The rise and fall and rise of a mercenary command

Taken from Mercenary Business for Beginners, 3130 edition; Galatea Free Press.


The high rate of failure of mercenary commands is well known and has been extensively discussed. The Jihad served to be, in many ways, the ultimate leveller of the trade, with only one in five commands surviving that conflict. The subsequent years of the Republic-enforced peace only served to further starve the trade, driving more commands out of business while making it harder for newer commands to start.


And yet, throughout the history of the mercenary trade, there have been those commands that have fallen and yet managed to drag themselves back from the drink. These cases are rare, enough to make those instances where such occurs to be exceptional each time. Unlike a Successor State regiment where a fallen command’s name and colours may be resurrected by the state for any number of reasons, resurrecting a mercenary unit often comes down to an individual with some strong investment in the unit.


A good example of the multiple lives of a mercenary command comes from McKinnon’s Marauders. A family-run unit dating formed during the late Third Succession War, the Marauders were nearly destroyed during the Clan Invasion. Not only were they facing off against superior forces, but the unit was also effectively abandoned to its fate by their employer, a Combine noble. Only a handful of members survived, most notably Stuart and David McKinnon, two scions of the unit’s founding family.


Dragging what was left of the shattered command to Solaris VII, the McKinnons managed to recruit new members from the game world and rebuild some measure of their strength. Registering with the fledgling MRBC on Outreach, the command would continue to grow over the next decade, riding the back of the mercenary boom of the 3050s. The unit survived the Jihad, even through severe losses, and managed to rebuild by absorbing other shattered commands.


A falling out between different branches of the family lead to Jason McKinnon taking command of the unit in the early 32nd century, while his cousin Richard pursued his career elsewhere. Jason would remain in command of the unit until 3115, when it was functionally destroyed by Combine forces fighting in the Draconis Reach. Jason’s son, Connor, was one of the few survivors of the unit. However, given his youth and lack of experience, and no financial reserves to fall back on, he was unable to rebuild the command. The Marauders were stricken from the MRBC roster, ending their career.


This would not be the end for McKinnon’s Marauders, however. In 3127, Thomas McKinnon, Richard’s son, took command of the failing Black Thunder Battalion. After an extensive restructuring, he re-launched the command as the new McKinnon’s Marauders, effectively a continuation of the old command without the baggage that it had accumulated. The MRBC formally approved the move, effectively making Thomas McKinnon the legitimate heir to the family command.


CRD-3R Crusader Mabel

Field Testing Summation: Custom CRD-3R Refit

Producer/Site: Grim Grinner Gang, unknown facility (Ype-Jhu?)

Supervising Technician: “Oil Can” Handy

Project Start Date: Unknown (3128?)

Non-Production Equipment Analysis:


Double-Strength Heat Sinks


Despite the century of technological renaissance stemming from the recovery of the Helm Memory Core, there are still regions of human space where scavenging and jury-rigging of technology is the norm. Nowhere does this become more evident then in the region known as the Outworlds Wastes. Largely ignored and forgotten for the last three hundred years, the worlds of the Wastes fell even further then others during the depths of the Succession Wars. Furthermore, due to their isolated nature and lack of infrastructure, the crawl back for these worlds has been slow and painful, with few managing to even reach Terran Alliance levels of technology.


In many cases, the highpoints of technological progress on these worlds comes from pirate bands who form their own, isolated high-tech enclaves. Needing functional BattleMechs and dropships to simply make their operations viable, these bands will by necessity require access to the technology to keep such machines running. In the Outworlds Wastes, this often leads to innovation through improvisation, as the few skilled technicians available use whatever methods they can to keep valuable machines running.


The man known only as “Oil Can” Handy is one such example. The cheif technician of the Grim Grinner Gang, he has become a master of keeping the pirate band running on the back of whatever salvage they have been able to find or steal. In many cases, this has included rebuilding BattleMechs out of improvised parts and performing modifications to suit whatever components are available to the pirate band. What makes this even more impressive is that much of this work is done without the benefit of advanced technology or infrastructure by a crew whose training is largely done on the job.


Possibly Handy’s greatest work was the job he did on rebuilding the Crusader piloted by the pirate band’s leader, Mad Mabel. A battle with a rogue mercenary band had left her BattleMech half-wrecked but in possession of an Axman’s lower right arm. Seemingly inspired by her trophy (or maybe in a fit of madness), Mabel ordered Handy to rebuild her BattleMech to incorporate the Axman’s hatchet, while also redesigning it to be better suited to close combat.


With high expectations placed on him (and potentially severe consequences for failure), Handy went to work. The right arm LRM launcher had been irreparably crushed in the battle, so removing it to make way for the hatchet seemed like a logical move. The left arm launcher was similarly removed, and replaced with a pair of modified SRM-6 launchers in order to support the ‘Mech’s close-range capabilities. The missile bays for the LRMs were rebuilt to accommodate the new missiles; since they were already cross-linked,  it proved easier to keep one bay in the right side to feed missiles on the left arm. Judicious use of spare armour (and some scrap metal) created the illusion that the original LRM launchers were still in place in order to deceive opponents. Mabel would later add cosmetic spikes to both sides in order to further confuse opponents while also supporting her aesthetic sensibilities.


To further bolster the Crusader’s firepower, Handy replaced the machine guns with a second pair of Medium Lasers, taken from salvaged components. While both lasers were different models (One Lushann, the other Diverse Optics), some careful modifications ensured that they would be compatible with the existing units. Mabel approved of the change, stating that “killing peasants was no fun” and leaving anti-infantry duties to others.


