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RP Iron and Blood: Reactivated

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Commissar Farzi

🎖️ Game Master
RP Date
Late YE 43-YE 44
RP Location
Unknown Planet, Independent Frontier Zone
Armored Boots crunched across the dried dirt as the wind shifted the dust, heavy rifles panning across the landscape while others hefted broad, heavy shields as tall as they were, high caliber machine pistols at the ready. The dark blue and grey figures wore heavy suits of interlocking plates, forming an intricate, shifting layer of protection-masterfully crafted yet secular in design. This design, seemingly artisan in nature, was disrupted by the helmet-half domed in nature and lacking any visible features aside from their filters and several hoses connected to a heavy oxygen tank strapped to their backs. Despite its unusual craftsmanship, the armor they wore was little more than a glorified hardsuit-capable of withstanding all but the heaviest of fire.

This armor, while would be considered fairly quaint by the inhabitants of the sector given the wider variety of exotic-if not outright decadent means of protection available to them-but for these men-forged in the crucible of war and madness-it was good enough. The planet they'd landed on-little more than a dead, barren rock-a thin atmosphere consisting of carbon dioxide with trace amounts of nitrogen-gravity slightly lower than standard norm. The dust shifted around around them, picked up on the wind as the pale light of the white dwarf cast eerie, alien shadows across the landscape through the dust cloud. As they advanced-one of the men sneezed-the man in the lead-a seven-foot-tall burly rock of man sighed in frustration. "Ancestor's-damn it Garm!" Jacob Morris growled, his voice harsh from years of work and hard drinking, "I thought I told you to make sure your suit was sealed." The man in question sniffed-likely trying to clear the snot from his face-damned fool had either fallen asleep or likely been half-drunk during the briefing. "I did." He responded, voice muffled by the his now clogged nostrils, "Dambed dust gets evbrewhere'." Morris sighed at that; the dust of this world was laden with heavy metals and toxic chemicals-despite their best efforts the grit tended make its way into unwanted places.

They'd already had several cases of accidental poisoning-thankfully no fatalities...yet.

"Alright, hit your detox and head back to base-Mike go with him." One of the other soldiers shook his head and walked back with the man. Signaling to the rest of the squad, they continued their patrol.
----

Meanwhile, whilst this was taking place a massive machine overlooked the land scape-humanoid in shape; heavy and blocky-its armor plates pitted and worn from decades of use and hard combat. Its 'head', done in the style of a barbute style helmet panned across the landscape-taking in the dimly lit canyons and mountains as its bound occupant watched the sky. The base behind him had been hastily constructed-a series of crude structures fabricated out of hardened steel-built more for function than comfort. "Kikyo," Albert Steiner mused quietly, "A promised land with little promise." They'd fought a needless war, saving who and what they could. They'd fled to the Sector, taking a bare handful of vessels and cramming them to capacity and then some-soldiers and non-combatants alike. They'd known from the scant records he'd possessed that it was considerable improvement to their own home.

Regardless of intention, fate was a cruel bitch and seemed to exist to simply torment them. They'd been forced to make landfall with several vessels, including his own flagship, shortly after they'd warped in, and hastily erected a base of operations. Unable to jump as their drives had been burned out, he'd sent out a number of patrols in a vain hope of making some kind of contact.

Any contact...

He'd begun scanning the channels, hoping to pick up some kind of errant signal...
----

Morris and his remaining squad members were currently half a klick from base. "Oxygen check." He called, holding up a hand to signal the squad to a stop, each man checked the readout of their helmets.

"Eighty Percent."

"Seventy-eight Percent."

"Eighty-Two Percent."

Each man in the remaining 10 men of his squad had anywhere between eighty-five to seventy-seven percent; his own gage read eighty. Based on the rate of usage, and the difficulty of terrain-so far it'd been cracked plains and rolling hills-though the layers of constantly shifting dirt had made it the going more difficult than it should have been, they'd likely only make it maybe one to two kilometers before having to turn back. Sighing, as he scanned the twilight landscape, he decided on the next course of action. "Alright, we'll start a local search," He barked, "Two by Two cover formation-standard search pattern-stay in sight of one another." The yeoman checked his machine pistol-full magazine, no dust. "Radio check-ins every 10 minuets-try to stay in sight of each other."

With that, the squad spread out, keeping an eye out for contacts. Not that Morris expected anything-but you could never be too sure.

A short while later; "Senior Yeoman! You need to see this!" One of the men called-that wasn't good. When he saw what they'd found; concern was the first emotion that hit him.

"We need to call this in...now."

----

Nothing-not an Ancestors'-damned thing. Aside from cosmic background radiation-either that or the white dwarf was playing hell with their comms. If that was the case, it would likely be some time before they'd be able to establish contact with the rest of the sector proper. 'So limited supplies, no real way to leave and a large civilian population we have to safeguard and care for.' A recipe for disaster if he ever saw one. Still, as long as the hydroponic bays held out until they could at least get a proper facility set up-who knew how long they'd be here. But it also meant they'd have to tame this new, harsh environment for the time being.
An unpleasant, but not necessarily unwelcome task. Sending out orders for additional work crews and security teams equipped with heavy weapons; while likely not necessary one could never be too careful.

That's when the comm chimed-somewhat distorted, but still discernable. "This Havoc 1-1 to base, Havoc 1-1 to base, come in base, over!" He opened the link. "Steiner here, report, over."

"Sir...we've found what looks like some kind of outpost looks abandoned-it's in bad shape though, no life signs or-hold up; I've got something-power signature-faint though. Do we investigate, over?" Steiner thought on this, and shook his head-that outpost had to have been abandoned for a reason. "Negative, secure your position, sending an additional squad with armor support, over." Decades of mercenary work had taught him to err on the side of caution-and while their supplies were limited, they could spare an APC or two.

"Roger that Grandmaster, over and out." With that the transmission cut. He issued the order.

Moments later, the Defender-little more than an armored box on treads rolled off with a rounded turret on top trundled off-the engine billowing white smoke as the engine struggled to maintain it's combustion in the atmosphere. The sentinel himself watched, his RADAR picking nothing up as it left; He couldn't shake the feeling that perhaps that facility was better left alone; though more likely than not it could just be his own paranoia working overtime. Still, a degree of caution was and still would be warranted.

Hopefully it would be unwarranted.
 
