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Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Into the Trenches rss

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Brendan Thomas
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The Mission: Guns of War (Tredarra mission 5)
The Characters: Lara McCoy, lvl 3 Outlaw with Outlaw Charm and first two Shootin' talents, Shines-Like-Amber (or just Amber, to her white friends), lvl 3 Indian Scout with Savage Attack and first two Warrior Talents.

The Write-up:
Shines-Like-Amber straightened, a frown creasing her face. “Did you hear that?” She craned her neck, stretching up on tiptoe to peer over the top of the ditch. “It sounded like an explosion.” Down below her, in the mud, her companion sat back from the box of supplies she was scavenging.
“Christ on a crutch, this world ain’t got a thing worth taking, and that’s a fact.” Disgust twisted the outlaw’s face. “C’mon, Amber, you cain’t get all twisted up every time y’hear a boom ‘round here. Somethin’s blowin’ up every time y’turn yer head.” Lara McCoy climbed to her feet, trying in vain to brush mud off her long, flowing robes: an artifact of another cross-world adventure.

“No, this was different. Closer.” Shines-Like-Amber was still peering over the top of the trench. “From the direction we came. I think it would be wise to return to our gate, Lara. Before we are discovered.”
Lara opened her mouth to reply, but whatever she was going to say was lost as another explosion went off, this one much closer. Mud and debris rained down into the trench, and both women ducked. “They shootin’ cannons at us? Ain’t they got nothin’ better to do?”

“I will see.” The scout, recovering quickly, was around the corner before Lara could protest. The outlaw shook her head, muttering imprecations, and gathered up their gear. It wasn’t long before Amber returned, sliding into the trench from above and startling her companion badly.

“Dammit, girl!” Lara re-holstered her revolvers. “Just ‘bout gave me a heart attack!”

Amber regarded her companion without expression. “We have a problem. The guns are not firing at us. They are firing at the gate we came through. If we cannot silence them, we will not be able to pass through to our own world.” Lara gaped at her, but the scout didn’t seem to notice. “There are two guns, I believe, and they are not too far from here.”
The outlaw crouched down, swinging open her pack. “Lucky for us I brought some dynamite, then.” She straightened up, bouncing sticks of TNT in either hand with a triumphant smile, but Amber shook her head. “What?” The outlaw demanded.

“I do not think our weapons are strong enough.” Amber allowed herself to smile at her companion’s expression. “But I have a plan. Just ahead, I have seen one of their larger soldiers. It is by itself, and seems to be in possession of a box of those explosives they use. We will take it unawares, and use those charges to destroy their guns and return home.” Lara whistled.

“Damn, girl. You found all that out in the five minutes you been gone?” The outlaw slung her pack onto her back and held out her companion’s. “Well, c’mon then, ain’t no use in waitin’.” Lara checked the chambers of her two revolvers, spinning the cylinders and clicking her tongue in annoyance. “One of them big ones, y’say? And here’s me using my last dark stone bullet this mornin’.”

The two women slunk down the trench, Shines-Like-Amber leading the way. Lara paused to roll over a deceased legionnaire, but the reek of decay and corruption coming off the body was like a physical force. The outlaw staggered back, coughing and gagging even through the bandanna over her face. Amber looked back, a disapproving frown on her face and a finger held to her lips. The scout was hiding behind a column and, as the outlaw staggered up, she peeked out for a moment.

“There it is.” Amber ducked back behind the column and checked the action on her carbine. Lara peered around her.

The big, lumbering form of the grenadier was moving clumsily around the area, loading long, thin boxes into the back of some sort of wagon. Long lines lay on the ground, sparking and jumping as electricity jumped through them randomly. Some sort of telegraph? Lara shook her head. The technology here was amazing, or at least it must have been before whatever conflict had ripped their whole world apart. She ducked back around the column. “I don’t like the look of them wires. Might get a nasty shock if’n y’step on one.” She muttered to her companion, who nodded. The outlaw unholstered her revolvers, took a deep breath, and cracked her neck. “You ready?” She whispered. Amber nodded again, and Lara was about to charge around the corner when she noticed that the little, regularly shaped mounds of dirt had… little blinking lights on them? “Wait!” She hissed, but it was too late.

