JPN Convoy Ambush

GM: Air
Players: Air, Laz
Synopsis: Air and Laz ambush a Japanese convoy heading from Sacramento to the Ute via Reno on highway 80.
Date: Sun Mar 18 2072

There's a lot going on in CalFree all of a sudden. Well, that's not quite right, there's been a lot happening for a while, but it all seems to be coming to a head right now, which is part of the reason why Air is finally paying that hellhole some attention. Contacting a friend of his he makes some subtle inquiries about the situation, finally homing in on something he considers a lucrative opportunity: The military materiel support being provided to the Ute by the Japanese. They're likely to be less well defended what with this GoldRush thing going on. A quick look over the shadowscene still in Denver and he finds himself an interested fellow opportunist, Laz, and another call to a friend who 'knows a guy' secures them passage across the Ute to the town of Truckee, CalFree for an entirely reasonable rate, considering they can bring lots of gear with them.

The travel is as comfortable as a fold-down webbing seat in the cargo area of a Thunderbird can be, and plan formulation is aided by noise-cancelling earbuds to communicate over the deafening engine noise.

Air points at the illuminated mapscreen held between the two runners, the map juddering as they pass through turbulence, "We land here, Truckee. The freeway here is the main route for Japanese convoys heading into the Ute through Reno." Pulling the map left, he points to where the freeway passes through Blue Canyon, "I call this a good spot for an ambush, and I'm open to suggestions for how we stop the vehicles."

On the T, Laz leans forward, Dark Horse Balaclava rolled up on his head for now. "How many vehicles do we expect in this convoy?" is the first order of the day sort of question.

Air nods, "Good question, I'm expecting three to five heavy trucks. Solid bodies, not articulated. One or two may be infantry carriers, so we could be looking at thirty enemy combatants at the worst. More likely I expect three materiel trucks, with Logistics Corpsmen, which are at best lightly cybered, perhaps six of them. We're going to need to be picky about what we take from the, but quick. Best not to take any hits during engagement, we need to really come down hard when we pop the ambush."

Laz nods, "I can place a powerful spirit here…or here. Accidents happen, don't you know?" he says, glancing up. "I've also got some nades and c-12 that could come into play here. Or I could go long distance and make the head convoy snooze. How many lanes is it here in ambush zone?" he asks, sliding his finger from point to point.

Air points, drawing a finger along the line that represents the freeway, "Here next to the abandoned airstrip east and westbound sides split, and it's only two lanes, and again here, further back in the canyon. Both would be good spots. Accidents, sleeping at the wheel, a certain truck blowing up, these all work for me. If you can handle that I'll take a more direct stance and handle any errant runners."

Laz nods, "What's your intel telling you on numbers?" Laz asks, scanning the map, "And where am I going to be able to take cover. I only need LOS, but if you run into trouble I don't want to be miles away ere I can bring Ero-Sennin to bear," he says, tapping one of his katanas as he mentions it by name.

Air draws his finger along the area of Blue Canyon, "This whole length the roads run along the botton of the canyon, but there are embankments up to the roads, and the ground is full of dips and ridges perfect for lying out of sight in. It's also relatively thickly treed right up to about six feet from the roadsides which should serve well for hiding our getaway vehicle, not to mention us."

Digging into his bag, Laz chucks the balaclava in there and draws the polymask out. He puts it on, raw, so it's obvious it's a mask but it sure as hell doesn't look like an elven male. "Do we have any images of any of these people? I'd like to have some in my mind in case it becomes…relevant," he says, briefly looking like a Japanese man in corp uniform before flickering back into his polymimetically masked self.

"Looks solid to me. I'll summon a spirit and get him to strap on one of the c-12 backpacks just in case we need to go Taliban on this group. Yea?"

Air shrugs, "Just standard Japanese military. No namers really. And if you can get a spirit to suicide bomb them, that works for me. Might make a good distraction in case shit goes bad and we need to retreat. First thing we need to do is secure a van when we get on the ground though. You got any mind affecting spells? Convincing someone to sell us one would work for me."

