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Author Topic: [Game report] XCOM Forces Have The Nod  (Read 2168 times)
CafeCyberia
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« on: April 30, 2012, 02:35:39 AM »

Right, that's the gratuitous Midnight Oil reference out of the way.

Premise is that the PCs are a covert MIB team chasing things up that XCOM Command wants investigated, but quiet-like, in early 2001.  They are doing this against a slightly changed geopolitical backdrop:

  • Sponsor countries are taking up some of the interception/ID load on all UFOs, and are downing the smaller ones.  The first non-XCOM UFO kill went to a RAAF MiG-31SM Super Foxhound in May 2000 armed with "Giant Frikkin" laser cannon over the Maralinga NTS.  The interceptor had to crash land at Maralinga Airport very shortly thereafter due to damage sustained in the intercept, but those crazy Aussies were first!
  • WMD are being more freely used.  VVS, PLA-AF and IAF Super Foxhounds, and USAF Raptors (the latter having been fast-tracked into service as a point-defense interceptor), are all using nuclear-tipped AAM to kill the Scout-class UFOs.  Russia has subsurface-bursted nine strategic nuclear devices on its own territory to destroy three alien bases so far.  To quote Gen. Shepilov, Russia's representative to the XCOM Project, "Better to have big glowing smoking hole in your country and no base, than alien base and no country."  As a result, the aliens appear to have abandoned any further attempts to build a base in the Rodina.
  • The first, disastrous, non-XCOM UFO ground assault was carried out by MVD troops, backed with a cocktail of chemical weapons..  Although the Russians were wiped out, it was discovered Mutons are slightly annoyed by cyclosarin.
  • The Sydney Olympics went ahead as scheduled, with XCOM and the RAAF pulling out all the stops to prevent terror missions targeting Sydney.
  • America is getting more than slightly concerned at the threat to its hegemony apparently posed by the greater defence and economic co-operation of Russia, India and China.
  • GOC XCOM, Gen. A.G. Lethbridge-Stuart, has shown a level of political streetfighting guile on par with his strategic skills in keeping a thinly-stretched force responding to the alien threat.  He has not appreciated the parallels drawn with the desperate Nazi German defense of 1944-5.



Qualities in play:
Start at level 4
Fast Feats
Thriller
Faction
Clandestine
Tense variant, recycled from previous game - stress damage still doubled, but instead of complete prohibition on taking 10 or 20, it requires a character option (class ability, feat, origin ability, etc) that explicitly allows it or modifies the stock rules (eg Photographic Memory)

The Players And The Usual Suspects

Abdul "Mad Turk" Erzogan (FLGS owner) - Wheelman and bar.  Came to XCOM attention after he applied "That's Impossible!" to a cab in Ankara.   Served his conscript time in the Turkish Air Force (NATO's 3rd largest), which revealed a distinct affinity with going really really really fast, consistently pushing F-4 Terminators and F-16 Fighting Falcons to (and occasionally beyond, viz cab) their design limits.

James Darrel Edwards (Midget) - Lawman tracking towards Stuntman.  J of Men In Black.  J'adore Parkour.

Kevin Smith (Sletchman) - Faceman tracking towards Illuminatus.  K of Men In Black.  Retired from XCOM ~10 years ago.  Dug up to lead this team of wet-behind-the-ears newbies into the field.  Is definitely "too old for this shit."

Jennifer Blacklake (MadCabler) - Sleuth tracking towards Field Analyst.  This ex-RN Regulator, veteran of Operations Corporate and Granby, quit the RN upon arriving home in 1991, having had enough despite the offered commission.  XCOM personnel covertly seconded to the RN noticed her skill, and gumption dealing with the SBS, and recruited her in 1992.

ED: Cleaned up formatting, added historical bit to the Mad Turk that I got from his player last night.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 09:24:10 PM by CafeCyberia » Logged

Me: I had implicitly assumed the coarse neural adjustment is prerecorded and installed with the prosthetic, giving adequate gross control, but fine control takes time(this is awesome justification, for GURPS, to charge points)
Sletch: That's a bloody genius bit of meta explanation
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2012, 02:54:54 AM »

Ah, it's a UNIT AU  Grin
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CafeCyberia
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2012, 03:09:12 AM »

They were somewhat of an inspiration, but not a full rip off.  I'm not even the first to put El Brig in command of XCOM, either.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 03:11:01 AM by CafeCyberia » Logged

Me: I had implicitly assumed the coarse neural adjustment is prerecorded and installed with the prosthetic, giving adequate gross control, but fine control takes time(this is awesome justification, for GURPS, to charge points)
Sletch: That's a bloody genius bit of meta explanation
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2012, 06:23:41 AM »

Yeah, I basically set up a heroic Technocracy on a MUX back in the day using UNIT as the framework
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CafeCyberia
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 06:27:57 AM »

Mission 1: Andromeda Blue

Winning a Nobel Prize - big deal.

