Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Celina cradled the cawfee mug in her hands. It was piping hot, bitter, and performed its task of keeping her awake and alert more than adequately. She wasn't likely to sleep much on this voyage, but at least the cawfee made it easier to stay up. The caravan to Khayr-ad Din had been on the road all day, driving through the dunes and mesas of the Karak Wastes.

Sharpening the Edge

She hated it here. She hated it here, and it made her mad to think that her ten-cycle stay in this honourless, greedy, dystopic city-state had made her sloppy. She scowled as she skulked down the dirty alleyway in the Prospects, looking for the little warehouse.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Having now gone to ground, the PCs totally failed to capture the head of the SRID but instead got a concession prize of a high-ranking terrorist in the BRF. Such is life, I suppose.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Art of Spinning

Badlands Caravan Guild
News feed: 28 Spring 1935

Ours is a fraternity. Like any family we have values like hard work and honesty. That’s why you don’t ask more from another Guild member than his word and his hand. It’s from that trust that we have built our business and roam the sands knowing we’re watching each other’s backs. It’s more than just our livelihood; our hearts are in the Badlands.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Good Fight

The spire of the executive tower lanced skywards from the bulk of Peace River, shining in the midday sun like a beacon calling the hopper home. The pilot assured Dr. Chambers that they would be there in 10 minutes.

He had spent most of the flight planning his next actions. There was just one more thing to do before debarkation.

Between the Lines, part 2

He was not happy.

To say that things had not gone according to plan would have been an understatement. The blame could be liberally spread around, but Kain reserved a big share for himself.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Enjoy your victory Sundra Gabriel

The screen shows the smoke billowing high into the sky, ash grey against the cement background of the second terrace wall rising above. The view jerks and pans. There are still flames, constant fires up high but also rivulets pouring down in spurts. Papers fall like confetti, a ticker-tape parade, a celebration of pandemonium.

Enjoy your victory Sundra Gabriel, enjoy what is left of your short life because I am coming for you.

Between the Lines, part 1

It was crazy, even for her, and Maia Kessler would have been the first to admit it.

The hopper's engines thrummed, making the deck under her feet vibrate. She didn't notice. She stared at the email on the screen before her, trying to decide whether it was time to find a psychiatric ward somewhere and have herself committed.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Playing for Keeps

28 Spring, TN1935

The Badlands Caravan Guild office did not shut down overnight. Trevin Vemeer had slept there after a very late night, knowing that he'd be working on multiple projects throughout the following day. When he woke that morning he was in a particularly bad mood. At least, he considered, the Doctor and his merry band would be out in Goodland for most of the day playing with Paxton's latest toys. Trevin smiled. He counted each day where he did not have to deal directly with the "Operations" branch of the Guild as a small blessing. A double blessing if Kain Delacroix wasn't involved.

Pen Pals

Date: 28 Spring, TN1935, 06:00
Subject: Peace River professional dueling

A nose for the news

Helen Luka yawned. It was nearly 11am, and the sun shone brightly as it climbed the sky. She rubbed her eyes and looked out from the stands. The PRDF demonstration range just outside of Goodland was an expansive obstacle course designed to sell the best of Paxton's wares, and Helen had to admit that it was doing its job admirably thus far.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Last night's session involved two interrogations (one more willing than the other) and some gear fightin'. We all came out of it whole, and our principal (Hiro) is still alive, so we may yet live to fight another day! Oh, and for the record, gaming accompanied by fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies is pretty darn close to my idea of bliss.

Friday, November 26, 2010


This week's session saw Our Heroes (tm) do some investigative work and then rescue a high-profile hostage. Oh, and appropriate Maia onto their team, because they don't trust her employers. They're like that.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Crisis of Doubt

Kain walked through the office doors armed with a scathing remark that had come to him as he sat alone over breakfast. He found his target missing and after collecting a mug of cawfee he had soon covered the entire B.C.G. offices in search of his quarry to no avail. Annoyed and bored - a state he seemed to be in most of the time of late - he walked into Tom’s office.

“Where’s Vemeer? I had something to say to him.”

“I gave him the day off, he’s been working hard.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Casino is a fantastic intelligence gathering tool

3400hrs, 26 Spring TN1935
Lucky Shot Casino
Khayr-ad Din

After hours at the Lucky Shot was a sacred time for Julie Pojhola: she could finally let her hair down. Not that she kept up a stern, matron-like image during her shifts as manager of the casino, but after hours meant that she could relax. And, because she was the manager of the casino for a reason, when she relaxed, the remaining patrons followed her lead.

"Miss Julie," a grizzled old smuggler called from a poker table, "come share a drink with me!"

"Well, alright Anders. But just this once."

Monday, November 15, 2010

SUBJECT: RE regarding your Request

TO : Milani DuBeau-Slovenski
CC : Gerald Simosa, Victorya Hiro, Helena Hitachi, Reichter Lenaris
BCC: Maia Kessler

SUBJECT: RE regarding your Request

Dear Milani,

I`m very gratified that you have agreed to my proposal to reserve the gross
proceeds of the Free Emirates arms sale for the social development of the
worker caste of Peace River.

My employer will see this as an act of solidarity for the less fortunate
everywhere. I know this has been a decision of conscience on your part.I’ve taken the liberty of sharing this email with Gerry and Helena whom I know share credit for orchestrating this coup for justice.Thank you all!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Noblesse Oblige

Dear Mme Hiro,

Thank you for your suggested travel destination, but I spent two cycles there. It was the field hospitals set up to deal with the incessant waves of wounded brought about by your revolution. They are understaffed, under equipped and constantly under threat.

I have seen more blood, pint for pint, spilled in your revolution than you, the Emirs and your Council combined will see in your lifetimes from your besieged palaces. I have also personally shed more blood in its pursuit than the same assembly ever will.

And now, the Eastern Delegation's response

Dear Dr. Chambers,

I have read your report, and am ever grateful for the security you and your associates have so ably provided me. I thus ask why you have decided to cease providing for my security, since you know as well as I that I am unable to leave Peace River with negotiations well underway. I now realize that the answer lies in our meeting, and the demands you made on the Free Emirates. I have spent much of the day in quiet contemplation, and I believe I have a concise response to your demands that should satisfy your thirst for freedom.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A New Deal... with the devil.

"Well, he's certainly got balls," Colonel Lenaris smirked as he read the email from Doctor Chambers.

Milani Dubeau-Slovenski nodded, "arrogant too."

"No doubt."

"Well?" Milani sipped her cawfee.

"I could provide extra security coverage to the delegation, but honestly..." Lenaris, ever cautious, couldn't quite bring himself to say it.


"Well, give him what he wants, and make it his problem."

Milani's eyes darkened, then she smiled tightly. she took her datapad and began writing:


Dear Dr. Chambers,

Regarding your request, I agree to your request that Paxton Arms spend half of the profits of the sale of arms to the Free Emirates on social programs, health and education in the Prospects.

Regarding your security team's recommendations, I feel that it is necessary to hire the Badlands Caravan Guild security consultant team you have been operating with in order to best guarantee the safety of Lady Hiro. She, after all, is crucial to the successful completion of the sale, which will benefit all of Riveran society.

I expect your reply in one hour.

Milani Dubeau-Slovenski
Head Executive Officer,
Paxton Arms.


Lenaris chuckled, "he won't like that. I don't think Delacroix will either."

"No," Milani gazed out the Executive Tower window and down into the Prospects far below, "no, he won't."