Finally, the salvaged hatchet was installed in the right arm, completing the original point of the rebuild. Rather then going to the lengths of grafting a new lower arm on, Handy instead transferred the hatchet, making modifications to the structure of the Crusader’s hand and lower arm to ensure that it would function properly.


This did leave one problem, however. The Crusader had allways been notorious for overheating, and the additional weapons (and Mabel’s aggressive approach to close combat) would likely burden the cooling system even further. Not wanting to risk as catastrophic shutdown (or her ire), Handy engaged in the most ambitious (and resource intensive) part of the project, which was to upgrade the ‘Mech to use double-strength heat sinks. Despite a shortage of parts (he drained all the spare double strength models out of their reserve and even stole some from other BattleMechs), Handy was able to complete the overhaul.


Despite her oft fickle and violent nature, Mabel was suitably pleased with the result. Her initial field trials of the ‘Mech went well, much to her pleasure (and no doubt, Handy’s relief). During a raid on Onverwacht, she displayed the effectiveness of these modifications in combat against the Syndicate’s forces. Having mistaken it for a regular Crusader, a Syndicate underboss piloting an Ostsol attempted to rush it to engage in close combat. Instead, the unsuspecting MechWarrior found themselves staggered by a barrage of SRMs, before having their cockpit crushed by the hatchet. Buoyed by her victory, the pirates went on a three day looting and pillaging rampage, carrying off millions in parts, supplies and other booty before burning whatever was left behind.

From the personal journal of Maggie Vossler

Well that was a complete mess.


Where to begin? Okay, so thanks to the efforts of McKinnon and Baden we knew where Mad Mabel was hiding out. It was the ruins of Santiago, a dead city that’s been half buried in ice and snow, giving her some shelter and infrastructure while allowing her to blend in. And thanks to Tudor, we knew that they were at home. Now we needed to go in there and root them out.


After his initial screw up on the landing, Captain Nexx wanted to be the one to end the Grim Grinners. He was smarting over Mabel making him look like a fool, and saw this as his chance to make up for it. So with as little turnaround as possible – and without calling in support, I might add – the whole company charged on Santiago. We approached form the south, crossing a frozen river into the city proper. The intel was spot on about the terrain; the place was buried, with the tops of buildings sticking out of the ice and snow.


It was also spot on about the Grim Grinners, as we immediately picked up hostiles as we approached. The weather had closed in, making long-range shots difficult, but there was no question as to their intent as they opened up on us. Nexx ordered recon lance to head into the city to try and pin down the enemy, which is where it got really hairy.


Vince found that the Grinners had hidden more ‘Mechs and tanks inside the buildings. He found this out when a Hetzer nearly took his Jenner’s legs off. Seriously, it looks like the shots passed between the legs as he ran. That guy has the devil’s own luck. There were a few others, including a rocket-armed Hunchback and a Whitworth, as well as some infantry. All of a sudden, we were outnumbered. It got even worse when we lost two of our own in quick succession, a Hunchback that had its cockpit shot out and a Centurion who’s ammo went up.


Nexx wasn’t going to give up. It wasn’t just his ego speaking, though. He knew that if he withdrew then Mabel would just escape. Naw, we needed to end the Grinners; even if Mabel was killed, somebody else would just take their place. He had the heavies form up on a ridge, with Tudor and Guthrie raining down PPC and laser fire on the pirates. The rest of us were advancing, using jets where possible to try to break up the Grinners’ formation.


They had ideas of their own; a Firestarter, Chameleon and the same Griffin that Tudor’s lance had nearly decapitated before tried to flank us. Several more lights peppered Guthrie’s Wammer with rockets; he was taking a pouding, but he refused to fall. My own Cadaver was disabled when its reactor shielding failed. All I can say is thank the lord for CASE II, otherwise I might not be here to write this. That and I can’t imagine who’d get Recon Lance without me.


Their efforts to flank us didn’t work out so well; the Firestarter went down hard, while the Griffin was left with a burning hole in its chest. That gave us an opening, which saw Lancaster and McKinnon jump their Cronuses into the middle of the enemy rear and try to disrupt their heavies. It worked to a degree; they managed to badly damage a JagerMech and Marauder, but Lancaster got the shock of her life when a Crusader nearly took her arm off with a hatchet. I guess we found Mad Mabel.


We were wearing them down, but they were doing a number on us. The Griffin went down when Jan crushed its chest, while the Hunchback lost a leg and its entire left side. An ammo explosion took out the Marauder, which was both good and bad; we lose the salvage, but we also were facing one less heavy. But there were still several more of them then there were of us. Guthrie’s Warhammer had lost an arm and was basically naked from the waist up, and Lancaster’s Cronus had lost its PPC and much of its armour, and that was just the start of it.


And that’s the moment that it all turned around.


Captain Ash Coffin wheeled her command lance into the battle on Mabel’s flank. Quite literally in her case, as Coffin opened up in Mabel’s rear armour. At the same time, the Chameleon went down, followed by a Commando that had been spraying rockets at the heavies, then the JagerMech who lost its head to one of Coffin’s men. Mabel found herself surrounded and without an escape route, so she instead made a kamikazie charge on Nexx’s Ostroc. It didn’t work, and Coffin cut her down from behind. She didn’t even try to eject.


With their leader dead, the commander of an immobilised Manticore tank popped his hatch and offered to surrender. It turned out that he was the highest-ranking member of the Grim Grinners left alive (save for the unconscious Chameleon jockey). By accident we’d managed to gut their leadership, and it was largely fear of Mabel herself that was keeping them in the battle. The rest of them also gave up, save for one Locust that tried to make a run for it. Baden cut him off, suggesting that a crippled Locust against a nearly fully functional Jenner was a bad idea.


