Hair of the Dog PBeM Report ~ 5.1b MD

BATTLETECH: A TIME OF WAR RPG

Campaign: Hair of the Dog

Story 1: Running with the Big Dogs

Act 4: Bites, Scene 1 PoV – Lt. Mel ‘Mad Dog’ Winters

November 21, 3028          21:42

The three of you are standing roughly in the middle of a vaguely round tunnel that at its highest and widest runs around 30m in diameter. The ground beneath your feet is uneven and covered with fine sand, and shattered bits of heavy-duty armor glass from the many broken aquarium tanks sunk into the walls all along this section.

The black is the sort of black you get when you build underground and refuse to let the sun in. While there are some floodlights in evidence here and there, no switches or even a feeling that there might be power to this facility remains.

You are in the very center of the tunnel and have taken a few steps back in the direction from which you have been travelling, trying to get a sense of what might be following you. You are shining your flash light, which is offset on the barrel of your rifle back along your path but its beam is too weak to illuminate much of anything except a sign which indicates this is a personnel zone and all vehicle drivers must exercise caution. Brigadier apparently liked signs. A lot.

Behind you, in your direction of travel until the sound started, is the enormous carapace that strikes all of you as being crab-like. Thirty meters beyond it, there should be some sort of exit. CH:L is looking back down the tunnel just to your left. BT is just to your right. From where they are they can more or less see your IR scope.

You activate the wide panel on the rifle scope which shows IR readings and at first, nothing much except cold rock is revealed, until suddenly – three cold objects, invisible against the backdrop of cold stone, but somehow tagged with small high-heat, tracking markers burst from around a curvature of the tunnel and rush toward your position, with a freakish chittering noise, and the clatter of hard shell on harder rock.

What would you like to do?  If these are crabs like the one whose shell is just behind you, they could conceivably be close to 10m from edge to edge, and if the scope is to be believed, could be as high as 8m from ground to the top of their heads.

Mad Dog

OOC: Did we pick up grenades?

GM

CHL has the shotgun with the grenade launcher. The grenades provided are for the launcher. There are 6 and they are in a pouch on the ammo bandolier.

As the blazing heat of the IR tags rushes closer through the cool purple of the display on your scope, you ask, “CH? Grenades…?”

As something mechanical clicks in the direction of CH:L he replies, “Grenades in 5, 4, 3, 2…”

As he nears 1, the brutal, black-eyed, smashed-in faces of the charging crustaceans burst into the suddenly feeble-seeming cones of light thrown by your barrel-mounted torches. Their appearance, so much like that of a crab, speaks of insatiable hunger and greed.

“…1”

A soft thump and rush of air accompanies CH’s coolly uttered order, “Fighting retreat, lead us to command or mech bay.  I’ll guard the rear.”

The sudden explosion causes the three of you to involuntarily take a step backward as the tunnel is flooded with force and a brilliant flash of light.

Eyes stinging and watering despite trained responses to avoid the glare of detonation, your sense of the creatures is somewhat distorted but their size and menace are clear. Huge, yellow to orange creatures running on 4 segmented legs with two spear-like, segmented appendages arcing high over their cruel faces, are revealed, mostly as afterimages from the flash of the detonation.

The sound and subsequent rolling echoes are immense.

Your best guess is the grenade exploded less than a metre in front of the lead crab-creature.

All three stop.

Mad Dog

I’ll be ready to go ahead and follow CH’s orders: presumably ready to lay down fire while retreating quickly to either of the destinations he called for that seemed most secure against giant crabs. I would have been shoooting already except it might have caused the crabs to alter their course, and thus throw off his grenade shot.

Of course, if they fall over dead right now (which would be nice), things will be looking a lot better. A grenade ought to do a lot of damage to anything short of a mech or tank. How tough might their shells be? Still, even if that happens, there might be more coming so I’ll act accordingly.

GM

Ears ringing, and eyes watering, the bizarre nature of the situation can’t help but exert influence over each of you.