Salon Rouge Raid

SNS News Update
Live in Peace River
27 Spring, TN1935, 0500hrs

"This is Helen Luka, reporting live from the Street of Willows in the Badlands Quarter of Peace River," Helen's voice was there, but the camera was pointed at an elegant four-storey house across the street.

"An anonymous tip has led me here, where Peace officers are about to storm the Salon Rouge Brothel to stop a terrorist threat, here in Peace River."


Soft light played over Maia Kessler's table at the Sapphire Cafe. The cawfee at her right hand steamed. She hadn't drunk much, but the staff insisted on replacing it every half-hour when it had stopped steaming, and Maia never bothered to stop them. This late at night, there was almost no one else here. Ambient music covered the hum of the lights and the cawfee machine. Her PDA sat before her on the table, carefully positioned so that the screen was hidden from the two concealed cameras on either side of the room. Idly, she tapped the page, just often enough to appear to be reading.

She was, not to put too fine a point on it, terrified.

11 November 2010 After Action Report

B.C.G. Consulting
T.M. Chambers

27 Spring, 1935 Peace River

SUBJECT : Assassination attempt at Paxton warrior IV production-plant

TO : Maia Kessler
C.C. Victorya Hiro, Col. Lenaris, Mila Dubeau-Slovenski


On an advancing-our-investigations front, tonight's session was moderately successful. Our Heroes (tm) managed to make inroads towards a possible alliance and stopped a sabotage attempt before it happened.

On a character-interaction, get-Maia-integrated-with-the-group front... not so much. We have, if anything, backslid. But that's how it goes.


"Prophet-damned-...!" Kally spat at her gang after the Doc, Kain and Sam made their exit, "don't you people watch the news?"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How to go behind someone's back to get their trust

It was going to be one of those days. She just knew it.

Another domino

>transmit over H72 fr: KAD subnet to PG/RZ@SNS syst.
>message transmitted.:

>sat trans complete

Dear Roger,

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Eye of the Storm

Calmly, Maia Kessler bid goodnight to Colonel Lenaris, Milani Dubeau-Slovenski, and her erstwhile colleagues. Calmly, she gathered up her notes. Calmly, she called for the elevator and took it to the floor of her temporary office.

She walked past mostly empty offices and a few occupied ones -- Paxsec officers working late on some important assignment or another. Calmly, she keyed her security code and closed the door behind her. With barely a glance out at the hallway, she closed the blinds. Calmly, she sat down at her desk, pulled out her white noise and static generator and thumbed it on. Calmly, she checked her bug detector to ensure that no new devices had been added in the last day or so, and calmly put it away when she was certain there weren't any.

Then she put her head in her hands and started to cry.

Friday, October 29, 2010


The plot thickened in last night's session, as Our Heroes (tm) traveled deep into the slums of Peace River and discovered yet more actors in the convoluted web of political players. On the up-side, we managed to avoid getting ourselves killed, which is always useful.

28 October 2010 The Plot Thickens

Thursday, October 28, 2010

7mm Colonial

The 7mm Colonial is Terra Nova's most ubiquitous cartridge, and not by accident. When the planet was first colonized, the settlers brought with them a powerful and flexible multi-role bullet. Given the hostility of Terra Nova's indigenous species, and faced with long supply lines and limited cargo space, it was essential that the colonists be able to produce their own ammunition and with less than sophisticated facilities.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pillow talk

The door clicked shut as Maia closed it, softly, carefully. The lights were out on the main floor of the house. Maia checked her watch and sighed -- late, much later than she'd wanted. Tanya would undoubtedly be asleep, and odds were good that Celina would have nodded off waiting for her to get home. But between the debriefings and the paperwork, what could she have done? Lenaris wanted answers, and she'd spent most of the evening at Paxsec headquarters, formal evening gown and all, pouring over surveillance videos and copied documentation.

The Prodigal Son

Tom had walked from the transit station through the square and into the Chapter building in a bit of a daze. His body was on autopilot as his mind replayed the events of the last days trying to distil avenues of investigation from the mass of details and encounters.

The door was locked to the Guild offices; Tom looked at his watch and found it was late, very late. He punched in the security code which let him in and was soon fumbling with the security alarm when he realised it was not armed. His autopilot switched off, Tom became aware of his actions as well as his surroundings for the first time since he had left Mme Hiro on the first terrace.

The office was dark and quiet, only the wall sconces gave faint illumination. He strained his eyes and ears and drew his compact pistol. He made no sound on the carpet as he moved forward. He couched low behind office furniture and stayed out of the minimal light. He immediately found what his instincts told him was there, another person lay quietly in the shadows.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Look Ma, I'm on TV!

SNS News Update
Helen Luka, Special Correspondent
Peace River, 22 Spring, TN1935

Violence marred the gala reception of the Free Emirates delegation in Peace River last night. Six assassins impersonating waitstaff drew weapons and rushed the gala's head table, attempting to kill Free Emirate representative Victorya Hiro. Through the quick actions of Paxton and Eastern security personnel, the assailants, identified as agents of Eastern Patriarch Oliver Masao, were stopped. One civilian was killed and another wounded by gunfire. Hiro commented that "this violence is endemic to the cruel rule of Patriarch Oliver Masao. The Free Emirates rejects his madness and seeks a peaceful solution to the rebellion, one which respects the rights of all."

Eastern Sun Emirate Ambassador Tapa Shan denied the men were Patriarchal agents, saying that "this is a blatant lie designed to besmirch the name of His Eminence Patriarch Masao."

Peace River officials have not commented on the security breach.

As per your request

--Trevin Vemeer, 24 Spring, TN1935

Executive Summary:

While most 3rd Terrace organized crime (such as it exists) falls under the Forzi domain. The Badlands Quarter is a notable exception. A street gang called the Saracens, led by one Kally Laing, rose to dominate other street gangs by 1933. However, in the last two seasons the Badlands Quarter underground has changed significantly, as Laing's group has come to control the organized crime operations in the Quarter itself. Why the Forzi have not been as proactive as usual is unknown, though growing violence has occurred between the Forzi and Saracens as the Forzi attempt to regain control of the Quarter.


For the first time since... well, probably since I joined the game, all the player characters were pulling in the same direction today. And look out, world! We can actually get stuff accomplished when we're all pulling in the same direction! Who'd a thunk it? Today was also a day I routinely found myself in hysterical laughter. Which means it must be time for quotes!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Raising the dead

Rowan Ng was not a name oft spoken off, but in some circles its utterance provoked knowing whispers. He had had a long and largely nebulous career, but in that small circle of people who watched, pursued or hired capable assassins, the name had a solid reputation.

Doctor Chambers was making some discreet inquiries about Rowan Ng. He had some caravaners keep they’re ears to the ground for word of him, he tried to get hold of the Forzi cartel to find out what they knew about the independent killer for hire.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


It was late evening, and deep in the darkest recesses of the most obscure, run-down and quiet of the Badlands Caravan Guild vehicle bays, Gade Vonyran was toiling away in relative frustration.

“Goddamn keffer parts,” the mechanic switched to his native Equitorial Hispanic and let the offending piece of ceramic and wiring really have it. After several by-the-book attempts, Gade had even tried the tried-and-true method of hitting the thing with a wrench, but no joy. Whatever it was, it was going to have to be replaced by something Terranovan.

Updated Caravan Roster: Major NPCs, 1935


Brom, Avatanya: 55/F, Hand to hand combat; leadership.
Avatanya is the nominal leader of the Caravan Guild's "Alpha Caravan" (decided upon when no one else could come up with a better name). She still smokes cigars, still drinks Trinwood Blue, and takes care of Trishaw Carmichael in her spare time.