It should have been a big win for us; after all, we’d killed Mad Mabel and got the rest of the Grim Grinners to surrender rather then fighting to the death. Nexx, however, was fuming. Coffin basically throw him a backhanded insult, saying that he’d done a great job of distracting the Grim Grinners and getting them into place, and thus allowing her to get the kill (and the glory). Personally, I didn’t care either way. I just was glad to be alive.


Either way, we still had a fair amount of salvage to sift through. We’d lost three ‘Mechs, but could make them up. My Cadaver was reapirable, and we could Frankenstein a full Hunchback out of the two disabled ones on the field. Nexx laid claim to the mostly intact Chameleon, which meant that we’d be back at a full company once we did a lot of repair work, and pulled a couple of new MechWarriors from the pool.


Speaking of, it looks like the surviving Grim Grinners are going to be vetted to see if any of them are wanted for anything specific, rather then just general pirate-ness. Those that are ‘clean’ will then be given the choice of joining us or swing form the nearest tree. You have to love Periphery Justice.


We descended on the Grim Grinners’ base like a plauge of locusts, seeing what we could take. They’d repurposed an old factory, and redecorated it to their tastes. So you know, skulls, flayed bodies, knives, drugs and whatever else. The sorts of things that pirates like. We rounded up Mabel’s remaining support staff, including her chief tech and something that could be very generously called a doctor. Besides the techs going to work on salvaging what they could from the Grinners’ stockpiles, there was a lot of souvineering going on.


Baden really shone here, though. He managed to find a hit list of worlds and sites Mabel was targeting, including a list of possible allies.


So that’s it for the Grim Grinner Gang and Mad Mabel, the Cannibal Queen. Can’t wait to see what hellhole we get thrown into next.


The Sabak Tournament Finale

The penultimate day of the Sabaac Tournament, having come to its conclusion, led to a variety of activities being undertaken by our heroes.

Evie showed Satele a device that he ‘acquired’, and it was determined that it would give a slight advantage to Coromo Moro. Evie held onto the device to decide what to do with it.

Vivacia, exhausted after a challenging day of gambling, went to sleep early – both to rest and to avoid being caught in anything untoward on Cloud City.
Skorssar, Jaydo and Evie also retired early.

Cupcake went to scope out the possibility of any of the competitors engaging in cheating. Going past the Ugnaughts, and then running into a Gand Findsman led him directly to a fellow who had supplied Creeska with a card that had the ability to appear as any card desired by the player. This information would be most useful on the morrow.

O’Keefe contacted Satele and reminded her that Lieutenant Arandis is almost certainly the Imperial that is paying off one of Darga’s men. It only remains to be seen who is dealing with him…

Satele set up an automatic search of the holonet: cross-referencing the names of the final 5 contestants against various search terms. She then went to sleep.

At 2am, she awoke and got the results:

  • Creeska – has won multiple tournaments around the galaxy (and been thrown out of some – no details given)
  • Silas Draver – won various tournaments, and been involved in bar fights
  • Coromo Moro – Has been imprisoned multiple times on smuggling charges – there are currently several small, outstanding bounties on him
  • Lady Fioro – There is nothing on her. Nothing…
  • Vorn Ziday – She became incredibly wealthy pretty much at the same time as the empire arrived on Neimodia…

This gave her an idea – as Lady Fioro and Vorn Ziday seem the most suspicious, she would see if she can track payments into her account.

She wandered down to a computer terminal near a cantina, and set herself up to hack the Sabaac tournament registration details. This resulted in the bank details, and some other personal information of the two players being downloaded…and an alarm being set off. Satele walked swiftly away, but when it seemed like she would be caught leaving the scene of the crime, turned and ran towards it – asking what the problem was. She was then detained. 200CR and her name and address ensured that she was able to return to the hotel room, leaving bank payments untraced.

The next morning, each person went about their daily business. Satele and Jado headed to the tournament in time for their shifts. Satele was assured of being first if the dealer droid malfunctioned, and Jado (along with the entire team of security) was reprimanded for allowing a weapon into the arena the previous day. Their pay was forfeit if any weapons were allowed in.

Jado kept a close eye on the neighbouring door (closer in fact than he kept on his own entrance) and noticed the other guard accept a payoff to allow entry to two humans with concealed blaster rifles. Jado contacted the head of security, giving him descriptions and details of the transaction and parties, resulting in the arrest of all three.

Skorssar realised that there were at least three other pairs working with the two apprehended thugs, while Satele – from inside the arena – realised that they were trying to set up a perimeter.

Vivacia did not do amazingly at Sabaac, but this was overlooked when Jado spotted Creeska slip his cheating card into his deck. Security was called and the players were granted a recess as Creeska was led away into custody. Coramo Moro approached Vivacia, asking for tips and pointers to have more of a chance to win as Switch had told him of their agreement. Vivacia, however, thought he was a bit weird and denied any knowledge of any deals. Moro stormed off angrily, and Evie went to calm him down. Successfully, it may be added.

During the break, Satele located the other humans who had adjusted their positions to create a triangle around the tables. Unfortunately, she also gained the attention of two of these fellows. As they walked towards her, she turned on her commlink so that the others could hear the resulting conversation.

Alas, they wanted very little conversation, and instead Satele was manhandled through the crowd towards the bathrooms. As she tried in vain to resist, Skorssar ordered pop-corn and pushed his way through the crowd, feigning a need to vomit. Cupcake and Jado followed. Jado, ostensibly, under orders to prevent Lord Skorssar from taking matters into his own hands.

