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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."

"Hold here, Section 2," Mattson said, "there's somebody back there. Branch, on me." The WO could have chosen to press onward regardless, but decided that the risk of leaving hostiles in proximity behind was too much of a risk.
Backtracking to the turbine control room, Mattson and Branch spotted a pair of technicians, identifiable by their dark grey jumpsuits, examining the control screen and chattering to each other. One of them pulled out a phone, about to make a call. Branch raised his weapon and took aim. Two quick shots took care of the technicians, who had not even seen their attackers. The paras returned to the valve control room, where Balsam had managed to pick the valve interlocks, and left them jammed shut. If the reactor coolant had to be pumped in an emergency, it would not be going anywhere.
The valve control room opened into a small courtyard, across which they could access the computer control room, and from there practically adjacent into the reactor control room. The squad moved briskly, marking their actions with more haste and less stealth, as background activity seemed to be gradually increasing. The corner of the courtyard suddenly flared to life with vehicle headlights. Mattson instantly recognized it as a locally made copy of the Russian-designed BDRM-2 armoured personnel carrier, a vintage from the 1980s. He had seen one at the National Infantry Museum when he'd visited Fort Benning a few years ago.
Vintage or not, the vehicle was equipped with a machine gun and a grenade launcher. Parker and Fitch immediately laid into the vehicle with their submachine guns, picking off the crew at point-blank range and shooting out its lights, their black rounds making a dry, coughing noise around the yard. Parker thought he saw another figure behind the vehicle and fired, but ended up hitting an empty oil drum, and getting rewarded with a tell-tale clang for his troubles. Mattson could hear increased commotion to the rear - quite possibly, the bodies which they had left behind might have been discovered.
Mattson plays an upgunned Snap Shot for Branch on the Technicians, who are on Pauses, and Branch scores two EKIAs. The next location is Computer Console (ignoring the Objective condition), in which two more Hostiles appear. The squad moves into the Location and engages: one is revealed as the Scout Car, the other is Shadows. Fitch gets an upgunned Prepared Fire, and with Parker, scores multiple EKIAs on the vehicle. New Hostile reinforcements appear in Steam Turbine, two locations away.
Balsam continued to peck away at the computer console, attempting to gain access to the reactor's operating system. Approaching from the walkway leading from the reactor chamber itself was another figure - an officer, judging by his padded shoulder epaulettes and oversized peak cap. Fitch spotted him first, a bright pink silhouette in her night-vision scopes against a blue-green backdrop, and took aim. Before she could fire, the officer glanced in their direction and instantly realized what was going on. He began to shout for help, putting a whistle to his lips, barely managing a feeble squeak before Fitch took him out.
The main purpose of a nuclear power generator is to generate enough heat to drive the steam turbine. Its advantage was the amount of heat energy which could be created from the concentrated nuclear fuel within the reactor core. Nuclear fission was straightforward: an atom splits which releases two neutrons, generating energy as heat. When the two neutrons hit two more atoms, four more neutrons were ejected, and so on exponentially, until the result was an uncontrolled, supercritical fission reaction. However, inside a reactor, there would be neutron-absorbing control rods made of cadmium or hafnium which were positioned to absorb just the right amount of neutrons to prevent a runaway reaction, yet producing enough heat to sustainably and safely run the steam turbine.
"I've overriden the safety protocols and instructed the control system to retract all the control rods," Balsam announced with glee, turning to Mattson. "Sir, we need to be out of here yesterday."
Just exactly then, right on cue, the alarm sounded: not the clanging alarm of the military's call to arms, but the plangent, soaring multi-harmonic wail of the reactor's control systems announcing that something bad was about to happen. Shouts and whistles rent the air in panicky counterpoint to the siren's ululation. 

Mattson and Parker performed a Discard and Draw, before the Objective was activated (ignoring the Location constraint). Two Hostiles, of which one is revealed as an Officer, are drawn. Fitch fires at the Officer resulting in a Goes for Alarm; the next upgunned Prepared Fire shot results in an EKIA. The other unidentified hostile also Goes for Alarm. Balsam succeeds in his Hack, and the Alarm status goes to Alarm Sounded.
"Alright, gentlemen, let's move out posthaste," Mattson snapped. "Unless you want to be reduced to atoms."
Pausing for a moment in the doorway, Mattson turned and sprayed the computer control with his SMG, just as a loud clanging from the other passageway signalled more soldiers about to arrive. It would take a brave soul to be hunting for intruders when the reactor warning alarm was sounding, but even Mattson could recognize that the personnel who had been assigned to guard this place were far from fainthearted. Still, he had no intention of giving them the pleasure as he followed his team back the way they had arrived.

Mattson recalled a former instructor of his, who once declared, "The word 'retreat' does not exist in the vocabulary of this army. I have personally no inkling that such a concept is even possible. However, from time to time, we may be called upon to execute 'a rapid tactical retrograde movement toward the rear.' "

They had all laughed at the joke, but it was exactly such a maneuver that they were performed as they left the building, making best use of the clamour of the alarm and the chaos of reactor operators attempting to evacuate, sneaking out through the labyrinth of passageways, across the yard, over the concrete walls and piano wire, and away into the woods toward their pickup point, unseen and unregarded.

Fitch picked up her sat-phone and tapped a sequence of buttons. "Onyx Two-Two to Black Pearl. The candle is burning. Requesting for immediate exfil from Lima Zulu Bravo, over."

"Black Pearl. Already on our way, Two-Two. ETA to Lima Zulu Bravo in oh-three minutes. Set your beacons. Out."

The Silent Hawk arrived right on the dot, racing away from the landing zone and skimming across the treetops as fast as the pilot dared. Suddenly, distantly at ground zero, the boundless night inverted into day, brilliant and ersatz. The golden mushroom-shaped fireball was brighter than the sun in its awesomeness, in all the possible meanings of the word, forcing Mattson to look away. Millions of micro-fragments of metal and concrete rained down in flames for kilometers, some of it ejected past the departing helo, as a supernatural thunder echoed across the landscape, an ode to the gods of war.

Mattson was trained in explosives, but he knew just then that nothing he had ever done, nor would he ever do, could surpass this unearthly conflagration, the vision of it seared into his memory. The cratered remains of the facility would continue to burn and consume itself for weeks, testament to the unseen raiders who had made it happen.
At the Safety Valves, another Technicians managed to fix Balsam's Hack, reducing the Meltdown value. This unexpectedly helps to save the team, as the penultimate Turn ends with exactly Meltdown countdown level 1. If it had not been fixed, the Meltdown would have reached level 0, and the team would have been annihilated along with the facility. In the final Turn, another Hostile appears in the Objective, but the team pays off XP to Evade it, and moves directly to the Extraction card. Using the remaining XP for the extraction roll, the result is more than enough for a successful mission extraction.

This session was my first Shadow War mission with a "proper" factory-produced set, after playtesting for months on homemade prototypes, and it was an absolute blast, if you'll excuse the expression. What I really liked about it was the way that Dan had taken the familiar Warfighter core framework, and extended it into stealth missions with a completely different feel and texture and playing style from "daytime" Warfighter. Shadow War missions are more challenging, not just in the execution of the mission, but also in the planning and equipping. I sincerely hope that players will enjoy playing Shadow War, as much as we have enjoyed putting it together.

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