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Two Minutes Of Blood, Horror,
     Comedy And Death

Denotam
Winding Down And Making Plans
     In the berth, the crew ate the stew Mikah ordered and talked about calling InstellArms to ask about having simulated skirmish competitions.  They'd delivered the ship to the naval techs, who were installing a military operating system.  That was Colinne's recommendation as the best way to increase the ship's computer security.  After that was done, Colinne would be tasked with finding and sealing holes in the new OS, to tighten up the installation.  Of course, Mikah, Aali and Aiden looked forward to still having the new holographics they'd seen installed and working after the OS installation.  Checking Rol's progress while she was aboard the ship, Mikah saw he was just 4 weeks and 4 days from being decanted.  That was essentially "on schedule", and would now likely happen during the jump between Ghandi and Lanth, thanks to the extra week of computer work being done on the ship.

After eating, Aiden called InstellArms, identified himself and started asking questions about virtual combat training experiences.  The first question he was asked was if the crew wanted them to be "out in the open" or "within an enclosed arena"?  When Aiden emphatically said it would be enclosed, they said they could set up mazes or other virtual environments in their simulator facility.  When Aiden asked about weapons and armor, they told him the crew could have their gear transferred to InstellArms, where it would all be scanned and virtual equipment created for the simulation.  The concierge explained they would experience the simulation through virtual reality in the sim-world.  So, they'd be wearing or carrying their scanned gear while the suits they were in made it feel entirely real.

When Aiden said that was good with him, the concierge said they'd charge the crew Cr 500 per session, which included transferring and scanning the crew's equipment.  Aiden confirmed they'd set up a first scenario including a twisting maze where their entire crew would enter and engage an equal number of "enemy" troopers.  When asked when he wanted the session set up, Aiden asked Mikah about the next day and she said to make sure it wasn't too early in the morning.  After some chatter, they settled on 10am the next morning, and planned for multiple simulations.

Spreading the word they could scan and use all the gear they wanted, Aiden made Jocelynn smile by telling her they could provide her simulated ammo for her grenade launcher.  So, She'd get to try out all the new toys she'd had installed in her battledress.  With the news spreading, everyone in the crew except Fesic chose to hold a GI party to clean and check all their gear to insure it was ready for the next day.  Fesic worked on his lock picking classes and figured he'd get his gear ready the next day.  Those who got done early watched vids and the news.

An Update From Gungnir

    Gungnir (B444779-8  Q  Ag  G  432  SW  G3 IV, M4 VI)                            Date: 030-1114
    Word has been reached from CINC 150th Fleet with an update from the Gungnir system.  TAS viewers will be reminded
    that world's government had collapsed by 040-1113, with the expected lag in communications.  So, it is assumed the
    collapse began even earlier in 1113.  As the crisis evolved, Imperial forces in-system had been isolated and forced
    to secure key facilities on-world, including counter-hostile actions on the world's down and high ports.  In
    response, Generalmajor Jesknirkju, an officer of the Gram high command, requested permission to send in a force to
    establish peace and allow the in-system factions to work things out.  CINC 150th Fleet allowed the move but placed
    all Gram forces under Imperial Army Brigadier General Ishmimra Gamuniikim.  General Gamuniikim had placed the Gram
    forces under severe restrictions, to prevent Gram from subjugating the world, or putting in place a sham government.

    By 353-1113, after those additional forces landed, the situation moved slowly from grim to a "diplomatic dètente"
    while some small number of military actions were finally scaled back.  The most recent update from General Gamuniikim
    states that a new "factionalized" government is rising from the ashes of the previous, with a hope for a full
    restoration of civil and government life on the world.  Imperial Marine and Army ground troops were augmented by the
    2,832nd Imperial Army Division, with additional resources from the Division's parent Regiment.  Almost all critical
    sites are either garrisoned entirely by Imperial troops or have dual garrisons where some of the re-forming
    governmental elements refuse to surrender all control.  Some few sites remain under factional control, but the
    pressure on those locations has eased once the more belligerent factions were pacified or neutralized.

    Tensions had both risen and then dropped after a force from Sacnoth arrived, along with the personal transport of
    Ambassador Baroness Inger Martinusdtr Vik.  It is a credit to the work done by both the 150th Fleet Admiralty and
    the Ambassador that those issues appear to be resolved after officers from Gram refused those from Sacnoth any
    authority in the system.  Sabre rattling from both groups were handled diplomatically despite the rumor one Imperial
    Admiral had suggested 'scuttling both Sword World fleets and letting their officers swim back to their respective
    homeworlds to try it again.
' The offices of General Gamuniikim and Commodore Unimshia (Of the 150th) quickly denied
    the rumored comments were in fact uttered.  Currently, with issues calming and a schedule in place for Ambassador
    Vik and the Sacnoth detachment to return to that system, the interim ruling council of Gungnir have officially
    thanked the Imperium and General Gamuniikim for their aid in the crisis.  According to all data, it seems the newly
    forming government will be leaning heavily in favor of cooperation with the Imperium and Imperial authorities
    in the sector.
                