Winning two Prizes - noteworthy (eg Marie Curie, Linus Pauling).

Winning two Prizes in the same category - not entirely unprecedented (John Bardeen managed it in Physics, Frederick Sanger in Chemistry, and the UNHCR and ICRC managing it in Peace).

But carrying off the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, two years running? (1999-2000)

This trick attracted XCOM's attention to the Andromeda Foundation and its cofounders, specifically the dual Nobel laureate, Sir Matthew de Grey KBE, and his 2000 co-laureate Corey Jagland.

The unshared 1999 prize was for de Grey's leadership and development of what has come to be called the "Andromeda Vaccine", a broad-spectrum three-shot immunisation schedule that has dramatically reduced the burdens of both infectious disease and vaccinating against same worldwide.

The 2000 prize was for the basic research underlying, and the development of a prototype, high-bandwidth, high-fidelity neural interface that XCOM has adapted for its own use.

These, on top of other, almost-as-earth-shaking, breakthroughs have aroused XCOM suspicions as to exactly where they're getting their tech.  


Cue PCs.


Before XCOM officially onboards Andromeda (having not yet approached them due to the above suspicions), they want the PCs to find out where they are getting their tech.  If Alien, the pipeline needs to be cut while Andromeda keeps operating.  If its confirmed to be autogenous, Andromeda needs to be onboarded yesterday.

The Foundation's major areas of excellence lie in biomedicine (under de Grey) and nanotechnology (under Jagland).

Scene I:

Kevin Smith decides to first look into de Grey's background, compiling what they can from open sources.

De Grey gained his MB BChir from Cambridge in 1971, then spent the next five years in general practice, returning to academia in 1977 with an Oxford professorship.

Over the next 16 years, he goes full-banger on research, with a prodigious output in immunology and neurophysiology, gaining his MD in 1991 on the strength of that corpus, and retiring in 1993 as an emeritus.  Shortly after, he co-founds Andromeda along with Corey Jagland, his future co-laureate, and Geoff Davies, an escapee from the AU intel community.

The Andromeda Vaccine entered clinical trials almost immediately upon Andromeda's creation, showing significant promise that held throughout all three stages.   He was ultimately knighted for his services to medicine in 1998.

Since the Vaccine, he's pulled back to more of a technical/research director role, although he still keeps his hand in some investigations directly, and publications still come thick and fast.


Open sources also turned up a personal and professional conflict with his cousin, Aubrey de Grey. The two differ religiously (Aubrey being practicing Roman Catholic, Matthew having told the RCC to go jump when it condemned his work in Africa) and on the topic of radical life extension (Aubrey very pro as in OTL, Matthew somewhat anti).

Andromeda itself turns out to have facilities in Ghent, Cape Town, Sao Paolo and Mumbai.  Smith fishes out Interpol cover IDs and decides to waltz in the Ghent facility's front door along with J and the Mad Turk (Jennifer was off chasing up something else).

Scene II:

One thing immediately obvious is the paranoid levels of security - card readers and biometric locks at each door, frinstance.


According to their cover story (as used to break a manure spreader to the facility's manager, Gerard Appeldoorn), Interpol is investigating some claims that have been made, and they would prefer to keep it quiet since AF is doing such good work nationwide.  Appeldoorn is surprised that the first such attempted smear of 2001 took until mid-February, suspecting one or more of the big biotech corporations.  He rings up Davies, currently in the Cape Town facility, and gets persimmon - Edwards and Smith go in as internal auditors while the Mad Turk is assigned as de Grey's driver.

According to their snooping, there have been a total of 5 bad eggs on the research side since AF opened.  Aside from discovering the cofounders' rather ferocious intolerance of academic dishonesty, the most interesting bad egg was the first.  After being accused of theft and plaigarism, he up and offed himself before he could be fired.  Further investigation turns up no family.  Smith now has a prime suspect as to where the alien tech initially came from, and suspects he was actually offed to keep him quiet.  Blacklake gets sicced on a very cold case.


Meanwhile, the Mad Turk bugs the ass-end of the car he'll be driving for Sir Matthew.


They call home and ask about de Grey's history and specifically, get some shoe leather on the ground about the clinical trials, especially interested in side effects or reactions.

The trials were unusual in both their promise, and size, with stage 2 and 3 trials being 6x larger than customary, showing side effects were much less than expected and some unexpected synergies.  The boot leather continues with chasing up 20 randomly-selected participants from each trial - XCOM MIB were able to find and talk to 39 of them, #40 having keeled over three years earlier.  

History-side turns up Sir Matthew's identical twin, Michael, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's in 1993 while his twin apparently wasn't.  Seems to be a stoush between Michael's daughter, Dr Bonnie de Grey, and Sir Matthew re: treating Michael, concern for dying father (Michael having progressed to the early end stages by 2001) colliding head on with medical ethics.

More asking around the Ghent facility turns up that Davies thinks rules are for other people, not him, to follow.  Arrogant, abrasive, he also turns up as a suspect for the alien tech, having motive, means, and opportunity.