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There was one among Steiner's crew that stayed on through universal shifts, the only 'alien' among them. Some called it an exchange, but it was more just a soldier who needed a new battlefield to feel useful again. Steiner likely saw her as an asset, or pain in the ass - maybe even both. Tacho approached Steiner, adorned in that v9 Kyrsis-Crixa Prototype Power Armor she left her ship and her life in years before, it had extra and replaced parts by now. The place where they had been like a nightmare, but she knew nightmares - lived them when she watched everything she ever knew fall apart. She couldn't help to occasionally slip into that dark place in her mind, shame on her for being a wolf among sheep - the lies of xenophobia had long since drained away as the men and women of the Company grew to become brothers and sisters in arms. It didn't dissolve her understanding of darkness and evil though, the very communication exchange between the Grandmaster and patrol had a life to it, it sent a shiver down her spine.

In a way Steiner had somewhat inspired her way of dealing with the past, he was a man stuck in a machine and she was a woman who hid her 'strangeness' beneath the helmet of her power armor. The only difference was in private that helmet came off, that armor shed away, and in the cold nights laying in a bunk on a ship that was falling apart, she was still the woman she once was. She had considered at one time augmenting herself, to hide those slender pointed ears that defined her strangeness at least to the eyes but at the end of the day, she still bled brilliant violet swirled with emerald, and the medics played guessing games each and every time they patched her up. Still, her passion was that life, the ever battling soldier.

"Grandmaster, is that my call to arms?" she asked when the transmission ended, "There's something ugly about this world, I suggest that even the support be cautious. Even now our sentries on base see shapes within the toxic plumes...It can't be all a delusion of fear." She stiffened in her stance out of respect, awaiting the command of the illustrious leader. Once more they looked out into some kind of underworld, only it was the whole world. They were stranded, but she was stranded and alone. She knew she had heard of the Kikyo Sector before, but the relevance had slipped her mind. The blanked recall was dismissed, beyond that tinted visor the hud projected itself on in the helmet she wore, she only knew she was going stir crazy staying on base.
 
"I have heard similar reports." The old sentinel's reply was likely of little comfort to the woman, his transmitter was still the same deep, distorted tone that betrayed little in the way of emotion. Watching as the work crews set about digging out ground to lay down further foundations of the base, the guards checking their weapons as they watched their surroundings, some checking their heavier equipment from a makeshift trench line.

The yeoman, even with the strict standards of discipline they maintained, were on edge; they had reported unusual happenings-strange shadows dancing across the landscape as if stalking them, only to abruptly vanish. A few of the patrols they had sent out had reported similar occurrences, but when they'd attempted to investigate nothing had been found-save for slightly disturbed earth, though it could be easily chalked up to the weather patterns of this world. Tacho's question posed consideration; if the patrol's reports had even a grain of truth to them-it could very well be that they were not alone on this planet.

The behavior of the shadows reminded him a bit too much of a predatory beast stalking its prey. The more he thought on it, the more her words made sense. Which made the next course of action all the clearer.

"Go-aid them," Steiner said without looking, making a note to increase the defenses and order all vessels to bring their remaining guns online, "If the darkness of this world should rear its head, see that it burns in the light." He himself picked up a massive autocannon that had rested on a boulder, racking the bolt to clear the ever-present dust and giving the magazine of ninety-millimeter shells several raps on the side before gently loading it into place. Setting his scanners to active as he sent out his orders. Already additional personnel were filing out-bringing out additional supplies and equipment, laying down plans to reinforce and expand their trench network, bunkers, artillery emplacements, etc., even as the ship's weapons systems hummed to life. Already this was beginning to feel a little too much like home.

That familiarity was of little comfort.
 
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Tacho accepted her orders with a direct, "Yes, Sir!" She knew it was pointless to stay and discuss the possibilities of 'what if' and suspicion. The Company would prevail just, as usual, the lingering thought of the price of that inevitable victory remained in her mind. It was not the first time they had encountered evil; it was how she came to be a part of the Company. She fired the suit's thrusters and took to the sky like a silver bullet and disappeared into the clouds. The HUD system relayed sensor information as well as her trajectory, she would purposely over-shoot her destination to get the usual look around before she would join the squad on the ground.

It was obvious she was 'different' from the rest of the company in that there was a sleekness to her armor's design, either way, they all could reap havoc. When Tacho set down she landed just within the perimeter of the abandoned facility that had been located by the other team. Surely by now they would be used to her arrival, used to the oddity of her place among them. She reached back and pulled the battle rifle from her back, activated it, and tied its assisted aiming features to the mindhive nested within the armor. It probably would not be long before the support squad arrived, they had left on the Sentinel's order just like her. Her eyes scanned the shadow of this abandoned place, seeking the position of the forward group in hopes they followed orders to secure their location. "Tacho to Havoc 1-1, I'm on-site what is your location?" she requested over the secure channel, this abandoned place created all kinds of echos and ghosts on her scanners, it reminded her of the last pit they had all ended up in together and made those little hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

"Tacho to Base, I'm on-site...This place is a fucking tomb, will join Havoc 1-1 once they answer me," she said after briefly switching channels. She observed the abandoned facility while she waited for replies to her calls. What ungodly cesspit had they stirred now? Praise to Unya, may her wings of protector enrobe me within this damned place.
 
Spooky Mining Facility Boogaloo

Shadows and shapes had plagued perhaps the only other humanoid on this lethal world. The Iromakuanhe was no stranger to the dangers that had enveloped this sector's inhabitants for the past half-century or so. How often, had the cloaked mercenary mused what this region would have been like without the synthetics. How it could have been a truly awe-inspiring place had the colonials been more peaceable, educated, and less reliant on heavy industry. Killing off their own world at such a slow pace. It would only spread over the centuries, well within her lifetime. But such wishful thinking gave way to the cold reality of human facilities and the age-old concepts of hostility, war, greed, and a host of other cultural, ideological differences and idiosyncracies.

But thus were there people like her, hired killers, muscle, assassins, those that did the dirty jobs, wetwork if you will. But thus far, Anju Seda Razavi had avoided having to deal death to those that lurked in the hellscape. Their minds filled with alien sensation, emotion. All could be felt, within a given area of effect if she so chose. The Radium kept her mind closed off to them, electing to keep it activated for much of the time. For her race it was uncomfortable to feel naught but one's own emotion. The onetime saboteur had grown used to it over the intervening span of her life.

Her employer had paid well, in addition to the quaint concept of 'Hazard Pay' to locate a certain item. Part of that had increased the already plush accounts spread across the region.

Orbital insertion had been simple, the ship landing, dropping her off, and breaking orbit once more. Now laying hidden on one of the moons, within a crater on the nightside.

While she had now reached what had once (Possibly) been a profitable if dangerous mining venture. But now dead, silent save for whatever howling winds that blew, the crumbling of concrete. Ever careful of what lurked, Anju had set up a micro-cam near the entrance to the facility, motion tracking, and thermal imaging. Bought from Lazarus Consortium's lengthy catalog of offerings.

