• Nobles of Null is a forum based roleplay site where sci-fi and magic collide. Here, Earth remains fractured and divided despite humanity reaching out to the stars. Worse still, the trans-human slaves of one major power have escaped, only to establish their own Empire, seething with resentment at abuses of the past. Even the discovery of aliens, though medieval in development, has failed to rally these squabbling children of Earth together with its far darker implications. Worse still, is the discovery of the impossible - magic. Practiced by the alien locals, nearly depleted and therefore rare, its reality warping abilities remains abstract and distant to the general populace. All the while, unseen in the darkness of space, forces from without threaten to press in. For those with eyes opened by insight, it is clear that an era is about to end, and that a new age will dawn.

Chapter 8: Bringing Down the Hammer

Ray of Meep

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Co-authored by: Ray of Meep (GM), Acewing, Ikate Keda Studios, PaladinGreco, Piston1937, TheCountryWarrior

23XX A.D, 60 hours after confirmation of weapons facility

Silbern System, Stahl Belt, Fabron Station, aboard GDWS Tours

The GDWS Tours was classified as a marine frigate. Like Daheim One, it used stackable modules present in most GDW frigates, starting with powerful engines at the base of the vessel, then working up to a weapons module with four coilgun PDC's, the command module, another weapons module with two coilgun PDC's and two auto-reloading missile pods, a simple barracks module, then a large carrier module, before finally being topped with a weapons module with four coilgun PDC's and an RCS module. The entire construction was blocky and well armored, especially between the modules.

The ship was currently hovering above the station, hiding its presense from the ground with the station's shadow and maintaining position with its thrusters. Otherwide, the vessel was in zero gravity. Eberhard and Ulrike were currently maglocked to the floor in the ship's bridge, looking at a center console that displayed the asteroid as a 3D hologram, with green dots moving down from the station to the surface. Next to them were Captain Rain of Magnuski station, who cooperated with the Lancers in a hostage rescue mission; and the captain of the Tours, Captain Reda.

"Thanks for answering the call, Captain Reda." Ulrike was in her grey jumpsuit, while her husband was in an IVAS, with his helmet floating in midair.

"The pleasure is all mine... Rhodium." Captain Reda was in a more formal, light grey military uniform. Unlike most people on the frigate, she had a Mediterranean complexity to her skin. Like everyone else though, she was straight-laced and replied to Ulrike with a focus in her eyes. "Our marines should be down on the surface within the half hour. We'll make sure these weapons dealers don't try anything funny while you raid their home."

"And we thank you for that." Eberhard chimed in. "However..." He pulled up a single man's profile on the console. "... Is there a reason why you're leaving one of your own with us?"

"Hmmph." Reda let out an amused smirk. "It wasn't much of a secret, was it now?"

"Not really." Eberhard shrugged, visibly unamused in comparison. "You can't really miss a guy as big as him."

"He does good work, but his seargants have always found him difficult to work with, espeacially in non-combat situations, so he's been bounced around. We're hoping you might be able to make use of him." Reda explained.

"It sounds like that we're just the latest in line to take care of this guy." Eberhard raised an eyebrow.

"He'll get the job done." Reda ignored Eberhard's comment.

"Welp, sounds like we're just spatting over one guy and not doing anything else productive here." Captain Rain pulled his own helmet from midair. "In that case, Cobalt, let's head up and brief our teams."

"Right." Eberhard followed him, but not before first pressing his forehead against Ulrike's. "We'll be back."

Ulrike nodded. "Of course you will. We'll talk more afterwards."

As she watched Eberhard leave the bridge and climb up the stairs, Reda commented. "Strong couple, both being in this line of work."

"It's not without conflict, plenty of conflict." Ulrike made a small smile. "We've been having quite a few arguments around work and personnel treatment to each other."

"Well you seemed pretty lovey dovey." Reda crossed her arms, and noted.

"Talking helps. A bit of alcohol and... intimacy also helps smooth things over." Ulrike tapped her chin slyly.
 

Ray of Meep

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"Hmmph." Reda again smirked in amusement.

The Lancers: Juan, Joan, Beatrix, and the newest member, Derek were in the barracks module preparing their gear. They were all in Lancaster-class IVAS' with Lancer colors: grey and torquiose. Magnuski law enforcement was there as well, five of them, including the Canine Chongwu, Poodle, donning colors of white and torquiose. Meanwhile, there was a single, lone marine of the frigate seemingly left behind, donnig colors of black and torquiose.