Over the comms, upon Satele’s disappearance into the bathroom, Satele’s chattering could be heard, followed by a sickening crunch and silence as she was punched in the head. This halved her HP and left her reeling – even less able to defend herself from the assault.

Skorssar, finally, burst in and interrupted Satele’s pummelling with a swift (and hard) punch to the stomach – causing the assailant to evacuate his stomach contents and thus completing Skorssar’s claim to a stomach upset.
Cupcake set himself over the door to prevent interruption and Jado entered to deal with Skorssar. Instead he arrested the thug in time for the rest of security to arrive and take him into custody.

Meanwhile, the game started up again, and Vivacia was defeated, fair and square. Four players were now left. Arandis went all in, and Lady Fioro had a perfect hand, raking in the win. Unlike his methodical stacking at the conclusion of each of the games, Arandis deliberately placed his cards in a particular order in the centre of the table:

132.17: clearly a frequency for the slave controls of the ship in orbit…


Have yourself a Merry Gaming Christmas, and roll on 2018!

It is that time of the year again. Christmas decorations are going up (or have been up for a couple of months), the shopping extravaganza has begun, and we have our Christmas party on the 9th December! (Don’t forget to RSVP by December 5th by commenting on the post!)

As the year winds up, there are a few things that we’d love to give you a heads up about!

Firstly, as Term 4 of 2017 is nearly over (Our final week will be on Tuesday the 12th December), we would like you to complete the MoG Feedback forms (click here to download and print the general or guided form) and hand them to your GM. We also have a new option for you – a google form version! To fill out feedback online, click here! Your response will then be emailed to your GM by a member of Exec (most likely Helen or Chloe).

We want to make sure that we run MoG so that you love MoG – and to do that, we need your help! You have the opportunity to give us your feedback as to how you think MoG is going – there is space for you to do this on the Feedback forms and your GMs will pass the information onto the Exec team. We also need you to complete the Weekend away survey by clicking here!

In 2018, we will start informally (ie. board games, takeaway dinner) on Tuesday the 23rd January, with Term 1, dinner and games starting on Tuesday the 6th February.
The final week of Term 1, 2018 will be the 10th April.

Friday the 26th of January will be our annual Australia Day of Gaming! Save the date now – more details will come in the new year!

Keep an eye on this post, as we will be updating it with our Term 1, 2018 games in the next week or two!

Happy gaming!!


Some Christmas Cheer…

Waitara Anglican Church (who support Ministry of Game being able to happen) have some events coming up for the Christmas Season! See their website for details (more to come) – and come along!!

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The Day-To-Day Business of Business

It’s been a busy week for the team. They’ve completed three jobs in quick succession and were starting to feel heavy with cash and – as is always the case with a runner’s life – heavy with new problems to take care of. Except for Shadow. Shadow doesn’t need to fence a truck or save a homeless man, he just has to go home.
“You look like you’ll all be busy for a while, but I just want to put my feet up and rest. So, since our business is done, I’ll be going home.”
“I can give you a ride,” Elros says, “but I need to make a few calls first.”
“Don’t bother over me. I’ll make my own way. Does anybody know where the nearest train station is?”
The team answers his question with blank stares.
“Bus stop? No? Light rail? No? I guess I’ll call a taxi, then.”
“Do you not know where you are?” 2Graves asks.
“Yes, we’re in Redmond. But there must be some kind of transport around here. Redmond is still civilisation, isn’t it?”
“No. It’s really not.”
“No hotels, no buses, not even a stuffer shack. What kind of place—“
“It’s the barrens!”
“Nevermind.” Not one to let a little thing like urban decay shatter his stiff upper lip, Shadow sets on a new plan: he’ll just buy a vehicle. Elros agrees to drop him at a dealer after taking 2Graves, Sunny and B back to 2Graves’ clinic. There, Shadow buys himself a brand new Suzuki Mirage. He doesn’t even flinch as the dealer runs his fake SIN and driver’s license. By way of thanks for the ride, Shadow makes a call to a contact in Tir Tairngire’s cover operations division. They could have need of a branded Renraku truck. His contact says:
“Maybe. I’ll get back to you,” and Shadow passes the message to Elros, then heads home for that much desired rest.


Elros, however, has his own contacts and his own plans. Now he knows of a probable buyer, he decides to investigate the cost of keeping the van. He has his van carry out the rest of the team drop off on dog brain, and calls his one contact, Bull, and asks if he knows anybody who can clean up a recently acquired van, the kind acquired with a five digital finger discount. Bull sends him the number of Joe’s Garage, a chop shop in Auburn. Elros makes the call immediately and connects with a gruff voice that says
Elros says hello and presents his problem.
“Fuck off!” the voice says and the call terminates.
Elros tries again, this time speaking English and not his customary Sperethiel. “Do you service trucks?”
“Trucks, cars, people. You name it, we take care of it.”
“Did you say people?”
“Forget about it. We can do a truck. What do you need?”
“I need a truck cleaned, some windows replaced, a new paint job and a couple of modifications.”
“What about ownership?”
“Already changed.”
“What about detonation?”
“Why would I—“
“Forget about it. Bring it down to the shop and I’ll take a look.”
Elros tells Joe – or whoever – that he’d be down promptly and programs the dog brain’s next destination. He then occupies himself with a review of the truck’s diagnostics so he’s not conned into paying for services he doesn’t need.


