Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Ostsol
The fort had fallen, but things were a little disjointed. The Snow Dusters Force Recon swarmed through the “Periphery Ranger” making sure we had all of their techs and crew accounted for. The Snow Duster armor assets were keeping an eye on things while our salvage crews proceeded to load-up the Stalker we had captured, and the remaining crews were eyeing the three Long Toms built into the bunker on the west side.
With our line infantry personnel busy, it was suggested we look if any of the * “The Werewolves” were present, but only Tech Ginney McRiven was available in one of the salvage teams, on loan for her specialty as a demolitions engineer. Placing her with a couple guards in the “Assault” team for the bunker seemed obvious, since her demolitions skills would likely prove valuable. The rest of the “Assault” team included most of the mobile command staff; Pitbull, Glamour, Wraith, Advocate, even Fixer and Paladin. The group dismounted their Mechs, and readied their personal combat gear stowed in their BattleMechs, and headed towards the entrance.
The facility proved to be a typical underground military bunker, with its approaches protected by large gun bays, all quiet and seemingly stripped. The main bunker door, a massive 6m-thick monstrosity had been blown off its hinges, and pushed out of the way, to reveal a powered-down complex, lit only by red emergency lighting. The tunnel, over 8m across was large enough to allow vehicles to enter, but not big enough for BattleMechs. Upon approaching, a scream of static broke the silence, followed by a woman’s level voice;
“Attention, unauthorized personnel. You are trespassing on Star League Defense Force military property. Automated defense systems are tracking you now, and appropriate authorities have been alerted to your intrusion. Remain where you are, and await the arrival of proper military authorities.”
The group approached, ignoring the broadcast, and looked beyond the entrance to see a catwalk rising 4m above the floor passing from wall to wall, and another catwalk traveling along the right wall of the corridor at the same height. Their contents were lost in the shadows. From off down the corridor came an ominous, loud “clicking” sound. Everyone activated their IR pickups, while Wraith turned-on his climbing gear and made ready to clamber up onto the catwalk. While everyone hesitated a bit, Pitbull boldly strode from beneath the catwalk, and into a hail of automatic weapons fire from above.
The burst of suppressive fire chewed into the unaware Assault team, mowing several down in the first burst of fire. Paladin, Fixer and Advocate took the bulk of the fire, while Ginney and one of the guards went down. Ginney was in a very bad way, and nearly slain outright. Pitbull responded by laying down a burst from his S&W MA37 ICWS Assault Rifle hitting the ambusher squarely and knocking him from the catwalk, dead. Wraith quickly climbed onto the catwalk, and took an overwatch position, identifying a door on either side of the crossing, leading east and west into the complex, and calling “All Clear!” to everyone below. Glamour hustled over to Ginney, but failed to stop her bleeding immeadiately. Advocate tried to stop his own bleeding, but succeeded only in knocking himself unconscious, with a failed MedTech check.
The next few minutes were spent cleaning up the mess, and saving Ginney’s life. When everyone injured was stabalized, and the unit was assured by “Stargun” that Doctor Carolyn Lamb was incoming via the “Crimson Sands”, they dragged the injured to the entrance and after ensuring they were under cover, took stock of the situation. Only Glamour, Pitbull and Wraith were mobile. Leaving the two Snow Duster guards to keep watch on the unit, the three headed off down the main corridor; Pitbull and Glamour on the ground, with Wraith on the catwalk above them.
Approaching the vault doors at the end, they discovered they had been propped open sufficient for a single person to slip through. Above, Wraith found a door leading from the catwalk to the east. Pitbull and Glamour slipped inside, and discovered a cavernous chamber, split north-south at the half-way point to their right (east) by a chain-link fence. Against the far side were a number of small crates piled against the wall, next to a pair of Exoskeleton Cradles, hosting Loadmaster Exoskeletons. The eastern chamber was a mass of crates and boxes. To the right, just before the fence was a 5-ton utility truck, loaded with equipment. Before them were a pair of floor hatches that seemed to be personnel elevators leading down, and along the left wall was a massive freight elevator, from beneath which came the ominous “clacking” sound. Above the elevator on the left wall, was a large bank of windows overlooking the bay, like a command room. Wraith found a stairwell leading down, to a pair of doors; one leading out into the bay, and the other leading into the eastern half of the complex.
Their reverie was broken when a pair of armed pirates burst from their cover among the northern “crate fort” next to the exoskeletons, firing wildly. Glamour and Pitbull ran for the personnel elevator, firing as they came, with Pitbull hitting one and taking him down. Wraith slipped down the stairwell and into the bay, dropping to one knee and sniping the head of the second with his laser rifle. The group noticed movement in the command bay above them, identifying about a squad of troops and one fellow who seemed in charge. Pitbull let loose a barrage of fire at the glass, but it proved to be armored canopy glass similar to that on a BattleMech (BAR 9), and impenetrable to their small arms. It became apparent, the leader-type sent several of the troops out of the chamber, and the Assault team realized they were running on time now.
