Hello again, welcome. Today I am going to be recounting the third part of our Starship Troopers RP Campaign, centred on the planet Durabo and the Federation Corvette, Marty Robbins. If you haven’t read the previous parts of this account you can click the following links
We were informed that depending on how part 3 played out, we could actually end the Durabo Campaign in this session. Or die. Would you like to know more? Then read on.
A few days have passed since the Jon Bon Jovi mission. Fighty McDwarf was debriefed and then disappeared among the rest of the Fleet Engineers, and we were left to gear up, and train up.
The most significant differences happened for Rope Boy and Echo. In the intervening days, Echo was taken under the wing of the Major, who nurtured her nascent Psi talent and recruited her into Special Services (There are Jackboots and a black coat waiting for her when she departs, no doubt). And Rope Boy was introduced to his CALEB, a his empathically linked dog of war. Which I am informed has the build of a bulldog, the size of a small pony.
I spent my time painting my marauder. Red and black quarters. Red top left and bottom right, black top right and bottom left. Like a Jester’s Motley. I then painted its name on the cockpit. I decided my previous Marauder was Annie, and this one was Claribell. For anyone who doesn’t know, those are the names of the carriages pulled by Thomas the Tank Engine. And I chose those names just because I could.
A few days later, the Major summoned the ship’s senior officers and us to a briefing.
“Afternoon. I have another mission for our Mobile Infantry friends here, however I believe it is appropriate to include you all in on some recent discoveries as a result of the Jon Bon Jovi mission. It would appear the bug you found had indeed managed to takeover the crew as you surmised. The Bug on board appears to have been some sort of transmitter bug, from what we can determine and when it captured the Jon Bon Jovi it gained access to the ship’s computer via the Captain and learned of our invasion plans on Durabo. It appears that it forewarned bug or bugs on the planet.”
He activated a screen and showed the alpha bug that we encountered on the planet. “We believe this bug was the receiver. So, the attack on Durabo was known in advance by the bugs and they were able to mass quickly and capitalise on the supply blunder, costing the lives of nearly 5000 troops.”
The Screen split and showed both transmitter and receiver bugs, and then zoomed in on both. The Transmitter appeared to have a marking on it. v1. The receiver also had a mark on it. 01.
“There is evidence of Terran involvement here. Though, not Federation as such experiments are in violation of our strictest laws.”
The screen changed to a wire frame of the planet Durabo. A red signal pinged in Geosynchronous orbit. “This signal is the precise location where the Jon Bon Jovi found the Terran Beacon that led to their unfortunate demise.”
A second signal pinged on the planet almost directly beneath it. “As you can see, this is almost directly above where the Bugs attacked us on Durabo. I. Dont. Believe. In. Coincidences.”
The Major let that sink in. He then produced the antennae that Deadeye had retrieved when we were fleeing Durabo. “There is something on this planet. Either a new evolution of bug, or a genetic modification of one. Whichever it is, it needs to be terminated with extreme prejudice. If there is any indication that there has been any experimentation or research, it must be destroyed. Utterly eradicated. We do not dabble in genetic modification. We do not try to control our enemies, we destroy them. MI, your mission is to return to Durabo, track the bugs to their source and wipe them out. All of them. And destroy anything else that doesn’t belong on a planet not inhabited by the Federation! Any Questions?”
“Will there be Air Support?” I asked.
“Negligible. We are no longer in close orbit, and the Marty Robbins Fighter Compliment is somewhat diminished.”
“We’ll probably need demolition gear,” said Deadeye.
“You will find all the equipment your squad should need for this sortie in my storage pods.” He glanced at Rope Boy and myself. “Take your Mutt and that ridiculously painted Marauder, any explosives and ammo you need and this.”
He presented the antennae from the first Alpha Bug. It was attached to a tracking device of sorts. “We believe this antennae resonates with the bug it came from. You should be able to use it to track the Alpha. Also, be aware. Your dropship will have limited time over target. After 2 hours he will need to land or return for refuel.”
