PREFACE: This is not a comprehensive account of the events of Blood Bath IV. It is the (opinionated) account of the events one character participated in, from his point of view.
FIRST: A note to the Asylum Raiders, I had a lot of fun playing with you guys and greatly enjoyed the adventure!
SECOND: another note to the Asylum Raiders, This is written from the point of view of my character, not me! (Yeah, I know, I said that already...)
THIRD: The adventure!...
31 JUL 2004 1500 PDT
It's Saturday afternoon, and I am doing the only thing I care to do when it comes to making money, showing people how. Once you've got it, it's really obvious that everyone needs the opportunity to have some. Poverty, Solomon tells us, is a curse. I am in Hank Tomlinson's house teaching some leadership principles when my armor tries to project some sort of heads-up display for me to look at. The only problem, besides showing my civilian business friends that I have an alter ego, is that I am not currently wearing my armor.
With a great deal of alarm and trepidation, I concentrate on NOT viewing the display, but it is apparent that I have much to learn yet as far as controlling that. I quickly make my point and then apologize to everyone profusely. I inform everyone that I was unaware of how long I had gone and that I have somewhere else I promised to be. I ask Hank to take over and I make my exit as politely as I can and still confidently get out before the display asserts itself in front of me. I don't know if others can see it or not, I didn't know it could do this at all. So I am not taking any chances.
I get into my car and drive off to some side street to stop and check out what is so important that my armor has started thinking for itself and reprioritizing my life. After transforming my way into my my armor, I see a tactical display right out of the Combat Information Center of the most modern warship I've ever seen. It has a tactical display of the moon where 3 factions are having a battle. There is an installation symbolized on the moon complete with a diamond shape symbol around it designating it as "unknown loyalty" or neutral. Not good in any battle situation. There are some 60 units on the surface which appear to have started construction on an encampment and then located and attacked the installation. The symbology for these units is completed with box symbols around them designating them to be "hostile." Finally, there are two ships symbolized in low orbit over the moon complete with half-circle symbols over the tops designating them "friendly" (the circle) and flying (top-half only).
Rule number one for those vested with super powers: the situation is never weird enough. If the situation weren't really unusual, you wouldn't need super powers. The unknown unit on the moon is what concerns me. Who am I kidding, the fact that a star faring race has embroiled itself in a battle on the moon is down right alarming! That's not enough, there are 3 different factions involved. That is enough.
I make sure this little side street is deserted and get out of the car, lock it up, and launch. I make a quick phone call to Jacque to let her know that I am going to be gone longer than I expected and not to wait up. I don't tell her there is a war on the moon I am going to fight in, she doesn't need that kind of worry. I tell her I will be back as quick as I can.
After an encounter with a Sentinel at the zoo yesterday, American Pryde and Kitty Pryde visited our home to check that things were ok with Jill, my daughter. On their way out, they gave me a card with a couple of cell phone numbers that I was told would get me in touch with Team Liberty if I needed them. I call, and after verifying that I have the right number (the person who answered didn't identify himself, the organization, or anything else) I tell them I am Starfire (I have taken the precaution to get Starfire a pre-paid, cash only cellular number) and that I have a situation on the moon. The literacy of the person who answered the phone causes me a great deal of concern. His response was, "Ummmm, will pass message, them call back."
Ooooooooooooo-K! I decide to make a trip to New York in person to make sure they get the message. The fastest way for me to get there is to make the 15 minute climb out of the atmosphere and then make a low orbit transit over New York space. About 10 minutes into my ascent, I get a return call. The person on the other end is distracted, apparently he is dialing and talking to others in the room at the same time. When the call connects, I hear him horsing around with someone, goofing off and basically acting like a kid. I hang up after saying "Hello!" three times to the unattended phone on the Team Liberty Emergency Response line. I have better things to do than audit arguments between juveniles.
A moment later, the phone rings again. I answer it, "Starfire!"
"Hey you! If you han-gup on me again, I squish yer hed, unnerstand?" I hang up. These guys are supposed to super heroes, for crying out loud, not a bunch of juvenile hoodlums. Maybe getting them involved is a mistake.
It rings again. Again, I answer, "Starfire!"
"You keep han-ging gup on me! Doan you do dat!"
"Who is this?"
"It's me, Cobbie!"