Jamison Butterworth was not having a normal day, then again being placed on a new mission was getting so common it might as well be normal. The major downside and reason behind his negative outlook on this specific deployment, was the fact he was on a ship unlike his more recent ones which were space station and planet based. Jami disliked space ships because he didn't fit in them, being almost seven feet tall without his suit and equipment he hard a hard time fitting through most of the doorways, and he was pretty sure he was going to throw his back out if he had to keep contorting through doorways.

Though in reality he had very little to complain about at this time. The lack of gravity made movement through the ship less back straining if he floated through the doors head first. He managed to find a empty room near where the baracks were, which he tied his crate of stuff down in and reapplied the 'Do Not Touch' stickers. Though the best part was his forthought in asking for a map of the ship beforehand and the shuttle pilots willingness to give the heavy weapons specialist one after dropping him off, of which he was slowly filling out with notes as he tried to find where the briefing was.

Juan was both excited for some backup and nervous about the new people with them. He and the girls had a sort of rapport now, it was always a learning experience adding new individuals. However, he was determined to not be the cause of their troubles just yet, so he met them in turn with a smile. He talked as he worked on his gear, knowing the prep drill better than he knew how to brush his teeth it was so ingrained. Derek he'd met briefly before but didn't really talk to. He figured now was a better time than ever. "Welcome aboard hermano! Glad to have you along."

Derek was just shrugging on some kind of extra vest over his IVAS as Juan looked that way. What little of the interior he glimpsed was covered in straps and pouches that all seemed to be full. It made a heavy clunk against the hard shell suit as the newcomer fastened it into place, and the exterior appeared to be plated with armor. “Gracias,” the demoman began to reply before reaching for his weapon, and the first of two boxes of shells stuffed into a nearby loose item net. He turned back to look at Juan and continued in a friendly manner, “Happy to be here. Looking forward to plying my trade. Name’s Derek.” As the man spoke, the shotgun was quickly strapped to the IVAS, the box trapped under an elbow, and shells began steadily disappearing one after another into the receiver with the help of a free hand.

Joan was busy checking over her rifle. As was her own personal norm, she wore all her armor and maintained a colder demeanor than usual, going through the paces. All her equipment, all her ammo, and her gun was clean and cleared. "Why we 'ave ta go in save dogs o' all fings?" She asked in a quiet mutter. "Why can't we just... destroy da weapons in leave da Chongwu ta figure dere own out?" She added, a nevous frown painting her voice.

"Hey. We're sentient you know, and contrary to popular belief, most of us don't bite." Poodle stood beside her and commented with a slight annoyance, his ears perked up. Joan didn't even twitch in acknowledgment. He too, was checking his gear, grabbing a machine pistol from one of the racks and aimed it at a nearby wall, calibrating its sights digitally through the IVAS interface. Once he was satisfied, he holstered the gun at his hip. "Hopefully there aren't too many of my kind in there anyways. I heard we're anticipating mostly bull-forms conned to do labor for these assholes."

"There's one we know about for sure," Bee said, nodding in agreement as she double checked her own equipment. "Don't really know about total numbers either way. Partly why I'm glad to have all of you guys along."

Juan smiled at Derek, nodding with approval. "Juan's the name, this is my trade." With introductions complete, he kept near to Joan while the dog man, Poodle, was nearby. He knew the man wouldn't do anything, was just a man with a bit more fuzz, but Joan wasn't of the same mindset. So, he kept close to her, just in case he had to either defend Poodle from her, or her from herself. Alongside those two reasons, he greatly preffered when she felt a degree of mental safety. He hoped his presence would supply that.

As the team was talking amongst themselves, Eberhard and Rain walked into the armory and stopped in front of the center table. "Alright, time for the briefing, people..." Eberhard announced. "Where's the man called 'Castle'?"

Though muffled Jamison did hear his callsign through the wall between the bunkroom he had claimed and the armoury. Trying to keep his normal grumpy look off his face he disabled the magboots on his suit and slowly floated through the doorway head first, re-enabling them and getting orientated on what normaly was the ceiling. "Here." He kept his voice profesional and stood at the closest to parade rest he could while wearing his black and tourquise IVAS suit with attached Juggernaut harness, the barrell of his MG-130 poking out over his shoulder from where it was held on his back.