Once that strangely sleek armor had made its landing, her early warning system had gone off. The point-to-point quantum modem (Also a Lazarus product) sending a brief snippet of footage before deactivating. The Sund Wakir woman pulled the compact Linios from her back, the weapon extending, its suspensors remaining offline while she held it with practiced ease. It hadn't been necessary to sight through the scope, her own imaging array zooming in, but the thermal imaging built into the Marksman scope picked out Tacho's armor's brief burn of thrusters. The RBS and OMDE rounds it harbored within its magazine were capable of felling Lorath 'frames'. The Iromakuanhe's term for such machines as the Winter series were quaint things.

Camouflaged as both she and the weapon were, her kneeling position was stock still its barrel aiming right for the helmet but left uncharged or firing. She just watched. Were these rivals of her employer? Another team? Or part of what had lurked within the obscured haze that blanketed this blighted planet? Her polarized helmet hid the violet, the bioluminescent glow of her eyes, unblinking as her HUD fed information from the rifle's scope into her helmet, and its own built-in array did the same. Zooming in to gain a better picture of just what Anju was so now carefully observing. The ANIOS computational suite running through the various permutations of powered armor, and 'frames' seen within this sector of space.

Synthetic, Colonial, Winged Colonial, Lorath, none quite matched, but the only telling things were that it was obviously humanoid, and possibly possessed of respectable technological development. The Laiz weapons were not ideally suited against armored targets, built for personnel, but what lay in her hand could crack or weaken armor depending on which projectile she chose with the follow-up finishing the job. For now, Anju remained in position but knew there was radio chatter going on, how could there not be? A scout then, the Wakir surmised.
 
"Acknowledged." Steiner replied-he was currently watching a particularly dark cloud that seemed to be slowly inching its way across a nearby crest.

That...was odd. He made a note to keep an eye on that one.
-----

"This is Havoc 1-1," Morris replied as he watched as the woman fly overhead, signaling his squad as the Defender-scrawled across the side in crude white letters was the word "Flamethrower"- rolled up-engine sputtering as it threw up a cloud of dust, "Linked up with transport-currently down two men-had a contamination issue and sent em' back."

"We are currently en-route south-southwest, quarter of a klick, over and out." As the rear-entrance ramp lowered, he and his remaining men boarded in short order making the interior somewhat cramped as the other squad made room to accommodate them, the driver looking back as a fieldsmith had the engine compartment open as he monitored the already sputtering machine. "Atmo's choking the engine." The driver said as he raised the ramp. "Damned sealing's barely holding together." Morris shook his head as they grabbed a hold of something as the transport lurched forward, unable to sit as the benches were taken up by others. "How long?" He asked the driver as they hit a particularly rough patch, to which the man shook his head. "Long as the engine holds out, we should be-"

The engine groaned as the LAV hit a particularly steep slope, then there was a sharp bang-clank! as the fieldsmith almost lost his hand as the hatch slammed shut. An awful grinding noise brought the vehicle to a halt and when smoke started to pour out of the engine compartment a roar of "OUT! OUT! OUT!" as the emergency release of the ramp was hit as the squads and crew immediately filed out in a somewhat organized fashion-putting enough distance between them and the vehicle in the event of an ammunition cookoff. They needn't've bothered-as the planet's atmosphere filled the compartment the fire was quickly snuffed out due to a lack of oxygen. Giving orders to set up a perimeter as their 'Smith went to check the damage, Morris himself found himself looking over their destination-an un-impressive, featureless building-at least a single story tall made from dark-ish grey concrete-similar to the rock of the world. Little in the way of external structures save for a rusted communications tower, the entrance itself was

"Morris to Flamethrower-status, over?" Morris queried as he studied the abandoned outpost-he'd seen similar structures dotting the planets across their home galaxy, but there was...something about this one left a feeling that gnawed at him. "Engine's shot, but the gun's functional and we've got manual for the turret, over." Came the reply, to which Morris sighed, "Might be able to jury rig something, but for now she's just a fancy pillbox, over." The senior yeoman sighed at that. "Copy that, over and out." He then toggles the channels for both base and Tacho.

"Base, Tacho this Havoc 1-1, we've linked up with Havoc 2, we're down two men due to contamination and vehicle is DoA," Morris checked the EKG units for both of them-still alive and if distance was anything to go by, they were almost to base, "We've reached the facility and have established a perimeter around disabled ground asset, over." A pause, followed by the grandmaster acknowledging. "Roger that Havoc 1-1, maintain position until Tacho reaches you, set a guard around asset and proceed to investigate the facility, over and out." The transmission cut, and as he made to return to his men, waiting for the Norian to drag her alien ass from wherever she was.

The wind was starting to kick up, stirring up a few dust devils here and there and causing odd shadows in the already dim landscape. Every soldier there made a note to keep an eye on those in particular, along with a reminder to watch their fire.
 
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Tacho didn't register the fact she was being observed, not that she was not used to having eyes upon her. A singularity among men, in more than one way. She was already behind Morris by the time he bothered to make his transmission. She made the offhand comment with a bit of a chuckle, "Broke something else?" she inquired, "Looks like to send you guys anywhere we should start planning for you to have to get out and push," she commented to Morris, her presence was as it has always been - a useful thorn in the backside of overly proud masculine soldiers. It was bad news, either way, a broken down ground assets, a strange abandoned base, and whatever ungodly shit was twisting or plotting from the shadows. It was like the premonitions one gets when they've seen too many horror movies.

"Base, this is Tacho. I'm on location -- I'm not liking the look of this fucked up situation," she issued over the comm specifically addressing the Grandmaster. "While they've deployed, it's a fancy shit kill box out here," she gave her own colorful version of the report. There was no use in buttering the situation up, it was what it was. She began to conduct more intensive scans of the immediate area, and within moments she was hovering instead of standing - a common vantage point for her. Hopefully, something better would come down the pipe in terms of follow-up orders, a bunch of soldiers tasked with surrounding a botched unit just made the Norian more on edge. The mindhive integrated into her power armor projecting the information right into her mind, her only 'friend' in the god-forsaken darkness that was far from home or her people.

The shoulder pads on her armor lifted briefly which allowed the escape of four tennis ball-sized probes to exit. They whirled around in her field of vision briefly before they scattered in different directions from her location to extend the scanning range of her armor. The last thing she wanted was to be ambushed. All this little tale was missing was a village idiot to botch the entire thing up with a uniformed decision or knee-jerked reaction. There was still time for that though. Tacho whispered under her breath and beneath the silence of her comm as she prayed to the Builders for guidance. When she joined up with the outfit, unlike many of her more famous counterparts, it had been her first time conducting transuniversal operations. This was the type of shit famous Norians like Tetsuya Eitan did, not lowly grunts from the Continuum military.
 
