2034-02-28 1330LT Kevin Is Impressive
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Dale knew he didn't like or trust Kevin before. This cemented his opinion. "Get into position," he barked. Dex, Syd, and Rebecca were clearly confused about what was happening, and were ignoring the glowing lines arcing over to a large concrete building. He turned toward them to reiterate his order and immediately saw that wasn’t it. Rebecca and Dex were focussed on Syd, who was having a meltdown.
He activated their audio channels with some regret.
“It’s part of the training, Syd,” Rebecca said, “Learning to use…”
“He said, ‘live fire’! Nobody is shooting at me!” Syd’s voice was much more emotional than normal, with an unpleasant, raspy burr.
Dale glanced at the man’s biometrics. He didn’t understand what they meant, but he could see that many of them were far outside the normal range. “They’re out,” Dale said. “Mary, send them to the observer room. Civvy limiters on.” Syd seemed like a decent fellow, but he didn’t like the idea of anyone in TALOS throwing a wobbler.
°°Done,°° Mary said.
Dale’s Grenadier Guards were already pounding into the practice range. He forgot about the civilians the moment he turned to follow them in.
The physical structure was an ugly, utilitarian set of rooms with a layout similar to the kinds of mansions the royals tended to stay in. Their AR painted everything with an opulent overlay, turning the bare concrete into a home fit for the King.
Training scenarios were like that – a mix of physical reality and virtual reality, using the same tech as the Dream Parks. He glanced around, seeing a Squad of six Guards positioning themselves at the entrances to the house. “Squad 1, watch each other’s flanks,” he said. They looked impressive with their giant swords and shields. “Squad 2, get a swarm out there scanning.” They were on the roof, with a good view of the grounds. One of them triggered a Big Dog to launch drones. They all activated their MARG404s, anticipating threats at a greater range.
Squad 3 was patrolling the grounds. Dale frowned. "Squad 3, he's using stealth tech. Pull in to reinforce Squad 1 around the foundation. Let the drones pick him up.”
Squad 4 were already inside the building, set in sentry positions that blocked access points to the chamber where the royals were. Anyone trying to move through the house would have to move through them.
Satisfied, Dale turned to the three “royals”. Mary showed him the robotic skeletons under the AR overlays for just a moment. The metal faded away, leaving very convincing illusions of the King Henry, Queen Meghan, and Crown Prince Archie.
“Your Majesties, the royal persons are confined to the house and do not move to other rooms unless accompanied. Otherwise your Grenadiers will not restrict your movement until the threat is detected.”
The illusion of King Henry started to argue, but Dale made a ‘shut it’ gesture with his left hand. The man’s face darkened to nearly match the colour of his hair, but he also stopped trying to tell his bodyguards what to do.
“Check in, everyone,” Dale said. Lights were going out soon. The four squads sounded off, calm and professional.
At 13:33:03LT, the lights went out.
The Integrated Battlefield Overlay (IBO) was a thing of beauty in this sort of engagement. Despite the darkness, a wireframe version of the entire area was overlaid on his normal sight. It let him see around corners and through walls. All the Grenadier Guards could see each other's locations and where their charges were. He turned to the large window and set himself in front of it. "Come get some, asshole," he said to the darkness.
At 13:33:33LT, the lights came on.
Dale's telemetry expanded and clarified as thousands of small drones swarmed out over the grounds. He glanced at the royals. They were looking around, clearly finding the IBO interesting. They didn’t look particularly worried. The real royals had been through this many times, both as a drill and in reality.
Dale glanced at the clock: 13:34:28LT, nearly a minute since the lights had come on. The sensor network was now dense enough to start using active scans to look around, but it wasn't picking up anything interesting. "Stay alert," Dale said to his troops, "and don't rely on your suit sensors alone. Keep your visors transparent and use your meat."
"Lots of movement in the trees, but nothing threatening," Cpl Singh said. He was on the roof with Squad 2.
Explosions started ripping through the grounds at the front of the building. On the fourth explosion Singh said, “Mortars.”