"Erm..." Eberhard raised an eyebrow, but internally he was already building a possible profile of why this guy was constantly moved between units, as he was forced to look downwards to make contact with Jamison's upside down head, which was at ankle level with the rest of the people in the room. "Please reorient yourself, soldier."

Jamison nodded and procceeded to walk down beside the doorframe he just came through streching out to his full height before slumping back down as he move onto the floor. He returned to his semi slumped parade rest and remained silent watching his assumed superior with his grey green eyes.

"Thank you." Eberhard exhaled, then tapped the console on the table, bringing up a zoomed in shot of Fabron's untethered pole as a hologram. "We are here today to get rid of an illegal weapons facility, once and for all. As we speak, GDW marines are already securing the station itself to prevent any hail mary attempt by these criminals. Our objectives are to eliminate all hostiles within this facility, arrest unarmed laborers, and destroy the facility after we gather all intelligence."

He then pulled up two separate, looping videos. One was the shuttle Beatrix and Juan saw, pulled below ground by a hidden platform. The other were the crates of supplies falling into a large, opened hatch. "There looks to be two ways into the facility. The Grau Lancers and Castle here," Eberhard nodded to Jami, "will go through the large hatch and make as much noise as possible and inflict casualties on hostiles. Captain Rain's team will use the platform during the diversion. We will be using scouting droids to spearhead our advancement. Unfortunatley, from then on out it's going to be improvisation. Our intelligence is very limited. We have no estimate of their numbers or their capabilities. Expect a tubular maze in all three dimensions with randomly placed, large spaces."

Castle nodded at the information as it was given. Though his lips did turn up a bit at the requirements to be loud. He could do loud, and he could do it very well. The improvisation part was less up his alley but from the descritions it sounded like it would be rather easy to accomplish the goal of being a distraction. "Understood."

Derek was quiet as he digested the brief. A sliding partition model. That’ll have to go. And when it does, the enemy are absolutely going to know where the Lancers are. He looked up, raised his hand, and… “Question, sir. Will our point drones be scout models, light combat models, or heavy combat models?”

"Scout models, Vandal. And don't call me sir; Cobalt will suffice." Eberhard replied.

Derek nodded. "Alright, Cobalt. In that case, we need portable cover. I'm unfamiliar with the team, so do we have a Vanguard?"
 

Ray of Meep

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"Bee usually takes point." Eberhard nodded to Beatrix, then eyed Jami. "Though I suspect Castle is also willing to take that role."

"Helps to have a shield to keep yourself bullet-free," Bee said, tapping the equipment on her back.

Derek smiled, recalling old legends. He then looked to Beatrix and said, “A modern era Shield Maiden, huh?”

She grinned back and replied, "Finally, someone with an interest in history!"

Derek's eyes lit up at that, and he nodded.5

The giant in question nodded to this without argument. Though he winced as his head thunked against the ceiling before glaring at the metal surface and returning to the conversation. In response to the shield maiden's words he grunted and nodded to the door sized folding barricade current lodged in the doorway he recently floated out of.

"Damn," Beatrix said, blinking at the sight of Castle's shield, "wish we had you back when my arm almost got torn off."

Castle grunted in vague agreement to this statement before returning his attention to the display.

"Unfortunatley, given past experience and with what intelligence we have, we anticipate we'll be dealing with canine-form Chongwu, the well-armored kind that we encountered before." Eberhard put up a picture of a canine-form wielding both an assault rifle and a hull cutter, granting Joan mercy by not displaying it in full, animated action. "Last time we fought one of these things Bandit had to blow it up by planting a charge on its back. If they won't hesitate to use bull-forms for labor, they certainly won't hesitate to use canine-forms for security."

"In other words, the thing that almost tore my arm off," Bee said with a frown. "Really don't want to try and patch you guys up after that thing attacks."

Poodle growled. "I'll tear whoever forced them into this, to bits."

"Don't. We need the mastermind alive." His captain admonished.

Juan's eyes widened, not for himself but for Joan. He looked over to her, watching for her reaction.

Joan didn't say anything for a moment, but stood up slowly. "I think I'm going to need a bigger gun..." She muttered, walking over to the armoury to peruse the available selection.

Juan sighed, looking after her as she appraised weaponry for their destructive potential. He didn't say anything though, he couldn't blame her. Maybe this would make her feel more secure.