Laz shakes his head, "No, I'm light on those. Mine are more…physically persuasive. I can impersonate just about anyone though," he says, switching his voice to match yours identically as he speaks. "You know what I mean?" He grins. "SBS might be overkill, but I'll have a backpack ready."
He then drags his finger. "I think I'll sit here," he says, in Genesis's voice. "I can be here at their 9 and get a good view of the driver of the lead truck. Snooze him and then slice and dice from up here. My sleep spells have a good footprint."

Air raises an eyebrow at the voice changing antics, "Uh, right. I suppose we can look for one for sale, or acquire one as needed, in Truckee. I was hoping to find a Bulldog. Those things just never quit." Nodding he agrees, "Sounds good to me, I'll sit back here, a hundred yards right of you, the slight rise should give me good overview with my rifle and I won't be too far to approach."

Laz nods and himself dons the suicide vest, putting the detonator in his woodland camo jacket. "I'll hand it over to the spirit should the need arise," he says, in his own voice, as he zips the camo over it. "I'm not so good with people, so I'll let you do the van thing, unless you need my back up," he adds, his polymimetic grin being rather disturbing.

Air shakes his head, "Only if I have to steal one, to keep an eye out." Turning aside he folds the map away and digs into one of his bags, coming out with a polymask. Pulling it on and smoothing it out he becomes suddenly Native American, "The name is Macawi, by the way, Erik Macawi. I'm Sioux Indian, you know. He grins while applying makeup to his hands to change his fair skin tone to more tanned, completing his disguise.

«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls Disguise for "+4 for the mask, yay.":
1 3 3 4 5 14
«Plot» Air says, "Air is disguised at TN 18."

«Auto-Judge» Laz (#1899) rolls Stealth:
2 4 10 14
«Plot» Air says, "Laz is disguised at TN 16."

The trip is otherwise long and boring, Air entertains himself with some kind of game, or so it seems, he's playing it on his cybereyes so Laz sees nothing. The eventual landing is nice and smooth, thanks to there being a little airstrip at Truckee, the pilot being somewhat capable, and Thunderbirds being a dream to fly. Piled out with all their gear, Air and Laz find themselves just outside Truckee at around 11 pm, the night's darkness already fallen and the town lit up in the near distance. Dropping his bags Air pulls out a pocsec with an aside to Laz, "Hang on, let me make a call." Ten minutes later he folds it up and pockets it, having used datacable to communicate silently, "There's a used car garage in town, I just persuaded the owner to come open up for us, let's go see what they have."

The elf has napped the whole way, mask or no mask, but he's up right quick on landing. Hauling all his gear, he prepares to disembark, muttering words of thanks to the pilots before following Air out of the Bird. "I'll take the position and wait for you, do some recon…I'm no help with the van people, agreed?"

Air nods, "Yeah, just look after my gear while I negotiate with him, no worries."

The garage is about half a mile away, which takes the pair a few minutes to walk. Outside on the street Air dumps his bags down and nods to Laz before heading into the place. Out front are a wide selection of shitty towncars and Americars, with the odd electric Jackrabbit mixed in.

For his part, Laz sits tight while things are negotiated, having summoned a top notch pair of watchers to keep an eye on things, he plays with his new cell phone, one he picked up from the smuggler before boarding the T-Bird.

«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls Etiquette vs TN 7 for "What can you do me on that used Bulldog Sec? Here's my SIN.":
1 1 3 4 4 5 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls Etiquette vs TN 2 for "Well how about that normal one then… off the books.":
1 1 2 4 5 8 = 4 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls Negotiation vs TN 4 for "Do me a good price, I'm paying in certstick, right now.":
4 4 4 4 8 13 = 6 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls Gear Value vs TN 4 for "Complementary":
1 2 2 3 3 4 5 = 2 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls 3 vs TN 8 for "But that's a top notch van!":
2 5 5 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls 3 vs TN 8 for "But that's a top notch van! KP":
1 3 9 = 1 Success

«Plot» Air says, "6 net successes in Air's favor, the van is 24450 nuyen."