Dousing his light and readying another grenade, Luke quips, “If you get there before me, start warming the butter!” as you all step careful step by careful step across the uneven terrain, past the hollow shell and toward where the signs indicate the exit is.

You keep your weapon trained on the crabs. Visibility is zero, but you can see on the IR scopes that the tags, and therefore the crabs, are not closing… but they are clustering more closely together…?

If the signs are accurate, you have 30m to go across the damp and uneven terrain of the tunnel which alternates between sand, rock, and pools of water. The crabs are roughly 50m from your position.

Lucas keeps the team on the defensive and has you all conduct a steady withdrawal. He is ready to launch grenades and indicates that you should be ready with suppression fire from the rifles.

Strange noises come from the darkness, including something that sounds like shattering concrete and a mad thrashing and clattering of shell against rock.

BT reaches the end of the tunnel first. Against the smooth concrete wall, marked with a large sign indicating that this is theControlCenterfor Mech Water Trials, she finds a rusted metal flight of steps going up 1 meter to give access to a 5 meter long metal grill walkway. The walkway leads to a large 5m by 5m metal door, not unlike that of a bank vault. It is closed, but the access terminal next to it seems to have power. In the darkness, the keypad glows a friendly green.

A small sign next to the terminal states, “Please remove all contaminated suits in the decompression chamber and proceed directly to Decon Area 1”

Mad Dog

The enormous door is sunk deeply into a massive metal frame on the far left of the wall which forms the end of the tunnel. As your group reaches the stairs, twisted from rust and age so that some of the supports have pulled away from the damp, natural stone, right wall of the tunnel BT proceeds up them quickly and hooks left to move down the metal walkway to reach the keypad.

She seems to be muttering expletives to herself, but quips, “I have a feeling there are no fucking Lyrans here, sir!” as she runs up to the keypad.

Shooting a quick look at her when she clatters up the rickety stairs, Luke returns his focus to the darkness of the tunnel, saying, “MD and I will cover you down here.  We don’t want to be trapped at the top if they come back, so be ready to climb down quickly.  If it’s locked, there may be a code written or scratched on the stair rails or walls – human memory is horrible.”

You can mention her independent action or not, if you survive. Maybe Luke won’t care about such things…

Turning to speak to you, he has to raise his voice a bit to be heard over the clattering of her boots on the grill of the walkway as she passes behind you. He says, “If they charge, I will fire one grenade as before.  Fire as best you can toward soft spots like eyes, mouth or head.  If BT has the door open we double time up the stairs.  If not, we defend our position till she’s back down, then retreat.”

The hard and brittle sounds continue back down the tunnel where the giant creatures appear to be bottled up, clambering all over each other, if the scopes are to be believed….

If they rush this way… they could be on you in less than 10 seconds…

Lining up the IR scope to its best advantage, Rom readies another grenade shot, taking up a steady position, before speaking.

Blowtorch is examining the keypad. You are still tracking the confusing clustering movement of the crab-things with your safety off, and the weapon ready to fire. Based on the hardness of the shells, the slugs fired by the rifle may do extensive damage, but will they even feel it? Will structural damage need to be done to joints before they stop?

“BT… Your back to us. Grenade in 3, 2, 1…” states Luke, totally in control of himself.

He launches the grenade and gets good results. Ready for the flash, you are not blinded, and when darkness descends again like a shroud, you quickly detect on your scope that one set of tags is beginning a retreat, and the two other sets remain at the same range.

Mad Dog

OOC: If I’m at range where shots to the eyes, brain center, joints or other called shots may be impossible to hit with certainty I’ll continue aiming. In the dark it’s just guess anyways.

If it’s somewhere in between far and near I’ll start shooting careful shots.

If they start getting close, it’ll be time to unload and start hoping that a supporting limb or brain sac comes flying off.

GM

From behind you, you hear the sound of Blowtorch unzipping something and the clinking of metal on metal.

In a low voice Rom says, “Let’s give BT some time to get us in while they eat. If they charge, go rapid fire with your rifle, but just general direction will do. The next grenade will be much closer to us, and I won’t give a countdown.”