Cantor, Benjamin: 55/M, Negotiation, leadership.
After recuperating, Ben Cantor is back on the Caravan as the lead contract negotiator and resident commie-hippy activist.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Last night, Our Heroes (tm) returned to Peace River as part of a diplomatic delegation from the Free Emirates. Their main point of contact was none other than Maia Kessler. Surprisingly, no one died. No one was even wounded, except for people we don't like anyway. There was, on the other hand, much banter.

24 September 2010 Peace River Machinations - Again

Our heroes return to PR, where, surprise surprise, they encounter none other than Maia Kessler.

Antics follow.  No one is killed (or even maimed).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Always with the negative waves, Carmichael, always with the negative waves!

"Well?" Kain Delacroix eyed the HT-68 hovertank warily. Even in the low-light of the Caravan Guild hangar, the machine gave off a predatory glow that sent the former soldier back 20 cycles to when he first encountered the HT-68 in the field. Kain knew from first hand experience just how dangerous these beasts could be.

"It's a piece of junk!" Trishaw Carmichael's head popped up from the driver's hatch on the deck. "The avionics are gone. The fire control is gone. The engines aren't functional. There's no way this heap is ever flying. You got taken for a ride, Delacroix." The old Westerner wiped his brow.

"Hey now," Gade Vonyran poked around the turret, marking obvious structural weaknesses, "look, Kain, this here's a real fixer-upper. So's the two LHT-67's. But we can make them work."

"Dawg's balls," Carmichael muttered just loudly enough for everyone to hear. He disappeared back into the driver's compartment.

Gade rolled his eyes, "don't listen to him Kain. Me, Carmichael, Tessa, Stacy, we'll get these monsters flying again. When the time comes, they'll be ready. Just don't expect all the bells and whistles."

Taking Debriefing to a whole new level

The Lucky Shot Casino, Khayr-ad Din, Badlands

3100hrs, 1 Spring, TN1935

The Lucky Shot Casino bustled with activity. The main floor was jam packed with a hopeful crowd ready to try their luck. A live band was playing some upbeat classical swing and a small knot of dancers kept moving, close to the bandstand. The liquor flowed, and the money rolled in.

"Looks like a good night, Miss Julie," Curtis, the floor manager, looked down onto the main floor from a small landing. He was dressed in a dark tailored suit accented by a green ascot. Curtis had bright green hair, completing the ensemble.

Report of the Lance Point Inquiry

Volume I - Chapter 1

Principal Conclusions and Overall Assessment

1.1 The object of the Inquiry was to examine the circumstances that led to loss of life in connection with the labour rights revolts in Lance Point 10 Autumn 1931. Three hundred and fifty seven civilians were killed by MILICIA troops on the day. The day has become generally known by various metaphorical names but for the purposes of this report we will refer to it simply as The Incident. In 1932 Andrea Sinclair, then the Attorney General of Prince Gable, held an inquiry into these same events.

Friday, September 17, 2010


In an odd twist of fate, it seems like our mission yesterday ("Operation: Steal the Enemy Hovertanks") actually went off pretty much as planned. The hovertanks have been well and truly stolen, our allies in the Free Emirates are going to get a bunch of stolen materiel, and I got to play a super-twinky Gear pilot and take out 5 enemy Gears all by myself. So everyone wins! Onwards to quotes!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Let's make a deal!

Found in the electronic mailbox of Dr. Tomohiro Chambers:

Congratulations on a successful operation!

Intelligence shows a 97% likelihood of you travelling to Raleigh, a large city-state in the Humanist Alliance, in order to acquire a cache of arms currently held by unwelcome Snakes, for distribution to newly rebellious forces in Okavango, Free Emirates.

My employer would greatly appreciate if the assets and operations of our mutual friends in Raleigh were impaired, and would be willing to facilitate the insertion and extraction of your task force in order to better the chances of operational success.

My employer is, however, anxious to regain posession of three large, inoperable vehicles which made their impression on all of us, some 20 cycles ago. My employer is thus willing to aid in the insertion and extraction phases of your upcoming operation in exchange for the three vehicles in question.

If you are encouraged by the appearance of a heretofore unknown mutual ally and would like to know more, please reply to this message in the affirmative. You will be contacted with rendezvous points and other information to facilitate your insertion and extraction to and from Raleigh and the Humanist Alliance.

Best of luck in your future endeavours!

A Friend.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The End.

Kain was walking down the halls of the palace diplomatic wing. The vaulted ceilings and gilded mouldings struck him as gaudy and offensive. He hated the palace. In fact, he was becoming increasingly intolerant of the E.S.E. as a whole.

He resented being there. He berated Ben for going down there on some foolish mission and begrudged him for getting caught and forcing Kain to come to his rescue. He disapproved of the Emirs, the populists as much as the demagogues, each in their own way. He despised the entitlement of the elite and the subservience of the sajhalin. And he had nothing but contempt for the arm-chair rebels devoid of initiative and good honest bravery.

Even the bravado of the tunnel forlorn hope, who had all died save one, was inspired by religious servility to their emir, not out of martial courage or enlightened self interest.

If all that wasn’t enough, the E.S.E was hot, humid and smelly. A swamp with little or no charm wrought by violent turmoil and undignified slaughter. In short, he hated it there.

He let himself into the Doc’s room, privacy and individual space has long since become irrelevant amongst the wary traveling band. Chambers was sunk into a pouf; an overstuffed, spineless thing typical of E.S.E. couches and to Kain’s mind, they’re people. He was enveloped in a thick cloud of grey smoke coming from a double corona in his right hand; in his left, he held a bottle.

“Where did you find the cigars” Kain said nudging a box with the end of his steel caped boots.

“I liberated them from the Emir’s tower. I don’t think Bhravo should be smoking at his age anyway. Have one, Thoras had remarkably good taste in cigars but his taste in whiskey was terrible.”

“But drinkable”

“Only to get drunk on, I swear I haven’t enjoyed a single drop.”

“I’ll come back later Doc, when you’re sober”

“If you wait for that, it might be too late. What’s up Kain, I’m not that far gone?” He put down the bottle, dropped the rest of his cigar in and capped the smoke-filled bottle before tossing it aside. He reached into a box and withdrew another cigar which he proceeded to prepare with practiced hands.

“I’m leaving.”

“The room? Or..”

“The palace, the ESE, this whole scene. Maia left this morning, Gade is heading out again. He said he didn’t want to risk what was left of his skin on the Raleigh stash; he has Bart to think about. I can’t fault him that.”

“So now you’re going too. Well I don’t see why you would stay. You always had your own agenda to attend to.”

“That’s why I’m here, I want you to come with me. I don’t know what you have going on here with the Emir? I know you offered your services…”

“And was unceremoniously rejected. Apparently he has some use for me, but it won’t be in front of a camera and it won’t buy my reputation back.”

“Your reputation may be the problem Doc. You’re not exactly a trustworthy public figure these days and it’s hard to come back from that image. You’ve got to see that too? You’re not going to be wheeling and dealing like you used to, those days are gone.”

There was a long silence. Tom Chambers had fallen from grace in an epic way in the last 4 cycles. The Lelland Endowment and the Meredith foundation were incorporated into larger city state social programmes. The Guidebank was nationalised by NuCoal, that same organisation blamed Chambers publicly for sedition and complicity in mass murder in Lance Point. His empire building days were gone, he had held an unrealistic hope that he could start over in the E.S.E., at the right place at the right time and with the right contacts, but Terra Nova was too small to forget Tom Chambers so soon.

