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"The destiny of nations is shaped by the plangent vicissitude of destroying enemy flattops, interdicting their convoys, and severing their reinforcements and supply lines. And, if you make ace along the way... well, that's just gravy."
"The destiny of nations is shaped by the plangent vicissitude of destroying enemy flattops, interdicting their convoys, and severing their reinforcements and supply lines. And, if you make ace along the way... well, that's just gravy."

It was the dead of night. The silhouettes padded quietly down the corridor like wraiths, the iridium lenses of their quadruple viewfinder night goggles glinting in the near-darkness. If the floor plans provided by the Chinese agency was accurate, the steam turbine generator room was a level directly above them.

WO2 Mattson and his team, of the elite 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, had been seconded to the Joint Special Operations Executive (JSOE), an off-the-record multi-national consortium which specialized in covert actions and counter-terrorism. This was the most dangerous mission yet, and the CO had given Mattson the option to let someone else do it. The warrant officer had looked at his commander as if he had lost his mind, and said of course, he would take the job.

The high stakes game of planning and executing a near-impossible mission was all in a day's work for Mattson, not just because he was Regimental Sergeant Major of 1 Para, and had to set the standard. The team - Parker, Branch, Fitch and Balsam - also shared his purpose and firm dedication to getting difficult jobs done. Colourful, unsubstantiated rumours of what happened to hostiles caught north of the 38th parallel did not deter them.

They had flown in by "Silent Hawk" under a full moon, the silvery wavetops of the Yellow Sea giving way to the gleaming Korea Bay coastline, and then over the heavily forested North Korean peninsula. The stealth helicopter had flown over a hundred kms inland, maintaining a circuitous route to avoid populated areas, arriving right on schedule at the landing zone, hovering tentatively just long enough for the squad to dismount, four klicks from the Yongbyon Nuclear Science and Weapons Research Center. The ingress on foot through the forest was uneventful, and scaling the crumbling perimeter wall to get in was easier than the army's obstacle course.
Now that they were inside the facility, it was time to execute the second phase of the mission.
This is a Warfighter Shadow War mission with the following parameters:
* Insertion "Helo (Blackhawk)"
* On the Ground "Alerted"
* Mission "0300 Hrs"
* Objective "Melt the Reactor"
* Exfiltration "Helo (Blackhawk)"
* Meltdown Timer 15 Turns
* Warfighter Shadow War core set
* North Korea Yongbyon Nuclear Facility (SW Expansion #20)
* United Kingdom (SW Expansion #26)
Mattson (PS)
Parker (PS)
Branch (NPS)
Fitch (SQS)
Balsam (SQS)

The Yongbyon nuclear facility was a collection of boxy, concrete buildings piled up against each other, which made access between them easy. The plan was simple: enter the building, sabotage the control computers, send the reactor into meltdown, and evacuate safely before the complex turned into a dramatic, golden mushroom cloud. That last part about getting out was especially important to Mattson. There was, of course, no guarantee that North Korea wouldn't stop trying again, so Mattson, or one of his colleagues, would be happy to come back, until the country got the message.
The steam turbines were presently offline. Sergeant Parker led the team upward, pausing at the staircase landing and checking that the pathway was clear, before emerging into the expansive room with the oversized cylindrical generator, its massive size casting long, dour shadows. Branch, Fitch and Balsam followed close behind, and Mattson brought up the rear.
As they explored the cavernous space, the sound of boots and the rattle of keys alerted them that someone was approaching. One of the hatchways was thrown open, spilling harsh fluorescent light into the room. Corporal Fitch spotted the North Korean guard, his body shape silhouetted perfectly in the door frame, and it took all her willpower to hold back until he had fully entered the room before firing, in case there was someone else behind him.

She fired once, the suppressed black round reverberant and metallic within the enclosed space. Mattson had his weapon aimed, backing her up, but he did not need to fire. The guard gasped in surprise as a red rose blossomed on his chest, then collapsed. Branch spotted the second figure behind, and he fired. Their target did not dodge or flinch, and a second later, Branch saw that he had attacked a shrubbery in the corridor outside.
"Cease fire," Mattson said. "Calm your nerves, gentlemen. Remember your training. I'm sure you scared that plant real good, Branch."
Specialist Balsam slung his weapon as he approached the computer terminal, flipping his goggles up. He retrieved a small portable keyboard from his vest, and connected it into the terminal's jack. His teammates hid the bodies out of sight and fanned out, watching the points of ingress into the room.
"I've got it," Balsam said after about a minute. "The intel that the Chinese shared with us is good. I'm in the reactor safety control system. Setting it into diagnostic mode." A small status display on the screen indicated that the system had been rendered inert running a diagnostic cycle, which would require about an hour to complete. He unplugged the device and nodded to the regimental sergeant major. "All done, sir."
"Alright, move out," ordered Mattson. "Time's a ticking."
The squad began at the Steam Turbine, which turned up two Hostiles. Feeling a bit apprehensive and trigger-happy, Fitch fired on the first Unrevealed Hostile, which turned out to be a Gunman. Branch fired on the second Unrevealed Hostile, which was Shadows. Balsam hacked the Computer, starting the Meltdown sequence with the first counter. Noise level is 4.

You could make all the jokes you wanted about their Supreme Leader, but the guards in the nuclear facility were nothing if not at least half-efficient. As the squad cautiously prowled down the passageway in the half-light, flanked by sheaves of pipes and cables, they could hear disembodied echoes of fragmented conversations and footsteps carried along by the shafts. Mattson paused abruptly and made a brief gesture. As one, the soldiers vanished like ghosts into nearby nooks and alcoves, and within a second, the passageway was uninhabited. A trio of North Korean riflemen sauntered past moments later, unaware of just how close the enemy was.
The squad resumed their progress, entering another room filled with gear and machinery, yet dominated by a cluster of oversized metal pipes with overflow safety valves, rust-stained and leaking. The valves had been locked open, as per standard operating procedure. A fading mural exhorting loyal workers to greater productivity took up the entire opposite wall. There was a table at the far end of the room, around which three workmen were clustered. As the squad poured into the room, they instantly rose to their feet with cries of alarm, and scraping of chairs.
Parker fired at the closest man, who was reaching for the wall-mounted phone. Branch fired on the furthest one, who had moved toward the hatchway at the far wall. Fitch fired at the third man, who remained frozen in his chair with surprise - the impact from her black round spun him around and threw him to the deck, and she fired a second time, for insurance. Mattson had them fan out, and verify that nobody else had been around. Balsam was already picking at the valve interlocks with an intent to locking them shut. At the passageway they had just entered from, Mattson thought he heard something distantly behind them. Voices.
Branch, Fitch and Parker move into the Safety Valves, encountering an Unaware Hostile which moved out past them into the next location, and another two more unidentified Hostiles which did not move, but instead went to Going for Alarm because of the movement Noise. All three opened fire, scoring EKIAs, before Balsam joined them and began to Pick the Valves, scoring another Meltdown counter. Back in Steam Turbines, Technicians turned up to attempt repairs, and fail the initial roll.
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