While packing gear, Aiden wondered if they could scan and include the camera he had on an extendable rod?  He decided to pack that, to ask about the next day.  Aiden also reminded the others to ask for sim-grenades if they wanted them.  Sekea considered the sealed combat armor he was using, which didn't fit well.  Because he'd be clumsy in the armor, he had to ask himself if he'd prefer the reduced protection his vacc suit would give him?  Or, did he want to go with the armor because it kept him safer?  Zimzod called InstellArms, to make sure they could scan his battledress in with the new toys, since they were working on the armor at the time.  The concierge he reached said they'd be sure to have that scanned and ready.


Into The Box
     Waking up first among the crew, Mikah slipped out of bed without waking Zimzod, and went about preparing for her day.  Eventually making her way to the berth's living space, she made just enough caff for herself.  Doing that, Mikah also glared at the toaster, but gave it no more attention than that.  Having woken second, Aiden came into the space to see Mikah in some sort of "staring contest" with the berth's replacement toaster.  Seeing her, he remembered Fesic's failed prank not long ago.  Not sure if Fesic decided to die for pulling another prank, Aiden made his way to Mikah without getting in the way of her glare and asked, "Who's winning?"  In an assertive voice, Mikah said, "I am."  Her tone made it clear to Aiden he'd be the first to die if he pushed his failed joke any further.

Having gotten up later than some and before others, Fesic realized he had to rush a bit to get his gear together at about 9am.  Lucky for him, he just had the time to gather his gear before 9:30 hit and the InstellArms transport arrived.  The technicians came into the berth and went over all the gear and sign each item in with the crew.  They were all told they could leave their ammunition behind because that could be supplied virtually.  They brought the following gear:
  Aali: Wore her combat armor with her gauss rifle, holstered gauss pistol and shotgun slung over her back.  She hung her laser sword from her belt.
  Aiden: Wore his combat armor with his LAG and holstered his custom snub pistol.  He had his sword, in a belt scabbard and had InstellArms scan in his snub rifle.
  Colinne: Wore her borrowed vacc suit along with her gauss rifle, holstered gauss pistol and hung her dagger, in its scabbard from her belt.
  Fesic: Wore his combat armor with his laser rifle, holstered snub pistol and his Blade in the scabbard hung from his belt.
  Jocelynn: Wore her Battledress with her gauss rifle and two holstered snub pistols.  She had the laser pistol mounted on her arm and had two
        fighting knives snapped to the hip.
  Mikah: Wore her combat armor with her laser carbine, holstered gauss pistol, holstered semi-auto snub pistol, and with her laser sword hung from her belt.
  Sekea: Wore the ill-fitting combat armor loaned to him with his two gauss pistols and the scabbards for his two blades cross-strapped to his back.
  Zimzod: Wore his Battledress with his gauss rifle with his SMG and auto-shotgun across his back, his gauss shot pistol and two .45 Cal pistols holstered at
        his hip with his vibro-cutlass and KBar snapped to his armor in belt scabbards.

The techs also worked with the crew to provide them their ammunition choices.  With Jocelynn, they gave her five rounds of HE grenades for her launcher.

After they arrived at the InstellArms simulation facility, and while the technicians were scanning their gear in, the crew were told about the sim InstellArms had set up or them.  Zimzod had also brought his combat armor with him, and asked if the techs could install a HUD for him?  They said they could, and would charge him Cr 1,000.  Turning back to the simulation, they'd be entering a maze, and would have to hunt their way through twisted and confusing passages.  They wouldn't know where they entered the maze, and would have to track their own steps.  Zimzod and Jocelynn would have an advantage, because their battle computers could auto-map everything they uncovered.  Colinne and Sekea would be at a disadvantage, because they hadn't yet set up comm dot networks to use to link in to the rest of the crew.  One thing that pleased them was that there would be full gravity in the simulated maze.

The "enemy" would be a simulated group of aggressors, matching their crew number.  The AI would be managed by a team which would have no data on where their crew was until they encountered each other.  With all the gear scanned in, the crew were given a brief class in "wearing their avatar", before they were ready to enter the maze.  Knowing what she'd sense, Colinne decided to try anyway and said she wanted to center herself.  She then closed her eyes, took a deep breath and reached out to see what she could find.  And, she got a surprise.  For whatever reason, the entire facility was shielded!  As soon as she even tried to reach her senses out, she felt it blocking her and shutting her down.  That left her with questions she'd not get to ask and answers she could only guess at.