He loads the next grenade, calmly, and checks the ammunition level on the combat shotgun. If you remember correctly a model like that will have 8 shells. If Rom hasn’t loaded slugs, though… it won’t do him much good unless the things are scared of loud noises.

The walkway in front of the door has a single railing, so if they charge, you and Lucas can simply crawl under the railing and up onto the lattice-like grilling of the walkway – saving precious seconds. If they charge, seconds are all that you will have.

A metallic clattering, a guttural curse, and then Blowtorch turns to hurl something that is blazing white hot over the railing onto the rough stone floor of the tunnel. You can feel the heat on your face even at this distance! I lands to your right, snapping and crackling, and steaming like molten metal!

Its arcing passage to the ground leaves a streak of orange and white light across your vision and the steaming explosion of vaporized water as it hits the dampness on the rocks sounds like a train wreck.

Blowtorch unleashes a string of encouraging cursing, and a deep thunk of metal in metal echoes through the door frame behind you, followed by a low hum as the door begins to open, rolling on a toothed track like a giant gear.

The cruel sounds of shattering shell from the darkness stop.

The crab-creatures charge.

Checking behind you, you note that there is already enough space to squeeze through the opening doorway into the complex… but is there enough time?

Rom is taking up his rear-guard position and raising the shotgun to fire the grenade, as he shouts an order to you and Blowtorch to get through the door double-time.

Rifle on the ready you roll onto the walkway and rise to one knee, bringing the weapon down on the railing as Blowtorch works her way sideways through the door as fast as she can, clothes and gear snagging annoyingly on the door as she moves. Lights seem to be slowly coming up to full daylight intensity from inside the complex, casting a bizarrely twisted shadow of Blowtorch across the cavern floor for metres past you and Rom into the deepening darkness of the tunnel.

What is Rom waiting for? Why doesn’t he fire the grenade?

Using the blurred information from the IR scope as a guide you open up on full autofire, adding flares of blue-white light, and hammering percussion to this horrible place.

Due to their size, and their clumping in the middle of the tunnel, you know you must be hitting them, but in the darkness, you have no idea what effect those hits are having!

[End of turn]

The door will be a little wider next turn, allowing you to squeeze through. The crabs’ charge will get them here at the end of the next round. Their limbs may be long enough to stab into the complex through the open door.

How will you and Luke get out of here?

Stepping behind you as you blaze away with another full-burst, Luke slips inside the slowly widening door, hooking to the right as fast as he can, checking his ammo pouches for something. {1 movement action + 1 simple action}

Hearing the things as though they are right on top of you, you begin your withdrawal, gun blazing – trying to maintain fire while squeezing through the door.

As you press through between the edge of the door and the heavy metal frame you have to loosen your left hand and fire one handed like some muscle-bound hero in a blockbuster trideo.

As you burst into the room, the clip runs dry, producing only a thin click of the hammer on the empty chamber.

Blowtorch is to the left of the door, inspecting a keypad. Luke is to the right of the door readying a flare. You slip behind Blowtorch to the left of the door.

One of the creature’s spear-like appendages, 3 meters long if it is an inch, stabs through the ever-widening doorway!  The brutal-looking prong deflected slightly by one of the gear-like grooves in the door, passes between you and Luke, narrowly missing you, as you slip to the left behind BT. {1 movement action + 1 complex action}.

As the spear withdraws, BT slips quickly across the gap in front of Rom, before pressing her back into the wall and reaching up to grab the ring of some sort of wheel in the ceiling. {1 movement action + 1 simple action}.

____________________________

END OF TURN

Your side has initiative over the Crab Creatures.

The doorway counts as partial cover.

Primary Targets prior to movement are Cool Hand (less covered by the door) and Blowtorch (close to the door, more exposed than Mad Dog)

CH:L has a lit flare in hand

You have an empty clip

Mad Dog

Reload with a fresh clip… I’ll try to get in a good firing position that will help my friends without unnecessarily exposing myself.