Pitbull and Glamour investigated the truck, identifying a collection of rare sensor equipment, and a large number of heavy alloyed tools (5 tons worth 100,000 Cs per ton). The freight elevator seemed locked-down, but the personnel ones were accessible. Wraith tossed the others his electronics bypass kit, and Pitbull tossed him some grenades ( “….but I hate grenades, they’re always so loud….” ). Wraith said he was going to secure the command bay, while the other two searched the chamber for information or anything else of value. Searching the truck a little better, Pitbull and Glamour looted a crate packed with “Scanalyzers”, a rare diagnostic tool of great value to Techs. Wraith headed back down the corridor, and pausing to snag Fixer’s own electronics bypass kit, just in case, headed into the western half of the complex via the catwalk access. He promptly got lost.
Glamour and Pitbull, using the personnel elevators, dropped into the lower area, a correspondingly large chamber seemingly “cruder”, but just as heavily reinforced as the one above. They immediately noticed the two dozen or so corpses scattered around the freight elevator base, one even wearing a shot-up exoskeleton.To the right (east) lay another pile of crates and boxes, obscuring vision beyond. Against the far left (west) wall was a large SLDF emblazoned vault door leading deeper into the complex, while an open corridor only 6m wide headed back south below the matching one above. Using the advanced sensors from their helmets, they identified a large EM signature just beyond the crates, and both Pitbull and Glamour ran towards it, quickly crossing the open area, to within 5m of the stacks. A large, menacing vehicle rose from behind, its turret swiveling and seeming to focus in on them alone… They had tripped over a Secuirty Robot “Watchdog”. In a panic, Pitbull charged the machine and clambered up onto its hull (barely), while Glamour deftly leaped onto the hull, both managing to avoid its tracking turret… for now…
Wraith heard the cries of panic from his companions, and began to backtrack, identifying essentially where the command bay should be, but not exactly where he needed to be. The corridors and chambers were a virtual maze. He carefully drew out a map in his mind, and realized he needed to back-track to the initial chamber where the stairs led down from the catwalk, and take the other door from the room. Approaching the door, he realized it had a series of instructions next to it, identifying the chambers beyond as a series of decontamination booths for anti-radiation treatment. He also realized this meant that fissionable materials were likely stored on-site at some point in the past… Buckling his courage about him once more, Wraith opened the first door to find a pair of pirates hunkered at the next entrance, their automatic rifles in a ready position. They opened fire, slightly grazing Wraith, but giving him the time he needed to activate his stealth suit, pull out his katana and get close and personal with them. Up close, he noticed they had massive dilated eyes, hinting of extreme combat drug use. They screamed at him incoherently and shot again, hitting him once more, but his armor deflected much of the bullets’ force. He took apart one pirate with a successful strike, but the other, and at point-blank range opened fire with a burst, and Wraith was knocked unconscious…
In the underground part of the bunker, the security robot was going wild, trying to scrape its unwanted passengers off using crates and boxes. Glamour and Pitbull came up with a hasty plan. Glamour pulled out her mini cutting-torch from her bag and started carving into the hull of the tank, eventually opening a large enough access panel to do something with. While she scampered over to the far side of the machine, Pitbull dropped three grenades into the hole and scrambled after her. The first blasts damaged the robot’s sensors, forcing it to fire its lasers wildly everywhere. Returning to the hole, Pitbull tossed another three live grenades into the hole and this time the central robotic controls and AI took a direct couple hits, forcing the machine to end it “bucking ride” <<yay>>, and the pair had survived their encounter with a dangerous AI.
Realizing Wraith was no longer responding on his coms, the pair took a few minutes to discuss options. Pitbull agreed that searching the rest of the lower area was important, but that Wraith’s safety came first, after-all, he was family now… The pair slipped back up the personnel elevator, and back along the corridor to the main entrance chamber. Glamour identified the “decon” doors and the blood smears and bullet holes all around it, marking a recent firefight. Heading in, they encountered nothing at the first, but the decon chambers behind, leading off to the main command door.
The chamber beyond had a long line of glass to the right, overlooking the bay to the north, a bank of video monitors and computer terminals to the west, and a small niche around the corner to the left, holding a single, armored personnel door. Opening into the chamber, they got the drop on the inhabitants. A single trooper stood overlooking the bay from the nearest corner. The leader-type stood at the terminals, typing something and looking at camera feeds. The third person in the room was turned away, slapping around Wraith who had his stealth suit mask pulled off his head. Initially, they shot at the closest pirate from the protection of the doorway. The pirate went down quickly under combined fire. The leader took a savage series of shots from the two as well, but a lucky burst blew through Pitbull’s armor and he went down, though he took the leader with him. Glamour and the remaining pirate exchanged fire, until he too went down under a burst of fire, just as a pretending-to-be-unconscious Wraith managed to slip his bonds and prepare to strike his captives down. Too late. The armored door in the corner revealed a small armory with a collection of Mauser Assault Rifles, though they lacked the normal power packs and grenades for its launchers.