Joan inevitably grabbed a rifle, a Tavor M7 Marksman, and started collecting magazines and ammo, filling the magazines with said bullets. Some of the magazines, she wrapped a band of tape around the base and was very specific with the pouches she placed them in, joining the rest of the crew again. Her helmet hid any expression she had on her face. "Alright. Let's get this over with I suppose."

Eberhard raised an eyebrow while Poodle shuddered. "Shit, you really do not like us, do you?"

"We had to use a bomb on the last one," Joan stated flatly, the first time she had acknowledged the Chongwu since they got here. "All our normal weapons bounced off, what do you want me to do? Not use a bigger bullet?"

Derek quietly swapped one of his shotgun magazines for something else after hearing that.

-------------------------
 

Ray of Meep

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1 hour later

The Holsteiner undocked from the Tours' carrier module, followed by a less stealthy transport craft carrying Captain Rain's team. The Grau Lancers, all but Eberhard who was upstairs in the cockpit, were crammed into the storage bay, waiting for deployment. The tight spacing was mostly attributed to Castle, whose large size and his Juggernaut harnass occupied much of the real estate.

Thankfully, the trip wasn't too long. The Holsteiner moved to the opposite pole of Fabron with its cold gas thrusters, settling above the entrances at a short jump distance. The lights in the storage bay lit green and the airlock opened up, exposing the team to vacuum. Eberhard walked down as he talked to the ship's AI. "Blenda, keep Holsteiner in this position. Keep the the PDC warm in case we need it."

"Affirmative, Cobalt. Good hunting, sir." Blenda replied.

Eberhard nodded, then notioned to the team. "Let's roll out, people. Once we finish this mission I'm treating everyone to drinks."

"Can my team join in?" Captain Rain chuckled through the comms.

Derek quietly socketed the solid armor face shield onto the front of his helmet, and got ready to move out.

"Last to the big boss pays?" Bee suggested, her humor strained by the tight quarters of the Holsteiner.

"Just git in front o' da lot," Joan said to Beatrix. "Dey'll be too busy droolin ovah yer bottle," She said, looking down at the asteroid. "So... Ah take it no gravity, as usual," She added dryly. She had added some additional equipment, having second thoughts about the weapon and it's effectiveness against the Juggernaught Chongwu. A very deep thought on whether using a round as powerful as the .308 was okay. So, she added a 40mm grenade launcher to her equipment list, and was quite content after that.

Castle had himself as compact as he feasibly could. Not that he had much choice, being the biggest member as well as carrying the biggest equipent. He had been on serval drop ships with a similar scenario and was greatful when he walked out of the cramped space and out onto the ships hull.

Juan rolled his eyes, as Gravity would not be on their side. It usually wasn't, but the Earth-born Bandit much preferred when the ground was dependable. "Joan has a great point," Juan joked, "Bee's the distraction, we hit them while they think about hitting her, if you know what I mean." He chuckled at his own joke, though the joke itself had an ulterior motive, morale. Just something to keep the spirits up before things got ugly.

"Good job, joker." Eberhard knocked Juan twice on the shoulder as he squeezed past him to the front, facing outwards. While he stayed maglocked to the hull of the ship, his backpack's RCS fired off small bursts to calibrate. "Now let's go make some noise where sound doesn't exist."

The asteroid's surface was fairly barren, with stark lit up and shadowed surfaces. Far in the void, Silbern glowed ghastly white. There was nothing notable on the surface, save for the two entrances embedded flat in the ground, barely visible only to those who knew where to look. There was also a thermal vent that sprouted out from the ground and curved downward like a faucet.

One of the entrances was a relatively small platform, only large enough to fit a rover. The other was much larger, with a diameter large enough to fit an Earth-based transport helicopter with some good factor of safety. It was closed off by double, sliding doors. Neither had visible interfaces from the outside.

One by one, the team floated out of the Holsteiner with their jetpacks guiding them to the surface. They could see Captain Rain's team doing the same thing. Small puffs of dust flew upward as everyone landed. While the team circled around the large hatch, Captain Rain's team circled around the smaller one. Accompanying team were a pair of dog like droids, equiped of RCS of their own and magnetic feet, along with a generous suite of sensors. Eberhard fell slightly behind this time to coordinate with Rain.

