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  • 📅 December 2022 is YE 44.9 in the RP.

RP (SOLO) Hearts and Minds [WIP]

Locked_0ut

Convention Veteran
RP Date
42.2
RP Location
Beksus Prime
Pt. 1 What's in it for the Empire?
A column of four Type 30 STVs bounced and rumbled along the pockmarked streets, gunners on the lookout for danger. The pair of soldiers clad in Mindy-class power armor riding on the T-30’s running boards made the truck’s own 35mm autocannon look like pea shooters. As he road in the passenger seat of the lead vehicle, breath clouding in the chill morning air, Vec's mind wandered to the larger ramifications of their mission.

The ethnic violence on Beksus Prime had dragged on into its fifth year without a resolution in sight. Beyond the occasional, and notably half hearted diplomatic or humanitarian mission, Yamatai had barely given the conflict a second thought. That’s just what life was like on the fringes. Vec also suspected that the fact that the main aggressors were the descendants of Yamatai colonists played a role. Either way, the Empire only decided to get involved once the planet became a base for pirates, and even then only tangentially.

It was an ad hoc deployment of Rangers, a handful of SAINT ninjas, and elements of Vec’s own 171st Combat Rescue Squadron, and their only goal was to hunt down the leaders of the Funa Yurei pirate gang and capture or kill them.

“We’re walking from here,” Fuji’s voice over the comms with a hiss and crackle.

Made sense, the buildings, bombed out as they were, were getting more closely packed. Tight streets and vehicles equaled death. He felt the vehicle jolt beneath him as “Grease” and “Upchuck” leapt off taking the weight of two Mindies off the truck’s shocks. Gravel crunched under Vec’s boots as he and the rest of his team dismounted and the Mindies took up covering positions. “Fuji” jogged up to meet him before they set off. Vec had known the man for over a decade and still didn’t understand how he’d avoided an embarrassing call sign.

The two men bumped gloved fists. “Your guy’s make it ok, Mal?” he asked, shortening “Malpractice” Vec’s most recent call sign.

“Yeah, Upchuck even managed to keep his helmet on this time,” Vec said, motioning his team forward.

The two escorts hiss-thumped their way forward weapon’s at the ready. In most scenarios The whole team would be in PA, but they’d found out a few towns back that power armor didn’t mix well with handing out medical supplies to traumatized refugees. So instead, a handful of rescue jumpers in power armor would stand sentry, while the rest of the detachment accompanied by a couple of SAINT ninja’s would walk in and hand out supplies and give them medical aid. All the while, asking questions and trying to glean clues as to Kusagi Oda’s location. They’d done this for several towns, and buzz about base was that they were putting clues together and a big op was in the pipes.
 

Locked_0ut

Convention Veteran
Pt. 2 A Fist Full of Candy
They moved along in mostly silence, boots occasionally crunching frost and gravel. Ranger’s had swept the area in the preceding days, but a lot could change since then. Upchuck threw up his left hand in a “column halt” gesture followed by a downward patting gesture. Without a second thought, Vec was on one knee, rifle sweeping the ruined buildings off to the right. Was that somebody moving in that first floor window at about 50m out? He flipped down his Enkei visor and scanned thermal. Nothing.

He let out a soft breath, keyed over to 1st Element’s freq, and whispered into his helmet comm, “What’d you see?”

“It’s a kid, they jumped behind that low wall at 11,” came Upchuck’s mechanically flattened voice.

“What’s he doing up here? We’re about a klick out from the settlement,” Vec replied, feeling a brief squirm in his gut. Flipping to the command freq, “Hey, Quothavo, get up here.” Then back to 1st Element’s freq, “Weapons tight, I’m gonna move up and inspect with Quoth, those suits’ll scare any kid.”

“Understood,” said Furball, 1st Element’s Nekovalkyrja double chevron, “don’t get shot.”

“Shoot, em first,” Vec said, tapping her back as he passed. He took a knee in the shadow of one of the power armored rescue jumpers, waiting for Quoth to move up to the front of the column.


Rifles at the ready, Vec and his translator crept towards the indicated wall. Vec tracked his barrel left and right, checking other pieces of cover. He figured any attacker would try to flank them while their attention was on the kid.

“I’m coming around the corner, kid,” Vec said in what he hoped was a comforting voice.

Quoth translated, speaking with deep vowel sounds interspersed with raspy fricatives. It seemed to work though, a blue skinned head popped up and eyed them suspiciously. The kid was more pink in the cheeks than Quoth’s adult gray undertones. Quoth and the kid chattered back and forth until they seemed to reach some sort of understanding.

