fish
A prisoner on a ship of misfits
SARA-00735

Despite her capture, Stealth and Reconnaissance Android Number 00735 (SARA-00735)'s felt a small sense of satisfaction that the mission had was going to be a success, at least she felt as much satisfaction as her circuits would allow. There were moments where SARA-00735 thought that it would have been more efficient for her programming to be one generation earlier as the processing of emotions took a great deal of computing power that could have been used elsewhere. Her earlier outburst, a side effect of her aggression enhancement protocols, was just such an example where emotion could have proven to be detrimental. Had her exotic captor not displayed such restraint, the creature might have reverted to a more primitive state and destroyed her without too much energy expenditure.

SARA-00735 felt a click inside her skull as her emotional inhibitor was activated, dampening the growing sense of anxiety that had started to take root ever since she was thrown into the ship by her purple four armed captor, allowing her to observe her surroundings with the natural curiosity that her creators had programmed into her, a curiosity that made for a more efficient reconnaissance unit.

The transport was quickly filling up with the enemy opposition force, a mercenary group from the looks of them. SARA-00735's HUD displayed various bits of information, weapons data, species data, heights, weights, gender, all the data that a reconnaissance android needed to determine the strength and abilities of an enemy group. While this particular mercenary force appeared small, it had the type of diversity to make it potentially troublesome. Besides the brute that had tossed her into her gravity seat with little regard for her chassis' structural integrity, she noted that the pilot was not human and shared the brutes' quad limbed nature, though they appeared to belong to two completely distinct species. Of particular note was the presence of two sentient mechanical units, one of which was seated across from her with a menacing look on its face. Perhaps this exotic was of too primitive to detect that she was also a synthetic life form. Regardless of SARA-00735's internal debate as to the technology level that was used to build the unit across from her, what was not up for debate was the weapon that was being pointed at her. While her sensors informed her that it was non-lethal, it would make her existence uncomfortable for a few minutes as the electrical pulse would wreak havoc on her internal circuitry.

"Synthetic Unit SARA, serial number 00735." She stated rhythmically in response to the not so veiled threat. It would be the only words that she was speak until such a time as her commander noticed that she was captured or she was out of range of the radio pulse that kept her from self destructing. Speaking of the pulse, her display flashed, indicating that her home ship received her location beacon and sent the counter response in turn. Clearly the commander was too busy to note that she was aboard the enemy's transport but there would be no worries once this ship was either shot down or left the vicinity of SARA-00735's home ship.

Her purple captor, who was standing near the door that lead to the ship's cockpit, turned an snorted loudly before returning his attention to the wounded pilot. She found the response annoying but she was curious as to why the exotic acted as if there was something humorous about her response. Still she was not allowed to respond with anything other than the words she'd already stated. Pulling up her diagnostics, she noted that her arm was still functionally compromised but her internal repair protocols were working on stabilizing and shoring up the damage. Looking up at the exotic mechanical unit that was seated across from her, she glared back defiantly, though unless the unit had x-ray vision, the effort was lost as SARA-00735 covered her face.

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