One of Captain Rain's men was carefully cutting out a small square out of the platform they were huddled around, getting access to the electronics and wiring it up to their own interface box. "We're in position, Cobalt." Rain announced. "We'll head down on your signal."

Derek climbed out of the ship, and onto the hull next to the door a few steps away. He used the maglocks on his boots to stand in place and get a good look at the surroundings while more people exited the ship. Once he had taken in enough of the scene, he crouched on the hull, disengaged the maglocks, and, with a grunt of effort, kicked off towards the hatch he was tasked with removing. His gear was damn heavy, after all. Praised be for microgravity.

During the flight down to the rock, Derek looked at the vent, and an idea occurred to him. He started speaking to Eberhard: "Cobalt, Vandal," he began, "Can you have one of the hound drones sniff around the vent over there?"

"Roger that." Eberhard tapped his datapad mounted to his left forearm. One of the scout droids bounced over to the thermal vent using its RCS, then crawled into it using its maglocked feet. Infrared visuals of the ducts came in live, but they grew more static as the scout probed further inward. The atmosphere in the ducts was almost entirely helium gas in composition with an above average amount of radioactivity, most likely the byproduct of a fusion reactor. The ducts themselves were mapped out. Smaller tubes connected to the main duct the scout crawled through, which had no clear end. Rather, it seemed like a line of convergence that simply pushed gas out of the facility. After a few minutes, the scout left the tube once it hit the communication signal's limits.

Once Derek was close to the hatch, he swung his limbs around, and engaged a few tiny puffs of RCS to make contact with the hard metal surface. He engaged his maglocks, and made a crounching landing with another short puff of RCS. He stayed crouched and took a moment to review the footage from the hound's foray into the vent. This all told him a little about what not to expect on the other side of the hatch, but now he needed to learn a little more. And for that, he has this sonar probe, which he pressed against the surface of the door, then turned on. If there was little or no atmospheric pressure on the other side of this door, he'd get a short, sharp, and shallow report. If there was enough gas on the other side to make life interesting when he blew the hatch, there'd be a duller report, and a lot more noise thereafter. Now... which was it gonna be.
 

Ray of Meep

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The sonar responded with a short, sharp report, implying a vacuum on the other side of the hatch.

Derek turned the probe off, and put it away. He brought his arm up, and tapped commands into his arm mounted datapad, calling up one of the carrier drones. While he waited for it to get here, he started measuring and virtually marking off where he was going to put the combination of chemicals, explosives, and detonators he was going to break through the hatch with.

Derek was just finishing up mapping the demo job when the blocky carrier drone RCS'd gently down on the hatch. He made his way over to the drone, and started unlocking panels on the side of the container to get at the gear inside. "Vandal to team, I'm setting up the site now." And with that, he got to work.

Meanwhile...

Finaly being able to stand up to his full height there was a series of back cracks, that the mic thankfully didn't pick up, as Castle stretched. With his back straightened and a few test jumps, that would have thrown him into orbit if it wasn't for the RCS thrusters, the big guy felt he was ready to start the mission. Raising his right arm and giving it a well practiced thrust from the shoulder his harness' robotic arm moved the heavy weapon around to his front. Grabbing the grip but keeping his finger out of the trigger guard he moved it to a more comfortable carry position as the RCS tried to keep the big hunk of man stable through the action.

Beatrix sighed as she left the Holsteiner, rolling her head around in a vain effort to crack her neck. After looking around for a moment, she hopped over to Castle, using her thrusters to set her down on the asteroid. "Hey, how do you want to handle vanguard duties?" she asked, attaching her shield onto her left arm.

The big man looked down at his team mate eyeing her shield "Too small." He said this and he adjusted the folded baricade on his arm. The metal plates on the left side telescoped downwards and locked into place making a half shield that went down to about his thighs. "You want point?"

"Yeah," she said, pulling out her sub-machine gun and checking its safety. "If there are more of those monsters, I want that gun of yours free to shoot them. I'm assuming that'd be difficult if they're within melee range?"

The mountain of a man nodded and took a step back to let Bee be between him and the direction of the entrance they would use. Then he flicked off the safety and got ready to go.

Joan however had used her thruster pack to remain off the station, floating a few feet away, looking over the group. "'Membah Twists in twirls, Dey 'ave a weapon, shoot dem," Joan said, watching the various groups go through their process of getting them in.