Finally, the crew were organized before the door waiting to see who would be the first to crack it and enter the maze?  Aiden finally took the first step, deciding to extend the rod on his spy-mirror cam and stick it into the maze.  What he saw was a passage that seemed to move east to west, and seemed nearly ten feet wide.  From where the door opened in the north wall of the passage, the corridor seemed to extend west just over twenty feet and ten feet to the east.  Aiden couldn't see any openings to the west, and saw an opening in the wall to the south, at the eastern end of the passage.

Stepping in properly, Aiden planned to use the extended mirror/cam stick until it got shot off or stowed.  Aiden confirmed the entry was clear and then moved to the only opening(1), again extending his stick past the opening.  What he saw was a passage running back to the west.  It looked to be forty or fifty feet long, ten foot wide and had a door to the south centered ten feet west of them.  Looking for details on the far-western end of the passage, Aiden couldn't tell if that direction was a dead end or not, and said "Clear" as he moved in.  The others followed with Zimzod behind Aiden, followed by Sekea, then Fesic, Mikah, Aali and Colinne.  Jocelynn would cover their rear in case of sudden attack from behind.

First three steps into the maze In the first space within the maze, Jocelynn activated her suit's camouflage and did her best to match the passage.  While Aiden and most of the others moved to the only apparent exit(2) and Aiden used his toy again, Zimzod moved to the west, planning to check that end of the passage.  Sekea followed him up.  As Zimzod got close, he reported the passage jinked back north ten feet so they'd go and check out how much further the passage went?  When Zimzod got to where the passage shifted, he could see there was an opening in the wall leading north.  Sticking his gauss rifle in, Zimzod saw the passage continued another ten feet before coming to a dead end.  back with the others, Aiden had poked his toy past the south opening(3) and saw that led to another east-west passage.

Turning the rod to get the best views he could both ways, it seemed the passage continued east twenty feet or so, and Aiden couldn't tell if it was closed off?  To the west, the passage also went about twenty feet, and Aiden saw the hint of an opening in the south wall at that end.  So, it looked like the passage turned south there.  While Zimzod and Sekea returned to the group, Aiden pushed through the portal to the west with his rifle raised.  At the same time, Fesic did the same to the east.  When Zimzod joined them, Aiden told Zimzod to take point to the east while he led to the west.  Nodding, Zimzod moved to the end of the passage(4) and reported it turned south for at least twenty feet.  He said he'd check that and was followed by Sekea.  Aiden led to the east(5).

Aiden and saw the passage turned north for ten feet before again turning east.  Aiden was followed by Fesic.  Behind them, Mikah and Jocelynn followed Aiden while Aali and Colinne followed Zimzod.  Considering her actions and the crew's resources, Jocelynn suggested she stay on a team opposite from the one Zimzod was on.  Mikah laughed at that, saying, "That's right!  You hear that?  When Zimzod does something, we should all do the opposite."  Everyone heard and laughed a bit.  Jocelynn added, "Because, chances are he'll need someone to bail him out of jail."  Mikah laughed and said, "Yeah."  Zimzod razzed back, "You know you love it.  Besides, we always get away before the cops get us." 

Second Two steps into the maze Leading his team, Aiden moved north ten feet around a blocking wall then followed as the passage turned back south.  He then saw the passage turn ten feet east again before making a u-turn ten feet south then back west.(6)  Zimzod moved forty feet south to a point where the passage split east and south.(7)  Reaching the fork, Zimzod turned to the south, while Aali moved into the eastern fork(8) to poke her rifle around the opening and use her gun-cam to check what she could see?  While they moved the passage briefly widened but split east and west.  Looking into the opening as they moved, Zimzod saw the eastern part of the split was a ten-foot dead end.  Moving past that, the passage did another quick 10-foot turn east then turning back west to face another fork.  That split included a path "west to turn north" and "south to turn west".(9)

Aiden led his team south and east, then back west until he came into a dead end.  Reporting that, he then started leading his team back to join up with Aali.  He then planned to explore past where Aali stood guard while also sending her back to join Zimzod's team.  Aali's gun cam showed her that the fork she was at would turn south beyond the wall she leaned against.(10)  Still, she didn't see any signs of the enemy force, so she updated the others and decided to make the turn and see what more she could find?  Aiden reminded her his team was moving to join her, so she knew she had backup in case something happened.

With the crew working together, Aiden mentioned how pleased he was with their organization.  Mikah snarked, "That's because this is a simulation, and you can't get shot."  Fesic joked, "Let's shoot Aiden, to show him how he can get shot."  Mikah pointed out that Aiden was in front of her, not Fesic, then started making jokes about how she'd target Aiden.  The team chuckled as they moved.  Jocelynn chimed in and reminded them all that no "mission" was official until Fesic got beaten up.  Fesic only snarked back, "It's a simulated mission" and Aali tossed in that it didn't mean he couldn't be beaten up during the virtual mission.