During the Mad Turk's first day on the job, driving Sir Matthew to Amsterdam, he notices that he's picked up three pursuers.  Asking Sir Matthew if he was expecting company and receiving the expected negative answer, he shows exactly why XCOM recruited him, causing all three pursuers to crash within 48 seconds of spotting him, de Grey swearing in Afrikaans the entire time.  Plates get run, leaving team to ask what were the Belgian federal coppers doing sneaking about?

Back inside, Edwards and Smith learn the first bad egg's suicide came as a surprise all around.  This, of course, helps confirm Smith's suspicions.  Chasing up security holes turns up paydirt, with a couple of the oldtimers remembering that Davies did black out a lab on floor 38 for about six months after the start of operations.  As Davies is still in Cape Town, with Blacklake now joining them, they decide to break into and toss his office the following day.

Scene III:

At first, the search confirms his paranoia - Blacklake sweeps the place with an improvised bug sweeper, disclosing that not only had he privately bugged his office, he had bugged the bugs bugging said office.  Then the search really begins.

PAYDIRT!

Deliberately concealed, and spread among multiple cabinets, are plans for a second-generation, softball-sized, psi-amp.  They promptly grow legs.  Three further hours of office tossage disclose preliminary plans for what appears to be the defensive energy shielding the larger UFOs have been seen to use.  Curiouser and curiouser, since Davies has no known science background, so they swipe his computer's hard drive, leaving a can of herrings in its place.  Search also turns up a panic room, which monitors the previously mentioned black hole, and also has independent NBC filtration.

Searching the panic room reveals a toilet, which Smith promptly empties his bowels into, CD recorders, camera monitors, and CDs with black hole surveillance footage.  He digs out the ones covering the black hole period while Edwards and Blacklake search the black hole lab.  They turn up a bit of notepaper with an encoded message, and a dust-covered CD that seems to be full.

Smith discovers that the lab was only used outside hours, and at least once, there are three Matthews de Grey present.  After a quiet couple of weeks of footage, Davies turns up, ranting about something - the video isn't good enough to read lips from.

Abdul lifts the prints from the jesus handles in the limo he's been driving, which Smith promptly runs to confirm that yes, that's Matthew de Grey.

Back at their hotel rooms, Blacklake worries the code out to reveal a reference to "Project Veracocha" and hints that it's involved in pandemic preparation.  Offensive or defensive, she has no idea.

Scene IV:

Day after, the crew chase up a hacker (having no computing ranks between them) to crack Davies' hard drive, which takes a day and a bit.  Email reveals a couple of takeover attempts, Andromeda being the daddy, not the mummy.  Ongoing arguments with Jagland and de Grey to commercialise discoveries quicker.  It takes a bit, but by reading between the lines, the crew puzzle out that Davies has connections to a private group, via anon remailer, that has beaten XCOM to salvaging crash sites more than once.

HQ is VERY interested in this, upgrading the mission to Cal III.

Ideas:
- Storm his plane in Africa, hijack it there.
- Force plane down early/offcourse via sabotage.
- Jump him at Brussels airport.  Storm aircraft as fake Customs officers, incapacitate the crew, and light out for Switzerland.
- Aerial intercept.


They decide wait for Davies' scheduled return, disguise themselves as Belgian customs officers, bang him on the head when they search his plane, then nick said plane and leg it for EUROCOM, near Lugano.  They also take this opportunity to swap out their gear picks.

The Mad Turk, upon his return from a dinner run, improves the plan - instead of customs officers, they and their Edwards-derived goon squad are mechanics, giving them legitimate reason to be on the apron at that time.  He also points out the little wrinkle that Belgium doesn't allow terminating flights from outside the EU to refuel before they clear Customs, before asking XCOM to have a light bizjet with an enhanced active EM sensor array standing by as close as possible to Andromeda's hangar.

They finish planning, roughing out where to go and what to do, ready for the assault day after tomorrow.  Davies' plane is scheduled to touch down at 5:05 am.

Scene V:

The extra day came in handy to preposition everything.  Place on top of hanger for Edwards to shoot out tires from, cardboard boxes below for him to land in, goon squad ready to go under overalls, and the Mad Turk and his plane fuelled and only needing tower clearance to depart.  (Sletchman the player and MadCabler were absent for this session)

They set up two ambushes, first to take out the tires, second to storm the plane (Vivat Turk!).

The hours until showtime uneasily pass, Edwards concealing himself and his AW50 under a tarp atop the selected hangar around 4 am while the Mad Turk double checked that everything was ready to rock on his bizjet and the goon squad got their kit ready, relying on taser shotgun rounds.  Mad Turk had previously sabotaged the maintenance carts to delay a legitimate response.