He says this as if we know each other, as if I should recognize his voice. "Can I speak to American Pryde?"
"Fine, yu-wa-ner, yu-ga-der. Han-gon." In the background I hear a conversation in which he explains that it is Starfire and that I want to talk to her. She asks why I am calling. He says he doesn't know, that keep hanging up on him. She asked what I did say, and he reminds her that I keep hanging up on him. She asks why. He tells her I'm just rude, that he thinks I have some personal defect that isn't worth repeating here.
A moment later she picks up the phone. It is a young but mature voice with perhaps the hint of caution in it, "Hello?! This is American Pryde, how can I help you?"
This is not the time to suggest she break down and hire professional staff for stuff like answering their Emergency Response line. "This is Starfire and I have a situation on the back side of the moon. After taking a moment to digest what I said (I imagine she doesn't get calls on this line about the moon very often), she asks if I have particulars. I ask if she can accept a data feed and she says yes. I send the information from my heads-up display. Apparently there are several of them in the room and they can all see the display on their end. There is animated conversation and at least 4 individuals have focused their attention on the information in front of them. They are debating whether to respond to this or to pursue some sentinels that they are apparently tracking in upstate New York. They are considering devoting forces to go investigate the sentinels at their source. Interesting, American Pryde was serious about her position that the sentinels are operating illegally.
The debate turns to considering calling in outside help when American Pryde returns to the phone, "We are going to assemble a Team and meet you somewhere. We'll call you back when we are in the air."
"Thanks!" That's a relief. When hit in the face with compelling evidence that there is a major situation already in progress that might very soon threaten the entire planet with possible dire consequences, they can actually be focused on the crucial task of beginning a discussion about whether to follow some earth robots who might be breaking a law, or perhaps doing something about interstellar invasion forces conducting an actual landing on the moon as we speak. At least the group leader and her sister are able to speak English fluently. She even recognized the need for information and thought of asking me for it. Hope springs eternal.
I finish my ascent and head for New York. I don't know whether they are going to need help getting from the atmosphere to the moon or not.
As I establish my course, I notice a craft rising up out of New York at an unusual rate of speed. Team Liberty has its own transportation! I change course to head for the moon as I receive a call from them. I answer, "Starfire!"
"We are on our way up, we'll rendezvous with you and figure out what we are going to do on the way." A sense of urgency on their part! Perhaps I have not given them enough credit. I acknowlege and hang up.
Minutes later they catch up with me and maneuver to allow me to enter an airlock. Once inside I am treated to an animated discussion on the merits of allowing the aliens to finish destroying the installation on the moon, which seems to have been constructed by Domovich, the Latverian Dictator and international terror sponsor. I can see their point. The folks marked as hostile on my heads up display may be doing us a favor. The folks who accidentally provided me this suit however, don't approve.
As we land on the rim of a crater just far enough past the moon's horizon as viewed from earth to conceal events from earth view, we see a group of automations pouring out of the installation into the fray, generally blasting away at all parties. The automations all look like Xerox copies of Domovich. Maybe he's ego-centric. The units marked hostile are large solid-armor exo-skeletons with obvious arrays of fairly bulky weapons blasting impressive firepower to devastating effect when they are on target. A multitude of new ground units marked friendly are soft-armored humanoids who's regalia closely resembles my own, though they don't seem to hit as hard as the hostiles. They are doing ok, but it looks like that may be due to having a constant data feed letting them know everything that is going on. Their uniforms are not quite as fancy as mine either. Maybe there are rank differences in these uniforms. Wonderful. I wonder what they are going to think of me having one of these suits when this mess is over.
We exit Team Liberty's craft amid the continuing discussion of whether to take who's side when three things happen simultaneously. My heads-up display loses the data feed, a massive alien starship with markings dimly resembling the hostile units 'appears' in low lunar orbit, and the two ships supporting the friendly units (and supplying the data feed) explode. This is probably bad, at least for me. I am wearing the uniform of their enemy. Either way, this one new group too many. On the other hand, this will probably reduce their interest in a terran having one of their uniforms.