Having noticed Jocelynn's battledress camouflage, Sekea mused out loud, "Since some of us have suits that can change color, can we assume the walls and doors can do that to?"  The question was an oblique accusation that someone should perhaps be checking for such situations.  Of course, since he hadn't specifically accused the team of not checking for hidden items, the comment was entirely passive aggressive.  And, it ignored the fact that Sekea himself was part of the "we" he'd attacked.  So, instead of asking a vague and passive aggressive question, Sekea could have led by example and started checking things himself.

Of course, Sekea had no specific electronics which could defeat projected images or camouflaged surfaces.  And, even the drone Aali had but didn't bring with her only sported a simple camera.  So, while it could have been used for scouting if she'd brought it, it had no specialized electronics.  The same could be said of the drones in the "spycraft box" Rol had bought and Sekea had checked through previously after they arrived on Denotam.  But, it seemed Sekea had entirely misplaced that memory.  The result was that even Sekea ignored his comment while his team moved up to relieve Aali.  because she was in battledress, Jocelynn was able to move up faster and cover more distance.  Still, it took more than a few seconds for Jocelynn to arrive.

One More step into the maze From where he was, Zimzod moved to the next intersection south,(11) and saw that intersection again split east and south.  With everyone updating their impression of their locations in the maze, Aali suggested Zimzod's team hold up while Jocelynn moved in to relieve her.  Then, they could hold again while Aali rejoined Zimzod's team and Jocelynn's team regrouped with her.  Everyone else was either moving to regroup or holding until the teams organized again.  It was after Jocelynn took place, and she'd moved to the corner(12) just past where Aali'd stood that some of her suit's sensors gave a warning.

Raising her rifle and fine tuning her sensors while the others moved, the Battledress battle computer warned of a heat signature around the corner just south-east of her.(!)  Calling out her sensors, Jocelynn pulled the battle-computer drawn estimate and sent that to Mikah, Aiden and Fesic.  Still, she played it down because the "heat" could have been from a drone or other piece of equipment.  Reconsidering having sent the alarm to her team only, Jocelynn pushed the data out to everyone.  The others acknowledged her alert even if Sekea and Colinne couldn't see the graphic.  Hearing the alarm, Mikah joked, "Try out that grenade launcher!" and Zimzod snarked, "You do realize that thing fires grenades ballistically.  You don't wanna have a grenade hit the ceiling and fall down right next to you.  That would ruin your day."  Jocelynn said she knew, but she started working on how she might use the launcher in the passage?

Before Jocelynn could decide what to do next, or get direction, she saw a male human come round the far corner where she'd had the heat warning.  The man looked to be an average guy wearing cloth armor, and carrying a rifle combat-ready.  She saw he also had a pistol in a hip holster and her battledress identified that as a six-shooter.  The man had no other items her sensors could identify beyond three speed loaders.  So, even without her weapons, the man was really little to no threat to her if she rushed him and got the man before he could fire a shot.  Before reacting, Jocelynn only shook her head and muttered "Oh, you silly person."

With her gauss rifle already raised, Jocelynn called out "Contact!  Armed trooper.  Engaging" while thumbing her fire selector to the standard 'four-shot'.  She then squeezed off her shot and hit the man in his chest.  While she had no idea how much damage her needles had done, the man dropped without a cry of alarm and didn't seem to be moving after that.  Continuing to scan for new targets, Jocelynn updated the others, saying "Target down hard."  As people acknowledged the update, Aali realized the crew had been geared up and moved into the maze without a clear goal being given to them.  So, she asked what their goal was?  Zimzod grunted back, "Kill as many people as you can without getting killed yourself."

Hearing that, Fesic chuckled and said, "That means I have three people around me I can kill", clearly meaning Aiden, Mikah and Jocelynn.  Aali heard that and snarked back, "With them all in battledress or combat armor, you'd better consider your odds."  The others heard the exchange and chuckled.  Risking being "disciplined on the spot", Fesic said, "I'll just use Mikah as my meat shield." and everyone laughed in anticipation of the pain Mikah would reward him with.  Aali just shook her head while Jocelynn said, "I hope you remember saying that when you're lying on the floor."  Mikah only joked about shooting Fesic down while she advanced.  Very quickly after the shots, the others in her team joined up with Jocelynn.  With Fesic now right in front of Mikah, she grabbed his armor and said, "Now, I have a meat shield."  The comment and vid from her HUD got lots of laughs.