Amber moved forward cautiously, her feet sliding along the ground, her weight rolling through her foot, the carbine raised to her shoulder. Lara’s heart jumped into her mouth as the scout’s foot landed squarely on one of the little mounds and the scout stopped dead, but after a second’s pause nothing happened: No alarm, no explosion. The outlaw blew out a quick sigh of relief that changed into a cocky grin. “Well, c’mon!” She whooped, and charged.

The first step was fine. So was the second. And the third. Lara raised her revolvers as she ran, drawing a bead on the surprised grenadier. And that was when it all went wrong. The first land mine went off directly under her feet, the blast throwing the outlaw sideways and to one knee. Then another mine went off. And another. And another. Both women shrieked in surprise and pain as the detonations thundered across the square, a cascade of rippling fire and pain. The grenadier, in its thick suit that hid all expression, still managed to look smug as it bent down and picked up a thermal charge slowly. It straightened, then lumbered a few steps and threw it into the blast zone. The charge landed directly between Amber and Lara, and the two women, dazed and bloody, threw themselves to the side as it detonated harmlessly in a curiously contained thunderclap.

Shines-Like-Amber pushed herself up to one knee, head ringing and face bloody, and worked the action on her carbine calmly. Bullets sparked off the grenadier’s suit and the thing’s diving-bell helmet turned to face her, expressionless. Swearing, Lara managed to regain her feet and the reports of her revolvers joined the cacophony, though her aim was marginal at best and if any rounds hit at all, they were unable to penetrate the thing’s thick armor. The grenadier lumbered forward again, raising its fists to smash down at the scout, but Amber managed an ungainly roll to the side, dropping her rifle in the dust. She drew the feathered hatchet at her belt and leapt at the thing, hacking savagely and screaming a war cry. The hatchet skipped off the thing’s helmet, but then bit in beneath the arm, and bright red blood started flowing. The grenadier stumbled away, clutching at the wound, and Lara sighted in on it, snarling a wordless curse. This time, her aim was better. Two rounds sparked off the grenadier’s helmet, but one cracked the faceplate and another punched through entirely, taking the grenadier full in the face. It dropped with a thunderous crash, suddenly boneless, leaving the two women gasping and staring at each other across the battlefield, both bloody and bruised. “Good shot.” Amber nodded at her companion. Lara re-holstered her revolvers on the second attempt and shook her head to clear it. “An’ that was the easy part.”

Shines-Like-Amber wiped her hatchet on the grenadier’s armor and sat on his unmoving chest, pulling out a roll of bandages and applying them to her bloody arm as Lara limped over to the strange wagon. She pried the lid off the box and started putting thermal charges in her pack. The strange weapons were heavy, but she also added one to her belt. “Just in case,” She muttered to herself.

Another report of the heavy guns shook the ground, and both women looked up. “That was close.” Amber nodded, and jerked her chin in the direction the report had come from. “This way.” They moved cautiously, testing with their feet, wary of setting off more mines.

A cable leapt as electricity sparked through it and Lara ducked too late to avoid an electrical burn. The outlaw cursed and grumbled as the two moved on, and Amber, without ever pausing or slowing down, threw a roll of bandages at Lara’s head. The outlaw shut up after that, though she did wind them around her leg and walked easier afterwards.

---

Lieutenant Shah Exol’thu of the most glorious Harr'iban Liberation Army, third regiment, 1st platoon, peered through his field glasses at the cloud of dust and smoke, holding his breath. Was this it? Had they finally destroyed the accursed thing? Something blue sparkled and his shoulders slumped as the smoke cleared. That damnable portal was still there, shining merrily, just as if it hadn’t just been hit directly by the largest charge his guns were capable of holding. “Prepare to fire again!” He shouted, and pretended not to hear the grumbling behind him as the legionnaires went about their work. Damnable portal, damnable infantry, damnable backwater city.