Something about the pattern of fire seemed off to Dale, but he was busy activating his Halo system. In an instant, he formed one third of a protective circle around the Royals. The two Guards who had been at the doors had leapt into action at the first explosion, just like Dale had. The backs of each suit of Royal Guard Armour had snapped open, presenting a space just big enough for one lightly armoured person to climb in.
“Activate MARGs when they’re in,” Dale said. The weapons were far too powerful for close combat around unarmoured people. Once the royals were encased in the Royal Guard Armour Halo, they would be every bit as protected as the Guards themselves.
The King was still unprotected. He’d wasted valuable seconds helping Archie into Corporal Ottuk’s suit, and making sure the Queen was in Private Classen’s Halo.
The Private, now buttoned up, turned around, grabbed the King by the hips, and planted him directly in front of the Halo chamber in Dale's suit.
“Get in, or we’ll make you get in, Majesty.” Dale’s words started as a request, but ended as a growl. The explosions had stopped a few seconds ago, but something bothering him about them. The stubborn man started to say something, but a small shove from the Private got him moving.
“Colours, we’ve lost nine Guards outside,” Singh said. “Dropped off the IBO during the mortars.”
Dale started to answer, but by the time he got his mouth open his response didn’t matter.
At 13:33:03LT, the lights went out.
Kevin had crouched down as the timer shrank, ready. The instant darkness fell he dropped most of his weapons and launched himself at the house with all his strength. He couldn't see anything – his eyes and sensors were as blind as the Grenadier Guard’s were – but in this case he didn't need to see. His suit gave him a wireframe outline of his environment using its AR models of the area, continuously updated based on the suit's inertial sensors and gyros. It wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough to use for targeting a ballistic launch toward the front door.
While he flew he dropped grenades and launched a swarm of minuscule sensor drones. By the time his ten second flight was ending, his sensor network was radiating around the house. He landed on the lawn in front of the main doors with a surprisingly quiet thump, absorbing the impact with his legs. Trusting his suit's positioning data, he slipped along the wall behind the Guard, pulled open the door, and stepped inside. He got the door closed behind him with twelve seconds of darkness to spare.
According to the scenario, he was now in the Great Hall. Two large, sweeping staircases arced up from either side of the room, meeting in a large platform at the third storey, suitable for making speeches. A large archway under that platform lead deeper into the house. Moving quickly and quietly, he made his way to the archway and touched the walls to verify his position. That done, he launched another drone swarm and leapt up to the platform. There was another large archway at the top, set back three metres from the balcony rail. He stepped through, into a large study. A moment later he was in the corner of the room, clinging to the walls a metre above the floor. Two large display cabinets partially obscured his location and his active camouflage smeared out the borders of his body, erasing any obviously humanoid profile.
At 13:33:33LT, the lights came on.
His swarms of drones came online. Outside, the dragonfly sized robots were practically invisible. They hovered silently, dressed up in the same stealth tech that made him so hard to see. They formed a network using IR lasers instead of radio, creating virtual wires from the furthest drone to his suit. It was laggy and low res, but more than enough to show where the Guards outside were. They were just about where he'd have put them himself. Inside, the cockroach sized beetles scuttled out from the stairwell, quickly locating Guards.
A Guard stepped through the door and scanned the study. Five seconds later he turned and stepped back into the hall. He didn’t notice the half-dozen beetle drones crawling up his back. Kevin was already moving toward the door.
Cali said °°Beetles will be in position for Shooting Blind in 56 seconds,°° referring to the drones finding and crawling onto the Guards inside the house.
Kevin flowed around the arched doorway and up onto the vaulted ceiling of the hall. He was clinging to the stone through ‘wallcrawler’ pads attached to the exoskeleton of his TALOS armour. He vaguely remembered something about geckos from the espionage report he’d read a year ago. He’d been more focussed on how much mass each pad could hold on a wall and ceiling. Enough to hold me in TALOS, he thought. While he crawled past the Guard, two metres above his head, he asked, “Flies?”
°°Flies in 20,°° Cali said. It took less time for the airborne drones to find their targets and get into position.