One More step into the maze After the rest of her team arrived, Jocelynn signaled for them to hold their position before she bolted directly across the space in front of her, and pinned herself against the far wall of that passage.  She then inched her way closer to the eastern end of that wall, stopping short of the opening to the south.  After she made her move, Aiden and Fesic crossed the space to hold behind her.  During all that movement, Mikah had positioned herself against the corner Jocelynn had originally fired from and had her laser carbine ready to burn down any enemy troopers which came into the open and were not blocked by Jocelynn.  When Jocelynn had passed the man she'd shot, she saw he was still breathing so she put a round through his head to end that.  Prisoners were not needed.

Before moving, Jocelynn asked Aiden if he wanted to take point again, like he'd done earlier.  Aiden had used the camera-rod he'd used earlier, but didn't use it before rounding this corner, leapfrogging past Jocelynn.  Fesic said he'd back Aiden and also bypassed Jocelynn to round the corner.  Backing them up, Jocelynn pivoted her position so she could swing her rifle around the corner and give covering fire.  Mikah also moved into the gap past Jocelynn, to give cover fire.  The space they charged into was ten feet from north to south.  It was also thirty feet long, east to west with the ten foot opening they'd passed through on the eastern-most part of the northern wall.  A similar opening was in the western-most face of the southern wall.

Despite Aiden not using his cam-rod, Jocelynn had used a gun-cam and not seen any threat.  Unfortunately for Aiden and Fesic, while they were moving through the space, a vargr and human who both wore cloth armor stepped into the south-western opening with weapons raised and started firing!  Aiden was the lead target, and partially blocked Fesic.  And both men mostly blocked covering fire from Jocelynn or Mikah.  That meant Aiden was in the lead when the two enemy troopers started firing.  Ironically, because Fesic had been moving in front of her the entire operation, Mikah'd started calling him "Meat shield".  Only, Aiden was now his meat shield as the shooting started.  Putting what was happening together from his HUD, thanks to the comm dots, Zimzod yelled, "Go C3PO and Meat Shield!"

The vargr had a rifle and the human a laser carbine.  And Aiden was point, so there wasn't any other target for them to aim at.  Saying "Fuck it", because he was already in the kill box, Aiden fired his LAG at the vargr with a clip of high explosive rounds loaded.  The vargr's slug only chipped some composite off his armor as Aiden felt the kick.  There was also an odd feeling as the laser hit carved away melted composite, but neither strike got through the armor.  And both strikes, were too late to affect Aiden's aim, hitting after he'd pulled the trigger and loosed the round.  Aiden's round pierced the armor before the high-explosive round detonated, and the vargr hit the deck hard.  Seeing that, the human fled back from the opening.

Behind Aiden, as all that was happening, Fesic had been trying to get a shot on the two troopers.  No matter what he did, Aiden blocked his fire at least partly.  Still, Fesic fired a shot just after Aiden did.  Sadly, Fesic could only guess at Aiden's movements as the pilot tried to adjust his charge and reacted to the fire hitting the front of his armor.  The result was that Aiden was nudged "just in line" with Fesic's fire.  Aiden took the laser's full blast in the back.  While the battle was a simulation, the computers judging the action determined Aiden would have blacked out and warned him as it shut down all his systems.  To the others, he appeared badly wounded and out cold.

With Aiden down, Jocelynn's team was now down to fifty percent as Mikah moved up and started "treating" Aiden.  Kneeling over the downed pilot, Mikah intoned, "By Ragnarr's hammer, you will be avenged!"  Even in his darkened shell, Aiden heard that and laughed along with the others.  Seeing the results of his actions, Fesic suffered a moment of "Oh Shit!" shock at what he'd done before he could get his mind back in the battle.  Charging forward to take and hold the corner of the southern opening before more enemy troopers could mount a counter-attack, Jocelynn rushed past Fesic.  As she did, she angrily slapped Fesic up-side the head without scaling back the added strength her battledress gave her.  Her lack of consideration led to her knocking Fesic out and he collapsed.  That meant her fire team was now 75% combat ineffective with Mikah treating Aiden.  She was a fire team of one!

Hearing only the audio, with no idea what was happening visually, Sekea could only wonder at how the InstellArms technicians monitoring their session were reacting?  He was sure this was better entertainment than any broadcast comedy.  Taking her position at the southern door, Jocelynn noticed the vargr was dying but not dead, so he delivered a coup d'grâce with one hand while maintaining her rifle with the other.  Done with that, Jocelynn stuck a gun-cam around the corner to see the passage just south of the opening.  Hearing and seeing what she could understand, Aali called Zimzod and suggested their fire team fall back to link up with and support Jocelynn's team.  She also called for a clarification, and got an update from Jocelynn.

One More step into the maze Looking through her gun cam, Jocelynn saw the passage turned back west forty feet to end.  There, it seemed there was a ten-foot opening to the south and Jocelynn couldn't see the north wall.  What she could see were two of what her sensors said was a group of enemy troopers gathered at the southern opening she saw.  Jocelynn saw no sign of blood in the open space, so the human likely hadn't been wounded.  And, there was at least one laser carbine out there.  The cluster of troops was more than two but she couldn't tell how many total there were, and she only saw one in combat armor.  Glimpses suggested the others were in cloth armor.  So, they had a few big guns, but their gear was no match for the crew's.  That meant the crew should be doing much better than they were at the moment.  Of course, all their losses were self-inflicted, which was sad indeed.