Checking the camera feeds, they found a handful of pirates remained in the “Living Quadrant” in the north-west section. The south-west section seemed to be some sort of engineering area, while the south-east section was a technical area with work labs and a few other unknown chambers. Each area had an auxiliary generator. One platoon of Snow Dusters was ordered to meet in the bunker, and plans were made to search the place as completely as possible. They started by establishing a security checkpoint at the catwalk entrance to the west, and dropped a squad of troops there. The remaining pair of squads were ordered to clear the living quarters of pirates, and they did so quickly, taking limited casualties. A large number of medkits were salvaged from the medical bay, apparently left there by the pirates.
The south-east section turned-out to be a small loading/processing area, and along with a handful of medkits tossed into its own small medbay. There was only one important chamber in this section; the “Cargo Loadmaster’s Office”. Among the large number of filed reports and journal entries for important days, was a strange collection of disc ROMs and hard-copy reports that gave a number of important pieces of information about the site;
SLDF Depot 519 SAS (Strategic Arms Storage) was a nuclear arms storage facility; known in technical jargon as a Q-Site. Apparently designed by Black and Veactch of Terra, the site was employed to store (long-term) munitions potentially slated for the increasing difficulties the SLDF were having in the Periphery. It seemed to have held over 2280 warheads at its prime, but the hastily constructed 81 exterior munitions bunkers were also the first to be emptied during the Amaris Crisis, in 2772. By the end of the Crisis, only a small number of warheads remained; 38 Davy Crockett-M (Artillery – 0.5 Kilotons), 59 Alamo (Air-to-Air – 5 Kilotons), 45 Santa Ana (Ship-to-Ship or Ship-to-Surface – 50 Kilotons), and 12 Peacemaker (Surface-to-Surface or Surface-to-Space – 500 Kilotons). Enough remained to act as a regional strategic reserve, and were scattered throughout the facilities 41 interior magazines. When the Exodus occurred, the facility was sealed, locked-down and its defenses activated. According to the looted paperwork, the facility was officially closed in 2782 by elements of the 42nd Engineering Brigade.
Information in hand, the unit slipped back down into the lower chambers, and discovered the unopened main vault led to a large fusion reactor chamber, with a massive Alamo (5 ton) warhead rigged to a series of cables and control circuits to the fusion reactor… Pitbull immediately contacted TF 29s command circuit, but had difficulties connecting with anyone in command. A cursory check of the fusion reactor and its “baby” revealed that the whole establishment was rigged to blow, though it was unclear what might set it off; time, tinkering or whatever. Despite Glamour and Fixer’s desire to play with it, they realized that they were now under the time gun, and made plans to loot what they could and get out.
The troops and command staff quickly checked the remaining facilities, revealing a “Watchdog” maintenance area (for 8 units, with one taken apart for maintenance and abandoned); a series of 41 magazines in a long line, all empty and looted; a munitions bay for storage of AC/5 ammunition, used once by the automated defenses; and a pair of large vehicle-capable tunnels leading west (to the Artillery Bunker) and east (to the ruins of the Mosquito Tower).
Salvaging the ready 5-ton utility truck and its cargo, they also took the three surviving exoskeletons, all sixteen Mauser Assault Rifles and whatever arms and equipment could be taken from the fallen pirates (equal to four squads of “Militia” equipment Pods). Lastly, unable to activate the freight elevator, the group techs spent their remaining time pulling the robotic CPU
from the “Watchdog” that had been undergoing maintenance, resulting in a large blocky AI system weighing 300 kgs (0.3 tons).
With the arrival of the DropShuttle, the unit halted Doctor Lamb’s plans to evac the wounded for treatment, and loaded up everyone and everything aboard the “Crimson Sands”, and had the remaining salvage crews work double-time on hasty repairs to the DropShip “Periphery Ranger’s” doors, to allow them to get the vehicle and its cargo into orbit.
With the unit BattleMechs moving under pilot or tech control, the wounded aboard the “Crimson Sands”, and a platoon of the Snow Dusters aboard the “Periphery Ranger” to ensure the skeleton crew made orbit and rendezvous with TF 29, the unit abandoned the facility site. With the unit 10kms away, outside the pass, they gave the all-clear for both DropShip and DropShuttle to lift-off, and once they were orbit bound, the facility fusion reactor and its bomb exploded… Depot 519 was no more…