We had a high-action second session of our new ATOW campaign last night. 🙂
The game started with the final civilian meeting scheduled for the day. Star Colonel Lanis Drummond, commander of the 137th Provisional Cluster, came along. After the terrorist attack on the Wakazashi Industries Sai production line, Lanis wanted to speak with the city administrator. PC Davrik, Colonel Lanis, Point Commander Ben, Quartermaster Fuchsia, and Tech Julia drove into town to meet the mayor.
Lanis opened directly and addressed only the terrorist act. The Jaguar-appointed administrator offered full cooperation, of course. As a former press secretary to the Combine planetary governor a few years before the invasion, his first thought was to hold a press conference. Lanis didn’t want to wait – she was heading down to the state-run TV station tonight to make a public statement. She and the others left Davrik and Fuchsia to carry out the rest of the meeting dealing with the agenda drafted before the attack.
Davrik took a more subtle approach influenced by his experience with Combine culture. With deft verbal navigation, he appealed to the administrator’s bureaucratic mindset and secured promises of complete access to police information and investigations without framing things in a conqueror / colonizer manner. He scored several concessions on other agenda matters with Negotiation and Protocol/DC rolls, the precise nature of which have been left open for later determination.
After closing the meeting, Davrik and Fuchsia went outside to find that the Colonel and the others had already taken the jeep to the TV station. Davrik radioed for a pickup. While the two were waiting, Davrik noticed a man walking out of the records building just down the street with a briefcase in hand – a man who was almost immediately dragged into an alley by two other men. Davrik drew his laser pistol and ran to the alley, Fuchsia behind him. There they saw the two men shoving the guy with the briefcase against the outer wall of the restaurant next to the records office while a third man tried to pry open the locked briefcase with a knife. Two dumpsters broke up the straight line of the alleyway.
Davrik covered them with his weapon and told them to get down on their knees. I had my spouse roll initiative; she won, and she chose to hold Davrik’s action. He made an Acting check for intimidation purposes and got the guy with the knife and the briefcase (Thug #3) to drop down without hesitation, hands on his head. One of the men holding the victim (Thug #1) dropped behind a nearby dumpster; the other (Thug #2) pulled the victim in front of him to use him as a human shield. Davrik handed Fuchsia his communicator with his spare hand and instructed her to call for backup; she ducked around the corner.
Thug #3 looked a little closer at Davrik’s uniform and came to a realization. “They’re friggin’ Cats, man!” he wailed to the other two. Davrik focused on #2 and his hostage. He made another intimidation check and came away with a minimal success – so #2 decided to shove the man toward Davrik and dive for cover behind the other dumpster in the alley. Thug #1 immediately popped up with an autopistol and fired off a shot, missing Davrik by a mile. Davrik responded in kind, hitting him square with his laser. Thugs #2 and #3 took off down the alley while #1 tried another shot. Correcting for his earlier lack of aim, he managed to peg Davrik in the chest. However, even second-line Clan units can afford decent body armor for their troops, and Davrik only took one point of damage from the shot – a bruised rib. He was able to get off a second shot with his laser. This time Thug #1 went down for the count.
Soon the local police pulled in, having been dispatched at the sound of gunfire. EMTs came to check on Davrik, the downed man, and the victim of the attack. Close on the emergency responders’ heels was a local reporter with a holocam rig on a headband. She pushed to get a statement from the Clan warrior, but Davrik went into Official Business mode, telling her that this was an active crime scene and she needed to clear the area. When she pressed him, he asked for her press credentials, took a picture of them, and sent her on her way, saying that any further contact with Clan Nova Cat should be with the Clan public relations office. This was a calculated move; Davrik knew that there was no such thing, but he also knew that in an occupation scenario like this one – especially with a local administrator who came from a press background and liked press conferences – a PR office would be necessary. The reporter, undeterred by his standoffish attitude and the EMTs poking at his ribs, simply moved to the perimeter and began taking notes.
The Star Colonel, Ben, and Julia rolled up in the jeep – they had been at the TV station and had rushed over as soon as the base had called the Colonel about Fuchsia’s request for backup. The Nova Cat MPs showed up at the same time. After the seriously injured and possibly dying Thug #1 was loaded into an ambulance, the scene was wrapped up quickly and the Cats returned to their base. Davrik gave Colonel Lanis a heads-up about his PR office bit, and she said she’d give it some thought. Lanis let Davrik know that she wanted him at the staff meeting in the morning, then turned him loose to get some rest.