At 2Graves home and street clinic, Sunny and 2Graves grab a snack and sit down to watch an episode or two of Neil The Ork Barbarian. They invite B to join them, but the elf junkie quickly gets restless and begins to wander aimlessly around the apartment. 2Graves keeps an eye on him so he doesn’t wander into any weapon lockers, but for now he’s not causing problems. She’s made a promise to help him, but her head is still ringing from taking a couple of flashbangs to the face and now she just needs a beer and a moment to catch her breath and organise her thoughts. But an episode and a half later, B starts muttering to himself, scratching at his skin and, no longer content to wander, begins to grope around at his surroundings. The pain has begin to dull, so it’s time to work.
“B, it’s me 2Graves. I’m going to help you”
“Have you got any bliss?”
“No. No more bliss. I’m—“
“I need bliss. I have to go get some bliss.”
“B, you said you were a doctor. If your patient said he wanted bliss, what would you do?”
“I just… I need bliss. Have you got any bliss?”
“Come with me. I’ll get you sorted.” 2Graves takes B by the hand and leads him towards the bathroom. For the first time since she got home, she notices the dried slap patches peeling off his body, trailing like breadcrumbs wherever he walks. 2Graves sends Sunny to buy some clothes from the nearest working vending machine. Sunny is out of the house just in time, just before the struggling and the screaming starts. B’s cries hit 2Graves with a twinge of guilt, but it’d only be harder if Sunny was here panicking with him. It’s the sudden spray of water that does it: a sudden sensory overload shocking B’s system. If he had working eyes, he might have seen it coming, but blind and zoned out, all the junkie knows is he was on the street, then picked up and pushed into a van by strangers, and now he’s in a strange place with strange people that aren’t giving him food anymore, now they’re dousing him with water, stripping away his clothes, forcing him around who-knows where for who-knows-why. Before long, the real withdrawal symptoms will kick in and it will just get worse. He’s not nearly strong enough to overpower 2Graves, not by a long shot, but it’s that guilt that gets her, the guilt that makes it hard. Even through the detached haze of all that chrome, she never stops feeling the guilt.


2Graves keeps B in the shower until he wears himself out. By the time Sunny gets back, he’s screamed himself hoarse and can’t make any more noise. Together, they drag him out, wrap a towel around him, escort him to a bed in the clinic and 2Graves hooks him up to a drip. He’s too exhausted and perhaps too afraid to resist the needle with anything more than a scared flinch.
“What now?” Sunny asks.
“Detox. We feed him, we keep him warm, we let his system reset. Then we can work on his eyes.”
“Are we doing the right thing? He doesn’t look… He doesn’t look grateful.”
“Of course not. We’ve kidnapped him, we’re holding him prisoner, as far as he knows the shower was water torture and just the beginning.”
Sunny stays silent.
“This is what you wanted, isn’t it? To help?”
“What if he doesn’t want help?”
“I don’t… Actually, there might be a way to find out. Watch him a moment while I make a call.”


Elros parks his van and truck outside Joe’s Garage and materialises his persona in AR. A hulking troll with dark blue-tinged skin and one horn wearing a jumpsuit that says Joe steps out of the garage and greets him with a hint of a Russian accent.
“You call earlier?”
“Yes,” Elros says.
“Which one?”
“The Renraku truck.”
Without another word, the troll begins inspecting the truck inside and out, rifles around the engine, and sends one of his human mechanics underneath. After conferring with his assistant, seeming to satisfy himself of the condition of the truck and says to Elros:
“You mentioned you wanted a modification.”
“Yeah. I want a Gridlink and override installed.”
“I can do that. I can also fix the window and do the paintjob. The tires are okay, but the engine has heat damage up the back and your blood stains have dripped onto the rear axel. You ever see what blood stains do to an axel?”
Elros curses quietly to himself in Sperethiel, takes a moment to compose himself and says “There’s nothing wrong with the engine. I did a diagonistic, myself, and I know blood stains don’t do anything to an axel. Just the fix the window, paint the side, and clean the blood off the inside.”
“Suit yourself, but I should let you know I don’t have any LT-21 windows in stock. I can retrofit from a newer model, but it’ll take some extra time and manpower.”
“How much is it going to cost?”
“All up, leaving aside the axel damage – and that’s on you – it’ll be 8k.”
“Are you kidding?! Look, Bull recommended you because you can service it for a reasonable cost. I could do this myself if I had a body.”
“You want a body, now, too?”
“Wait, what?”
“Nothing. But, hey, any friend of Bull is welcome here. You should have mentioned that earlier. I’ll drop the price to 8k.”
“That’s not a price drop.”
“It is when you count tax.”
“What tax? Look, nevermind. I’ll give you 4,000. That more than covers parts and labour.”
The troll looks over the van again, strokes his chin, then back at Elros and says, “I’ll tell you what. I can do the clean and paint for 1k, I can do the modification and repair for 3k, and because you’re kind of an ass, I’ll charge you an extra thousand. That’s 6k, and I guarantee you won’t get any cheaper anywhere else, or my name’s not Greg.”
“Fine. Just do it.”
“Excellent. We’ll be done in three days!” Business done, Elros takes his SUV and leaves Joe’s Garage. He has no home to go to, but he does have a long night of playing Age of Neil: Barbarian Adventures to help him relax after a long long day.


The following day, Thursday January 18th, begins bright and early for Shadow, Sunny and B, with a call on 2Grave’s commlink.
“Good morning, Sunshine!” Carter, her fixer, says with his usual morning pep. “I hear you’ve been busy making enemies down in The Verge.”
“You have?”
“First blowing up a factory, then a shootout with Lonestar, now taking down BTL dealers. You’ve had a big week. I’ve got something else for you, if you’re not too tired.”
“Any details?”
“Only that it involves helping little old ladies cross the street. I’m giving you first offer since you’ve got that heart of gold thing going on. Meet is tomorrow morning, here at the bar.”
“Got it. We’ll be there.”