“Pop grenades at one second intervals, farthest to nearest,” Kevin said. “Blinding starts with the second grenade.” Another Guard stood in the next arched doorway. Slipping past was a risk. Watching the timer-spheres shrinking rapidly, he chose his attack position: crouched upside down on the ceiling, looking down at the top of the Guard’s head. He selected his target on the back of the Guard’s neck with his eyes, and toggled it into the suit’s targeting system with a click of his tongue.
The smallest sphere winked out. The grenades he’d strewn about the place when he leapt in started to explode. When the second one went off he ‘stood’, putting the full power of his entire body and suit into a single thrust of his stiletto.
A powerful and somewhat customized computer called DREAM ran the training simulation. It was custom built for the Grenadier Guard by the Dream Park Corporation, to handle situations that the theme parks didn’t need to address – like live fire training.
DREAM modelled out Kevin’s attack in the first two milliseconds of the thrust. There was no question that the thrust could bypass the armour and kill the suit operator if Kevin landed the blow with a mech-rated stiletto. Blades made for this kind of fight were forged from supermetals, infused with nanotubes, and honed to a monatomic point. Kevin was aiming for the small joint connecting the helm to the body of the armour. It was normally well protected by a flared collar around the neck. It turned out the tiny target was exposed to a man doing an upside down squat thrust from the ceiling.
DREAM called Mycroft for help. The blade in Kevin’s hand was not mech-rated, since this was a training simulation. It was still a high grade composite blade, and there was a real chance Kevin could thread the needle and kill the Guard anyway.
Mycroft and DREAM sorted through options while the milliseconds ticked by. With 132ms to go they overrode the Guard’s armour and started it moving to the left and crouching. At 54ms before impact they overrode Kevin’s TALOS to reduce the force of the blow and push it slightly right. They spent the rest of the time setting up the AR overlay for the blow that would have been.
The blow landed. Kevin felt a subtle wrongness that was normal for a mixed reality simulation that modified actions for safety. His blade appeared to smash through the neck joint right on target. The Guard collapsed, but Kevin wasn’t there to see it. He knew he had only a few seconds before the death really registered with the enemy soldiers. He used the time by sprinting flat out down the hall toward the large opening in the left side of the corridor. There was another Guard at the far end of the hall, but getting inside the target room was more important.
Kevin didn’t slow down to turn into the room. He ducked down, planted his right foot low on the wall, and used it to leap into the room. He rolled to his feet, sliding along the floor, and threw his stiletto at the King’s back.
The Guards tried to block the blade while the Halo armour snapped shut. It tore through Ottuk’s shield, slipped past the closing plates, and hit the King square in the back. The heavy blade smashed through his torso, spraying the man’s heart and lungs and ribs out his chest.
Dale, buttoned up a fraction of a second too late, whirled around and unleashed a blast of high explosive grenades at Kevin. The big man’s armour confused the targeting systems in Dale’s armour. He was well practiced at manual targeting, but the camouflage was too good for him to get an accurate sense of the man’s centre mass. The grenades went wide, blowing a hole in the wall instead of blowing a hole in Kevin.
Kevin was knocked along the exterior wall by the impact of the grenades. His TALOS armour took the hit, stiffening up for a moment to absorb the concussion. He knew real HE-AM shells would have knocked him further to the side, but the simulation was more than accurate enough. He skidded to a stop under the window.
The other Guards had followed protocol when he’d attacked. One was already through the archway, moving into the house with Dale between him and Kevin. The other clearly hadn’t seen Kevin at all, because he took the nearest exit: the window directly above Kevin. Seizing the lucky opportunity, Kevin twisted to get his feet planted against the wall under the window and caught one of the Guard’s legs as it passed over him. He wrenched and twisted while shoving himself back into the room.
Power armour came in two categories. Small enough that the Operator had limbs in the mech’s limbs, or large enough that the Pilot used a Lace or other interface to control the robot armour. RGA was the first type. That was why the chest was so absurdly deep, front and back, and so narrow side to side: the shoulder joints and hips had to be reasonably close to the Operator’s size, but they still had to pack in a lot of ammunition, machinery, and fuel. With small Mechs the armour was built to have the same range of motion as the human operating it. If they were not, the armour could flex a limb too far or the wrong way, injuring or killing the Operator.