Listening via his plane's radio, the Mad Turk gives everyone a heads up when Davies' plane arrives.  When it reaches halfway down the taxiway towards its hangar, they trigger their first ambush, with Edwards blowing out the front tires and taking two feet of nosewheel stalk with it (Midget was sweating, as I had said I was going to activate any threats.  He rolled a 16, with a great sigh of relief).  The bizjet sparks and creaks to a stop, while Edwards, after dumping the rifle in the waiting jet, joins Blacklake and Smith on the goon squad's maintenance truck before it peels up the taxiway in response to the crew's call for help.

Rattled somewhat, the plane's crew lower the airstair.  Goon #3 obliges them by hoicking a flashbang into the plane, clipping the top of the airstair as it moved.  It made it in, deafening everyone inside and blinding the pilot.

They storm the plane, and Goon #1 stops a bullet with his head.  Edwards spots the pilot cowering in his seat and the copilot trying to radio for help and lets him have it, tasing him up but good with a critical hit (anything else and he would have hit the transmit button, gaily plastering the sounds of the firefight over GUARD), then, via his Surge of Speed, dives for cover behind the seats rather than look down a bunch of MP5 barrels.

The seat cops a pounding but stands up to the dakka, while Blacklake crawls under the other seats towards Davies while Edwards and the goons show off their shotgun fu.  The shotgun fu falls apart just a little bit, when Goon #3 shoots Edwards in the ass.  Edwards is unamused.

While the firefight continues, Blacklake reaches Davies and proceeds to beat the living tar out of him.

The end of the following round, the last goon surrenders ("Bugger this, I ain't paid enough!"), and the team withdraw with one unconscious person (Davies) and one corpse (Goon #1).  The Turk had previously received takeoff clearance and just happened to be taxiing by when Edwards flagged him down, the XCOM personnel quickly piling aboard.

With the runway clear, the Mad Turk didn't wait for clearance, redlined the throttles, and booted it, screaming down the runway like a certain cab in Ankara.

After getting clear, it was all Turk, with 90 minutes of manual terrain following flight to get to Lugano from Brussels.

30 minutes in, his luck almost ran out, sucking half a flock of geese into his jet's right engine.  With MANLY TURK RAGE, he GAVE IT A DAMN GOOD THUMP and avoided the worst of the problem (really really quick Mechanics check, iirc), although there were a couple more hairy moments, especially struggling over the Alps.

Edwards rang ahead to ask GOC XCOM about possible immunity from prosecution in exchange for spilling guts.  He had Alistair's approval upon entering EUROCOM.

Scene VI:

Edwards took the lead in interrogating Davies, calmly laying out his XCOM badge, his Interpol badge (cuing the "Oh CRAP!" moment for Davies), a bottle of whiskey, a phonebook and a plate of asparagus with hollandaise sauce.

Long story short, Davies put up a fight but Edward managed to crack him with gratuitous use of "BADGE!".  The immunity offer helped significantly.

He doesn't know who the group are, just that they have passed him a lot of stuff - research hints, tips, etc.  Anything AF couldn't use, he resold, sending them a cut.  The deflector shield was sold to a couple of defence contractors.

Project Veracocha was actually defensive in nature  - their major worry was a subtle bioweapon that decreased the birth rate sufficiently to doom humanity.  Big stuff legit, small stuff questionable.  "Soul Catcher" came up - quite interesting.  XCOM had investigated restoring troopers from backup early last year, but had ditched it due to one of the test subjects taking up suicide as a hobby.  Davies suspects de Grey is sitting on an Alzheimer's cure, and was as surprised as everyone else when the first bad egg suicided.  The Turk suspects the coldcase "suicide" had to do with Andromeda's Soul Catcher.

EDIT: Corrected Sletchman's PC's name.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 10:07:20 AM by CafeCyberia » Logged

Me: I had implicitly assumed the coarse neural adjustment is prerecorded and installed with the prosthetic, giving adequate gross control, but fine control takes time(this is awesome justification, for GURPS, to charge points)
Sletch: That's a bloody genius bit of meta explanation
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 12:45:36 PM »

So that's how the last session of that mission went down?  I only got a quick/dirty summary from Dean so I had to fill in some blanks.  Good call by Al to go with Ground Crew over Customs for the cover IDs.  Dean really gets some mileage outta The Badge, doesn't he?  Pity that there's only 2 more levels of the class preview, but at least he has Stuntman ready to go.

Sucks I had to miss it, but being forced into the late exam slot really buggered me up (and late transport options were spotty at best).

So you know / can correct it if you feel inclined to, my characters name is Kevin Smith - an allusion to Agent K from MIB, not the director (I couldn't remember his surname in MIB and figured I'd go with the uber generic smith).

EDIT: Also, reading it spelled out, it really was kinda childish of me to decide to "taint" his private restroom, wasn't it?  Not really in character either to be honest, so I'll try reduce that in future.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 12:49:49 PM by Sletchman » Logged
CafeCyberia
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2012, 01:17:52 PM »

Thanks for the name.  For the life of me, I couldn't remember, neither could MadCabler.  I'll go back and edit it.