2Graves sends the details on to the rest of the team and continues with her soykaf breakfast. Any other day, she might be asleep, but this morning she’s expecting company. Said company arrives promptly at 9.30, buzzing her apartment from the street. 2Graves lets the man in and opens her door. A few minutes later, George Hampton, well dressed and well scrubbed talismongre, steps inside carrying a synth leather briefcase.
“Good to see you again, 2Graves, Sunny,” he says. “Where is the patient?”
“This way,” Sunny says and gestures for him to follow her to the clinic. There, George looks over the barely conscious B. He hasn’t eaten yet, he woke up and screamed early in the morning, then settled into a dazed state for the next few hours, sweating profusely, occasionally muttering to himself, and shivering constantly.
“I won’t waste time,” says George. “Please, give me some space.” George sets down his briefcase, opens it to reveal a collection of shaman fetishes and reagents. He lights some incense, waves a bone wand over B’s body with one hand, beats a small drum in his other, and begins to chant in a low rhythmic voice. The ritual only takes a few minutes, and by the end George is looking more raggard and much sweatier than when he first arrived. “He should wake up any moment, now,” he tells 2Graves and Sunny. “His system will be clear of any toxins and, until sunset, he will be remarkably sober. After that, you can expect the withdrawals to begin again. The road will be difficult for him.”
“Thank you, George,” 2Graves says. “How much do we owe you?”
“Forget it. I never properly paid you back for what you did. Please, call me again if you need me.”
“We will,” says Sunny. “Say hi to your daughter for us.”
George nods, and with a smile, packs up his kit and leaves.


Shortly after, B wakes, sits up and moves his head as if looking around.
“Where am I?” he asks with none of his usual hesitation of weakness of voice.
“It’s a clinic,” 2Graves says. “My clinic. My name is 2Graves.”
“Right. Yes, of course. 2Graves, Sunny, you brought me here. But, something’s off. I feel strange.”
“You’ve just been seen by a shaman. He said you would be sober until sunset.”
“A shaman? That explains it. I feel like, like a curtain has been pulled over half my brain. All these thoughts and feelings are there, but suppressed and I can actually think straight.”
“B, do you have a name?” Sunny asks.
B hesitates, runs a hand over his face, then says. “B. B is my name.”
“Your real—“
“B is my name.”
“Okay. B, then,” 2Graves said. “You told us yesterday that you’re a doctor. Is that true?”
“I was. Quite a brilliant one, if I do say so myself. General practice and the occasional surgery. I had a practice in Chicago.”
“What happened to you? How did you go from doctor to bliss addict?”
“No.” B shakes his head and, for the first time, looks vaguely in 2Graves’ and Sunny’s direction. “No, you don’t get to kidnap me and interrogate me. God, I’ve been so frightened since I got here. You had no right to do any of this.” He doesn’t sound angry, but thoughtful, as though he’s processing it all as he says it. He opens his mouth to speak again, but stops and lets the silence drag on until Sunny speaks:
“Do you want us to keep helping you?”
“Yes. Yes, after being able to think like this for so long, I want to… I need to escape. Help me keep clean, help me fix my eyes and get back on my feet. If you can, I’ll gladly help with your clinic until I’ve repaid my debt.”
“All right. We’ll keep helping, won’t we?”
2Graves nods. B thanks them again, then lays back and asks them to let him rest and think a while by himself, while he still has a clear mind.


The team spends the rest of the day in relaxation and leisure. Then, on the following morning, Friday January 18th, they gather at the Errant Knights bar in Redmond, only a stone’s throw from 2Graves’ apartment. Carter is inside and behind the bar, but the establishment is closed and so the only other patron is their contact: a little old Japanese lady by the name of Ms Johnson.
“Thank you for coming. I’ll get right to the point, I suppose. My husband and I own a restaurant in Auburn called Teppan Yummy. We have a close relationship with a farmer just outside Seattle who keeps chickens. It’s really nothing but a hobby farm, but he breeds enough chickens to sell to us. The cost is low for us, which means we can sell dishes with real chicken at our restaurant at a fraction of what others charge. But the last two shipments we’ve been expecting have been stolen and the drivers killed. After the first one, we added some dashboard cameras in case it happened again. It did, at the same place: The intersection of 197th and 324th Streets, not far from Lake Morton. I’ve brought the video for you to review. I thought it might help.” Ms Johnson slides a datachip across the table to them. “The next shipment is tomorrow, and we’re worried it might happen again. In fact, we’re worried it might keep happening. I’d like you to make sure the delivery arrives at the restaurant and, if possible, find and stop whoever is attacking our shipments.” She offers them 10,000 nuyen for the job and agrees to pay half up front.
“I think we can help you,” Shadow says. “Would you be able to provide us with the number of the farmer?”
“Of course. I’ll let him know you’ll be calling.” With that deal made, she leaves the runners to plan, thanks them and Carter, and heads out the door and into the city streets.