Morris let out an aggravated sigh-he'd almost reflexively clubbed her with his machine pistol. Wasn't the first time, wouldn't be the last.

"Atmo choked the engine." Was his reply, quick and clipped, "You'll have to talk to the fieldsmith if you want to know more." The yeoman really wasn't in the mood for banter-likely they'd have to pull her out of whatever moshpit they wound up in when she inevitably overestimated her capabilities. Though...given the way she was hanging around in the air like that-it was making her a prime target for anti-air fire. Maybe she'd finally learn when she inevitably got tagged by a flak battery-again.

He snorted at that-not likely.

-----

He'd set his machine's scanners to active when the dust cloud suddenly vanished as more reports came in; a broken-down ground asset, two squads with one understrength, even if it was just two men, a supposedly abandoned base-though Tacho should be able to help offset the loss and a planet that was supposedly uninhabited. The sentinel considered his options: normally Steiner would've written the transport off and sent the squads to their objective-the Light Armored Utility Vehicle, or Defender as they called it was in common enough usage for both military and civilians alike back in Valhalla that any losses unless they had advanced hardware in them could be easily written off and recouped from salvage or purchased from merchants. This was not an option at this time-they'd likely have to send out a salvage team to retrieve it.

The two men in question had been picked up by a patrol and were on their way in-which left the base their primary concern. The chime of his comm pulled the mechanoid from his thoughts. "Grandmaster here, over." The yeoman on the other side sounded wary, his voice low and stead. "Sir, we've received a positive sensor contact, over."

"Location, distance and ID, over?"

"South-Southeast, half-kilck out, contact vanished before Havoc 4 could close in, orders, over?" That was where Havoc 1's men had been picked up...so-intelligent enough to evade them, and wise enough to know when to stay its hand. "Narrow all patrol search patterns to half-kilometer radius, ready a retrieval craft for disabled ground asset, and have gunships on standby for rapid extraction, over." He switched channels after the yeoman gave his affirmative and radioed the away teams. "Havocs 1 and 2, Tacho, we have made positive sensor contact, ID unknown, remain on high alert-salvage and recovery team on the way, ETA two minutes, authorization for gunship support has been given, once recovery team has arrived proceed to investigate facility

"Acknowledged, over and out." Steiner himself began organizing the defense into a high alert status-QRF teams on standby in case trench lines were overrun. Additional security would be needed, and the lines would be reinforced. Perhaps all this preparation would be unnecessary, and they may have just stumbled upon some native mining operation...and if dreams were feasts no one would starve.

----

"Acknowledged, over and out." Morris checked his sub-gun, full magazine-and then signaled to his men. "Alright, fall in ya mooks-we're movin' out in two mikes-base reported a contact-keep your heads on a swivel!" He heard the tell-tale whine of a craft's engine, and spotted the recovery craft-a blocky, bulky thing, maneuvering awkwardly in the atmosphere. The vehicle's crew would likely be heading back with the craft, and as the craft lowered-the bottom opening up to reveal what looked like a series of clamps inside as a lift hoist lowered, large metal clamps locking around the vehicle's hull and pulling it inside; he could see the yeoman inside shouting and giving the usual hand signals as the Defender was locked in place. The craft ascended, churning up yet another cloud of dust.

The senior yeomen barked orders for their respective squads to fall in. "Alright, move it out, staggered lines." The squads began trudging down the hill, Morris giving Tacho a 'follow us signal as they did so. The closer they got, the more Morris didn't like the look of it-aside from environmental damage, the building save for the entrance seemed relatively intact. The entrance had been a large blast door-emphasis on the 'was' as it looked like something had literally torn through it.

Not a good sign. He couldn't see though, save for the dull, pitted concrete floor. "Alright-pile up, get a sensor unit up, sonar, single ping, mid frequency-see what we're dealing with." Morris barked, before adding, "Try not to deafen us." They'd had a few guys get their ears blown out that way. One of the yeoman came up with a bulky, hand held device-one of their multi-purpose handhelds-heavy and expensive, but worth it. The soldiers formed up on either side, ensuring overlapping fields of fire. "Ping out!"

There was a brief hum followed by a loud PING! Morris had to resist the reflex to grit his teeth-they'd shatter if he did. "Ancestors-damn it-I said Mid frequency yeoman, not high!" While his helmet had absorbed the worst of it, it still left his ears sore-the men around him had been further away so hadn't been quite as affected. "Sorry SeYo, won't happen again." Morris let out an aggravated sigh. "Findings?"

"Looks like a large vehicle bay of some sort, several rooms and sublevels." Well, the bay gave them options at least. "Alright, let's get the bay secured and then we'll sweep the rest of the base." As the entered, he sent his report back to base. "Base, this is Havoc 1-1, we're breeching now-entrance looks like it was ripped open. Report when we have more intel, over and out." With that the squads piled in, two men from each squad covering the rear as they entered the darkened interior...
 
With her rifle still in hand, the cloaked woman watched with an eerie stillness as the armor flew away. The planet's atmosphere made it difficult to track visually without the assistance of other more advanced optics. But, after a short count, Anju's rifle clicked and whurred back in on itself. Compacting and returning to its place on her back. That armor bothered her still. Her people had gathered a healthy knowledge base on which to work in regard to technology and designs floating around the Kikyo Sector. And she herself hated dealing with an unknown quantity. Those in her profession rarely did. Yet it was all a little contradictory. Because this very job was a bit of an unknown quantity. Paid well, however. Perhaps a little too much and that largely proved to be a badsign.

Whoever, whatever it wasn't why she had come. But it had been noted now that it was here.

Marking the entrance, the Iromakuanhe stepped back into the shadowy corridor to resume her search. That was why she had come. Retrieval. Not assassination. Wasting precious ammunition and other ordinance would cost the client more. And replacements were hard to come by. Her species largely disliking this war-torn region on sheer principle. The Colonials, Synthetics, the Winged Colonials (Elysians), and the Lorath. Meanwhile, the Free Folk had been welcomed into the Commonwealth for a time before moving on. Not overstaying their welcome.

Once again, Anju went over the relevant information. The details had been a little scant. A diagram given of some of the base. A brief summary of what to find. Along with a vague warning that she may not be alone on the planet. The HUD scrolled the information, and environmental details, enhancing the visuals recorded and processed by the ANIOS (Onboard computer) of the suit. So long as whatever that had been did not interfere, Anju Seda Razavi held little interest in a confrontation.
 