The staff meeting agenda held only a couple of items of interest to Davrik: first, that green troops and new supplies were going to be brought by DropShip in about a month, and second, that the DropShip’s arrival was the deadline for all upcoming Trials of Position. Colonel Lanis was giving everyone competing for a slot piloting one of the captured Jaguar ‘mechs one week to prepare before their Trials would commence.
After the meeting, Davrik and Ben spoke for a bit before Star Commander Felix, leader of their armor Star, came over to declare that he was looking for volunteers for a proposed PR / liaison group which would help smooth operations between the Nova Cats and the city administration. Davrik didn’t want to volunteer. Ben suggested that Davrik offer to train the liaison volunteers, allowing him to pass on some of his Inner Sphere expertise without getting himself locked into liaising. Davrik jumped for that.
A week passed. Davrik spent his duty hours alternating between armor garrison patrol and simulator time in preparation for his upcoming Trial.
Prior to this session, I had told my spouse that the Trial would be a standard Trial of Position, with each hopeful squaring off against three opponents, their margins of success being compared to decide not only who would receive what rank promotions but also who would win the pilot slots for the ‘mechs. I offered to run the Trial via full tabletop combat or simply perform some opposed dice rolls. She thought about rolling out versus two opponents and actually fighting for the third match. When I said that this was a three-on-one combat with all opponents facing her at the same time, she pounded the table. “Hell yes, I’m doing that,” she declared.
The tabletop game would represent a simulator match, since the Star Colonel didn’t want to waste actual live-fire resources on warriors who had not yet completed their ‘mech training. Davrik would fight using a Kit Fox A, the ‘mech for which he was competing. His opponents would be his three commanding officers. His friend and immediate CO, Point Commander Ben, would be piloting a Fire Moth Prime. Star Commander Felix would be in a Locust IIC. Star Captain Exetea, commander of Beta Trinary and the ‘mech-battlesuit Nova within that Trinary, chose an Incubus.
My spouse and I each chose two mapsheets. She then picked two of the four sheets to arrange – the city sheets – and I arranged the other two. (Yes, the river on the lower-left sheet is sprouting from nowhere. It’s a magic river.) I deployed two units, then she deployed her Kit Fox, then I dropped the Fire Moth behind her. 😛
She felt pretty grim about the setup at first, since she knew that the fast lights could easily negate the range advantage of Davrik’s Gauss rifle. But on the first round, the Fire Moth failed a piloting skill roll and skidded into a crash in the Kit Fox‘s rear arc. Davrik was able to crank his torso around and plug a Gauss shot straight into the Fire Moth‘s center torso, coring it in one shot. That guaranteed at least a positive result to the trial, at least. Now he was competing for increased rank, prestige, and being the best candidate for the actual Kit Fox in the ‘mech bay.
Davrik focused on the Locust next. That ‘mech had also skidded on the first round, smashing into a building. Now, having won initiative, Davrik came in close and kicked the Locust down. The Incubus took some shots at Davrik’s flank, but after another kick and several up-close shots against the prone ‘mech, Davrik had legged the Locust, leaving it effectively a tactical kill. Two down, one to go.
Exetea was more comfortable in a ‘mech than the two tankers who had already fallen to Davrik’s tactics. She was playing it safe, ducking behind cover one round and popping out to fire her large pulse laser and two ER mediums the next, and she was doing a fair amount of damage in the process. Davrik wanted to get the range advantage again. First, he needed to get the fight off the city sheets and into open territory. He lured her near the small park between the skyscraper and the pond on the upper-left mapsheet, then he fired into the woods hexes to start a fire. Under cover of the smoke, he ducked behind the other skyscraper.
“Can she see me on her sensors now that I’ve got a hardened building between us?” my spouse asked. I decided it was a Sensor Ops roll with a +2 modifier to the target number due to the intervening building. I treated the sensors as having range equivalent to the longest-range weapon in Exetea’s arsenal, her large pulse laser. Exetea made the roll by a slim margin, but I feel like that’s an okay ruling for a situation which is deliberately not covered by the rules.
Still, Davrik scooted across the river and waited for Exetea to follow. She approached cautiously, taking the earliest opportunity to secure the heavy woods for herself. Davrik arranged himself for a good shot, but Exetea’s return fire destroyed the Kit Fox‘s right torso and robbed him of his Gauss rifle. He got two shots off with his own ER mediums before they, too, were taken from him. He fell to center torso damage only after he had boxed her in by the skyscraper and was kicking her, the only attack left to him. He was one point away from legging her Incubus when the final round of fire cored out his engine.
So overall, a very, very successful night. Davrik gets the Kit Fox, and he’ll get a promotion as well. Now we’re entering the second chapter of the RP. Things are going to get hairy pretty quickly. It’s a good thing he’s got the equipment to handle it. 🙂