Thanks to Jocelynn's battledress, she could sort some of the weapons and tell there was the one laser carbine, a gauss rifle and a standard rifle.  But, given the numbers, Jocelynn tagged Mikah's comms channel and said, "I think it's time to try the grenade launcher.  After Mikah said, "OK", Jocelynn considered how to bend and twist her body?  She wanted to bend so the battle dress sensors could fire a grenade on a flat line, instead of ballistically.  Unfortunately, bending to do that meant she'd not be able to see the "battlefield".  She'd get warnings on her HUD, but not directly see any possible attackers.  Still, Jocelynn decided to twist her body and take the shot.  When she was in "position", Jocelynn leaned forward to launch a grenade.

Thanks to what she saw off Jocelynn's gun cam video, Mikah set aside "treating the wounded" and said she'd be ready to back Jocelynn up.  Mikah prepared her laser carbine and gauss pistol.  Mikah then called out, "Zimzod, are you seeing this?" and Zimzod answered that he was seeing a mighty sad performance of self-killing people who must be using brand X."  In the meantime, Jocelynn was bending and twisting her body so she could designate a target spot to fire at.  One of the issues that created was that Jocelynn also had to poke herself past the corner, to get data.  So, the troopers sighting down their weapons had an idea she was planning something, and only had to wait for their moment.  While Jocelynn did that, Mikah kept an eye on video from Jocelynn's gun cam while continuing to work on Aiden more.

Just before leaning forward to make her shot, Jocelynn used the interface on her HUD to prepare an HE round to fire.  Jocelynn then strained into it, leaning into the enemy field of fire.  Of course, she was still mostly protected by the corner as she leaned forward, but she heard the fire being.  After leaning forward, Jocelynn designated a point inside the opening at the edge of what she could see.  Jocelynn then fired the grenade just a moment before she felt a hit which knocked her back on her ass.  Her suit immediately reacted to the damage she'd taken from the trooper firing the laser carbine!

Significantly wounded, Jocelynn lay on her back as the world darkened, then snapped back into focus.  She was certain the only reason she stayed awake was thanks to drugs her suit's med-system hit her with.  But, because of that, she had no detail on what damage her grenade had done?  Seeing her knocked back and down, Mikah quickly moved up to cover the corner and assess what she could see of Jocelynn's condition.  Mikah could immediately tell Jocelynn had been hit by a laser weapon, and taken significant damage.  But, Mikah could tell Jocelynn was still able to fight as the marine started reacting to her suit's treatment.  Mikah even slightly regretted Jocelynn having knocked Fesic out, even as the gunner started coming around thanks to the injection Mikah had given him.  So, Jocelynn would continue to fight and be joined by Fesic as their other fire team moved up to join them.

Getting up and preparing to get back into the action, Jocelynn could tell very little from the sensor playback she could get from her suit.  The good news was that the only hit she'd taken was from the laser carbine.  The other fire had hit the wall to her left.  The better news was that the grenade had launched on a flat-line trajectory and flew on-target to the point she designated.  She'd then been knocked back, so while the audio caught the blast, she had no idea how the enemy troopers had responded?  Hearing the comments from Jocelynn's team, Sekea joked, "I never thought being part of Zimzod's team would be the safe place to be."  That reminded them all of the randomness of combat.  It also opened him up as Aali reminded him they'd not gotten to the fighting yet as they rushed to rejoin Jocelynn's team.  The whole crew heard as Jocelynn saw Mikah checking her over.

When Mikah quipped, "That's some recoil on that grenade launcher", Jocelynn said, "That and getting shot by a laser carbine.  Still, you should see the other guy."  Despite that, and Mikah's chuckle, no one had any idea what happened in the passage Jocelynn targeted?  The enemy troopers could almost be right on them if they reacted to the grenade by charging forward to escape it.  When Jocelynn moved back to the corner and took a peek around, she only hoped she'd see body parts and limbs haphazardly blown into the open space north of that portal.  What Jocelynn actually saw were smoke, debris and the partial remains of at least two troopers.  Past that, it was a guess how many troopers were there and how many were still combat effective?

Leaning into her battle-comp sensor read, Jocelynn saw that one of the downed troopers had been the human with the laser carbine.  that meant it was likely she'd just killed the man who'd shot her, unless there were two cloth-armored laser carb-toting humans in the enemy force.  Jocelynn also had a blinking note on her HUD, which was feed from the battle-comp's strategic application.  That recommended she hold her team up and wait for reinforcements.  Since Jocelynn saw no movement of any kind in the open space or the opening she'd bombed, she felt safe simply holding the corner position to watch for any counter-attack.