I did love your justification - "He can't be THAT paranoid that he booby-traps his panic-room shithouse, can he?"

As for lawman, I think Midget is quite enjoying it - if he's deadset on continuing, I'll have a go at extending the preview.

As for the Mad Turk, I'm still wondering where the blazes a mere "cab driver" learned to drive performance aircraft.
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Me: I had implicitly assumed the coarse neural adjustment is prerecorded and installed with the prosthetic, giving adequate gross control, but fine control takes time(this is awesome justification, for GURPS, to charge points)
Sletch: That's a bloody genius bit of meta explanation
- on cybernetics
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2012, 02:58:54 PM »

As for the Mad Turk, I'm still wondering where the blazes a mere "cab driver" learned to drive performance aircraft.

His true background is a more closely guarded secret then my own character's?  He's the true Faceman of the group, it's just he likes to stick to a single Flawless ID...
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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2012, 10:37:45 AM »

Mission 2: Money's Too Tight To Mention

XCOM HQ orders the team to chase up the alien tech lead they got out of Davies.

Scene I

The team sic Blacklake on an archive trawl, digging through XCOM mission reports for the opposition's fingerprints.  Starting from two known interference attempts, in Deutschland and Osterreich, she pieces together a larger spatial and temporal pattern, growing out from Central Europe with time.  Interestingly, two mission reports are redacted by order of the XCOM Council.

Completeness of cleanout seems to scale directly with lag time between UFO crash and XCOM arriving on site.  Looking at temporal trends, Blacklake also notices that interference drops sharply after XCOM switched to hyperwave decoders (approx 18 months ago), but has slowly been recovering since.

The older stuff, per reports, looks like it has been cut with pretty mundane stuff (eg, plasma torches).  Newer sites get more sophisticated, including making off with (parts of) UFO structural members.  Most recent interference was two weeks ago.

The team huddle and brainstorm.  Do they fake a shootdown, or use the frequency of existing UFO interceptions and charge off after a genuine one?   XCOM data reports elevated UFO activity in western China.

While Blacklake trawls the archives, Edwards and Smith interview Lt. Col. Russell Sharp.  He's of interest because he was the senior survivor of the only time opposition forces directly engaged XCOM forces, in Indonesia.  They were very well briefed, using something very damn close to XCOM personal armour, and hot-shotted laser rifles.

Most of the XCOM squad was taken out when one of their blaster bombs was shot down (presumably by one of said oppo troopers) and wrecked significant amounts of XCOM people and stuff, then-Captain Sharp acceding to command shortly after.  Despite being attacked by both Alien and XCOM forces, the oppo retreated and disengaged in good order.  He, along with some other personnel, mention rumours of the Avenger Stalin being beaten to the landed punch.

During the interview, one of the XCOM platoons, under the command of Major Waylon Solomon, assigned to the base scramble.  Stalin lights out like there's no tomorrow, a blastertank flying onto the Avenger as it clears the hangar, to assault a landed Ethereal-crewed Battleship-class UFO.

Asking around the traps while Edwards chases up the GOC XCOM angle, reveals then-Col Luc Devereux (now Maj. Gen. and XCOM's operational commander, letting Lethbridge-Stuart handle matters of grand strategy and the Nazi comparisons) commanded the squad, and Solomon as his 2iC.  Not long after Lethbridge-Stuart comes through on the incident in question, logs and the controller on duty that day both confirm an eleven minute lag between the Avenger shooting down the UFO over western Iran and XCOM boots on the ground.

Analysis of satnav imagery around the crash site reveals a farmhouse ~800m away, that, judging by later photos, was abandoned in one hell of a hurry - the fields still lie unharvested.

Scene II

Flying into Iran aboard a Vulcan-armed tiltrotor (I ended up switching the statlines almost wholesale for the 20 and 25mm gatling cannon) under the command of the Mad Turk, on a duly-filed international flightplan, is not an experience most of the team have had before.

On approach, visual impressions confirm that the farm was abandoned in one hell of a hurry about a year ago, as Blacklake rocks out a critically successful 31 for her Notice check.  The furrow from the UFO crash and tracks of XCOM vehicle activity have just about faded.

As Edwards, Blacklake and Smith approach the farmhouse, latex gloves being donned, (the Mad Turk staying aboard the tiltrotor, engines idling, rotors declutched, on site overwatch), that crit 31 comes into play as Blacklake notices the farmhouse has been alarmed, with pressure plates covering the windows and cameras covering the doors.

A few sneaky buggers later, Blacklake spots and disables the alarm panel  (unsurprisingly, it's a Chubb), noting serial #s, brands of cameras and plates, etc.  They search the upper floor, finding that it has been mostly cleaned out, but Blacklake can still find and lift three latent prints, and take samples from an old bloodstain in an out of way place.  She also finds a secret basement entrance and the switch to open it, which gets promptly marked before returning to the search.

If the oppo were here, either they or someone they paid came back and cleaned this place out not long after Stalin's visit.