“He wants us to follow,” Quoth said hefting his rifle.

“If we die in a trap, I’m kicking your ass in the afterlife,” Vec said following the kid.

“We Beksans believe we’ll reincarnate”

The Beksan kid led them deeper into the ruined building. He looked about twelve, or however old Beksans turned when they began creeping towards adolescence. His xenomedicine crash course had mostly covered anatomy and toxicology.

The kid chittered something and gestured for them to stop. “He says ‘guns away,’” Quoth said.

“LIke hell we will,” Vec said, rounding the corner weapon at the ready. He found himself looking into a sort of make shift nursery.

A Beskan child, a girl he thought, slightly younger than their guide, clutched two more children who looked barely older than toddlers. She jumped to her feet standing between the soldiers and her charges glaring up at Vec with an expression any humanoid could recognize as terror.

After a quick sweep of the corners, Vec lowered his weapon and dropped into a crouch, reaching forward making what he hoped were comforting noises. The Beskan boy ran into the room and began to berate Vec. He opened his mouth to say something, useless as it was with the language barrier, but decided against it. Instead he reached a gloved hand into his dump pouch and pulled out a fist full of bright red candies in clear wrappers. The Beskan children all perked up at the sight. The stuff tasted like fish sauce to his human tongue, but from what he’d seen Beskans couldn’t get enough of the little bovtha candies candies.

Even with the introduction of candy, the standoff held for another long moment until Vec felt a tap on his shoulder. Quoth entered and knelt making soft, melodic noises at the children. They gingerly approached grabbing bovtha candies.

“What’re these kids doing all the way out here?” Vec asked and Quoth began to translate.
 

Locked_0ut

Convention Veteran
Pt. 3 This Whole Job Stinks

While Quoth translated, Vec hopped back on the command freq, “We’re clear inside. Furball, get the detachment moved up and the area secured. I’m not sure how long we’ll be here.”

“What’s going on?” It was one of the ninjas. She’d called herself Ueda, but Vec suspected that name was as real as Furball.

“That kid we saw, well he’s got friends. Trying to figure out what to do with them,” Vec commed back.

“Leave them,” Ueda said.

“You’re bat at this whole spook thing,” came Fuji’s jovial voice, “They’ve got intel at least. Worse, they'll give intel on us.” To Vec, “Beating feet, be there in less than a mike.”

Turning his attention back to Quoth and the kids, Vec asked, “What’ve you learned?”

“The oldest boy’s name is Waleth,” Quoth said, gesturing towards the boy who’d lead them in, “And these are his cousins. They were stranded here after the last shelling. They hid inside, but once the shells stopped falling. By the time they worked up the courage to come outside, everybody had gone.”

Realizing the kid’s probably hadn’t eaten in days, he opened general comm, “Anybody wanna donate an MRE? Something seafood.”

“Friendly on your six,” Fuji said out loud as he entered the room flanked by Ueda and a Neko senior-NCO called “Bonesaw.” “And you’re lucky, I’ve got a spicy fish pack right here.” He rushed over to the kids with a twinkle in his eye and began preparing the meal.

Waleth and his cousins crowded around Fuji while hovered around doing his best to keep the peace. The officer seemed to enjoy all of their attention. Vec was struck by a sudden realization, Fuji’s own kids would be around this age by now. The Beksan children settled down after Fuji raised a gloved hand and mimed counting down. His own parents had done something similar when he was a boy on Tallus. Some parenting tricks were universal it seemed.

“So what’s the plan, boss?” Vec asked, side eyeing Ueda. Beyond her, he could see Bonesaw casually shifting her weight to face the Yamataian woman He wasn’t sure if she’d noticed, but it was best to assume so with ninja types.

“We can’t leave them,” Fuji said, portioning out food among the kids, “Maybe some of the adults at the settlement will be able to care for them.”

Vec continued watching Ueda out of the corner of his eye. “Yeah,” he said, “once you get some grub in them, we’ll be oscar mike.”

“You know, certain grubs are Beksan delicacies,” Quoth chimed in.

“Maybe sauteed with something spicy,” said a distracted Vec.

The two men chatted quietly about Beksan cuisine while they waited for Fuji to finish. Bonesaw propped her back against a wall, abandoning any subtlety in keeping an eye on their SAINT friend.