Juan moved alongside the squad, weapon at the ready. He responded to Joan with a smirk. "On one hand I'd hoped that would be a given, on the other I'm not so sure." Talking was a good distraction from the feeling of half floating, which even still made him feel mildly uneasy if he thought too hard on it. "We've got this, with this many guns we have to have some chance right?"

Derek finished setting up the charges, which looked very… thin. To any onlooker, it appeared that he’d glued, and glued was the correct term judging by the presence of a jelly-like substance, some brightly colored power cable to the surface of the door, and then fitted it with what appeared to be a cluster of landmines. The last thing he did, in fact, was to attach another one of these to the door.

Derek stood up, looked at the cargo carrier drone resting on the hatch, and sent it away with a few taps on his arm mounted datapad. Once the drone took off on it’s gimbal mounted thrusters, he walked slowly to join the rest of the team, opting to conserve RCS fuel and just use his maglock boots. As Derek approached, he started talking: “Everything’s all set up, but there’s something I’d like to suggest before we breach.”

Derek paused for a second before continuing. “From what I gather, we have a pretty well rounded team, and we should make the best of it. I’d like to go in right behind Bee as a forward sweeper- her shadow, really- followed by Cowboy and Bandit, and finally with Castle and Cobalt bringing up the rear.” Derek patted the extra layer of armor he was wearing over the IVAS. “I’m better protected than most of you, and unless the bastards have a fusion reactor fed plasma cannon, nothing I’m carrying will explode.” He gave short, low chuckle before continuing in a wry tone. “Though, if they really do have a plasma cannon in there, me exploding is the least of your worries.” That last bit was true. A plasma cannon would totally ruin their collective day.

Derek paused and went back to a more business-like tone before continuing, “I’m shorter than most of you, better armored, and used to this. I can read body language, so I shouldn’t get in our shield maiden’s way. Use me as cover while you two pick off hostiles or just blow the room up. If needed, we can all hunker down, and Castle here can hose the place down with lead while Cobalt watches our backs with the hounds.”

Derek made it safely outside the blast zone by the time he finished talking, and nodded his head at Cowboy: “That’s my opinion, but it’s your call, Cowboy.”

"My only concern is if you can put down enough fire to take down one of those monsters," Bee said, looking between the two new team members. "I think Castle's machine gun could take care of one while I'm holding it down. Do you have similar firepower?"

Derek pulled a shell out from under his armored vest and held it up. "APFSDS. If this can't punch through their armor, I don't know what will." A small spike stuck out of the front of the square-ish object.

Joan was quiet while Derek spoke, looking at the rest of the team. "I don' see any issues wif dat plan," She said, locking herself to the hull away from the blast. "If fings go sideways, den we'll reorient, but das not a bad start," She said, looking at the rest of the team. "Bee in Vandal will take point, me in Bandit'll old the center as front support, but guarding the sides, in Castle in Cobalt take up da rearfer cover," She said, looking at Derek. "On yer mark, we 'ead in."

Juan smiled, nodding his head. "Oh boy, let's get to work. We have a plan, and a plan for when that plan expires on contact with the enemy." Juan had chosen to stay with Joan anyway, for either her safety or the safety of any unarmed canid chongwu. Mostly their protection, as Joan was a force of nature on her own. "Locked and loaded, let's get to work."
 

Ray of Meep

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"Looks like we're ready." Eberhard informed Rain. "Vandal with give the signal."

"Alright, blowing the door on 3," Derek said as he turned around and used the RCS to crouch. "3...2...1..." And he pressed the detonator. The lines on the door sparked... in a very unimpressive fashion. Then the 'mines' Derek had put in different spots suddenly burst to life, spewing thrust plumes into space and pushing the now sliced up door segments into the asteroid.

The rest of the team felt a faint rumble at their as the doors were torn off from their attachments. Red lights blared from below as the metal plates descended downwards. Beatrix stepped forward and was the first to get a good look of the space below. It was a large tube, akin to an empty missile silo. At the floor were a few crates that were slightly crushed in by the metal plates that came on top of them, which then bouced off.

As the metal plates fell to the sides, half a dozen figures, some human sized, some large, animal sized, revealed themselves staying close to the crates, using them metal boxes as make shift shields against the falling debris. They immediatley returned fire at Beatrix, who luckily had her shield ready, which glanced away a few rounds. She took a few steps back, firing her machine pistol, while Derek stepped forward, taking a glacing shot to his right arm as he threw a flashbang down the hole.