After finishing upstairs, they trip the switch, the door sticking open halfway.  Sending Edwards and his trusty Avtomat Kalashnikov ahead first, they proceed downstairs, where it becomes immediately obvious to the team that down here hasn't been cleaned out anywhere near as thoroughly as upstairs.  Blacklake notices shredder confetti, a packet radio with a bloodstained corner, a Kreigsmarine Enigma machine circa 1943 vintage, some CDs and some encrypted printout.  Tossing the place reveals more CDs, a Genoq business card (visited in the original game), some New World Order conspiracy literature, three spent 30mm cases, a ratty copy of GURPS Vehicles (2nd ed, 1st printing) and a bulky but hand-held hyperwave decoder.

Further examining the decoder reveals that it's been factory-built as opposed to kit-bashed, and that it has a small elerium power cell.

Blacklake heads back upstairs to find the numbers the panel would ring in case of alarm - the landline goes to the local city and the GSM to a number in Tehran (funnily enough, the alarm in the place next to the FLGS went off, much to MadCabler's amusement, as her character proceeded to own the panel).

The Turk chimes in, noticing an approaching dust cloud that could be either ground vehicles or low flying choppers.  The team decide to GTFO, Blacklake not bothering to restore the panel.  As soon as their stuff and them are aboard, the Turk reclutches the rotors and lifts off.

Scene III

Not long after liftoff, the Turk gets ordered to land, the tiltrotor's RWR lighting up.  Turns out the approaching vehicles are SAVAK/Pasdaran and would dearly like the team to explain their presence.

Smith steps up, morphs into a Shi'ite imam, and morphs the others into his personal pilot and bodyguards, (Blacklake wondering where the hell the niqab came from, while the Turk wasn't too worried about the turban) before the tiltrotor touches down, while Smith stashes the stuff they recovered from the farmhouse.

Three vehicles pull up close to the tiltrotor, two hanging back and pointing shoulder-launched SAM at it while one goes in close (the Turk gets a little worried for some reason).

The SAVAK lieutenant, obviously wishing he was somewhere else, explains that he has been ordered by his superiors (the Imam going ballistic (Bluff 31 on a roll of 2) at the secular authorities' presumption in interfering) and ends up intimidated by the joint efforts of Edwards and Smith into botching the search, missing the concealed items.  At the "Imam"'s demand, he gives over his superior's name and office number, with His Holiness threatening the lieutenant with flogging for following such idiotic orders and the superior with beheading.  For some reason, the SAVAK lieutenant lets them go.  The Turk barely waits for them to clear the horizon before really booting it, with an hour's flying time to the border with Turkey.

Scene IV

Their luck holds until 10 minutes from the border, when an F-4 pulls alongside them, wagging its wings as an F-14 paints the tiltrotor with its search radar.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 08:17:12 AM by CafeCyberia » Logged

Me: I had implicitly assumed the coarse neural adjustment is prerecorded and installed with the prosthetic, giving adequate gross control, but fine control takes time(this is awesome justification, for GURPS, to charge points)
Sletch: That's a bloody genius bit of meta explanation
- on cybernetics
Sletchman
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Posts: 4108


Gentleman Scholar.


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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2012, 12:56:45 AM »

You and I have very different definitions of the term "pantsed".  To me it means "failure" and by your own admission I didn't actually fail to impersonate that particular high ranking religious official.

I will admit I may have taken things a step (or way two) too far, particularly when I insinuated that I might start making death threats at any time.  That's not a failure, that's just being overzealous in the pursuit of ones duty, and the protection of ones highly sensitive alien-related cargo.  In fact I'd argue that not only did I not fail - I suceeded entirely too well...
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2012, 03:51:32 AM »

A la applying the concept of "Drunk" to one H.E. Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh.
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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2012, 07:16:01 AM »

Scene IV, cont

Turns out Smith's fake cleric act had been rumbled, and he had thoroughly spooked that lieutenant's superior, who decided to get rid of his little problem (presumably in best American fashion, by feeding the military a line about escaping terrorists), thus the F-4 and F-14 intercepting them, the F-14 standing off in an AWACS role.

The Turk's player rolls a natural one, but salvages it with copious AD expenditure, rendering the first chase round a dead heat, while Smith winds up the F-14 pilot.  The players are sweating quite copiously as they wind themselves up.

One short chase (including a contrived very-near mid-air collision) later (Turk + chin gun = MOAR DAKKA), the F-4 pilot GTFO his broken jet and the F-14 rolls out of its orbit and lights the burners.  Something else the Tomcat sends their way, along with itself, is an early-model Phoenix missile, launched from ~70 nm out.  Assholes clench as Smith dresses a conveniently-to-hand dead body in the clothes he had worn while faking the cleric, Edwards bungs a parachute on it, and unceremoniously tosses the whole kitten kaboodle out the lowered ramp.

I milk this for a bit of tension (including a brief adjournment to procure further munchies), then roll the missile's mid-course update.

It errors.