With Fesic now reviving on his own, Mikah checked the medical data on Aiden from her sensors, and knew she "could" get him back into the fight, but Aiden wouldn't be pleased with that.  She also knew his wounds were bad enough he should soon be med-evac'ed to a hospital.  She also knew that Jocelynn should also be moved to treatment soon too.  While she went through that in her mind, Zimzod raced into the space and moved up where he saw Jocelynn holding the corner and asked for an update?  Jocelynn gave him a quick description of events so far.  After assessing the situation, both Jocelynn and Zimzod were all for waiting for the rest of his team to consolidate before they decided what to do.

When they arrived, Sekea and Colinne moved Fesic back from the opening and took over treating him while he tried to get back into the game.  Meanwhile, Aali moved up to join Zimzod and Jocelynn while Mikah went back to work on Aiden.  Aali also made sure Jocelynn felt OK standing and continuing to fight.  Behind them, Mikah shifted to mimic Terin as she demanded, "Jocelynn, did you blow up all those people we could have questioned?" in mock-shock.  In mock-shame, Jocelynn admitted, "Yeah, we're not getting any information from them.  Sorry." before she and Mikah burst into giggles.  That mystified Colinne and Sekea behind them because those two had missed Mikah's question and lacked some of the subtext.

Settling down, Aali suggested she could take the corner and prepare to lay down covering fire while Jocelynn and Zimzod crossed the space to the wall south of them.  Then, those three could edge up to the portal on the east side of the wall while Aali continued targeting that opening.  Then, before advancing further, she suggested Zimzod throw a grenade into the next space.  Jocelynn and Zimzod could confirm they were seeing no activity from the portal, which said the troopers there were either dead or out cold hard.  Aali nodded, and Fesic moved up to join them and even agreed to take point with Jocelynn and Zimzod.  Zimzod smiled and said, "Outstanding!  We'll keep our weapons on Fesic's back, just in case." and the others laughed.

Sekea and Colinne moved up to help Mikah or do what she said.  With everyone agreeing, Fesic led the dash dead south, to the wall of that space.  He then led as the three slowly moved east, toward the bodies and opening.  Doing that, they saw the northern wall of that passage also opened to a corridor continuing north.  At the corner, Fesic stuck the gun-cam on his laser rifle around the corner to see the passage led south for twenty feet further south before a ten-foot wide opening turned east.  In and around the opening, there were four bodies.  The bodies were all human, and their main weapons were a rifle, a gauss rifle, a laser carbine and a laser rifle!  So, their largely cloth armor lagged behind their better quality weapons.

Steps to the end game As ordered by Mikah, Colinne and Sekea moved up to back of the others as Fesic advanced from his current corner(13) south to the eastern wall at the next corner. (14) During the move, Fesic was careful to not trip on any of the bodies or slip in the blood pools.  At the same time, Aali cut to the northern corner, to probe the northbound corridor.  That traveled forty feet north before shifting east.  When Sekea poked a gun-cam around the southern corner, he saw that passage continued ten feet further east before hitting a four-way intersection.  He saw no evidence of any enemy troopers.  Zimzod moved up to join Fesic on point while Jocelynn moved to the corner he'd been near.  She was ready to provide cover fire if needed.

Sekea also moved up to follow Zimzod and Fesic on point.  Colinne followed Aali into the northern passage.  With Aali leading Colinne north in case the enemy had forces split for a north-south pincer, Zimzod, Fesic and Sekea advanced east from their corner with Jocelynn moving up to the corner Zimzod had just left.  Almost five feet down their corridor, Zimzod, Fesic and Sekea saw two figures charge out from the north and south openings, one from each!  The attacker from the south was a combat-armored Aslan firing a laser carbine charging Zimzod!  the second trooper simply stepped out from his cover and opened his ACR up to fire fully automatic on everyone.  So, unintended as it was, he was also possibly hit the Aslan from behind.

Since Fesic was already targeting the corner the human stepped out from, the gunner sighted on the human and fired.  Sekea could have targeted either of the two opponents, but was behind Fesic and Zimzod.  So, he held his fire instead of putting them at risk.  Jocelynn could draw a bead on the Aslan while doing so would put her people at risk too.  Despite the risk, she chose to fire on the Aslan.  Still, she set her fire selector to "1 shot" first.  While Fesic hit his man, after all the triggers had been pulled, the human aiming at him missed Fesic.  Unfortunately, the Aslan hit Zimzod before literally throwing his weapon down in the charge.  On Zimzod's side of the ledger, both he and Jocelynn hit the Aslan and the rain of fire killed the warrior outright.  Fesic's lone shot burned the human down at the same time.