As the space filled with blinding light, Joan, Juan and Eberhard stepped forward, making sure to minimize their profile as they fired precision rounds downwards. Meanwhile, Jami took a different approach. Taking advantage of the hostiles' blindness, he lept across the hole, getting a clear picture of the floor while in midair, and rained hellfire with his machine gun, before landing on the opposite side of the hole using his RCS. Afterwards, no more fire came upwards.

Juan took a breath, giving a nod. "Clear, gotta keep moving."

"Agreed." Eberhard nodded back while the team descended into the open space by climbing down, maglocked to the walls. "Rain, what's your status?"

There was some white noise before a staticy reply came back. "We're down the elevator shaft now. Looks like no one's here to greet us just yet, but I suspect that's because they're going after you."

"Roger that, Cobalt out." Eberhard then raised his head to look at the rest of the team. They were currently inspecting the dead bodies. Droplets of blood and shrapnel were falling to the floor at a very slow pace. There were four humans, two Chongwu, one canine form, another bull form. All their weapons seem to be knock-offs of military-issued, either the machine pistols or assault rifles that the team were using, though lacking in some of the more advanced electronic features, like aim assist and IVAS uplink. Behind one of the metal plates was an airlock, which presumably led deeper into the facility. The crates themselves were empty, having their contents already emptied.

Joan walked up to one of the dogs, leaning down and ripping the com off it's outfit, standing back up and looking at the rest of the team. "May as well give em a warnin," She said, hooking it into her suit. She waited a moment, presumably accessing the local comm net, looking down the hall. She then cleared her throat. "Attention. This Facility is the site of an illegal weapons manufacturing operation. These activities end today. Surrender immediately, and you will not be harmed," She said, her accent vanishing, her voice over the intercom. "Resist, and you will be killed. This is your warning,"

Before Joan could switch off her comms, there was a reply from the other end. A familiar, female voice came up that visibly ticked up Joan's blood pressure on the HUD's biometrics. "That isn't a possibility for the good, hard working folks here, Ms. Ambrose." The voice reponded coldly in an American-Asian accent. "For they came without independent thought, but we now have given them a livelihood and a tangible path towards normal integration with society. But now you attempt to strip that away from them. Rest assured, they will fight."

"Remember that videah ya tried to slip under our noses? Dat was a shiatsu compared ta wha ah'm gonna do ta ya. Ah fucked ya once," Joan said, her voice pouring with seething hatred. "Ah will fuck ya a second time ya suit wearing cock puppet."

There was no reply from the other side except a sharp click as comms with the unit Joan was hooked up to was permanently cut off.

Castle looked at Joan and while his helmet was opaque the disaproving eyebrow at his squad leaders loss of control was probably felt by most there. He did however shrug it off and didn't take his gun off the only other way into the room.

Juan recognized the voice, but more importanly recognized Joan body langue. he audibly chuckled at Joan's reaction, and the impending doom this blood sucking lawyer faced. "This bitch just signed her death warrant. Let's get moving, I need to see this."

Derek silently grimaced at learning that this just became personal. He hefted his shotgun, confirmed that the selector between scimitar and shock rounds worked properly, and got ready to move. The plan was still to shadow Bee, flash new rooms, and sweep targets with his shotty. True, there had already been a close call, but that just came with the job.

"Need to get there before we can serve justice," Beatrix said, reloading her pistol. "Let's go."

"Agreed." Eberhard got to the front of the group and started cutting away at the panel beside the airlock, attempting to access its controls. "As much as I'd like to get answers from the woman and get rid of anyone in our way, keep in mind our secondary objectives. There are unarmed civillians here who we still might be able convince to accept arrest. There's a bull named Jon in this facility somewhere, and his fiance, Pan, is waiting for him."

After a few minutes at the electronics and wiring, the airlock opened to the team, letting them in without decompression. The pressure readings on everyone's HUDs ticked up to one atmosphere. The corridor they walked through was low, but wide, enough for two men in IVAS' to walk side by side, while three can engage at once. The two scout droids crawled across the ceiling.

The walk through the corridor was silent, until the team encountered a split. Continuing forward in the corridor led to a locked door. Above it was simply labeled, "Hab". To the right was an elevator platform large enough to fit all of the team in at once, albeit with a tight squeeze.
 
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