The squad spread out slowly, footsteps echoing in the deafening silence-each yeoman toggling the shoulder or helmet-mounted lamps on their suits-bathing the bay in a dull, incandescent yellow as they eyed the hulks of what were likely mining vehicles, blooming like some kind of twisted, blackened metal shrubbery. One soldier's lamp began to flicker, causing the shadows to play and dance, the dust from the outside occasionally kicking up. This was quickly corrected by several sharp raps to side of the mount, causing it to sputter briefly then flare back to life. ("Peice of shit batteries,") One of the men muttered in their native tongue, a harsh, guttural, almost arcane sounding language, ("Never get the good ones.")

This led to a snort from one of the yeomen who leaned over the entrance of a darkened corridor-the wind playing a gentle tune as he kept his rifle not quite raised but able to be brought up at a moment's notice. Morris himself hadn't missed the damage-half-melted, burned concrete, some of it chipped and pitted. He also hadn't missed the dark stains on the floor and walls-the patterns all too familiar. One trooper had stopped near an entrance, picking at a damaged section of the wall, plucking a thin sliver of metal that was wedged with some effort.

Morris approached as the man held it up. "Grenade shrapnel-wager my next booze ration on it." It certainly looked like something went off-chips and pockmarks, and a few chunks here and there. "Alright, North Side reporting battle damage, clear otherwise." A call of 'acknowledged', followed by a series of 'Clear' calls. "Alright," He said as they set up a perimeter, "Looks like whoever did this is long gone, but if that sensor contact is anything to go by, they have may not left the world, havocs 1-6 to 1-10, you'll set up a perimeter in the hangar-the rest of you will following me through the northern corridor, Havoc 2 head through the east. Tacho..." He trailed off-a PA unit was useful...if you actually knew how to apply them. Which as much as he'd like to say otherwise, a unit like hers wasn't really something he was familiar with...still their own doctrine applied power armor like a man-sized tank-able to provide heavy firepower to squads in short order. While he was no PA commander, he DID know that much-and since they were already short a couple guys...

"Tacho you're with us, keep to the center of the file, try not hit anyone." He signaled to the others. "Alright, move out-watch your corners and try not to shoot the guy in front of you." With that, the yeomen dispersed, Morris's team waiting for their resident alien to join them, if she hadn't already as Havoc-2 moved east.

'Right.' He checked his combat shield-an old friend over the last five years-battered and patched, but still serviceable, 'As soon she gets here, we'll get on with this.'
 
Tacho replied in a cheeky tone, "Am I with you, or are you with me? Let's just remember who will end up buying the drinks when this is over, and not that cheap shit you monkeys produce under your bunks," her v9 Kyrsis-Crixa Prototype Power Armor, had its advantages but it did little to prevent the actions of knuckleheads. The norian soldier had paid her dues, the brief trip to Valhalla had etched a certain atypical nature to her, and a lot of cultural habits had been dropped in the name of being able to hold her own when it came to these battle-hardened humans.

A labored sigh was muffled as the HUD overlay flashed and the armor's internal Mindhive translated the sensor return, "Still nothing, nothing but you thugs and your noisy machinery, do you want me to just light up a flare and let whatever is out there know we're here?" she said sarcastically, "Keep it snug, gents, even if I get a critical hit you're still not getting in my bunk," she followed orders, keeping front and center, seeking confirmation of anything being there.
 
"We brew nothin' but the finest mystery booze under our beds' lass," Morris replied cheerfully as the troopers took up the flanks as they'd begun to advance through the narrow hall, "Now as for that crap they serve in the mess..." The 'ale' they served in the mess was a gritty drink lacking almost entirely in flavor-and just alcoholic enough to remind you that yes; it was beer-and just tasteless enough that you wished for almost anything else. "And I've had better offers from them two-mark courtesans roamin' around." This brought a chuckle from the assembled troops as they began their advance down the hall. The corridor itself was fairly open-roughly four and a half meters wide and nearly 3 meters tall, and was that same, pitted utilitarian grey concrete; their flashlights illuminating the rapidly darkening corridor as the light from the entrance began to fade. What dust that had managed to worm its way in behaved in a strange manner-not quite settling, but not quite lifting either-curling and swaying as if dancing to an unknown tune all the while casting eerie shadows all the while. While useful for their current formation- a stagged, inverse V with Tacho at the center-there was also that niggling thought in the back of his head of a heavy weapons team at the end of the corridor sighting them in.

Doing his best to steer himself from those sorts of thoughts as they advanced further in, weapons at the ready, he spotted further signs of fighting-burn marks, blast damage, and more of those all-too-familiar stains; it was clear that the defenders had reaped a bloody toll against their aggressors. Or had just been butchered or worse as they fled, their attackers simply not giving a damn about collateral damage as they ravaged the complex. Either was more likely than not a possibility. The corridor seemed to stretch on endlessly, with no indication of ending-or perhaps that was darkness combined with their steady, deliberate advance-not a single one of them wish to barrel forwards so recklessly, lest they end up joining the previous inhabitants of the facility.

Though the Norian would likely at some point commence said barreling.

After several long moments, the corridor eventually began to show signs of divergence, however, when one of the yeomen called for his attention. Slumped against the wall was a humanoid figure-given its all too still form more likely than not whomever it was had perished. As they neared-its details became all too clear; the armor was all sharp angles and spikes. He ordered his men to watch either side as he knelt to take the time to examine the armor; the helmet was oversized and almost featureless in the face save for a couple of darkened holes that likely were the eyes. A pair of what seemed to be ears-or horns jutted back and upwards at a 45-degree angle. The rest of the helmet resembled an oblong diamond flaring further backward. The oversized shoulders had three spikes each, while the torso seemed to form a snarling visage-or at least it would've if not the gaping hole in the middle, with the darkened material of the abdomen seemingly forming the inside of the mouth, while armor around the pelvis seemed to form the lower jaw. A pair of what seemed to be some kind of thruster jutted out from the back-though the one had clearly suffered some damage. The legs were almost insect like-with large jutting spikes on the knees-with a pair of what looked like missile launchers on each lower leg, with each one ending in what seemed to be a large, segmented boot with two additional spikes jutting out from the middle of the foot. The arms were similar-almost insectoid parodies of human limbs-with further spikes on each elbow-and the armored gloves ending in a wicked claw for each finger.

Overall, it was a decadent, impractical thing-the damned spikes alone could be used to overbear the wearer if you could get the leverage on them. Though the fact the blood was clearly fresh was a cause for concern.

Ignoring the growing urge to point and laugh at the poor sod who'd gotten his arse handed to him for the sheer, overwhelming stupidity of his chosen suit, he made a move to call it in when his own communication unit chimed. Toggling it, he spoke; "Morris here, what's your status over?" The Yeoman in charge of Havoc 2, a man whose name escaped him at the moment was calm, but there was a slight edge to his voice. "Morris, this is Hammon; we've got what looks like a couple of armor units-least what's left of em'," So that was his name-Hammon; as the man continued relaying his report, "Looks like someone put them through a sausage grinder-things have been practically pulverized, over." Right-so they'd also come across a couple of armor units. "Acknowledged, how many over?" A pause, followed by a sigh. "Dunno-we scrape enough of em together-two, maybe three-it's pretty fresh too?" Had the assailants not left then?