I look up the new ship in the library stored in the computer my armor operates on. It turns out it is an assault ship, intended to bombard planets and then land shock troops, at least according to the library I have. Let's see. Earth has an installation created on its moon and a shock troop carrier lands troops to build a base camp. Then the landed shock troops notice and attack the earth installation. Next, we have a third party comprised of lighter, better informed troops not attacking the installation, just the shock troops, and they never had support ships enough to allow construction of a base camp, only enough to destroy one.
The clues seem sufficient to me, so I contact American Pryde on the Team's shared radio frequency and tell her that I believe the symbology on the heads-up display we were receiving. Based on information I was able to pull up from the computer in my armor and the fact that I met the former owner of my armor, the friendlies are acting in our best interest. She tells me thanks, but to include everyone when I talk to them rather than just her. I cite her status as leader, and the fact that I don't have the right to tell her team what to do or why. She informs me that she is not the leader, that they are a team of equals and she doesn't know why they insist on looking at her as if she is somehow the leader.. Amazed, I tell her maybe she ought to step up and assume the mantle, cause someone needs to.
The Team decides that this is sufficient information to make a decision with, and they commit to attacking the heavy assault units. I have already switched on my Electro Magnetic Masking and begun heading for the assault-landing ship. I don't want them feeling free to bombard the Team on the ground, much less landing more troops. The big challenge here is that I have never attacked a starship before, I don't really know how to do it, yet.
On the moon, the heavies are making scrap out of the doom-bots and the friendlies. I hope the Team's entry into that fray is enough to fix the balance. The Team tells me that two of the heavies have left the moon to pursue me. Since they still have 28 others to deal with, I quite understand them not intercepting these two. I am moving several times the heavys' speed so I am not worried too much about them catching me. I have bigger fish to fry. While switching to afterburners, my pursuers succeed in getting off one salvo at me and hitting me with one round to minimal effect. Now out of range, I concentrate on the ship and the 6 fighters it has just launched. I ignore the 12 drop tubes that it also launched. Those only deliver ground troops. They are no threat to me, but they prove my concern that the ship needs to be dealt with to prevent further landings.
I attempt to ignore the fighters, but two of them maneuver to make a strafing pass at me. I raise my shield and draw my weapon. Their strafing only marginally breeches my shield and the remaining energy is barely perceptible when it hits my armor. They fly past me and I turn my attention to the assault ship. The launch bay where the fighters came from yawns before me invitingly, a space borne ammunition and fuel dump waiting for an ignition source. I spray blaster-fire into it, and am rewarded by one deep explosion which causes the entire ship to shudder briefly. I see fires and explosions hurling debris out of the hangar opening before I have to turn to face the returning fighters. My attack is strong enough to hurt. I was worried it wouldn't be.
On the moon, there only 3 friendlies and 7 doom-bots left to face 24 remaining heavy assault troops, but there are 48 more heavies being delivered by drop tubes. The rest of the Team is going to have more fun than I will at this rate. The returning fighters come in in two echelons, the first group of two and second group of 4. This means all ships in a given group can shoot simultaneously. I should be ok judging from the effect they had the first time. The first two fire on me. They penetrate my shield and the remaining energy rocks me pretty good. I don't want to get hit by 4 at once. I turn and spray another burst into the hangar bay (the referee wants to know what I have against his hangar bay and what I think it ever did to me). Only two rounds go into the hangar bay this time, and and I don't see any more of those comforting explosions I saw the first time.
I turn to face the 4 fighters coming in in echelon. On the ground, the Team has dealt with all but two of the heavies. The friendlies are dead. The doom-bots fell back, formed a phalanx and launched on intercept course for the drop tubes. Smart tactics. The two heavies coming up after me are still too far off to worry about, but if these four fighters have the effect I am afraid they might, I won't get to worry about it. They bring their weapons to bear. I raise my shield. They close. I brace for shock. They fire.
I don't know how long its been, but when I come to, I find myself being dragged by a fighter using a tractor beam. I guess they think they have captured an enemy officer. The other fighter from this pair is flying behind us, keeping watch on me, I guess. The situation on the moon seems to be dealt with. The Team members have all manifested flying abilities, most by using accessory equipment, and are assisting the doom-bots intercepting the drop tubes or taking out the two heavies that were coming after me. All except for American Pryde, she has just accomplished the most remarkable thing. By throwing her shield at a fighter which made an attack on her, she shattered the canopy killing the crew. One heavy, 5 fighters, 8 drop tubes, and an assault ship left to deal with.