The runners begin by watching the video. The dash camera shows the delivery van driving through Auburn. The night sky is remarkably clear, and the moon is visible between the buildings. Of course the lights of the sprawl make seeing any stars a fool’s hope, but it is none the less a rare sight. As the truck enters an intersection and begins to turn, two holes appear in the windscreen like cigarette burns and blood sprays across the dash. At the edge of the frame, a body slumps forward and the truck begins to rapidly veer away from the road. But before it can crash, bright headlights appear at the mouth of an alley and a Bulldog with no plates screams out onto the road and crashes head on into the van. The video ends with a few seconds of static.
“At least two people, then, a driver and a sniper,” 2Graves says.
“The windows were tinted. The Bulldog could have been on autopilot,” Shadow says. “Either way, it was clearly an ambush. The obvious choice is to change the route and avoid the ambush entirely. We could even send that van through as normal, and load the chicken into another. What about the Renraku truck?”
Elros shakes his virtual head. “I doubt it’ll be ready on time and, even if it was, it’s not refrigerated.”
“Well then we could hire a van, send it along the normal route and have the actual van go on a detoure.”
“But then we’re still sending somebody to die in an ambush,” Sunny says.
“Autopilot. No driver, no harm,” Shadow says with a shrug. “It’s fool proof.”
“It’s suspiscious,” 2Graves says. “No, your first plan was the best. Change the route and then escort it that way. It’s probably only going through this intersection because it’s the shortest route.”
“Maybe we could change the timing, too. In fact, why don’t I call the farmer and see if he’s ready now. We go at a different time, we ruin the ambush plans entirely.” Shadow turns away from the group, punches the number into his commlink, and connects with the farm and a baritone Japanese voice.
“Hi there. We represent Teppan Yummy, and we’re wondering if your chickens are ready to go tonight?”
“Chickens? What?” the Japanese voice asks, sounding short on temper. “Who are you?”
“Did the owner of Teppan Yummy not tell you? She’s hired us to make sure your van makes it to the restaurant.”
“No. She didn’t tell me anything.”
“Well, now I’m telling you. So, chicken delivery tonight?”
“No. The chickens will be ready tomorrow when we make the delivery. If the delivery was ready now, I’d deliver it now.”
“That makes sense. Well, how about we meet you when the delivery is ready, so we can check security and escort you the whole journey?”
“I don’t need security the whole journey, only where the ambush is.”
“We’ve got a plan to avoid the ambush. What time should we meet?”
“Fine. The truck crosses the border into Seattle at 9 o’clock. I’ll meet you then.”
“Excellent. We’ll see you then.” Shadow ends the call and turns back to the team. “I’ve set up a meet tomorrow when the truck crosses the border. I guess the farm is in Salish-Sidhe.”
Sunny grins. “All right. Sounds like we have a plan!”

Session Six

After the full frontal attack on the settlement by The Bloody Hand is defeated, the group’s leader comes over the rear wall flanked on either side by a half dozen floating undead heads.

As the party rush back to engage, the mounted & caged demon child approaches the wall. The settlement’s archers let rip with a volley of arrows but as he dies he screams “Kill each other” & half the battlement’s guards start attacking everyone else.

Doran subdues one but the chaos is distracting from the enemy swarming into the camp from the rear so he rushes to engage them instead.

The ranger Tarbin engages a pair of floating heads, his blows failing to connect again & again so that he can only ward them off for so long until one of them bites a chunk out of his arm.

Saul swings a beautifully accurate blow against a floating head, cutting it cleanly in two, only for the Bloody hand Leader to pin him with an arrow.

Nathaniel throws Magic Missiles ™at the Bloody hand leader before firing his longbow to greatly effect. The Bloody Hand leader aims true & tears a chunk out of one of Nathaniel’s lovely elf ears.

Doran smashes floating heads, one after another, in to gory pizza with his new warhammer.

The Bloody Hand leader & Saul clash in melee, Saul delivering a mighty blow but is cut down but the savagery of his foe.

Doran finds himself face to face with Saul’s foe almost immediately after his compatriot hits the ground but Nathaniel puts an arrow in the Bloody Hand leader’s ear (and out the other) before the dwarf can be bested.

Nathaniel comes to Tarbin’s aid while Doran tries to heal Saul but his clerical magic falls short and Saul remains unconscious.

The battlement soldiers who remained sane finally subdue their frenzied comrades but not before four of their fellows lay dead on the ground. Bound & mad, kicking & screaming they are brought to the Temple Of Repose & given a sleeping broth to calm them down.

Tarbin’s wound is cleaned but he worries about infection & requests he is kept an eye on, just in case…..

The dead are taken care of, the settlement soldiers beheaded and buried, the Bloody Hand beheaded and burned. The demon child’s copse burns for a full day leaving behind blackened bones.

Days pass, wounds are healed & the party find themselves advising a more sombre but more confident settlement.

Everyone is training with weapons while plans are made to take better control of the surrounding plain and forests.

Tarbin supervises the digging of trenches around the walls as Nathaniel explains the manufacture of ballistae.


Finally taking their leave, the party mount up and head in the direction of the city of Ironhold, travelling for days through forests both thick and sparse, coming across the occasional atrocities of war, a burnt out wagon by the side of the road, a hung corpse from a tree….

Tarbin insists on scouting ahead and on the fourth day encounters a scene of evil industry, a group of men cut down trees & load them onto wagons.

Their blue hair & cloaks mark them as agents of the Corrupting Claw, antagonistic allies of the Bloody Hand, but it is the jagged rods & cogs & metal plates inserted into their bodies, that allow them to work with awkward efficiency, that mark them as men to fear…..

Session Five

As dawn breaks, the party consider their options with settlement leaders.

Tarbin is willing to hold off for a few days to allow their horses time to recover while everyone is afraid what will happen if the Bloody Hand engage in another attack.

The settlement soldiers are divided into three groups; one to man the walls and one each to teach Providence’s teenage & adult citizens (men & women) how to fight with spear and bow.
The bows used are the ones taken from the barbarians the party killed while spears are sharpened sticks.

The settlement blacksmith is convinced to make a dozen spear heads.

Throughout the day & at regular intervals, pairs of Bloody Hand warriors ride from the forest and circle the settlement, out of bow range & shouting abuse, before returning to their wooded exit point.