"Roger that, we've got one here too-damned thing looks like something some idiot made to intimidate rather than actually kill-mostly intact save for the hole in its chest. Body's also fresh-meaning likely whoever did this is still around-remain alert for hostile contact-over." A pause followed by a "Roger that, over and out." The comm cut as Morris stood, looking around. before settling on a course of action. "Alright-we know we ain't alone now-trigger discipline gentlemen; defensive fire only-we'll move out once I've marked this." He made to mark it-fishing out a radio beacon that the salvage teams could trace, as he was prepping it, he looked questioningly at Tacho. "Ever seen an armor like this before?" He inquired as he looked back at it gesturing as he placed the beacon just out of sight on the back as it powered up, the Yeoman tuning it to the correct frequency while holding it in place to ensure the adhesive took.
 
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"For fucks sake Morris, only you could manage to turn me off a pint of ale. Good thing the only thing your knucklehead has to do is fuck around and find out, pull the trigger and look mean..." Tacho snapped back, "Anything you have to pay for isn't an offer idiot, it's just pay-for-use pump'n'juice, you probably cry when it's over," she chuckled in amusement, but then it turned back to business just as quickly, "Just the walls closing in, don't like this," she said as he observed the corridor they were now in. What was it with this company? It was a never-ending stream of things that went bump in the night, she lifted off the ground again, and her armor moved out front as she scanned the hallway ahead.

Tacho whistled briefly, "Here we are again in a dark hallway, a goddamn funnel for some ungodly ugly son of a bitch of a monster! Does anyone need a handhold? diaper change? You take your eyes off the plot and you're fucked," she reminded them. That charm she had when riding point.

Tacho scanned the armor, still hovering about a foot off the ground for a moment before she set back down, "No, never seen anything like it and I have a feeling we don't want to. Power systems are whatever you called this sector's dimensional tap energy. I don't recognize any of the bells and whistles but the basis of it tells me we're fucked if there is more," She swept her battle rifle forwards, and started to follow the tunnel again, "Knock, Knock, Vahalla Calling," she said over the external comm and gave a feline smirk beneath the pane of her helmet. "I think we should call the boss, get his team in here with us, I have a feeling we don't have enough boom for this party," she suggested to Morris.
 
The casual brutality Havoc Two found, and now what Morris and his team uncovered, undoubtedly told them they were not alone. And they weren’t. Whatever had killed the spikey as fuck suit punched right through its armor and, like a kid wanting to get to the center of their favorite lollipop, talking owls be damned. There was one in the chest, but not the head. Clearly not a standard double-tap. The armor's neck was left at an odd angle. One in the chest and a snap of the neck while they tried to fight back or hold in their guts. Bit unconventional, but it did the job.

————-

Anju squatted beside another downed suit. There was a new dent in this one’s helmet. The Iroma extended a series of small wires from the fingertips of her own suit. Cracking its encryption and searching for more information on her target. It’d seemed to be of higher rank given some of its markings. Her rifle was close at hand, ready to be fired from a sitting position if needed. So entranced in digging into the now squealing piggy of an -IES system, an alert went unnoticed until now. One thought was all it took to bring it up on her HUD. An increase in radio waves.

It piqued her interest. The SMX and NMX used a more refined communications suite. Because what she’d just sampled was clearly different. A different radio band. Too difficult to tell. Something to mull over and deal with later. Her suit’s computer chimed. It had picked up only the sparsest of information. A small, frustrated sigh saw her taking one of her grenades off her belt. Her counting on its being of a higher rank didn’t pan out. Just another grunt being thrown at the enemy. Really nothing fancy to look at. Just a slender tube and a button on top. She thought after that moment of regret. It could be pre-configured for several purposes. The one she chose now was a simple flashbang.

Looking at the corpse of Spiky, the now-dead NMX trooper. Its particle rifle was still intact. Not that it’d helped much. But perhaps it would now. The trap was simple. Someone grabs the rifle, or even moves it a little and the grenade, hidden, would go off with your atypical flashbang effects. A trap and message.

‘I know I’m being followed. Don’t fuck with me and you’ll live.’ was the message she was hoping it’d send. Still no closer, well, perhaps a little closer to her prize, the desert-dwelling woman moved on, rifle stowed away and a more appropriate weapon in hand. Doors and corners, that’s how they get you. Said a famous human from some Nerimian history book, she thought. And it was applicable here and now.
 
"Alright, knock it off," Morris growled as the adhesive took; normally he'd happily let her ramble, but her words about possibly running into more of them weren't exactly conducive to their long-term health, "Valhalla can stay on its side of the veil, thank you very much."

Standing, he shined his headlamp on the wall behind him. The blood spatter...had a wide pattern, though smudged likely from where the trooper had hit the wall behind him. "And let's hope it doesn't come down to us getting the boss in here; honestly." Morris leaned in closer, placing a hand against the wall and ignoring the feel of congealed blood as he felt the rough texture of the stone beneath-his years as a stonemason paying off on certain occasions. "Because who or whatever did this..." Running his hand along the spot where the soldier had fallen he found what he was looking for-or more appropriately felt-rough, well rougher damaged stone; likely from whatever had hit the suit. Pulling out his hunting knife, he dug into the wall, bits of dust, gravel, and congealed blood coming loose-coating the blade. Feeling the blade grind against something metallic, he withdrew it slightly, fishing out a deformed metal object in bloodied, dust-coated fingers, "Likely has access to high-end weaponry-kinetic by the looks of it."

Pocketing the projectile, he hefted his combat shield and wiped the blood on the body before sheathing his knife. Grabbing his machine pistol, he signaled to the troopers and toggled his comms. "Hammon, this is Morris; that dead guy we found; killed by some kind of high-powered slug gun. Thinking there's someone else here with us; possibly hostile; stay alert; over." This was followed by an 'acknowledged, over and out'. "Alright, move out and keep your damned fool heads on a swivel," Morris signaled to the team as he drew his machine pistol, "I don't need the gods sending any of you sorry bastards to join the ancestors today, got it?"

The squad muttered their acknowledgments, and reformed as they formed up, and began to move forward; caution in every step. Morris had this sinking suspicion that the deeper they went, the more likely they were to walk into an ambush.

He just hoped his suspicions were just simple paranoia.
 