With no other questions the Major bid us success, whilst Captain Kurn forced a tired smile and wished us good luck.
The rest of the squad geared up and ventured into the passenger area of the dropship. I supervised the loading of Claribell, and as we were taking off, I noticed something moving under a tarpaulin at the far side of the hold.
I picked up my rifle and advanced, pulling the tarpaulin off with the barrel. I was confronted with a hodgepodge robot. It was made from various bits of plane armour, marauder spare parts, re purposed starship wreckage and any number of bits and pieces that I couldn’t identify. It rose up above me raising an arm. I backed off in a start, and was only prevented from firing by a voice at my side.
“Don’t you harm him!” Standing chest high against me in a full set of MI powered armour and carrying standard weapons loadout was Fighty McDwarf.
“What are you doing here?”
“Those bastards killed my crew. I’m gonna get me some payback. And Chaz here will help.”
“That thing can fight bugs?” I have heard of robots being deployed but not normally robots built from scrap.
“Chaz can kill bugs. We gonna have a problem?”
“Not from me. An extra rifle is never a problem when fighting a planet full of bugs.” I radioed the squad. “Guys, we have a passenger. McDwarf has come along to kill bugs. He built a robot to help do that. Just letting you know.”
The squad acknowledged and shared the same sentiment as myself. The rest of the trip was uneventful.
Our drop ship landed at the battle site on Durabo. There were MI corpses everywhere, in various states of dismemberment. Ruined vehicles littered the battlefield and we picked our way quietly and as respectfully as we could through the Graveyard. There were precious few Bug casualties which really added salt in the wound.
Rope Boy was ranging ahead with his, as yet unnamed and slightly unruly Caleb, scouting when he reported finding a functional flatbed truck. Given speed was important, we clambered aboard and drove to the edge of the battlefield on the Bug side looking for tracks. We easily found a trail of bug footprints, possibly from their eventual withdrawal and proceded through the jungle. The going was rough with our flatbed getting stuck a few times, requiring us to disembark and dig it out of mud, or uproot the occasional tree.
Eventually the trail brought us to a rise, and Deadeye instructed us to wait whilst he scouted ahead. This seemed prudent as even walking on tiptoes, my Marauder is about a stealthy as an Elephant at an otter convention. Deadeye, on the other hand, is a sniper and as such is quite sneaky. He got to the rise and had a look over. He saw a clearing with a cave, where the tracks led to. And it was guarded by two tanker bugs. (Those are the bugs that are about the size of a house that breathe caustic fire)
I quickly suggested a plan. My suit is designed to fight those things. I am faster, have greater range and am as tough or tougher than they are. I would clank off onto one flank and open fire to draw their attention. The rest of the squad could disperse throughout the trees and hit one of the tankers from all sides, whilst I took down the other. It was a great plan.
Here is how it went wrong.
Tanker bugs get a minus 10 to their initiative. I rolled a 1 for mine, so one of them still got to go before me. (Uhoh)
Rope Boy was having a hard time controlling Cerberus, his newly named Caleb. Cerberus ran out and barked at the Tanker I was trying to distract.
My clanking did temporarily draw the attention of both tankers until my squad mates started moving and somehow were less sneaky than me in my battle mech armour (no idea how that is even possible).
I was not 100% familiar with everything I was capable of doing in the first round.
On turn 1 of combat, the squad opened fire on their target. They did, between them, a lot of damage which was seriously helped by McDwarf’s robot, which was equipped with piledrivers that smashed the living daylights out Tanker armour.
Also in turn one, Cerberus barked at Tanker 2. Tanker 2 turned away from me and belched caustic fire at the CALEB. It died by my a mix of melting and immolation. Oops. This caused a feedback in Rope Boy who actually withstood the empathic backlash, to his credit. Of clear mind, he then sent out the last command to Cerberus detonating the charge embedded in all CALEBs, doing a fair amount of damage to the Tanker.
I then proceeded to miss with every single shot.
Tanker 1 Repositioned but could do nothing as it was slow and of limited range.