I am tired of being a prisoner. I wrench myself free of the tractor beam. The rear guard fighter bears down on me, firing. With my shield down, his blast catches me squarely and rocks me, but I remain conscious. AND now, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, it's time for the HAMMER-THROW EVENT! On an inspiration, I conceive a unique attack. As the firing fighter completes its attack and veers off, I capture it with my tractor beam (bet he didn't expect that). Pulling sideways against it, I swing it in a full circle arc around me. It runs up its engines to full power to escape my tractor, but it does not succeed. As it swings around me I release it heading directly at the mother ship. Too late, I realize that if the fighter penetrates the hull and does half the damage I hope for, I will be caught in one ugly explosion. I watch the impact. It crushes a surface mounted hull structure and there is a satisfying surface explosion, but it fails to rupture the hull of the ship and so does relatively little damage.
Mean while American Pryde has stayed ahead of me by throwing her shield through the canopy of a second fighter. The girl has a talent for throwing things. I bet she's brutal with a high heel shoe. Cobblestone, who is more like a living rock-man than anything, has succeeded in catching a passing fighter and peeling the hull off of it with his hands. I'll keep that in mind in case he makes a move to keep his "hed-squishing" threat. The doom bots have been left to deal with the last 3 drop tubes. The last heavy that was pursuing me appears to have been wadded up like tin foil and is floating slowly away from cobblestone. The two remaining fighters are rendezvousing to combine firepower against their next target, and I look at the assault ship to find that the fighters were dragging me toward an opening in the ship's hull that was intended to recover fighters. It isn't burning. Yet. I fire a salvo into the opening and all 5 rounds veer gracefully into the cavern inside the ship. 5 brilliant bursts rip debris from the surfaces inside, rewarding me with a lovely vision of chaos. Then a cascading explosion happens, and then a whole series of explosions begins to rip through the inside of the ship. I think its time to go.
Team Liberty has decided they want in on the fun and begin heading toward the ship, en-masse. Looking around I see the doom-bots pursuing the remaining drop tubes toward the moon. Only one fighter remains, limping on one badly smoking engine away from the assault ship at best possible speed. I think it is probably better to return it to its home than to let the poor thing crash into the moon, and I go after it to use it for another hammer throw.
American Pryde throws her shield at the assault ship and holes the hull. I am amazed. I struggle, as I look back, to get that thought to fit in my head. I whipped a star-fighter at full throttle into the thing and it just squashed into the side. She throws, throws by hand, a shield at it and holes the hull. While I am trying to comprehend the force involved, another series of internal explosions begins inside the assault ship. The light of reason dawns on Team Liberty, they decide it is time to open range. Not wanting to miss the chance for one more round, I look for the "hammer" I was going to throw only to find it has already crashed into the moon. The assault ship explodes, the force catching me full in the back, hurling me through space. Team Liberty encounters similar problems, but nothing fatal.
What is left of what Team Liberty referred to as Doom Base is, unbelievably, amazingly, incredibly, no kidding, struck by one of the larger pieces of the engineering section of the exploding assault ship. [Asylum Raiders: I know this is not what happened in the game session, but this seems easier to deal with for purposes of this story on the web.] So much for the remaining doom-bots and any heavy assault troops that might have successfully completed the drop.
I decline the ride Team Liberty offered me back to earth. I was a little overwhelmed by the antics during the flight up here, and I can make my own way home. They seem like a good enough bunch of kids. Their offer to help my daughter learn to use her abilities speaks to their intentions. They focused on the task at hand once they decided what it was. They are not cowards. The one is maybe a little over-committed to the notion of not killing, she needs to differentiate between killing in battle and murder in cold blood, but hey, that is only my opinion.
I take it easy on the flight back home, recovering a bit from the battering I took in the battle before I make planet-fall. Once down in San Diego, I find a place not too far from my car where no one is around and land. Then as Jim Somebody, I make my way to my car and them home. I was supposed to leave Hank's at 4:00 and be home by 5:00. It is 7:00 when I get there.
Jacque and Jill are both excited to see me, I was supposed to take them to a dinner theater tonight, and somehow they both just knew I'd come through.
"You bet! Are the two most beautiful women on the planet ready to go?" I can't let my family down!...