The group set up an ambush on the far side of the fort, covered in dirty blankets amid the grass & paired with a warrior from the settlement. Those inside will give one of two signals; a blanket will be waved if a pair of horsemen is coming while a horn will be blown if a larger group appears.

A blanket is waved shortly after & minutes later a pair of mounted warriors trot into view.

Once within range, volleys of bow fire take down their horses before they are engaged in armed combat.

Saul suffers a savage wound before he cuts his opponent in half with his great axe. Doran is also wounded but outnumbered six to one, the second warrior is dispatched.

The bodies are decapitated & stripped of weapons while the horses are dragged into the settlement to provide additional vittles’ for all involved.

Threat Profile: Mad Mabel

Extracted from Interstellar Expeditions Spinwards Operational Area updates, 3130

Age: 37 (Born 3093)

Position/Rank: Leader of the Grim Grinner Gang pirate band


Despite her colourful moniker, Mad Mabel represents a definite threat to our continued operations. Violent and unpredictable, the self-proclaimed cannibal queen has become a plague to the worlds of the “south-east” Outworlds Wastes. Her operations are particularly bloody and violent, often deliberately inflicting collateral damage in order to discourage further resistance or simply for the sake of it. Most worrying for us, she seems to be deliberately targeting our own operations for reasons we cannot begin to fathom.


Investigating her background tells us something about how she came to be where she is, but offers little clue as to her motivations. As far as we have been able to determine, Mad Mabel was born Mabel Goodwin to a lower-class family in Waterburg, Onverwacht. She fell into gang violence early, and became an enforcer with a reputation for brutality and sadism. In 3108, she was implicated in the death of her step-father, although nothing was ever proven. By 3113, she had moved up in the world, committing a series of high-profile armed robberies that were characterised by needless violence.


Escaping off-world ahead of the authorities (after apparently killing the rest of her gang), Mabel used her ill-gotten wealth to buy her way into the Terror Tigers pirate band. Training to be a MechWarrior, she rose though the ranks of the band through getting results and bringing in ample spoils through a combination of her skill and propensity towards violence. However, she found herself effectively locked out of further advancement due to Gruppenfurher Nakamura’s policy of baring women from command positions.


In 3122 the Tigers clashed with the Grim Grinner Gang over a series of caches discovered on the dead world of Mandaville.  Mabel used the opportunity to further her own career by betraying the Tigers, leaving them outmatched and outmanoeuvred by the Grim Grinners. The bulk of the unit were captured and forcefully incorporated into their ranks, with Mabel among them (Nakamura was executed to serve as an example). Her propensity towards violence suited the Grim Grinners well, leading them to a string of successes in raids across a number of worlds.


Quietly building her own powerbase, in 3127 she moved against Matthaias Grande, their then leader and challenged him to a duel for command of the band. After a bloody battle she was triumphant, taking Grande’s severed head as a trophy and proof of her authority to lead. Thus far she has faced at least three challenges to her command, all of which have ended in the brutal deaths of the claimants.


Mad Mabel is violent and unpredictable, and shows sadistic tendencies as well as a complete disregard for human life. Whether or not she is a cannibal remains unproven, but regardless she does actively play up on the claim. Her men remain loyal to her, largely due the success and rewards that she has bought to the band under her command; however, fear of crossing her also plays no small part in this. Those that fail her are usually killed or assigned suicidal duties as a way of ‘atoning’ for their mistakes. She is not, however, a mindless berserker, and shows clear tactical sense on the battlefield. She knows when to fight and when to run, and is not given to wasting resources on lost causes.

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Audio Log #68112-Rho

Voice 1 (98% match Clay ‘Skinner’ McCaskil, Grim Grinner Gang): So tell me what the hell just happened. And be precise about it. Don’t leave anything out.

Voice 2 (83% match Freddie Vinh, Grim Grinner Gang): My lance were on patrol in the south hills. We detected a group of unidentifides and went to investigate. I figured it was the same people who busted up Gormel’s men, so we went to check them out.

McCaskil: And what did you find?

Vinh: It was them all right. Four ‘Mechs, a Koshi (EDITOR’S NOTE: Likely referring to Lt. Tudor’s Koschei), Hunch (EDITOR’S NOTE: Hunchback), Cent (EDITOR’S NOTE: Centurion) and Cronus. They knew we was there and came right for us. Their leader, in the Koshi told us to stand down.

McCaskil: And you told him where to stick his offer, of course.

Vinh: Yeah. So we opened up on ‘em, but they hit back hard. A couple of ‘em nearly cored Bucks’ Jack straight out, so he tried to pull back while the rest of us pushed forwards. It looked good for a moment, but then, well, slag it. It all went to hell.

McCaskil: Tell me.

Vinh: Chen’s Hactchetman got its head shredded by the Huch. He was there one second, and gone the next. A moment later, Bucks was torn apart as he was trying to pull back.

McCaskil: And what were you doing?

Vinh: I mean, I was trying to take a few down. I got some good shots in on the Hunch, and took one arm off the Cent, but I was outnumbered. Especially after Butta’s Phoenix went down without a leg.

McCaskil: Keep going.

Vinh: I mean, I’m no coward, right? I ain’t gonna leave no-one behind, right? But I knew that I wasn’t going to do jack on my own, outnumbered four to one and all that. So I tried to pull back to, you know, warn you of what was happening. Only barely got out too. Bastards shot my Griff in the face with a fracking PPC.

McCaskil: Well, guess they know where we are now.

Vinh: I’m dead. When Mabel finds out, she’s going to kill me.

McCaskil: I’ll deal with her.

Vinh: What about me?

McCaskil: You better get over yourself, son, and soon. They’re coming for us, and if you ain’t ready to fight when they do, I am going to gut you myself.

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