Das Midget crows and dumps three AD on the error.  The missile locks on to the ex-bloke in the parachute while the Turk really boots it, putting as much distance as possible in the short time of the hypersonic missile's terminal flight.

Apparently convinced the faker is now an ex-faker, the Tomcat RTB.

As do our heroes??, with a quiet, uneventful flight thru Turkey eventually terminating in Lugano.
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Me: I had implicitly assumed the coarse neural adjustment is prerecorded and installed with the prosthetic, giving adequate gross control, but fine control takes time(this is awesome justification, for GURPS, to charge points)
Sletch: That's a bloody genius bit of meta explanation
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2012, 07:32:09 AM »

So that was the end of the session 2 weeks ago (the 4th) - any chance you're gonna put up the 11th?  Hoping to get a chance to read what I missed and be prepared for this coming session.

Sorry if I just jumped the gun while you were preparing it.
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« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2012, 07:41:30 AM »

Sletch's university commitments precluded his attendance this session, while the FLGS owner was quite crook.

(And yes, Sletch, I am in the middle of writing things up.  Been a lot of hands on my time recently).

However, I gained two more players, rounding out skills the team lacked (such as Computers and Networking).
Mouse, a midget Australian hacker (4'7" or so), who I am half-expecting to be drop-kicked or hoicked through a window some day.  She came to XCOM attention after bolstering Serbian EW efforts during Operation Allied Force, including the only (to date) loss of an F-117, XCOM grabbing her rather browning off the Americans.
The other newbie, an Austrian advocate (for the lulz!) knew a lot of people, in weird places.


Scene V

After RTB, the team unload their recovered evidence and get to analysing it with XCOM kit.

The evidence found upstairs had been significantly degraded by environmental factors and the passage of time, but eventually surrenders to Blacklake's analytical sleuthwork (ably assisted by Mouse and Edwards).
Recovered latent prints - possible match to either Wong Gulao (a WMD trafficker from the previous game) or Frank "Sponge" Raedekker, an XCOM field operative who had gone ass-up with white phosphorous 18 months ago.
Bloodstain - similarly degraded, turned out to be a match for a blood relative of Raedekker.

They then start on the CD's Blacklake's Notice Check Of Pure Awesome spotted, which ostensibly held tax audit documents for the Andromeda Foundation.  Suspecting some chicanery, more Awesome (seriously... how many threats in a row can that woman roll?) reveals a covert payload of a joint CIA/DIA analysis (top secret, SCI WINTER HAMMER,DOG BOXER, unlimited rice pudding for all) of the increasing co-operation between Russia, China and India, and concerns about the resulting loss of American freedom to maneuver.  Plans to address such include manufacturing international incidents.  More Awesomeness By Analysis (you had to have been there) worries out a palimpsest payload, namely a plan to groundburst five American devices in Los Angeles and blame it on the scumbag Soviet UnionRussians.

Unlike their success, the team hit the second, concealed, set of CDs and bounce, while Edwards takes their initial findings to Generals Devereux, then Lethbridge-Stuart.  AGLS promptly dances a fandango on the fourth wall, then orders Devereux to keep an ear open and deal with any follow-on findings, while Alistair prepared to do battle with the XCOM Council.

Blacklake, meanwhile, has started in on the printout, opening with a critical success.  This reveals it to ostensibly be Indian IRBM telemetry, some of which corresponds to no known tests.  They keep digging, first turning up (at 4 challenges) Chinese ICBM telemetry.  Further progress stalls until Mouse twigs that the deeper layers are obscured by a rotating plaintext, which disclose chaotic (as opposed to random) timing data.  Getting under that reveals a decryption key and PR4 dossiers on the previous game's science team (Dr Captain Sir Jordan Smythe, MCCB, VC, etc et al), including details of their XCOM ops up until a couple of weeks before the farmhouse was abandoned.

This little nugget causes Gen. Devereux to peel paint in Afrikaans for a good two hours before repeating himself.

While their uberboss is swearing, the team get back to it. Apparently some wingnut decided to shred some blank paper.  The Enigma machine is dusty but bears fingerprints of the aforementioned Raedekker.  The bloodstained packet radio is a Motorola, 14.4 kbps uplink , and a degraded bloodstain whose best match is one Kevin Smith.  Having another go at the second set of CDs yields paydirt.  Ostensibly random documents conceal long-range, high-quality, surveillance video of Interceptor, Firestorm and Avenger launches from EUROCOM, AUSCOM and NORAMCOM.  Secondary steganalysis reveals XCOM blueprints of plasma weapons, as well as an additional set apparently derived from reverse engineering).

The Genoq business card is for their COO, Petra Ivansdottir, having her fingerprints and also Wong's.  The spent 30mm casings are Gulf War-era, with a heap of prints that are smudged to buggery.