“So what can I do for you Kain? A medic, a sniper?”

“I have no patience for you self pity Doc, you’re a schemer, a natural organiser and a born strategist. You can do what you do best, just behind the scenes, out of the limelight and for a greater purpose.”

“Greater than what? NuCoal could be the start of an equatorial power Kain, a counterbalance to polar bellicosity. It’s the most important thing I’ve ever done for Terra Nova or could ever do.”

“Except save Terra Nova. The NEC is still around, still networking, still planning to finish what they started. Everyone else has forgotten, they’ve gone back to their petty rivalries. But I know Doc, I know what the NEC has been up to because I never forgot what they did to us and what they’re capable of. I’ve been doing this for 15 cycles, trust me.”

“So you want me to help you hunt them down.”

“I need you to help me defeat them. I can’t keep taking them out one by one, it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I need to figure out how they work, what they’re plan is and establish a bulwark against it. Those are things you could help me with.”

“You didn’t want to work with me after the Arens affair, what’s changed?”

“You. Back then you were still too arrogant and too bent on building an empire. I’m talking about fighting a war. You don’t have anything to loose now Doc and everything to gain. To put it simply, I think you are now capable of taking your ego out of the equation.”

Tom smoked quietly. Kain was right, on many scores - probably all. Tom had lost everything he had built that propped up his ego. Now he was free of all that, free to organise a resistance for a war no one wanted to acknowledge was coming. Kain was right, too much of Tom’s ego had been wrapped up in everything he did. With his reputation gone, he was free to operate with only one objective: doing what was necessary and what was right.

“OK Kain. I'm your man."

"Took you long enough."

"Fuck you very much."

"C'mon, let’s blow this shit hole.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Feats: Sniper Tree


Prerequisites: Small Arms 2; Specialization: Rifles
The Sniping feats are designed to represent the superior and often awesome abilities of premiere marksmen. A sniper can place extremely accurate rifle fire onto a target. In order to activate Sniping feats, the user must be stationary, employing single fire, and using a rifle. However, certain feats are enhanced or even require a weapon with the 'sniper perk', since certain aspects of sniping can only be achieved through the synergy of the right skill with the right tool. 

Sniper feats uses PER instead of AGI for the Small Arms attack benefiting from the Sniping manoeuvre. 
(Note that this replaces the Sniping skill from the HG Rulebook 2E, p. 66.)

Called Shot (PER, opposed)
Threshold: MoS 3 (or MoS 2 with a “Sniper” weapon)
Requirements: None additional.

This is the standard Called Shot manoeuvre and requires an Opposed MOS 2 for it to work.  Called shots against the head or other very small target incur a -1 die penalty to the subsequent to-hit roll.
*Fumbles mean that the attack misses.

Luck of the Devil (PSY, non-opposed)
Threshold: None
Requirements: Stealth: 1, Camouflage: 1

Success is often largely skill-based, but there is a widespread belief that luck can play an important role. Even an elite marksman can benefit from a sudden lull in the wind, the shadow caused by clouds passing in front of the sun, or the rare time when the target literally steps into the path of the bullet. This feat may be used to re-roll an attack or to re-roll the Sniper's static Stealth or Camouflage roll.

Armour Piercing (PER, opposed)
Threshold: MoS 2 (or MoS 1 with a sniper weapon)
Requirements: None additional

This is the standard Armour Piercing manoeuvre and requires an Opposed MOS 2 for it to work.
*Fumbles mean that the attack misses.

Snap Shot (AGI, Opposed)
Threshold: MoS 2 
Requirements: Called shot, Combat Sense: 3; Short range only; weapon is not “Awkward”

The Snap Fire ability represents profound special forces training in close quarters combat target acquisition.  With Snap Fire, the shooter is not required to be stationary to perform a Called Shot maneuver.  Movement penalties apply as normal.
*As with Called Shot, fumbles mean that the attack misses.

Ludicrous Range (PER, non-opposed)
Threshold: 6 
Requirements: Forward Observation: 1;  “Sniper” weapons only
This feat represents the ability of snipers to make “impossible” lang distance shots by zeroing in the sights on a weapon and accurately adjusting for environmental conditions etc.  “Ludicrous Range” is a fifth range bracket equal to the size of the weapon’s Extreme range bracket, eg. Short: 1 Medium: 2 Long: 4 Extreme: 8 Ludicrous: 12; or Short: 50 Medium: 100 Long: 200 Extreme: 400 Ludicrous: 600.  The Ludicrous range bracket does not follow the same progression as the other range brackets.  The range penalty is -4.
*The Ludicrous Range attack can only be applied to one Small Arms (Rifle) attack per round.
**Fumbles mean that the sight must be readjusted for 1d6 rounds.

Suppression (CRE, non-opposed)
Threshold: None - Special
Requirements: Leadership: 2

This unique skill allows the sniper to use a single shot to suppress a small unit as though it were pinned by a high-ROF weapon. The sniper rolls the Leadership skill, and then the Small Arms skill to strike as usual. However, the Leadership roll result counts as a static threshold for the target group. The group must roll Leadership against the threshold; if it fails it is unable to act a number of rounds equal to the MOF of the roll.
*Against individuals (RPG context), a WIL roll can substitute for Leadership.

Two Birds (AGI, opposed)
Threshold: MoS 2
Requirements: Small Arms: 4

This feat represents the ability of the sniper to take advantage of the tendency of targets to bunch up during combat in conjunction with careful use of timing and anticipation of the enemies’ movement in order to strike multiple targets with one round.
*Each additional target after the first confers a +1 bonus to the defending AGI roll.
**A failure means only the original target is attacked.  Fumbles mean that the attack misses.
***The maximum number of additional targets = xX (Damage Rating) / 20 (rounded down).
****Maximum penetration is factored by cumulative armour or targets.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Coining the phrase

It was morning, and the swamp's haze was burning away under Helios' harsh glare.

Okavango was not burning. It was a relief to see the city still standing, nearly intact, still floating. A pair of hoppers buzzed the emirate palace compound and then dipped off towards the northern district of the city.

Emir Raphael Bhravo smiled tightly. He hadn't slept, he hadn't eaten. He was still feeling woozy from the mild concussion that he had endured from a particularly large, particularly close, detonation during his entrance into the city. As he looked out over the city, the nausea subsided. The view focused his mind.

"Gerard, is everything in place?" Bhravo called over his shoulder.

"Yes, your Highness."

"Very well. It is time to address my subjects."

"Yes, your Highness," Gerard was even more solemn than usual. He drew in a breath.

"Yes, Gerard?" Bhravo turned and looked up at his mentor.

"What of Doctor Chambers' request?"

"We will not be requiring his services in this matter. I do believe, however, that we will have some use for him and his companions before the cycle is up."

"Very well your Highness."

With that, Emir Raphael Bhravo went down into the palace courtyard to make history.


"My people. I have returned. No longer shall you suffer under the cruelty and oppression visited upon you by the tyrant Thoras. The usurper who murdered my mother shall trouble you no more. We shall mark this day, the 39th of Winter, TN1935, as the beginning of a new dawn for the Emirate of Okavango.

My people. Our land, our league is deeply troubled. A madman, an insane tyrant even more despicable than Alexius Thoras now rules in Strathclyde. He is toady to the wishes of his Republican overlords, and drowning in blood and hedonism. Patriarch Oliver Masao has led our league down a dark path, one which threatens our very way of life. The Patriarch has wrecked the foundations of our noble society, and left nothing but turmoil and destruction in his wake. The March of One Thousand has called for change. And you, who overthrew the tyrant, have called for change.