“So, any thoughts on the whole bug situation?” Vec asked, trying to draw the operative into the conversation, “I mean shrimp are technically bugs, and you don’t really need much space.” He was thinking of the huge ranches back on Tallus.
“Not outside a survival situation,” she said and went back to staring into the middle distance.

“Let’s get moving,” Fuji said, shoving the MRE wrapper into his dump pouch.

“We’re oscar mike in two,” Vec said over the com. Usually, Bonesaw would have handled this, but she had a more pressing duty. As he headed out into the hall, he felt something tugging at his pant leg. He looked down to see his RIKUPAT gripped in a tiny blue fist. It was the older girl, he’d not gotten her name. He gave her what he hoped was a comforting head pat and kept walking, trying to take shorter steps so she could keep up. He wished there was more he could do.


After about another hour on the march, most of the kid’s had taken a turn being carried by, or getting piggyback rides from, rescue jumpers. The girl, Vatsle, had even warmed up to the RJs in power armor. Waleth, however, just walked eyes forward, never leaving Vec’s shadow. His heart went out to the shell shocked kid. He’d been this kid, what was it nearly twenty years ago now? He’d turned out mostly fine. Vec flipped down his Enkei and scanned for hostiles. Mostly.

As they walked, Vec began noticing the stench of rotting meat. At first it had been faint, but as they continued along the street, it grew in intensity. RJs who hadn’t pulled balaclavas up against the cold were doing so now to keep out the rancid miasma. Upchunk lifted his hand for a halt. Vec heard an audible groan from somewhere in the column.

“What’s the word, Up? You probably can’t smell it in your coffin but it reeks out here,” Vec commed before pushing down his bile.

“A face watching us from that building with the red sign, at 10 on the second floor,” Upchuck replied, slowly moving to get a better angle.

“Quoth, to the front with me,” Fuji said over the comm. “No offense, Mal, but you’ve got the worst bedside manner.”

“Yeah yeah,” Vec said gesturing for everybody to take a knee, “Grease, Up, make sure Fuji doesn’t get shot talking to civvies.” He hoped they’d make it quick before somebody passed out.

Quoth and Fuji reached the two power armored rescue jumpers and set off together. They hadn’t gone more than a few steps when Fuji turned back gesturing at Vec.

He barely had time to register when an bang loud enough to overwhelm his earpro. “Fuji!” Vec yelled into the comm, blinking against spots in his eyes. “Report! Upchuck, Grease? Quoth?” Through his spotty vision, Vec could see a cloud of dust and falling debris.

“IED!” Somebody yelled.

“Keep your eyes open,” that was Furball.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, He could feel grit from the explosion on his face. “Out the way we came,” He said over the comm. His vision began returning in time to see bullet impacts a meter out and walking towards him.

“Contact front!” it was Donkey from 2nd Element.

“Weapons free!,” he commed as he backpedaled. Something white hot jammed into his back below his plate carrier. He threw himself forward away from the source of the pain. Rolling over into a sitting position, Vec hunted for whatever had stabbed him. There, a small figure with a bloody knife. He centered his rifle’s ghost ring on the figure’s torso and squeezed off a short burst and it fell riddled with bullets. Tracer fire tore through the air overhead as Donkey pumped fire down range.
 
Last edited:

Locked_0ut

Convention Veteran
Pt. 4 Do no Harm

Jolts of pain shot through Vec’s back as he low-crawled to safety. The snap wiz of bullets ripped the air above him and impacts kicked dirt and slush into his face. Gritting his teeth, he lunged towards the mouth of a nearby alley. His eyes slid across Waleth’s crumpled body, but refused to focus on it. Something tugged at his calf and felt something warm and wet soak his sock; either way, he’d reached cover.

“Report, who’s standing?” He said over the command channel. His hands were working on pure muscle memory: opening his IFAK and pulling a single-use tube of MedicalGel.

“Contact left, returning fire!” the report from Crashtest, Element 3’s leader, his mic picking up the sound of gunfire.

Vec felt around with his fingers for the stab wound, jabbed the tube in and squeezed.

“Element 4 off the X, we’ve got the last intersection secured,” Catnip calmly reported her element’s condition. There was a fallback point at least.

As the MedicalGel soothed Vec’s stab wound, he could feel his breathing even out as the pain subsided. The gel’s microdose of Prime didn’t hurt either. He’d still need real medical attention, but at least he wouldn’t be leaking anymore. He reached for another tube of MedicalGel for his calf, but somebody else had already grabbed the tube. He put his hand out and shot a glare at Furball. “Let me handle this, deal with your troops,” he snapped.