Air pulls out front, parking in front of Laz, about ten minutes later in a white GMC Bulldog. Plenty of room for plenty of swag in the back. Rolling the window down he pats the side to get Laz's attention, "Alright, load the gear in the back and let's get moving."

Laz pushes off the wall against which he was leaning, the watchers piling in (they look remarkably like winged versions of Che Guevara). He walks towards the van, opening the doors to start throwing in the gear, though he does so gently. Once sorted, he climbs in the back and slams both doors shut. "We own this thing now?" he says, "Or are you renting?"

"Proud owners, us. I figure we can sell it after and recover whatever I spent on this. It's not on any books, so we don't have to worry about it tracing back to me. Just need to make sure it's clean after. I thought about driving into Halferville after and getting in touch with BSyde, see if he doesn't know of any work worth doing." Air talks back, rolling the window up again and pulling away. Turning off onto the freeway he begins the short 30 mile journey to the truckstop right by their ambush zone. "Gonna hit the rest stop on the freeway, our target location is a mile up the road from it, and out convoy is due out 10:37am tomorrow, 11 hours from now."

"Good to get in early, do a bit of recon," says Laz, leaning back for the ride as he starts doing all the prepwork which seems to mainly focus on finding places to hang grenades from on his body..

Air nods, driving manually since the vehicle lacks an electronics port, "Yeah, I'll get us something to eat from the rest stop so you can stay out of sight. The less of us are seen together on cameras the better."

"Amen to that," says Laz, sitting in the back but chatting forward as he sharpens his non-enchanted blade. He then moves on to each of the ingrams, polishing them, loading belts, et cetera. He seems ready to rumble. For some reason, he reaches into his mouth, taps around, hmms, nods, and sits back, enjoying the rest of the smooth ride.

After about a half hours drive down a mostly empty freeway at night, Air pulls the van into a relatively large truck stop. Hitting the gas station first he puts in half a tank and then parks, heading into the place, only to return with a couple of deli prepack sandwiches and a couple of bottles of water. Sharing the food with Laz, he sits back in the driver's side to eat and drink. When the rest stop is over he starts the engine and pulls them out the other side of the rest stop, heading back east, waits until there are no approaching headlights and then pulls out.

No less than a minute later, he pulls the van quite suddenly off the road, and the ride becomes three times as rough as he drives offroad in a vehicle not designed for it.

«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls Car vs TN 8 for "Handling!":
1 5 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls Car vs TN 8 for "Handling! KP14":
3 4 4 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls Car vs TN 8 for "Handling! KP16":
3 9 11 11 = 3 Successes

Laz bounces around the back a touch but no worries, the gear is kept intact, as is his polymimetically masked noggin'. The watchers are way out front, checking for magically active bogies of any kind…

Air seems capable with the driving and finds a nice spot behind a few trees that makes spotting the van from the road difficult. Turning the can to face the road he kills the engine, leaving the keys in the ignition in this old style van. "Alright, we gear up, scout our spots out and then hunker down for a wait then."

"Are we expecting them before dawn?" asks Laz, hopping out of the van, checking his laces.

Air is out and around the back, unpacking his proper gear from bags and preparing to get dressed up like Laz. "No, they should hit that stop at just past ten thirty in the am. That gives us a few minutes while they piss and refuel, and then approx. one minute once they depart it. Having a scout there to warn us would be the best, but I have nothing to do it." While he talks he's pulling on the segments of a security armour suit, all in corporate black, right down to the blacked out visor, along with a Browning pistol on one hip, a stun baton on the other, a Sabre assault rifle slung down his chest off a one point sling, and a compact sniping rifle cradled in his arms. One term would be "loaded for bear". Flicking through his mods he checks his personal vision mods and ensures the helmet therms are functioning correctly, Laz lights up like a little elf christmas tree.