His gaze slid over to where his three grenadiers were lounging near a pile of ordnance and he shifted uncomfortably. If they couldn’t destroy the gate with the guns, they were going to have to march in there and set charges, and Lieutenant Exol’thu didn’t like that idea. Not with the weird alien scavengers being sighted all over this damnable city. The lieutenant shuddered. Disgusting, greedy creatures, the scavengers. Too stupid to wear proper protection, so most were on whatever they called their Last March, whether or not they recognized it. Smart enough to be dangerous though, oh yes. Just the other week, Exol’thu had seen a screaming savage decapitate one of his men with some sort of primitive blade made of shards of the black rock stuck into a piece of wood. He shook his head in amazement. The most precious materiel in existence, the foundation of the Tredarran war machine, and these savages used it to stick people with the pointy end.

Exol’thu shook himself out of his reverie. His men had finished loading another shell into the long gun and, off behind him, yes, it looked as though his irregulars had loaded their gun as well. He turned back to the portal and raised his field glass again… and then paused. He frowned, and adjusted the trioculars, focusing on the square directly ahead, where he’d detached Grenadier Shol’kim to watch over their ordnance. Where was that lazy…? A glint of sunlight caught his eye. Savages! Two of them! Lieutenant Exol’thu slid down the embankment, hauling his radio from his belt and barking orders, chivvying his troops into some semblance of formation just as the savages appeared. They were wielding primitive firearms and what looked like an axe, and appeared surprised to see a Tredarran battle group formed up and waiting for them. Exol’thu permitted himself a smile. “Open fire!” He screamed, and an answering shout rose from his soldiers as they charged, carbines blasting.

The savages gave an answering scream as they were surrounded by soldiers of the Harr'iban Liberation Army, their primitive weapons flashing and thundering. They were not incapable warriors, and Exol’thu snarled his hate at them when they didn’t immediately fall to his troops. “Grenadiers, forward!” He screamed, and the troops lumbered forward uncertainly.

“But sir…” One of them had the temerity to stammer. “The men!”

“I said forward, you idiots!” The lieutenant screamed. “Any soldier who dies today will be remembered in glory!”

The grenadiers glanced at each other, but lumbered forward again, priming their charges and, just as they wound up, Exol’thu remembered what it was he’d forgotten. The grenadiers were using the new Mk. 3 charge, the ones without the spatial inhibitors. “Wait!” He screamed, but it was too late. The charges arced through the air toward the primitives and his poor, doomed soldiers. The first charge hit straight on, slamming into the primitive with two pistols, but the other missed its target and bounced once. There was a horrible, pregnant pause that seemed to stretch out for a million years. Then the charges went off. Exol’thu had to look away, shielding his eyes from the blinding light as he whispered a prayer for his men. At least they would never know the ignominy of the Last March and a corruptive, wretched death. Better to die in cleansing fire, taking out enemies of the Legion with them.
Lieutenant Exol’thu straightened up, tugging his dress jacket. “Their sacrifice will be remembered,” he began, “As will…” He trailed off. And stared.

There was a crater, of course. And unnamable carnage from his squad, which made his stomach roil. But, unbelievably, the two primitives were still standing in the midst of the wreckage, unharmed! A green glow was fading from the amulet one held, and the other flicked the ash away from a lit cigar. They met his unbelieving gaze and he swore he saw the one smile savagely. What kind of magic was this! The primitives let out a wailing war cry and charged, and Exol’thu gaped as one leapt on his grenadier, bearing it to the ground and hammering it with her axe, gouts of blood leaping from the flashing blade. What sort of primitive could pierce grenadier armor with a blade?! The other let out a barrage from those ridiculous pistols and another grenadier staggered backwards, shielding its face from the impacts.

Exol’thu fumbled at his belt for his radio, his throat dry and his fingers nerveless. “Fire! Fire the gun!” He croaked into the radio. “Hit them with everything!” His irregulars, manning the other gun, sounded confused. “Sir? We need firing coordinates, sir.” Exol’thu screamed again. “Fire 5 meters ahead of my position, you idiots!” His nerveless fingers fumbled at his belt, confirming the presence of his shimmer shield. “Fire now!”

Whatever can be said of Exol’thu’s tactics, the discipline of his men must be beyond reproach. The big gun fired twice, and shells arced through the air. The outlaw and the scout ducked and covered when they heard the noise, and Lieutenant Exol’thu’s lips had just started to smile when the shell came down directly on his head.