The hyperwave decoder is confirmed to be production-line built, with production tolerances suggesting German machine tools.  The Elerium powercell is a newbuild, apparently reverse engineered from early XCOM models, while bearing improvements in the conductive paths that seem to come from the Andromeda Foundation.
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Me: I had implicitly assumed the coarse neural adjustment is prerecorded and installed with the prosthetic, giving adequate gross control, but fine control takes time(this is awesome justification, for GURPS, to charge points)
Sletch: That's a bloody genius bit of meta explanation
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« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2012, 08:32:44 AM »

Scene VI

Blacklake pulls the new Austrian girl's file.

According to the telepath who scanned her, "she's either a genius, a functional schizophrenic, or both.  Owww, my head...".

The Advocate rings around, getting through to two of her contacts - Typhon, a private asset manager at N M Rothschild & Sons, and Mia-chan, a rather precocious Japanese uni student working at the JIST in support of XCOM.

Typhon, who does not forget to remind her of the confidentiality obligations he holds to his clients, suggests, based on the data he's supplied, that he thinks front entities have been copiously used, including explaining structures that he may or may not have seen used in the past.  Mia-chan, on the other hand, twigs almost immediately, despite the lack of clues, about the hyperwave decoder and offers to build one, saying "It isn't that hard".

While this ringaround is happening, Mouse and Blacklake identify where the surveillance footage was taken from - across the Italian border in a public park for EUROCOM, but inside restricted areas (near JDF Pine Gap for AUSCOM, and well inside R4808 for NORAMCOM).  This knowledge in hand, the team head out to scope out the Italian site.

After turning up not much - the site sees a lot of traffic and IS publicly acessible - the Advocate gets a call from a mutual acquaintance of her and Mia-chan re: the latter's disappearance.

Scene VII

The team make a rapid case to chase up Mia-chan's disppearance, lighting out to Vodkaville (aka RUSCOM) aboard a Lightning within the hour.  Flying commercial from Vladivostok to Sapporo, Blacklake gets mistaken for Mouse's mother (much to lulz of players), then they cool their heels for three hours in a holding pattern.

XCOM hasn't fouled up, so they collect their kit after clearing an abbreviated customs check, and book towards Sapporo's northern suburbs.  Mia-chan lives in a quite smick apartment block, unsurprisingly on the fourth floor.  Plant, equipment, and two apartments.  No external damage, but the key stashed outside is missing.  Blacklake somewhat sarcastically asks if the steel/titanium-cored door is Mia's, spotting the previous, amateurish, attempt to pick the lock.

After getting Advocate confirmation, Blacklake easily gets the door open, whereupon a suspicious beeping sends everyone diving clear.  Even a quick shufti down the hallway discloses the place has been ransacked, and a suspicious computer-shaped gap.

Thoroughly re-searching the place reveals an open window, a half-full Hello Kitty diary, a fridge full of Yebisu, a second half-full of grub and munchies, and a beyond-SOTA fibre optic modem, recently installed.  A quick shufti out the uncharacteristically open window reveals that some unfortunate woman has been defenestrated through it, apparently nothing but net.  Also turning up are piles of overdue bills, demand letters, and scrupulously paid rent and internet bills, and a rather banged-up futon.

The Advocate reluctantly opens and reads the diary, discovering (in her contact's rather crap handwriting) periodic multi-day bouts of insomnia, ideas (such as building a hyperwave decoder for the lulz), and a couple of rants about the LDP.  Cued by the ex-woman out on the ground below, they find evidence of a physical struggle not too far from the window.  Blacklake confirms a rumble involving at least two women and one man, and bloodstains from at least two people.

While this is happening, the federal coppers beat the local boys to the scene, having being briefed.  4 detectives turn up in two pairs, obeying some obscure MOJ rule that dictates one short, fat copper gets partnered with one tall thin one.  The upstairs pair, both able to speak English although the tall one is much more fluent than his partner, get briefed by the Advocate while the downstairs pair, seeing an African-American man near a dead Japanese woman, obviously assume he dunnit and move to arrest him.

Short-Upstairs disabuses them of this idea as Edwards yells "ENGLISH, MOTHERFUCKER! DO YOU SPEAK IT?"  The Pulp Fiction reference falls flat with neither of the downstairs pair understanding English, despite Edwards insulting them in it.  The bottom pair cordon off the impact site, then Short-Upstairs swaps places with his downstairs counterpart.

Mouse sniffs out, buried underneath at least a year's worth of crap, a connected, running laptop that had apparently been physically lost amidst the clutter and a switch.  She eventually breaks in ("WOOHOO!") finding that the laptop's running OpenBSD, but hits a login page in Japanese ("DAMMIT!").  She eventually gets in and manages to change the language settings, after an hour and a half's work.  The laptop hasn't been patched in a while, and Mouse sets about imaging the drives for later examination.
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Me: I had implicitly assumed the coarse neural adjustment is prerecorded and installed with the prosthetic, giving adequate gross control, but fine control takes time(this is awesome justification, for GURPS, to charge points)
Sletch: That's a bloody genius bit of meta explanation
- on cybernetics
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