Laz gives a two thumbs up. "Aright. Nap, and at dawn I'll bring a small woodland spirit to ensure the van stay hidden, sends some pixies to keep a look out on the rest stop and draw down a big daddy spirit to help us with out plan here; Sky Man should be willing to help…" he says, zipping up his gear.

Air nods, "Right, whatever you say Father Pixie. Sky Man, woo. I'll set us up with a secure cycling,radio channel, your comms got crypto?" He pats his waits where his radio sits, to indicate, "I have a spare if not."

Laz shakes, "I lost my comms. Spare would be good…"

Air shakes his head, turns and reaches into his bag, pulling out a personal tactical comm, subvocal mic included. Turning back he holds it out to Laz, "Here, break it, you owe me." Then he shuts up the back doors of the van and turns to head off and scout himself a position.

Laz laughs, "I'll fucking prepay you, these are a bitch to find," he says, adjusting it to fit around the mask. Then he heads to find a good spot, not too close, not too far. "Test," he says over the milspec encryption layer.

Air responds by squelching the band twice and then replies, "Loud and clear, let's keep this silent until we need it."

Laz squelches twice in response and summons a small wood spirit to hide the van.

«Plot» Air will take +3 init. Laz will take +3 cp.

After dawn breaks, the runners wake from their naps and head back out to their separate hides. Sometime around 0615 hours Air breaks radio silence.

Commlink-Lucky> Air says, "Just got a heads up, the JPN have birds up flying overwatch on their convoys and hired mercs running outrider. We have a chance of catching some interference from above, be aware of non-Japanese combatants."

Commlink-Tonka> Laz says, "Hear that. Complicates things. Sky Brother here we go."

«Auto-Judge» Laz (#1899) rolls Conjuring vs TN 6 for "F6 Spirit of the sky":
2 2 3 4 5 10 = 1 Success

«Auto-Judge» Laz (#1899) rolls Charisma vs TN 6 for "6M drain 4 sux required":
2 2 2 4 5 7 = 1 Success

«Plot» Laz says, "I'm going to eat the stun M drain because it'll be gone before they get here."

In the astral, a rather large spirit appears, which then materialises to speak with Laz. He keeps it on standby, wiping the sweat from his brow, his face flushed as if he'd just run a half marathon.

And it's another weary few boring hours for the runners, waiting in the slowly gathering light, but at least it's warming up too. Air's stomach is rumbling so badly he almost fears that it's audible over comms.

Finally, at 1026 hours, traffic begins to approach along the highway.

«Auto-Judge» Air (#8050) rolls Intelligence:
2 3 4 4 4 8 9 11

«Auto-Judge» Laz (#1899) rolls Intelligence:
1 4 4 5 10 11

«Plot» Air says, "Alright, Air has trouble, he just sees a motorcycle. Laz, with the zoom you see a professional mercenary looking guy, all camo fatigues with something slung over his back and a shotgun scabbarded down the side of his motorbike. Black wraparounds conceal his eyes but he appears to be very alert."

«Plot» Laz says, "Aright, and is there a convoy behind him or is he miles ahead?"

«Plot» Air says, "It looks like he might be 50 or so meters ahead. Forward scout, definitely."

Commlink-Tonka> Laz says, "I have a forward in play, slide tackle?"

Commlink-Lucky> Air says, "Have visual, stick to the plan, let him feed past. Will engage on your mark."

Commlink-Tonka> Laz says, "Roger. On my mark."

«Plot» Air says, "So, the convoy is approaching at about 80 miles per hour. The lead scout is lead, then three trucks space about 5 meters apart in single file."
«Plot» Air says, "Bringing up the rear is a bike in each lane, keeping any traffic away."