Kevin’s attack wrenched the mech’s right leg well past that range of motion. The joints groaned under the torque for a second, then popped, twisted, and deformed. Under the armour, the Operator’s hip did much the same. If not for DREAM blunting Kevin’s strength, Ottuk’s hip would have dislocated entirely. The armour rotated sharply while the leg popped and smashed down part way out the window, head and arms outside.
Kevin kept an eye on Dale and his shoulder-mounted grenade guns, expecting to have to dodge another shot. He shifted past the prone Guard, back toward the hole Dale had punched in the wall. Kevin trusted his camouflage to make the motion hard to follow, but was ready to leap out of the way if needed. The gun aimed, but instead of firing, Dale stepped forward with sword and shield. Kevin immediately scanned the damaged RGA again, this time seeing exposed flesh around the Guard’s hip.
Dale had seen a shadow grab and smash his soldier just four metres away, but when he lined up another HE-AM burst and fired, nothing happened. It was only then that he saw Ottuk’s armour had been compromised, leaving the man’s body unprotected against high-explosive shockwaves. The RGA’s friendly-fire prevention systems wouldn’t let him take that shot without an override. Dale didn’t want to do that. If the HALO compartment was also damaged a HE-AM burst would kill the Crown Princess. He stepped toward the smudge, his massive mech-breaker sword at the ready.
Kevin took advantage of the momentary hesitation from Dale to TASER the fallen Guard in the ass, knocking him unconscious. He rolled away from the massive sword blow, twisting to cause the blade to ricochet off of his armour. It took another hit, but did it’s job. He leapt up onto the fallen Guard’s back and used the distorted hip joint to get his fingers under the armour plating for the HALO chamber and heaved. This had two effects. First, it pulled the edge of the armour out of alignment by about 10cm. Second, it caused the concrete wall to crumble, and tipped the Guard and assassin out the window together. The languid plummet gave Kevin time to grab a grenade and wedge it under the armour plate. He got another in after they hit the ground, set them to explode in two seconds, and took off at absolute top speed.
Dale hit the ground as the grenades exploded. Contained inside the armour, the blasts were devastating. DREAM didn’t let the weapons detonate in reality since that would have crippled or killed Ottuk. When Dale looked through Ottuk’s faceplate, DREAM showed him what would have been: a smear of jellied bone and meat. Prince Archie fared no better.
A klaxon sounded. It was 13:35:22LT, and the exercise was over. In less than three minutes, one man had trounced the Grenadier Guard.
Standing over the ‘corpses’ of his Guard and the Princess, Dale’s chest was barraged with conflicting emotions. Fury, that his Guard had been so useless. Respect for Kevin’s skills. Disgust that his people were so utterly unprepared for a real enemy.
On the one hand, Dale was dreading the after action meeting. On the other hand he could hardly wait.
°°Come this way, please,°° Mary said. She appeared in full costume a few metres from Syd, Dex, and Rebecca, as Dale turned away. °°You can observe the training from a secure location.°° Mary gestured through a heavy blast door. A long line of animated penguins stepped out from the walls, politely gesturing the three to walk down the hall.
Rebecca giggled, in spite of herself. Mary Poppins was hilariously appropriate for the hardass Grenadier Guard AI interface. Ignoring whatever it was Syd was on about at that moment, she took his hand and started along the path. “Dex, shall we?”
Dex hesitated for a long moment. Coming to some decision, he put on that charming smile, and followed them up the hall. When they arrived in the observation room, it was full of people – physically present and avatars. The training grounds were not visible to the people in the exercise since the whole facility was in darkness, but the observers had a clear view of where everyone was and what they were doing. The three sat at a table with the whole simulation floating above it, slowly spinning.
Dex pointed to a small red blob following a ballistic arc in toward the house and glanced at Rebecca. “That’s your trick, isn’t it?” His smile took any sting from the comment.