In round 2, the squad and Chaz took down Tanker 1 with massed fire, and a few shots made it to Tanker 2 wounding it, but not as significantly as the exploding dog. Tanker 2 then belched out a gout of caustic fire at me. It doesn’t need a hit roll, as it is a flamer type breath weapon. I did get reflex save (I failed).
Fortunately in a marauder I have various target areas (It hit my legs). I have damage reduction (14 or something like that on legs) which then allowed the fire to do 11 damage on my legs. Consulting the Marauder sheet, they have 40 HP in their legs.
I’m still standing, and I’m up next.
With a cry of “You burned Claribell!” I opened fire. Fortunately in the intervening time between turns I had clarified the rules for my Marauder. I had 6 action points. 2 were required to fire one of my weapons. I got an escalating bonus if I concentrated fire on one target (+3 to hit if I target with 3 weapons, plus any other bonuses) and a 25% chance of not using an action point when I use an action point.
I told the GM I wanted to concentrate fire on the closest/only Tanker, the one that burned my baby, and then rolled to see how many action points I saved. I saved two so was able to fire 4 of my weapons. (for a +4 bonus to hit, added to my +1 to hit for being level 1 marauder driver for a total of +5 to hit – not bad) I fired my main cannons first (two of them), hitting with one for nearly 50 damage (my character has 10 hitpoints, incidentally to give you an idea). I then fired with my heavy rifles hitting with one, doing nearly 30 damage.
Technically the Tanker wasn’t dead. It still had hit points. However, the GM pointed out that I had basically destroyed roughly half of its body mass in about 3 seconds, which was enough to kill it. He allowed me to narrate the front end of the Tanker disintegrating under a hail of bullet fire leaving only the hind quarters.
“Nobody messes with my Claribell!”
We advanced into the caves.
The cave complex was a twisting and turning maze, carefully pre drawn for us by the GM, with each section covered with a flap of paper like a really big advent calendar, that has bug ambushes instead of Christmas pictures. We ventured slowly down the corridor, myself in the lead though everyone else keeping a watchful eye for anything unusual. We found human boot prints. That constituted unusual. We followed the bootprints to a recording drone of some description. McDwarf managed to trigger playback and we observed a grainy video of the drone travelling through the cave recording the bugs. Not detailed enough to map the cave, but interesting. We even found some footage of a human moving down one of the other tunnels so we decided to find that tunnel and investigate. Removing the hard disk from the drone, we destroyed it (I squished it).
The tunnels wound around and we found a couple of dead ends along the way, even a few bug corpses who appeared to have died from wounds sustained in battle. And we found a fork in the path that had no bootprints or clues to indicate where we should go.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about that corridor,” Said Echo, indicating the corridor right. As Echo had already begun her tenure in Special Services now, bad feelings were as useful as radar and we decided to advance that way. We found a structure built, presumably, by Terrans. It was a large ferrocrete construction and there were a couple of slits on the exterior wall where a pair of twin 50 cannons (twin heavy machine guns) tracked in a jerky fashion.
The turrets could have been automated, but we didn’t think so. Twin 50s usually are manually operated and if they were automated, they probably would have fired on us. They didn’t. In fact there was no evidence of weapons fire in the vicinity. We had a quick discussion.
“We have orders to destroy everything,” I said, “That place included.”
“I think we need to get a bit more information about what is going on down here first,” said Echo, “Then, we can destroy at our leisure.”
“We should probably scout the other corridors anyway. To see if there is another approach to the facility,” said Deadeye, “Plus, we haven’t found the bugs yet…”
That was when I remembered we had the bug scanner. “We have a bug scanner. We can use it to track the bugs, right?”
Echo nodded and turned the device on. The attached antennae throbbed and the scanner translated this into a direction. The tunnel not yet travelled.
Then we remembered that the Scanner Worked on resonance principles. So we knew where the Bugs were, but now they knew where we were. We heard shrieking from down the tunnel.
“I think they are playing my song…” I said.
To be concluded