GM

From your position near the door, you can now hear, and see, the brutish, smashed-in, crab-like faces, bulbous black eyeballs, and feathered grasping mandibles of the creature in the tunnel. They might not be able to enter, but their reach is more than adequate to spear Blowtorch before she can move. Their movements are too rapid to truly follow!

Cool Hand lobs the flare out the doorway, and it clatters across the grilled walkway. In an eye-blink, produces a holdout pistol from somewhere.

As you are taking all this in, you are reloading and readying your rifle, while moving forward to press up against the wall to the left of the door – ready to fire around the door frame the instant you are ready. Crab Creatures Must Pay.

Velika is out in the doorway, almost totally exposed to malicious crab-creature intent, and no one is ready to attack or even mount suppression fire!

In an instant, the creature pushing powerfully against the bending and snapping iron railing of the walkway outside the door scuttles backward a step and launches one of its cruel-looking prongs at the flare spitting and sputtering on the grillwork.

The flare shoots off to your left (looking out into the cavern) toward the stairs, as the chitinous prong smashes through the grating and down into the rock below as if the metal were as insubstantial as smoke!

Pressing one hand against the manual release wheel, and pulling on something with the other, Blowtorch yanks with all her might, and the motor powering the opening of the door stops!

The door is slightly more than half open now. You are standing to the left of it, under full cover. Blowtorch is right up next to it, quite exposed. One hand is still pressed against the wheel release thing in the ceiling, and her other is pulling hard on a red lever.

The blank black eyes of the creature seem to be drilling right through her and it is drawing its spear out of the wreckage of the walkway and pulling it back to launch it right at her!

[END of Turn]

Cool Hand, zigzags forward and to his right -closer to BT, firing his tiny holdout laser pistol at something… What the hell? What is he thinking?!

Taking a step diagonally to your right, you slip into a solidly defensible firing position versus the crab at the door and open up on full auto at close range, slamming shell after shell across its face and the blade-like edges of its upper and lower shells. One eye pulps in a black spray and massive fragments of upper shell are blasted away into the darkness under the fury of your onslaught!

Even so, the bullet-train approach of the thing’s three metre lance arrows right at the crude-speaking tech, intending to end her with an ignominious death miles below ground…

Things happen all at once. Something explodes and hanging on to the lever for dear life, Blowtorch seems paralyzed – immobile! There are not enough bullets in the world to kill this thing! It’s going to kill her!

But it doesn’t.

The wheel-like door rolls shut with massive force, crushing the joint of the armoured appendage to paste as it reseals itself with a deafening clang. Bullets from your rifle spatter and ricochet in all directions from the dense metal of the barrier, and then… silence.

A flat female voice states from somewhere, “Emergency Closure Complete. Please proceed to Decontamination.”

The creature’s lance and a good half-meter of arm clatter and slop to the deck by the door by your feet, leaking a dark greenish ichor from the pulverized remains of its shell.

Cool Hand Luke is standing slightly ahead of you. The prong must have brushed his chest as it was taken off-line and smashed by the door. His gun is pointing up in a classic sharp-shooter pose, and his body is rigid. Across his legs and the bottom half of his body armor are spatters of the creature’s fluids, and the upper right of his flak jacket has shredded patches of fabric from where shrapnel tore it up.

You have also snapped your weapon up and away, finger on the safety and look at  both lance mates intently. They seem uninjured…

All is calm for a moment that might only be a heartbeat.

[END of COMBAT]

Decontamination?

Mad Dog

Getting out seems to be a good idea, yes. I’ll reload in case I should need to fire again.

I’ll glance at the severed arm/spear. Could I easily carry it? As Mad Dog, I would think this giant crab business sucks. The team needs a pick me up. It doesn’t need to be sensible—just embody a sense of unstoppable spirit.

Unless there’s something I’m missing, I might say, ” I say we drag this fucker back and find out if it’s edible! Serve it up at the bar and persuade the keep to give us a free round!”

GM

Haha – you can put that in the IC Communication thread. The others will love it.

Speak your piece~

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