The squad advanced, the corridor steadily widening in the dim light of their torches. Morris took stock of their surroundings-the battle damage was considerably worse here; large chunks of concrete dotted the corridor having been blasted from the roof. Light from the outside, however paltry it was, filtered through at irregular intervals as the-ever present, choking dust filtered in and created the illusion of a swirling, churning fog. The uneven terrain forced them to alter their formation-one of the men staggered as he placed his foot in a particularly deep hole, hobbling him as his ankle twisted at a peculiar angle.


As the man was helped by one of his fellows, Morris glanced back-the last thing he needed was another man down. ("You able to walk?") He inquired, checking back down the corridor. ("Yea,") Came the man's reply as he to an experimental step, ("I should be fine.") Morris nodded then signaled for them to advance, the aforementioned yeoman limping slightly.

--------

Back at the landing site

The clouds, several of them seemed to be closing in since they'd changed their patrol pattern, and would stop and vanish the moment they made to intercept. After the fifth report Steiner, was quite frankly, growing quite tired of this nonsense, and the only reason he had not ordered a fire mission called on every one of them was due to imminent danger close in artillery barrages represented to friendly forces.

They had enough problems without killing their own.

He zeroed in on one starting to crest one of the larger hills, not quite bringing his autocannon to bear, and checked the ammunition counter on his hud; a mixture of AP, HE, and High-Explosive Canister. Forty rounds. He'd just finished with his check when suddenly streams of blue, shimmer light illuminated the landscape as they lanced out, scorching the trench walls and catching a few yeomen who'd been too slow to take cover.

The deep, throaty roars of Thundrers responded with the din of the heavy ordinance as they began to hammer away at their newfound foes. Steiner himself joined in, sending a stream of munitions down range against their aggressors as he opened up a company-wide transmission link

("All units, this Grandmaster Steiner-we are under attack-report to combat stations immediately-this is not a drill-repeat this is not a drill!")

---------

The corridor had ended in what seemed to be some kind of large command center-the large screen, doubtless meant to be a display for either tactical or strategic purposes was smashed clean through with one of the overhead monitor displays sticking out of it. They stepped through the half-slagged remains of a large blast door-heavily pitted and gouged likely from repeated strikes from either high-impact kinetic weaponry or heavy-duty energy weapons.

As the last of them filed in, they looked around-shattered consoles, smashed and scattered displays, yet more battle damage to the room-the defenders had likely made their final stand here. There were two other entrances to the east and west. ("You two;") He said, pointing at a pair of yeoman, ("Check the doors-rest of you-standard defensive formation.") The squad formed a semi-circle while the duo advanced to check the entrances.

("Eastern entrance's a no go,") Came the report as the yeoman shined his light down the corridor-the rubble-strewn tunnel, ("Corridor's collapsed.") 4

("West side's no go as well-door looks like it's been welded shut.") Well, that wasn't good. ("Alright, fall in-we'll back-") A brief ping-company-wide transmission. That was even worse-either that or it was a mess call. Hopefully, it was the latter. He answered the channel. ("Morris here.") The message made his blood run cold. ("All units, this Grandmaster Steiner-we are under attack-report to combat stations immediately-this is not a drill-repeat this is not a drill!") He could hear the sounds of combat in the background. ("Shit...") He switched over to local frequency, signaling the squad to regroup, ("Alright, Havocs one and two-we are falling to initial insertion point-main landing site is under=") He was interrupted by the sound of shifting stones.

Panning his lamp around whilst signaling the squad to spread out and try to find some cover. The rubble began to slowly shift-stone by stone, pebble by pebble. As the rubble began to shift- sending several fair-sized stones flying as a great mechanical groan sounded, audible even through the noise it became blindingly apparent WHY the corridor had collapsed-or more likely, had a liberal use of detpacks applied to them.

As the dust cleared from its slow, pained emergence, a figure, standing nearly 12 feet tall and far, far too broad to be considered even remotely human, the utter alienness of the design-an almost insect-like carapace-with what appeared to be four, glowing, beady eyes-its shoulders rounded, arms gangly and a broad, almost triangular shape of the torso-its hips wideset and thick, armor-plated legs. What seemed to be some sort of cannon was mounted on its left shoulder-bent at a forty-five-degree angle, while the right sported the crushed remains of another; likely weapons of some sort. The armored thing was mottled green in color, and seemed for a moment dazed and confused at the site of the soldiers before it as if unable to decide upon a course of action.

Morris wasn't going to give it the chance to decide. ("OPEN FIRE!") The room was suddenly lit by the boom of thunderer fire and flashing pulses of the Knucklehead rifles as the sounds of battle drowned out all others. ("Morris-what in the-") Hammon's inquiry was drowned out by Morris' roar of ("HOSTILE ARMOR UNIT-REGROUP ON OUR POSITION AND ENGAGE!") It staggered under the impacts of 14mm rounds that could stop a charging beast cold in its tracks-massive dents appearing in its armored hider-a snarling hiss and a blade of some sort ignited on its right arm.

("SPREAD OUT, DON'T GIVE IT A CLEAR LINE OF ATTACK!") He ordered as the thing regained its balance, and charged...
 
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Anju looked to the now-dead terminal. Dust, gaseous residue, and corrosion wore away at the console. A matte-black chit in the palm of her hand quickly pocketed. The client would have their due thank the Saints. And she would be able to return to her ship. Strip from her suit and indulge herself. A long hot shower. A bottle of something suitably heady and her pipe perfuming the air with flavored salcra weed.

Life. Like most things was never easy. The command center she'd discovered had what she needed. The chit, given to her by her patron slipped past whatever security there'd been on the system easier than anything she'd seen before. And the data had been downloaded quickly, and efficiently which also baffled her. There was the lingering temptation to check what was on it. Quickly squashed of course but old habits died hard when your whole caravan once thrived on piracy of all sorts. Information included.

The floor heaved, shuddering, chunks of decrepit concrete thumped against the also concrete floor. All the while her HUD was a riot of color and alarms. Proximity sensors, aural detection equipment. Thermal and EM scans began going haywire. A slab of the pitifully gray building material came close to flattening her if not for leaping out of its way.

-----

From orbit, she'd mapped the complex. What she could of it at least without tripping what detection equipment may have been present on the surface. Her web of sensors, laced along the route she'd taken threw off wild signals. Increasing energy readings and now automatic fire. Magnetic Resonance scans bounced back something massive along the sole route the Sund Wakir woman could take with any alacrity and have a chance of surviving a cave-in.

The weapons fire she could make out, even without her suit's aural sensors and judging by what she heard. It was all large caliber and several someones were making it rain. Muzzle flashes she could make out while tentatively taking her time to move forward her rifle out.

And it wasn't long until the lone woman came on the subject to the withering hail of fire's ire. Her suit's recognition software ran it against what she'd been given.