I am listening!

We must move forward, with determination, willing to make sacrifices for our future, and the future of our children!

I declare now, that the Emirate of Okavango is now part of the Free Emirates of Basal and Bangweuleu.

I call on the Patriarch, Oliver Masao, to cease his brutal onslaught and see the error of his ways.

I call on the Lord Chancellor, Kenichi Tenaka, to order MILICIA forces to stand down. We do not seek any quarrel with the Allied Southern Territories.

And I call on the entirety of Terranova to witness our rebirth into freedom! Witness a new dawn for the Eastern Sun Emirates!

It was a good plan.

Kain loped into the security room under the palace. The place was quiet now--the palace had been secured, and Bhravo's people were using the main security checkpoint across the courtyard as their HQ. Still, the room smelled of explosives and the walls were scorched from the tell-tale signs of a flash-bang grenade. There was no one here, so Kain sat down at a station facing the door and accessed the security cameras.

"There's the emir," Kain mumbled, watching Thoras enter the tunnel. He typed in a few commands, and the computer did the rest, rewinding the feed, keeping Thoras in view. In this backwards world, the late Emir was resurrecting dead tunnel fighters with knives and a submachinegun, as he backed his way through some of the tunnels. He was no slouch, and rarely missed. Kain watched as Thoras backed into the armory, putting back his weapons, and then backed up the tunnel to the vehicle hangar, where he then backed up to his palace havildar, talking to him.

Kain frowned. He watched the Emir back into an elevator. He checked the time stamp on the video feed.

We hit the roof at 0200. We had to wait forty-five minutes for the Doc's second landing attempt and then the full revolt and the tunnel assault. By 0300, I was on the balcony....

Oh bawls.

He let the tape play forward.

At 0302, the Emir was in the 1st floor of his private quarters high atop the Emirate Palace tower. With him were three SRID commandos. At 0303, two of the commandos rushed up the stairs to the floor Kain was on, while the Emir quickly made his way to the elevator. A moment later, Gade dove down the stairs into the reception hall.

"Oh, hey Kain!" Gade turned into the room, heading right for Kain's station.

"Hey Gade, how's the shoulder?" Kain typed in another command.


"Fine fine. A little stiff. Whatcha lookin' at?"

"Oh, nothing."


Friday, September 3, 2010

A New Dawn

High in the palace tower Doc Chambers sat in an oversized leather cushion on the veranda of the former Emir’s suite. Spread out bellow him was the chaos of civil revolt and social revolution. By now all of Okavanga knew Thoras to be dead, by sunrise; the whole world would know Okavango had joined the ESE rebellion.

Maia stepped out on the balcony near where the Doc had slumped down. The predawn scape sprawled out before her was backlit by an orange glow still too faint to diminish the brightly burning fires of the night’s pandemonium.

“Where is everybody?” she asked the Doc.

“Sam and Gade are out there, in the streets, mopping up Thoras loyalists. Kain went over to security, he said something about a personal mission debrief, I don’t know?”

She nodded distractedly, drawing her gaze away from the grizzly sight of
Okavango’s recent travails, The Doc looked tired, the focus he had during the recent operation was gone.

“How about you, what are you doing?”



He snorted, shaking his head. “I don’t know yet Maia. I guess I’m waiting to see what I do next. How about you, what are you waiting for?”

“I don’t follow.”

“We’re done, our friends are out, Thoras is dead, Brahvo the new Emir and
Oka will join Basel in the revolt. We’re done and so we’re done with you. You’re free, I’ve already contacted Paxton to tell them to dissolve the Demonstration Team.”

Thoughts spun in Maia's head and she slumped onto a cushion next to Chambers, too tired even to remember that she was supposed to be mad at him for getting her into this mess in the first place. The last few weeks had been the most difficult in her life, even counting the seasons fighting the Keff. At least then, they'd had a real sense of purpose and a stark simplicity: everything was black and white. Now, everything was as grey as the swamps before the dawn.

She forced herself not to sigh and stared directly forward, down at the burning fires of
Okavango. "You were behind that, then. I suppose I should have known."

She shook her head, trying to make sense of everything and failing miserably. "I suppose I'll go home. I've wanted to go home since I stepped foot in Basal, and now there's no reason for me to stay." She paused a moment, doing math in her head, and this time she did sigh. "Damn. I missed my anniversary down here. My wife will never forgive me."

For an instant, the thought flashed in her mind that she would have to tell Celina about everything that had happened, and she felt a knot tighten in her stomach. She let her breath out slowly. That was a problem she could deal with later.

To distract herself, she faced the Doc. "You're from the
Badlands, aren't you? You gonna go back? See your family?"

“I don’t have anything waiting for me in the Badlands, well, nothing I would consider a homecoming. At best I can expect criminal charges and a fixed trial, at worst; they stick a knife in my back while I sleep. Sorry I got you into this Kessler, I'm a user, a professional exploiter. Heh, I guess now that I've killed the Emir I can add political assassin to my resume, next to selfish missionary and mass murderer.”

Maia scoffed before she could stop herself. "And now you've fucked up my life, too. Thanks, Chambers."

She looked out over the fires of
Okavango to avoid catching the Doc's eyes. Then the air went out of her. "I'm sorry. That was cruel. And not even true, not really. I'll bounce back from this. If I play my cards right, I can..." She shook her head. "I don't know what I'll do, but I can make this work. You, though..." The words trailed off again as she considered what Chambers had just told her. "That's quite the pile of shit you've gotten yourself into."

"Don't worry about me, the one thing I have going for me is an over-abundance of self pity, I don't need yours. Anyway, While I don't know what to do about my situation just yet, I can help yours. What do you want Kessler, a promotion? Are you trying to prove yourself professionally of just socially because they may be mutually exclusive? Climbing the social ladder means getting more and doing less, the corporate ladder on the other hand, means working more but getting less recognition. I've got contacts, I have strings I can pull and money I can throw around. Consider it severance for the troubles I've cause you and yours. So what do you want?"

Maia shook her head. "Thanks, but no thanks, Doc. I appreciate the offer, but I got where I am under my own power, and if I get anywhere else, it'll be by my own power too. And if I stay stuck where I am, it's still more than my parents ever had, and maybe Tanya'll go farther than me."

She said it with conviction, and she meant it, but a thought tugged at the back of her mind. She knew, wholeheartedly, that she didn't want to accept favours from Doc Chambers. Somehow, she sensed that getting embroiled with him would come back and bite her. Still...

Her brow furrowed, as conflicting desires played out. "Actually..."

The Doc stared at her levelly, waiting for her to continue.

Maia took a deep breath, let it out again. "My wife, Celina. I've been trying to get her promoted for years. I thought that after we got married..." She shook her head. "It didn't work. The systems are too new, everything's too untested. Hell, sometimes I feel like a lab rat myself. Anyway, she always seems to be just below the cut-off, every year."

She put a hand to her forehead, remembering. She'd finally convinced Celina to do the training and take the exams about seven cycles back, when Tanya was first starting school, even though she knew her wife wanted nothing more than to stay at the hospital with her friends. The scene in the house the day the promotions were announced and Celina's name wasn't on it... it was a good thing Maia was sent on assignment the next day, because she was sure she'd be sleeping on the couch for at least a season.

She shook her head, bringing herself back to the present, to the swamps and the fires and her potential patron. "So that's it. That's what I want."