The short Neko almost protested and thought better of it. She dropped the tube back into his hand and began to speak on her team freq. Her face brightened, “Grease is alive! He’s hurt bad, but he’s on his feet.”

Element 3 called their sector clear as Vec pumped his calf with MedGel. “Link up with Four,” he said, risking a peak back into the main street. Three buildings, including the location of the first machine gun nest had been reduced to rubble. Bonesaw had done her best to keep the teams in order. Element 2 pulled security, while the shattered Element 1 made as organized a retreat as possible. Grease limped by in blacked power armor. Without the powered limbs, Vec doubted the man would even be walking.

“Head count,” Vec said on command channel, before going to join Element 1.

“Five fingers five toes, Boss,” said Catnip. “Also I’ve got both spooky boys here.”

“A few greens, two yellow,” said Donkey, reporting triage categories. “Also, we’ve got three kids in tow.”

“A few greens,” Crashtest added.
“One black, one walking red, two yellows,” Furball reported from beside him.

“Anybody see Waleth?” Bonesaw’s voice over the comm.

“Black,” Vec said. His voice was raw.

The channel was silent for a moment.


When he arrived at the intersection, he saw that Three and Four had set up a perimeter. The RJs in power armor had dragged vehicles around to use as barricades and cover. Bonesaw had secured a corner store as a HQ. Vec was proud to see injured RJs sorting themselves out by triage protocol. He searched out their only red. As the only surgeon, he’d do what he could, but the man would need medevac.

The power armored man wasn’t hard to find. A pair of RJs were helping him out of his armor, leaving the pieces that had embedded themselves in his flesh. His entire right side was a mess of burns and lacerations. After replacing his work gloves with surgical gloves, Vec ran a med scanner over the injured RJ. He conducted his own eyes and hands inspection before comparing the results with the scanner. Fourth degree burns and lower on the patient’s shoulder, hip, and thigh. Well over the 15% mark. The burned areas were also filled with shrapnel. A burst eardrum. Minor burns to his lungs. A number of cracked ribs, and cracked fibula. The burns were his priority. Couldn’t use MedicalGel for this type of burn. Maybe it would be easier to put him out of his misery and just restart him from a backup. No, Vec hated how callus back ups made some medics.

He began giving orders, “Pork, let’s get an IV in him. Up his painkiller dose, if it knocks him out fine. Juice, find something to prop his right side up with.”

Juice used discarded pieces of power armor to prop up the injured arm and leg, then began rifling through her trauma kit for clean gauze. “Good, standby,” Vec said as he produced forceps and a scalpel. He prepared to remove shrapnel that he didn’t think would cause too much bleeding. Juice stood by with the gauze to wrap the burns as best as she could. “Pork, get on the horn with Bonesaw we need a casevac.”

He worked slowly and methodically, guiding pieces of metal, stone, and sometimes bone back out the way they came. He only made slight incisions when necessary. He’d handle anything deeper at base, or better yet just toss him in a Hemo Tube.

Bonesaw’s voice came over the comm, “Base, requesting casevac: 1-sector 810, Corner of 12th and Vesoth; 2-5; 3-X; 4-U; 5-N; 6-S; 7-B,H,V.”

Keying his mic with his shoulder, Vec added, “We’re gonna pull back to the trucks after that.”

“Belay that,” it was Ueda’s voice.

“Bull shit,” Vec said, fighting to keep his anger under control as he operated. “Done,” he said to Juice before standing and letting her finish wrapping Grease in gauze. Opening a private channel to Ueda, he said, “What do you mean ‘belay that?’ We’re not fighting our way to a settlement just to ask them questions.”

“Wilson Shoi, you are the ranking officer. You will complete the mission,” she said in an icy voice.

He could simply shoot her. Furball and the other’s would just blame her death on an enemy sniper. They would all need to have simultaneous helmet cam malfunctions though. “Yes, and my mission is to get my troops home safely. Obviously there’s way more resistance in this area than we expected to encounter. For all we know we’re just walking into another trap. For what?”

“Ours is not to ask why,” she said, a glimmer of compassion creeping into her voice.

“Ours is to do or die,” Vec finished the proverb through gritted teeth. Switching to Base Command's freq, he said, “Can you drop us our Mindies, looks like we’re fighting our way to the objective.” He failed to keep the resignation out of his voice.
 
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