“Hey, it’s a good trick,” Rebecca said. She watched Kevin’s tiny dot land near the door of the house, then slip inside.
“He’s released drones,” Syd said. The display made hundreds of sparkles of light glitter in the darkness, spreading out like a firework.
“And he’s dropping… grenades?” Dex sounded uncertain even though the AR display was very clear about what Kevin had done. “What is he…”
The lights went up in the training ground. In their miniature map display, there was no change, but the observation room vanished. The were now sitting at an invisible table, floating in the air above the house. They could see two swarms now. The green swarm was spreading out to cover the grounds. The red swarm was converging on the Guards outside – on the roof and on the grounds around the house.
“He’s planning something,” Dex said.
They all watched in fascination as the grenades started to go off.
“Look,” Rebecca said. “He’s already passed the…” She gasped when Kevin killed the first guard.
“Look at the Guards,” Syd said. His voice was far too flat as he gestured at the Guards outside the house. Nine of the eighteen had changed from green to yellow on the map. The yellow Guards turned to fire at some incoming threat – something the observers could not see. Their MARG404 fire walked around to the house itself, tagging several of the Guards in Squad 2 on the roof. A moment later, the Guard outside were in full-scale combat with each other.
Rebecca missed most of that. She was watching Kevin sprint down the corridor, leap into the room, and put a knife past the Guards and through the King. “How could…” The action was almost too fast to follow. Dale was shooting, Kevin was knocked aside. Then the Guard with Archie tried to get out through the window and Kevin ripped his leg off. “What’s going on?!” She was not impressed by the hysterical tone of her own voice.
“He’s killing them all,” Syd said flatly.
Rebecca fought down nausea and tears.
An alarm sounded. It was over.
Data stored in Special:CargoTables/EVENT with the Form:Events and Template:Events. Pages are in the Events Category.
- Used The Gap In Your Defences to gain +2AP vs Kinetic Attacks against RPA (+2 to cleverly (+4) find a hole in an enemy's defences. Gain AP vs one kind of DR by rolling a contest against that DR. DC is 2+ the size of the DR I am working against. Each shift of success gives you +1AP vs that DR type for the rest of combat.)
- Used Strong Like Ox to create Killing Stroke: My Vorpal Stiletto Pierces Everything (1FP to reroll, for +4 success and 2 free invokes).
- Used Strong Like Ox to create Limb From Limb: My understanding of the stress-points of RGA is keen enough to let me forcefully rip your arm off and beat you with it (+6 success for 2 free invokes and a boon).
- Used 101 Ways to Die to improvise a death trap using my drone network and their IR lasers to blind many GG sensors and confuse their location systems. Then create sensor ghosts that look like a bunch of incoming TALOS - and have them overlay the GGs. Let them fight it out.
- GG3.1 roll+2 Careful+3 AARHS+2=+7. Kevin roll+0 Sneak+3 TALOS+3=+6 Boon+2=+8. Result: Undetected.
- “DreamPark Reality Extension and Augmentation Machine” isn’t too bad, as backronyms go.
- Kevin attacked with a -4, 1FP to reroll up to -2+11+4=+13. No defence roll from very surprised GG3.2. Called shot ignores RGA PS slots, so naked hit would have maimed GG3.2. Damage reduced to 5PS, taken as 12xMS, x46Con “Jumping at shadows”.
- Created aspect “Didn’t see THAT coming!: Spend 1FP to counter 1 block.” With 1 free invoke (+2 success). Mycroft Aided (+1) the roll, since he sees Kevin as cowpox: might make you a little sick, but it will stop the death dealing illness. Used 1 of 2 free invokes of *Didn't see THAT coming*: Spend 1FP to counter one block.
- Used TASER (+3MS, Quick-3) with a +4 roll for +7MS and -7Quick. Even with a +6 defence roll, the Guard can’t soak enough of that for the Dream Park computer to allow it. It would be 1MS and a 6Con. As far as the training system is concerned, GG3.3 is maimed and then knocked silly.
- Kevin 123.456xx8PS 246Con