He held her gaze a moment and, to her shock, he began to laugh; a laughter emanating from deep within. Maia started to shake with anger; she could barely contain herself, his laughter stabbed at her, at that moment she could not imagine having been more insulted or more deeply betrayed in her life.

Tom caught sight of Maia's demeanour and it sobered him up like a stim. He didn't need Sam's uncanny ability to read people to see she was deeply offended, even livid.

"I'm sorry Maia, don't take this the wrong way. I'm not laughing at you or your request..." he croaked as he wiped tears from his eyes. " I offered you anything within my not inconsiderable power and you ask for something for someone else. I know you benefit from her happiness, but by the Prophet's graces...I guess I haven't met someone who cared about someone else as much in such a long time. I was just a little overwhelmed. You're request brightened my day Maia, hell, my cycle. Not only because it is so damned selfless, but because it is so damned simple. Consider it done. You have my word on it. Merciful sands! It almost rekindles my faith in love and redemption in the world."

Maia turned to stare at Doctor Chambers. "Thank you," she said, not trusting herself to say any more. "So darned simple," he had said. If only it were! But there was no trace of guile, no sense that he would have any trouble doing what she had been unable to do for nearly a decade.

It took several moments before she felt comfortable speaking again. "And what about you, since we're all putting our souls on the table?" she asked finally. "Now that your friends are free and there's no reason for you to stay here, what do you want?"

“I’ve got to figure something out to save myself, what we did here last night is only the beginning for me. In the spirit of exposed our souls, let me share an insight into my person with you Maia, I only know how to do two things well: Shoot people and build organizations. The first one got me into this jam and I’m hoping the second will get me out. So I guess I’ll stick by Brahvo a while and see what I can do?”

Maia nodded, still uncertain how to speak to the Doc. She was remembering some of her apprehensions when she had met him for the first time, the way he threw out references to ‘Gerry’, as if president Simosa was a personal friend. Sitting here in the Emir’s tower, having toppled a city state, she had to admit to herself that maybe he could do what he said. And now he was going to help Brahvo.

She wanted to shift the conversation away from his emotions and guilt. The callousness she had seen in him after the food riots, that hollow darkness which had so repelled her was part of him, but she felt he resented them as much as she did. Following their slow raft ride into Okavango, she had thought he was decent man, she felt that again now. “So, what’s your plan?”

“Short term? Well Gade’s got some scheme in Raleigh that should score some material for the fight. Also, some kind of coordinated diplomatic meeting is going to have to take place between Brahvo and Shirow, I think I can swing that. Long Term, the free Emirate will need ties and supplies to keep it fighting. But I think more importantly it will need breathing room. So far the AST hasn’t come down on this situation with its full might. If I can figure out how to keep it that way, or better yet, how to get the AST to back off and look at this as an internal matter for the ESE, the free Emirates may actually stand a chance.”

The sat in silence for a while. At last the dawn shone brightly and they both squinted looking out on the city, the fires were still there, but faded in comparison.

“Sun’s up” Maia said for no particular reason.

“Time for you to go home Maia.”

Fumbling blindly

This wing of the palace looked as though it had been out of use for some time. The Doc figured it was for visiting officials or an ambassadorial wing. Given the civil war in the ESE, it looked as though diplomacy was temporarily on hiatus.

The five man fire team, or to be more precise, four man fire team plus one woman support team had immerged from the hidden tunnel system on the northern end of the palace. Just moments before their assault on the tower had revealed that their target, the Emir, was not where they had anticipated and all their well laid plans had been for naught.

They were running southward trying to find a path to the courtyard separating them from the presumed location of the Emir: the vehicle hangar. They had already suffered some wounds, but what was more debilitating was that they had lost the element of surprise.

In fact, the Doc was thinking their attempt had failed because of heightened security and so they had never really had surprise on their side at all. The enemy knew they were coming; at best they had had the initiative.

The only chance they had, as far as the Doc could see, was to take the initiative back. Speed had been on their side, he thought to himself: only moments before they were clear across the compound assaulting the tower and the last resistance they came across was mobilizing based on the belief that they were still up there.

The Doc tried to assess his opponent’s strategy. The enemy had clearly been expecting an attempt on the Emir’s life and now they had had it. This gave him and his team time because the adversary would now be shifting their attention to their next plan, especially if they were proceeding on the false assumption that the assassination team was bottled up across the compound in the tower.

That reassured him, if the Emir’s people did not yet know where they were and what they knew, than maybe they had regained the initiative, albeit if only briefly. ‘So what to do with it?’ The straightforward approach would be to attack the “tool shed” and try and regain the element of surprise, but the Doc felt that was fool hardy at best.

Kain and company were a small force coming up against a larger force in a secure position. That was assuming their information was correct and that the Emir was even there. They had already severely damaged their chances of success by getting wounded and loosing some of their offensive weapons. In his view, a head-long assault was the wrong tactical approach and the wrong strategic decision.

They didn’t know for certain the Emir’s position, they didn’t know his escape routes, they didn’t know his guard detail and they didn’t have any asymmetrical advantage to help balance those handicaps.

It occurred to the Doc that the guard station would give them much of the intel and strategic edge they lacked. He considered that the guards were probably dispersed to protect the facility thanks to Kain’s organized revolt, leaving internal security manageable.

A well coordinated comm. jamming by Kessler and Sam’s quick shot made the goal of assaulting the security station feasible. From the guard room they could confirm the Emir’s position, his guard detail, secure his escape routes as well as manipulate the main doors and communication frequencies of the enemy as force multipliers in they’re favor. Everything Kain would need to come up with a tactical assault on the Emir.

They had a few minutes while the enemy assumed that the assassination had failed and got their act together, the Doc thought those moments had to be used in the best possible way.

“Kain wait!”

Kain who was leading the assault came to a halt and assumed a defensive position pulling his weapon to eye line to gauge any threats, he checked his quadrants and after a two seconds’ scan realized they were still secure. He let Gade take his place in front and moved back the line of his team to the Doc.


“We need to assault the security building, not the vehicle hangar”


“We don’t have eyes on the target, we don’t know his lines of retreat, we don’t have the advantage of numbers we need a force multiplier and we have a few minutes to get all this while they think that we have failed before realizing that we can try again.”

Kain mulled this over briefly, quickly assessing the implication of each element presented to him is summary but which he had to unpackage in his mind to fully evaluate, it gave him pause.

“Go on” Kain felt there was merit in the proposal, but his instinct was to take advantage of the confusion to strike as quickly as possible while there might still be surprise on their side.

“If we go in the hangar it is guaranteed there are more of them than us, guaranteed they know all the exits and have planned how to use them, guaranteed we will not have time to sneak in covertly if we are fighting the clock and pretty much guaranteed we will fail and die.”

Kain nodded, not necessarily in agreement with the Doc’s dire estimations of their chances but at least with the enumeration of the tactical concerns and let the Doc continue.

“They may be on the move now or soon, assuming they have foiled the assassination attempt they were clearly waiting for. From the security room we can ascertain where they are and where they are going, we can jam comms and keep quiet the fact that we are no longer in the tower. We can use their own security against them to find the best place to ambush the Emir. Finally, when we feel the time is right, we can use the security room to open the gates and let the masses in. The Emir is certainly better guarded than the security room right now, we don’t know for sure where he is but the security room can’t run away. It is the achievable goal and in taking it we can regain the advantage, whereas going after the Emir now, like this, only underscores our tactical weaknesses.”