Hidden among the shrubbery, Laz spots the convoy lead scout, flying up the highway. He shoots off a headsup to Air, then turns his attention to the following convoy, his optimag goggles allowing him to see that it is indeed a convoy of three trucks plus 2 outrider bikes following the scout. A quick scan spots a team of three in the front wagon, mixed race, but Laz's already gathering colossal amounts of mana around his fist. With a flick at the driver, the mana is discharged, crossing distance and windshield glass without any effect, coalescing on the driver's aura and completely overloading his psyche. He folds like someone cut his power and the truck, which was going 80 mph starts to weave.

"Confuse everyone in this damn convoy, Sky Brother, If you would," says Laz, "Starting with that one up front!" he adds, pointing at the scout biker…

From Laz's point of view, things only accelerate but they are suffused with that clarity of vision and mind that is trance-like for an adept; he is almost stepping through the scenes and acts in a play.

As the lead biker's ride is still spinning in the air, soon to burst into flames, the elf magical adept's gaze moves to find an alternative target even as the air around him is filled with the noise of the entire convoy stepping on the gas and the exploding bike.

From the corner of his eye, he sees another truck begin to swerve, his superhuman ears catching the sound of breaking glass and crunching flesh as Air's second shot ends another driving career. At this point, the elf is crunching some Kamikaze and raising his other hand, releasing another truckload of mana on the two trailing bikers, one of which swerves and almost loses control, the other speeding ahead scanning for the location of their ambushers. It's clear they both make out Air even as the passenger in the leader truck readies her SMG and spits out lead all around Laz, who ducks and dives among the trees, bullets singing, branches snapping, birds taking flight.

The third truck is meanwhile pedal to the metal, whining as its gearbox hops from gear to gear to gear.

Laz, his hands and knees covered in leaves and mud peeks out from behind the tree that only just took a bullet, doing so in time to watch the woman's head explode even as he's begging for help from what appears to be a scarecrow made of deadwood.

The scarecrow, diaphanous but present, nods and extends its twiggy arms, making the elf much harder to see or hear as its magic suppresses sound and light…

Two more burst reports reach Laz's and the spirits senses as the biker's shots break both the sound barrier and pulverise part of Air's armour, knocking the man back against a tree trunk.

Simltaneously but probably undetected by either Laz or Air, the Sky Brother finds another target, its whispy mist-like tendrils engulfing a second driver: the man in the third truck, who somehow keeps it steady and continues to accelerate.

"No time to worry," mutters Laz as he see Air vanish from the shots, not knowing until he hears the double crackle on the commlink that his ally is alive. He stands up, crouching, under the protective power of the Scarecrow and throws down another ball of psyche-overloading mana, this time so massive in scale that he spits blood as his gums begin to bleed, even as he watches both bikers cartwheel, bounce and crunch.

A quick scan allows him to blink twice, spit out another glob of blood and move another few metres, this time doing so in a manner so stealthy that, were the spirit not tracking his aura, it would have gone a separate direction; he moves like a winter breeze among the dappled underbrush, and heads up the road just to enough to get visual on the driver. He gives the driver of the third truck the finger, and in astral space another truckload of mana travels from the elf into the driver's entire nervous system, overloading it like an elephant sitting on a wicker chair; the man goes down, gagging on his tongue.

Sky Brother, meanwhile, has thrown out another misty tendril to one remaining passenger, giving Laz a line as to who is still up. Seeing that the day is all but won, Laz throws everything he's got left at the man who, incredibly and through the fog of confusion, manages to stay awake, but only long enough to be hit so hard by another bolt from Laz that blood bursts from his eyes, nose, mouth and ears as he too crumples….all the trucks are now grinding to a halt.

"Fuck me," says Laz, spitting blood, then walking over it to smear it into the dirt.

He looks worriedly through the optical Mag, cyclicng through layers of zoom, smiling as he spots Air's barrel, then his polymimetically masked head.

"Thought I was picking out a wreath for you," he says, over the comm, before starting to barrel down the hill side, shaking from the combat drug's still juicy effects.