And a single solitary word escaped her lips. Sealed in her helmet. And solely to herself in a dispassionate voice. "Fuck." If it weren't for her cloak, she would've likely been detected by now. But the ugly fucker seemed bent on giving as good as it was getting from its attackers. Which all seemed to be... Colonials? Their equipment was of no make or model she knew of. But knowing of the local sector's colonial populations' penchant and love for chemical-powered slugthrowers.

Could she just let them both kill each other? Hope for the best and then skate by? Or try to run for it here and now? The decision was made for her once it started its charge. Her rifle snapped up its stabilizer fins popping out on either side. There was a singular moment of yelling Valhallans, a machine she'd been warned of charging on metallic feet, and the near micro-second pause between the gunfire. A plume of plasma erupted as the Linios Rifle emitted a roar where otherwise it would've been quieter outside rather than a dank corridor of crumbling concrete, scaffolding, and rebar.

The high-impact slug was slightly smaller in diameter than what Morris' men were shelling out. A dense tungsten round cracked into the thing's back, another roar with the slight undercurrent of hum as the mixed mag loaded in a whole other animal. A 14mm round-tipped with a disposable repulsor field emitter. The emitter was capable of delivering enough force to turn armored torsos into red mist and rip limbs apart through pure kinetic energy. The Valhallans had been right. They'd not been alone if the monstrosity attacking them, and the sudden muzzle flash, booming retorts, and the rounds whizzing expertly past the yeomen were any indicator.

Except one seemed hellbent on killing them, and the other, a slim, black-clad humanoid firing a large caliber rifle into the former's back seemed either on their side or at the very least a momentary ally.
 
Tacho reacted quickly she drifted upwards to separate herself from the rest of Morris' team, there was a metal clink as the cartridge for the Plasma Flechette Rifle moved into place. She pointed the business end on a slightly downward angle and opened fire. Accelerated plasma flechettes zipped through the air with a high-pitched whine of atmospheric friction and combustion as they caused what little moisture was in the air to fizzle as they made their mark on the ugly beast. "Knuckleheads, push dammit push," she said over the open comm. The mini-missile pods on her shoulder spun up as she prepared to unleash hell upon this big and ugly. Tacho had no fear of this thing, it paled in comparison to the void uglies she had faced previously but for the Iron Company this was just business as usual, yet it was obvious the knuckleheads needed motivation, even Morris.

This entire little excursion was a recipe for disaster, but now with the firefight, it was all worth it. "This is like a dream, a fucking ugly in armor. Give it hell, I want to hang it on my fucking wall," she said conveying her excitement that whatever this thing was it had intelligence, a slight step above the mindless creatures hell-bent on consumption she was used to. The mindhive's connection in her mind signaled the target lock for her mini-missiles, but the boys were too close still, "Push it back come on!!" The feather drones on the Krysis Crixa Armor's wings burst outwards and whirled forwards toward the enemy position. Tacho wanted as much target information as she could find. This thing had to have a weak spot, nothing was perfect in the universe.

"Come on you green booger maggot," she hissed over the comm, she wanted it to fall back. Fletchettes continued to rip from the rifle towards it as she continued to apply pressure with the rest of the knuckleheads. She waited eagerly for the return signal from the Feather Drones.
 
The hulking mass of metal and death surged forward-its strange ungainly movement making seem deceptively slow, barely slowed by the sheer volume of heavy projectiles slamming into it as the yeoman held their ground, rifles roaring-likely the only reason they were still alive was the split second the thing had hesitated. Even with Tacho's encouragement and the addition of her formidable weaponry, the suit was gaining further ground. Many would have balked at the prospect of such a horror bearing down on them. Or at least have had the good sense to fall back and give it some room.

The yeomen didn't bother choosing instead to hold their ground-even if they were willing to retreat, the command center's entrance was far too narrow for an effective retreat- it would likely result in most of them getting killed in the process. Morris resisted the urge to snap back at Tacho's 'encouragement' instead giving a bark of "Clear Comms!" as they steadily loosened their formation, creating a rough half-circle that prevented the thing from focusing on one of them. The Yeoman Sergeant took a kneeling position, bringing up his combat shield and activating its EM Screen as his machine pistol roared sending 357. armor piercing incendiary rounds into the hostile's chest-the rounds sparking and impacting against its chestplate leaving glowing pockmarks. He heard an all too familiar rattling sound-an indication his gun was running out of ammo even as one of the Yeomen shouted "Reloading." With as close as it was he'd likely wouldn't have time to reload his weapon. Preparing for what would arguably be one of the stupidest decisions in his career as a Yeoman; Morris tensed his arm-getting ready to shield bash the bastard. His gun clicked dry just as it closed bringing its glowing blade down only to be partially deafened when the roar of a rifle, as loud as any of theirs sounded from behind him-there was a strange ripple as the rounds impacted the armor which had already been damaged by whatever action it'd been involved in and their own ferocious hammering causing the plates to buckle inwards and crack sending shards of metal flying and peppering his combat shield. The suit fell backward with a massive thud-likely what had just hit it killed the pilot outright.

It didn't keep them from dumping an extra mag each into the thing to make sure it stayed down.

The silence was deafening given the relatively short firefight-its how combat often went-hours of waiting with mere seconds of pulse-pounding terror. Reloading, Morris turned to look at their...savior he guessed? A lithe form, short, thin, clearly female judging by the way her suit hugged her form. The large rifle she carried was likely the cause of their foe's sudden and rather violent end. "Friend or foe, Kikyo?" He inquired, not quite raising his gun but keeping his shield at the ready in case she turned out to be dangerous....
 
As Morris called out to the enigmatic individual, their gaze locked upon the Valhallans with an air of silent contemplation. In her hands, the rifle she had wielded earlier lay poised and steady, a symbol of her capabilities. It was a message she intended to convey—a declaration of her advantageous position, her stealthy prowess, and the formidable weapon in her possession, capable of penetrating even the toughest Mishhuvurthyar armor. And yet, it also subtly hinted at a desire for civility, an unspoken plea for peaceful interaction.

Her voice broke the silence, flowing forth with a rich and cascading accent, unmistakably feminine. It carried a sense of curiosity and caution, as if unraveling the intentions behind the colonial's presence on this perilous world.

"Friend, Colonial," she began, her words hanging in the air like a fragile thread. "You have ventured far from your home, onto a world fraught with danger. What brings you to these treacherous lands? Is it the lure of profit and plunder? Or perchance a clash with the synthetics that wage war on the ground and in the skies?"
As she spoke, her gaze remained fixed on the figure before her, scrutinizing their every movement and reaction, searching for any glimpse of truth or hidden motive.
 
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