Kain eyed the Doc for a second. As much as he had been listening to the reasoning put forth, he was making a decision based on how sound the planner was and not just the plan. Although Kain could debate some of the points, it was clear to him that the Doc had thought this through and was reassuringly resolute.

“OK Doc, If I had more assets I would split us up and send a team to the security room and another to cover the hangar but there aren’t enough of us so I’ll give your strategy a go. Right everyone, new plan.”


Last night saw the conclusion of the comedy of errors known as "Operation Assassinate Emir Thoras." But the mission objectives were, in the end, obtained, and we didn't even get too beat up doing it. So... onwards to quotes!

Friday, August 20, 2010


The plan was simple: sneak into the private chambers of Emir Thoras and assassinate him. The problem: he wasn't there. Stupid plans.

[It's good to know that your own wellbeing outweighs that of others.]
Brock: "Landing on people is softer than landing on pavement."

Monday, August 16, 2010

The lead up

Eric Grossman, former sergeant in the Parachutistes Infanterie Marine, leader of the Dak mercenary team, currently passing himself off as stunt diver for Gable Films, Prince Gable, Badlands, thumbed the comm:

"Let me know when we're at 6500 meters."

"6500, roger," came the reply.

Grossman sat crosslegged in the cargo hold of a rickety old hopper, and looked out the small window next to him. It was a glorious day, he surmised--cold and clear, with very little wind over the jungle. He peered down, eyeing the dark foliage of the jungle canopy below. He didn't like jumping over jungle. Too many things were waiting, ready to eat him on the ground.

The other members of the Daks were doing a final review of the jump procedures with their students. Each student had one supervisor. Grossman smirked. He hadn't heard from Kain DeLaCroix since 1919 when he hired the Daks to perform a paraglider assault on some fortified compound in the Heaps of Khayr-ad Din. Sixteen cycles later, he gets a a cryptic message on an email account he almost never checks:

"In ESE. Would like paraglider lessons for five. -Kain"

When he replied in the affirmative, Grossman received another highly illuminating message:

"Be in Cimmaro in 3 days."

Now Grossman and his Daks were about to buddy jump with DeLaCroix, Vonyran, Tarmalin, Chambers and some Paxton sales rep (hah!) named Kessler. He watched the five virgin jumpers and smiled. These were some of the coolest customers he'd ever seen, but he could detect the sense of urgency creeping up on them. He suppressed a chuckle: in four days, he'd have them landing on the tip of a barnaby's tooth. Otherwise, they'd never be able to pull off whatever insane stunt they were planning.

"6500 meters," came the voice in his headset.

"Alright!" Grossman yelled as he reached for the door handle, "everyone get ready!"


Sid Teg pounded the beer back, and crushed the can in his hand. He tossed the empty over his shoulder and reached for another. The satisfying "crack-hiss" of the beer opening in his hands was all the invitation he needed. He raised the beer to his lips, and--

"Thanks!" Josephina reached around the big man and grabbed the beer can out from his enormous paw. She stepped back, and took a swig, wincing, "ugh, Sid! This stuff'll peel varnish!"

"Bwuh?" Sid had already downed a half-dozen beers, so he wasn't exactly at his best. He turned, stood, stumbled, and then belched. Wiping his mouth with the back of his forearm, he glared at Josephina.

"I like it," he managed, defensively, "and if you don't like it, give it back."

"Can't. You gotta sober up and get in on the planning."

"Why? I'm not exactly..."

"A rabble rouser?" Josephina teased as she took another gulp. The camp was high enough in the mountains to be dry,

but it was still hot enough for the questionable brew to be thirst-quenching, "no, but you are an Easterner."

"Yeah? So?"

"Sid, you're not as dumb as you look," Jo admonished.

"Hmph. Alright, I'm your token dirt-sloggin' Easterner who don't know any better, looking for guidance from the enlightened Emir," growled Sid, "Mr. Demille, I'mma ready fer my close-up," he belched.Josaphina threw the can at Sid's head. It bounced off his skull with a dull thud.


"After two cycles down here, doing good work, you become cynical the moment the Doc and Kain show up?"

"Hey, that's not..."

"No, it's not true. And you know that it's not true. So quit feeling sorry for yerself just because you haven't satisfied that death-wish of yours lately. Sober up, suit up, and get ready to move."

"Yes'm," Sid rubbed his eyes with his fists, and trundled off to the hopper where the group made camp.

"Oh, and Sid!"


"What's this stuff called?" she held up the half-full can.

"Cimmaro Special Label."

"When this is done, I'll buy you a case."


The hatch swung open. Gade stepped up to the opening before everyone else. The wind buffeted his head a bit, as his fingers gripped door edge. He looked back at his friends in the interior of the cargo hold. They had jumped over the jungles of Interior a few times, far from prying eyes, but still in training. This suddenly felt very different. There was no urgency, just a tingling sensation as Gade understood that he was about to attempt something incredibly difficult, and stupendously dangerous.

He looked down. The night was dark, but clear. Gade could see the winking lights of Okavango far below. He swallowed.

Gade looked over at Kain, and grinned.

"You know Kain," he yelled over the wind, "the only reason I'm doing this is because I couldn't figure out a better idea than yours for getting into the palace!"

With that, he launched himself into the dark sky, and plummetted to the swamps below.


UNREST IN OKAVANGO AS EMIR RAPHAEL BHRAVO RETURNS -- (Okavango) One week after a major security incident at the Emirate Palace here, Emirate security forces are hard-pressed to maintain order as riots and insurrection grows. Groups of armed sajhalin commoners have clashed with security forces in bloody street fights, and Emirate guardsmen are cracking down on the citizens of this floating city with every means available to them. Most surprisingly, the exiled Boy-Emir Raphael Bhravo has made a re-appearance in the city, inspiring commoners to revolt. Bhravo was last seen heading the March of One-Thousand, a religiously-themed protest movement calling for reform in the Eastern Sun Emirates. Thus far, Bhravo had explicitely avoided endorsing the Basal-Bangueleu revolt. AST Lord Chancellor Kenichi Tenaka commented, saying that "the unrest in Okavango is one more sign of the profound need for responsible governance on the part of the Emirs." (Satellite News Service, 23 Winter, TN1935)


"How high up is this!?" Tom Chambers yelled at Kain.

"6500 meters, Doc!" The floater's engines and the airflow made the reply nearly inaudible.

Doc looked down from the open hatch on the side of the Badlands floater and swallowed. The craft bobbed slightly as it churned its way through the midnight air. The swamp and jungle below stretched on to the horizon, barely visible on this moonless night. Tom couldn't even see Gade falling in the darkness.

Tom scowled at Kain. He jumped.

The wind smeared Tom's face back hard. Suddenly the jungle didn't seem quite as far away as it had been up in the floater.

After everything, now it's paragliding.

He thought back to NuCoal, and the apartment in the Core Tower of Khayr-ad Din with Julie, and Lance Point.

He knew that he'd have to pull the rip-cord and save himself.

His hand moved to pull the rip-cord but paused. Tom allowed himself a bit of time to meditate on everything. Why was he going back to Okavango? After all, his friends were free. Why was he falling 6500 meters? All Kain's talk of doing good always butted up against the fact that Tom just didn't really believe in redemption.

Not yet, anyways.

There's an easy way with no answers or a hard way full of questions.

He pulled the rip-cord.