--

Lara McCoy’s unbelieving laughter rang through across the battlefield. “Didya see that?” She crowed, as the last grenadier fell to her bullets and Shines-Like-Amber’s axe. “Right on his head! What a moron!”
Shines-Like-Amber loped over to the fallen Lieutenant, who was stirring fretfully, shimmer shield sparking and dying. She regarded him for a moment, then buried the axe between his eyes without a word.
Lara, still laughing, moved to set the charges on the gun as her companion efficiently stripped Lieutenant Exol’thu out of his heavy coat and examined it with a critical eye before tossing it to the outlaw. “You want this?” She asked.

Lara caught the coat and turned it over. “You don’t?” The outlaw shrugged out of her Belian robes and threw the coat on instead. “Hey, pretty cunning.” She admired herself for a moment, then tossed the robes to her companion. “Here, take these.” The scout pursed her lips as she regarded the cultist’s robes, but Lara shot her a look. “Don’t be like that. They’re fireproof, and tougher than they look.”

Amber shrugged. “Very well.” The robes went on over her clothes, and it took her a moment to re-adjust her weapons belt over the voluminous fabric. “One more gun to go.”

Lara’s sunny disposition faltered. “I’m runnin’ low on supplies.” She warned. “If there’s another group like this one, could be bad news.” Shines-Like-Amber nodded, but didn’t offer any encouragement.

As it happened, all that was guarding the second gun was a group of irregulars, armed with sabers and pistols. Lara bounced a stick of dynamite in her hand with a questioning eyebrow, and Amber nodded. Both women stepped out from cover simultaneously and threw, fuses hissing. The raiders had only the barest moment of realization before the dual explosions wiped them from the face of the planet. And from there, destroying the second gun and returning to earth was simplicity itself.


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Brendan Thomas
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The crunch: The land mines KO'd the Indian Scout, but with two players a revive token got her right back into the fight. We were lucky in the big fight: the Grenadiers had the 'splash damage' elite ability, and the Harr'iban Liberation Army replaces shootout with assault on the legionnaires, so they all charged in blindly and were blown to smithereens by the grenadiers. The heroes survived with an Amulet of Kotak, a Cigar, and an Aura of Endurance from the church providing armor 5+ to the Outlaw.

There were also a few things that didn't make the story: both heroes mutated as a result of the dark stone they were carrying (the Outlaw had 16 pieces, plus 7 DS icons!) The Scout picked up tentacle fingers and the Outlaw's mouth grew over. Both mutations were healed back in town. The Scout also has a barbed tail and a DS blade that didn't feature in the story but help explain her melee badassery, while the Outlaw has slippery skin and DS grips on both pistols, as well as a crisp rose for maximum grit. I actually only ended up using Outlaw Charm once in that mission.
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Adam Mitchell
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Thanks for the excellent Session Report! I especially liked the part from the Communications Lieutenant's point of view. I must say, you got very lucky with Thermal Charges taking out most of the Legionnaires, but then you have to be lucky if you're going to survive facing a Battle Groupdevil! Congratulations on your victory! Oh, and it's interesting to know that one of the Orders can go wrong like that; it makes me feel a little more hopeful for the future, since we've not yet had the challenge of facing a Field Marshal or a Communications Lieutenant.
 
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Farydia Pseudo
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Terrific writeup! Glad to see I'm not the only crazy one to invest time into writing "Brimstone Stories".
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Adam Mitchell
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One point, though: The Trederran rulebook question section states that Liberation Army Communications Lieutenants are Assault rather than Shootout.
 
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Brendan Thomas
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Hey, look at that.

Yeesh. Stupid, fiddly Tredarrans. I figured 2 'Shootout' > 1 'Assault' but I guess not. With as many rules and if-thens as those guys have, I've probably never played them correctly.

I also forgot the legionnaires' shatter grenades and had to rewind time halfway through the turn. At least no-one had war-gear.

And it's just as well: If the lieutenant had charged with the legionnaires, he would have taken two thermal charges to the face too. No help from his shimmer shield then.
 
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