As the last human opponent lay dying, Zimzod found he'd been hit with a nasty and possibly incapacitating wound.  Lucky for him, the simulation ended then, and his wounds didn't matter except for the after action analysis.  According to the computer monitors, the entire battle had taken one minute and forty eight seconds.  With the maze fading and the lights coming on, teams of InstellArms technicians came in to assist the crew in stepping out of their harnesses.  At the same time, in the control room, the technicians there were totaling the numbers.

The Details said:
    The crew had faced eight opponents, so the numbers had been equal
    The crew had two battledress suits and five Combat armor, with one vacc suit, where the enemy was out classed in two suits of combat armor and six cloth suits.
    The crew had a wide range of advanced weapons available to them where the enemy only had three laser carbines, one ACR and one Gauss Rifle.
            The rest had rifles and pistols.  So, again, the crew had them out-classed.
    And, despite the crew killing all eight opponents, they suffered a high level of serious casualties.
    Aiden, Jocelynn and Zimzod each suffered severe wounds.  If the combat had been real, Aiden would have needed "immediate" treatment in an hospital and he, Jocelynn and Zimzod would have spent several weeks under critical treatment.  Fesic had also been wounded, although lightly.  His treatment would have been completed in under a week.

A strategic analysis of the crew's performance suggested that they would have all died if they'd faced a unit with the same level of equipment.  And, it was expected that they would likely not cause serious wounds if they faced a unit which was better equipped and trained.  Key points noted were:
    1) An informality and lack of weapon and behavioral discipline which led to friendly fire hazards.
    2) A strategic failure based on the reliance on trooper-based scouting instead of using advanced tech devices.
    3) A strategic failure based on the choice to fire a grenade from a launcher instead of throwing the grenade.
    4) A strategic failure based on the lack of better scouting tech.

The crew were told they had an hour to relax and recover from the stresses of the exercise before they had to prepare for the next simulation.  InstellArms would provide some level of non-alcoholic drinks and light snacks.  They could order more significant food, but it wasn't recommended they order alcoholic beverages or other senses-deadening or distorting snacks.  In the end, they had support staff around them to assist in relaxing and cleaning up.  They were also able to talk to the strategic simulations team and continue to review the first sim-data.  They also had access to their concierges, in the event they wanted to order anything they felt might "help" with future encounters.

After they were left to their own, and before the concierges could step in with flashy advertising vids and other distractions, Aali called for everyone's attention.  Aali then reminded the crew there was still a small but important matter to be taken care of.  Seeing confusion start spreading on people's faces, Aali held up one of the diamond-studded lanthanum rings Zimzod had given out.  Aali told them that was Zach's ring when Zimzod first handed them out.  Aali reminded them that Brian had been wearing his when the station he was on was attacked, and his body wasn't fully recovered.  And Inger had taken her's and could well sue for her share of the ship's continued income.  So, those rings were gone leaving six.

And, shooting at that fighter carrier wasn't worth the possible counter attack Ms. Vik could launch.  Still, Aali was certain Zimzod had intended for the rings to be passed on to other crew when a wearer...no longer wore it.  Sitting where he was, Zimzod roared, "Damn straight Skippy!"  People nodded at the pause and recognized the lump of sadness formed in Aali's throat during her comments.  Aali then said she would keep Emkir's ring and have it resized for her.  That meant it was now time for her to pass on Zach's ring to another member of the crew.  With everyone still watching her, Aali said she had two paths to consider to decide who got Zach's ring.  One was straight seniority since they became members of the crew, and the next person to have joined the crew and survived was Fesic.  However, Aali said she felt it more important to recognize rising rank within the crew.

She said that meant the person who would step up behind Mikah or Zimzod.  And, where Zimzod, or Aali herself, had stepped up when Mikah wasn't "available", Jocelynn was the one stepping up when Zimzod wasn't available.  Because of that, Aali chose to give the ring to Jocelynn, as their 'Ground Combat Second In Command'.  With that, Aali stepped over to give Jocelynn the ring, saying she'd have to have it resized.  Watching what nearly approached the level of a faux ceremony, Sekea felt a moment of hope thanks to his interest in collecting gemstones.  Still, he never even dreamed he would get the ring, given how short a period of time he'd been part of the crew.  Of course, the concierges congratulated Jocelynn as she held the ring, and assured both Jocelynn and Aali that InstellArms could resize both rings for the women with complete security.  They did also ask who to bill Cr 500 for the training sim, and Mikah said Fesic would pay it.  That was because she blamed him for the crew's failures, and he was being fined.


Where everyone is at the end of the session:
     Everyone except Rol: In the InstellArms simulation facility, preparing for the second of three combat simulations.
     Rol: Cloning: 4 weeks, 3 days until decant

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Next: Pending