Meanwhile, from Air's vantage point lay behind a grassy ridge with a shrub bush partly concealing him, he slides his sniper rifle up into position and waits. The smartlink interfaces through the pad in his palm and he runs a quick system check, ignoring the 'satisfaction' monitor telling him he'd be happier with an Ares rifle. The reticle flickers around as he shifts the rifle into the comfortable dip in his shoulder, sporting padding from the security armour he's wearing. He takes on the slow, measured breathing of a sniper at rest, keeping his blood well oxygenated and his heart rate down to ensure the best shots when the ambush begins. His mind strays as he waits, well used to the interminably boring part of a sharpshooters job.

Almost suddenly, Laz's heads up brings him back to the moment, an unavoidable spike in heartrate to accompany a blast of adrenaline. His training kicks in and he breathes deep and steady to bring it back down, squinting down the road at the distant spec that Laz is reporting to be the target. With the press of a button he brings up the thermographic HUD on his helmet visor, overlaying it with normal vision just to highlight everything. He flicks through his smartlink interface again, double checking ammo load and ranging the incoming bike: 237 meters and closing fast.

Zero minute is upon them and time seems to slow down for Air, his reflex enhancements kicking in, enabling him to draw his aiming reticle over the lead biker with ease. Splitting his attention, he knows the plan, Laz strikes first, he's got the driver of the lead truck in the corner of one eye as the convoy approaches, just waiting for the slump that indicates this game is started.

The driver slumps and that's all Air needed. A split second to refocus on the lead biker, his heart jumps into his throat as he becomes sure the biker has spotted him in his hide. The first shot is a pure reaction to that shock, taking the merc in the collar and the second quick followup cracks his sternum from neck to stomach, blowing him off his bike in the process. The bike itself turns, flips and begins to smash itself apart on the roadway, coming to rest meters further along the highway, spilling gasoline which flashes into fire from some errant spark.

The sudden fire is like the starter pistol going off at the Olympics, and everything is suddenly happening all at once. Turning smoothly back towards the convoy he zeroes in on the driver of the second truck as the first veers off the roadway into the verge, a moment to line up the shot carefully between the Japanese man's eyes. The windscreen of the truck shatters into thousands of pieces as the armour-piercing round passes through and bores into the man's skull, killing him outright.

A flash in the corner of his eye and the sound of more shattering glass draws his attention. It's a difficult angle, but the passenger in the first truck is firing at Laz. The reticle lines up with his neck, through the side window and over the head of the slumped driver and another enemy combatant explodes into nothing more than gore and meat as the supersonic round blows right through the soft muscle.

His reactions take over and he rolls sideways, out from behind the bush, still processing why he even did that as rounds batter into him, cutting through the thick armour protecting his shoulders, his skin breaking under the pressure but thankfully none worse than a minor graze. Foprced back down by the shots he hunkers below the cover of his ridge and pulls out the savior medkit that he never goes without. Tearing away the armour he swiftly plucks up a syringe of nanites and injects them directly into the wounds, pressing bandages down over them after and letting the little robots do their work. The pain lessens almost immediately and less than ten seconds later he's back up, ready to fight on… but the fight is finished. Dropping his rifle to it's sling he shoves himself up, lifting a hand to Laz and comming back, "Need more than that to keep me down. I'll bring the van down, get cherry picking."

"YEA YEA YEA!" screams Laz, with every jump, even as he clears a huge tree which months ago must have toppled. This leads him straight to one of the vans, with the Scarecrow still doing overwatch to make him ridiculously difficult to spot.

He is breathing so fast he's nearly hyperventilating. He pulls out his katana and systematically drags people out of the truck that drove off on his side of the road. It's simple: pull them out, lift them up by the hair, chop hard and sideways at a very low angle, remove head, lob head into woods.

The only one he spares is the last passenger, the one who should have gone down like a weight thrown overboard. "Respect," he says, wiping the blood of all the man's colleagues on the spared merc.

The sword is resheathed, he swallows more of his blood and goes over to help Air, who offers medical aid when Laz is calm enough to approach a couple of minutes later.

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