Emir Raphael Bhravo knelt in the dirt of his tiny garden patch and contemplated the weeds. It had been a busy time in the camp since he met Sam, Kain, the Doctor, Maia, and that dancing monk, Inigo.He smiled as the monk's interpretive dance played in his mind. He briefly considered that the man was neither a monk, nor a trained dancer, but decided to worry about that later. Sam's words were etched in his mind: "Why be an emir if it's only gonna give ya grief?"

His brow furrowed, and he gently tugged at the offending plant roots in his little garden. They did not yield.

Perhaps I should save the flowers, and abandon the garden...


"I wasn't sure if he'd do it," Sam said to no one in particular, as the Doc launched himself out of the hatch. The wind coming in through the open hatch of the floater was dying down a bit.

"C'mon Sam, you're up," Kain shouted, a little forcefully.

Sam mosied over to the hatch. All he could see was dark sky outside, so his mind began filling with everything else:

That Emir kid sure can play a mean poker hand. Really thought I had him there. How can a boy bluff like that?

Good to see Dekko. He's lookin' scrawnier than usual though. Seems a little nervous, guarding the Emir kid, but he's grown up some in the jungles.

Sid's looking like he would jump out of this here floater without a parachute just to human dive-bomb the Emir. He's gotta chill out. Hope Josephina and the others can keep him straight until we all get back to the Caravan.

Gade's boy sure does look like his ma. Lucky kid.

There's gonna be a fair amount of shootin' in a bit. Hmm.

Isobel still tastes like cawfee and kisses like a stingin' redjacket.

He got to the hatch. The night sky was dark, but there was just enough light to see the swampland below stretch out, and out, and out. Terra Nova loomed large at him. It dawned on Sam that he had never been this high up before. The paraglider strapped to his back seemed very heavy.


Sam jumped, and wondered if he'd find his way to the ground from this height. But only for a moment.


"We've got a problem!"

Josaphina hissed behind her to the small team of rebels in the alleyway. They looked tired and scared, but they still had some fight in them.

I still probably shouldn't have said that.

She looked around the corner again. Her eyes narrowed. Down the street she confirmed the approaching problem. A pair of heavy gears -- she saw the ubiquitous rounded profile of a Jager, and the squat, dome-head of a Basilisk. Not exactly heavy hitters on the face of it, but Josaphina noted that the Basilisk had a sensor boom scanning busily, and both were kitted-out for anti-personnel work.

Flamethrower on the Jager, twin machineguns on the Basilisk. We're way beyond crowd control here.

The Emirate Guard of Okavango had proven more ruthless than she had expected. Most likely, Emir Thoras had tightened their rations and increased their access to the high dosage stim-patches. As if to reinforce the point, the Jager aimed at a house and let off a blast of burning fuel into the ground floor. A moment later, a burning figure burst out of the door, and died on the street.

The gears were joined by a squad of trigger-happy Guardmen on foot, picking their way carefully through the narrow street. Their black stylized armour inspired terror in the sajhalin. It just made Josaphina hold them in even more contempt.

Josaphina's eyes widened. The Basilisk's sensor boom was pointed right at their position.

"Run!" she yelled, as the Guardsmen opened fire. The alleyway became a canyon of death as shrapnel filled the air.

Josaphina had already found enough cover to stop the worst of it. Her endorphins took care of the bits that got through. She growled as ricochets bounced shrilly against the support beams of the buildings. Some of the rebels were still alive, having been street rats and fighters already. But the alley was instantly littered with the torn bodies of many sajhalin.

Josaphina belly-crawled to the corner again, and took a hand mirror out and eased her hand around the bricks. She flinched as a piece of concrete shrapnel came perilously close, but a moment later she could see the Guardsmen approaching, the two gears waiting for orders. She gritted her teeth and keyed her comm.

"No time like the present, boys!"

"Hey, who you calling 'boy'?" came a terse feminine reply, before Josaphina saw a small object arc over and onto the Jager from across the street.

She pulled the mirror back. Isobel's hand-made limpet mine exploded, making the gear lurch and crash into a building. That was Josaphina's cue. She brought her assault rifle up to her shoulder and began firing at the surprised Guardsmen.

Her team began to counter-attack. The Basilisk opened up with its machineguns as it backed up through a building

and tripped over backwards. Sajhalin swarmed it before it could right itself. Within minutes they had extracted the pilot, and exacted their own revenge.

It made Josaphina Dragushan sick to her stomach.


Dekko had his hands on his hips, "Isobel, what in the world..."

"Oh, hi Dekko," Isobel smiled. She was sitting at a small bench, loading a shotgun. On a table in front of her was a veritable arsenal of explosive devices: frame charges, blocks of plastic explosives, primer-cord, tamping hemispheres, grenades, trip wires... She motioned for the young gunfighter to sit across from her.

"You going to war, Isobel?"

She chuckled.

"What's so funny?"

"We've been down here, fighting together for, what, five seasons, and now you ask?"

"Well, I never seen all this before," Dekko motioned to the weaponry.

Isobel nodded, pressing a round into the tube with her thumb.

"Well, didn't have much need once we got to the camp, but now that I'm going back--"

"You're going back?"

"Yeah, with Ben and that crew. They could use the extra hand, and I know a thing or two about electronics," she batted her dark bangs out of her face.

"Well, I guess I'll see you in Okavango."

"I reckon you will, Dekko, I reckon you will," Isobel pushed the last round into the magazine.


"So," Kain deadpanned, "just you and me, Kessler."

Maia walked up to the hatch. "Can it, Delacroix." she swallowed hard.

"Sure is high up," Kain deadpanned again, "hope my parachute opens."

Maia glared, "You're full of shit Kain. I've got you all figured out. I know why you're doing this."

"Oh? Do tell."

"You're worried about your friends. Sam's off his game. I've seen the looks you and the Doc exchange when he starts talking about taking prisoners and winging the opposition. So you hope this job will 'fix' him. Gade's not telling you everything about Raleigh, and about his life in general. So you're hoping to re-establish some trust with him. The Doc," Maia grinned, "has to be shown that he's capable of doing good. Even for selfish reasons, doing good is still better than not. As for me..."

Kain listened, stone-faced, waiting patiently.

"Well, I'm not sure why you're worried about me."

Kain looked out of the open hatch. The wind picked up, and the floater's engines compensated.

"I'm hoping to convince you that we're more than cold-blooded killers. I aim to demonstrate that we're just regular, run of the mill, Big Damn Heroes."

He jumped.

Maia sighed, "That's what I was worried about."

She jumped.


Andy Pearl sat back at his desk. He couldn't suppress a grin.

"They're going to assassinate Emir Thoras."

He let the thought roll around in his mind to shake out the cobwebs. Dealing with Kain always made him smile.

The data he had didn't fully substantiate the claim, it was all circumstantial, and he didn't know how they'd make the attempt, but when it came to Kain and his associates, Andy knew to trust the latent insanity masquerading as instinct:

They had met up with Basalite agents, snuck into the Palace, freed their friends, and then headed straight for the Boy-Emir's camp. There, they had met with the Emir, evaded surveillance for most of their sojourn in the mountains, and then had their confirmed last sighting in Cimmaro. Knowing Delacroix and Chambers, they had something big in their sights. This was it.

"They're going after Thoras." Pearl was certain of it.

No matter what he thought of the ESE, Thoras, or Kain, as SRID field director for the ESE, he knew that Okavango was too valuable to allow it to join the rebellion in Basal and Bangueleu. Andy Pearl just couldn't let it happen.

He dialed a number.

"Yes, it's Pearl. Activate our friends in Okavango, tell them to watch the Palace. There will be an attempt on the Emir's life." He paused. "They'll be professionals."

Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.