Amber Nebula Campaign Log

13. Operation Orionis

29 June, 2775. 07:49 UTC. Free trader Argonaut log entry by Captain Paris Smith.

Having discussed the offer of Viscount Conrad, we have agreed to help him by posing as mercenaries and infiltrating the anti-Royal forces of the Orionis corporation. We contacted him late last night and were told to report to the palace this morning, where we would be met by Royal troops and issued with weapons and hidden surveillance equipment. After a briefing we will approach Orionis and hopefully join their mercenary group.

12:54 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.

The Viscount's troops have issued us with used, but perfectly serviceable blast rifles, retro-reflec armour, and an assortment of grenades, to give us the appearance of mercenary forces with both experience and expcted equipment. We also have tiny communicators wired so they are inconspicuous, with in-ear speakers and microphones that can pick up sub-vocalisation.

The instructions we received in the briefing were basically to infiltrate the mercenary force, posing as guns for hire, and report on the troop strength, hardware, battle plans, and so on. We are not to take any action unless instructed to do so. When the battle begins, we are to lie low and not take part. Royal Guard troops will be able to identify us thanks to the IFF transponders we have been issued, and will pick us up and take us to safety as soon as possible.

The idea is to gather enough evidence of an actual attack by Orionis on the Royal troops to go to the stockholders and undermine the stability of the company, with an aim to have it officially deregistered and broken up, thus eliminatng a significant threat to the Royal Government.

We have hired a car to make our own way to the outskirts of Rheydt city, where the Orionis corporation have an encampment. Serron has asked Iki Piki to wire the car with Plastex-B (which Viscount Conrad also supplied for us) so that it will explode if anyone tries to tamper with it or break in to it. Although currently in his lazy male phase, Iki Piki seems eager to comply.

16:05 UTC. Field log entry by Iki Piki.

We have successfully hired on as mercenaries with the Orionis Corporation. The interview was quite straightforward. The mercenary captain asked us why we wanted to work for Orionis. Serron answered that we have had a slight run-in with the law, and are in quick need of some cash in order to get off-planet. The captain replied that we sounded like the right sort of people, and took us on board.

19:32 UTC. Operation Orionis radio communication log.

Paris: Paris Smith to HQ, come in.

Viscount Conrad: HQ to Paris, this is Viscount Conrad.

Paris: Ah, Viscount! Just reporting that we have been accepted into the Orionis compound and hired on as mercenaries. We've been told that we'll be shipping out in about 26 hours from now. They haven't told us where we're going yet, so we can't confirm your intelligence that the attack is planned for the Bluefields Royal Guard base. As soon as we have any details we'll let you know.

Viscount Conrad: Good work. Just keep a low profile and make contact if there are any developments.

Serron: Serron here, Viscount. It loks like they have about a hundred troops based here. Mostly human, but a good mix of other aliens too. The security is pretty tight. We're not sure if this is the whole attack force, or if more will be joining us from elsewhere.

Viscount Conrad: Okay... What sort of weaponry are they carrying?

Serron: Mostly blast and laser rifles, a few sidearm blasters. No idea what the vehicular hardware will be - we presume that is near the attack site already.

Viscount Conrad: Right. Well, keep in touch. If that's all the forces they have, it should be no match for the three hundred Royal Guards we have ready for them.

Paris: Roger. Over and out.

30 June, 2775. 11:14 UTC. Field log entry by Serron.

Today we are spending time going through weapon drills, in preparation for the attack tomorrow. We have been told that we will be flying to a small town called Karawala, which we have confirmed with Viscount Conrad is near the Bluefields Royal Guard spaceport. Even though the sun never sets here on Rubilith, the attack will be launched at about 04:00 UTC, since that should catch the majority of the defenders asleep.

They are trucking us out to a small airfield near here later today, where sub-orbital planes will take us to Karawala. Apparently the vehicles we will be using in the assault are already located at another Orionis base near there.

Karawala and Bluefields are a few thousand kilometres from Rheydt, and near the planet's terminator, so the sun will be very low in the sky there, and the weather considerably colder than here. Icebergs appear only a few kilometres off the coast at Bluefields, and the icecap and the planet's dark side are not very far away.

22:50 UTC. Operation Orionis radio communication log.

Paris: Paris Smith to HQ, come in.

Jarren: Jarren Surmik here. Go ahead.

Paris: Reporting that we've boarded the sub-orbital planes for Karawala, and are in transit.

Jarren: Roger that. We're tracking you on satellite images and ground based radar. Don't worry, we've got you covered. The Viscount has gone to sleep - he wants to be up and ready when the attack happens, to make sure you're safe. Call in when you can to let us know how many vehicles will be used and what their armaments are.

Paris: Will do. Over and out.

1 July, 2775. 02:19 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.

We have landed at a small Orionis base in the swamps not far from the town of Karawala. It seems there are only a few other troops here who will be joining our assault on Bluefields, but they have several amphibious armoured personnel carriers waiting for us to use. The APCs are fitted with roof-mounted gatling lasers, with a gunner stationed on the roof. Two people sit in a driver's compartment at the front, and there is room in the back for about twenty troops. There are five of these vehicles here.

During our flight from Rheydt it was noticeable that most of our fellow mercenaries feel very confident that this attack will succeed. I'm not sure if this is mere bravado, or if they know something about the attack that we don't. On screen, the odds appear to be very much in favour of the Royal Guard - not even counting the fact that we know the Guard will be tipped off and ready for the attack.

At the moment I have slipped away from the rest of the troops and am in the process of sabotaging one of the APCs. I'm damaging the fuel lines and some of the electrical components. After half an hour or so of jolting through the swamp this vehicle should be crippled and unable to move. This will put the odds even further in our favour by taking out twenty or so of the Orionis troops.

02:48 UTC. Operation Orionis radio communication log.

Iki Piki: Iki Piki to HQ, are you there?

Viscount Conrad: HQ to Iki Piki, this is Viscount Conrad.

Iki Piki: We're just about to be loaded on to an APC and set off through the swamp to Bluefields. They tell us the trip will take an hour.

Viscount Conrad: Good. Any details on where they plan making the assault?

Iki Piki: Not sure, but it seems we are just going to come in through the swamp and breach the base fence there somewhere. They're banking heavily on the surprise factor, I think.

Viscount Conrad: Okay. Well just keep low and let us know if anything else useful comes up. Over and out.

04:27 UTC. Field log entry by Iki Piki.

I am in the back of an APC with nineteen unconscious troops, including Serron, Spanners and Paris. It seems Serron took a calculated risk and dropped one of his stun grenades, thereby knocking everyone but me unconscious. I am quickly tying up the other troops.

The vehicle is still moving, so I assume the drivers did not notice the sound of the grenade over the engines. Once I have these other troops tied up I will use some of Serron's stim capsules to wake him, Spanners and Paris.

04:39 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.

Thanks to Serron's gambit, we now control the rear cabin of this APC. There is still the gunner on the roof and the drivers to deal with. The others are roping themselves to the vehicle in case they fall off and are about to climb up on to the roof through the rear doors. I'm remaining here to keep an eye on the other troops.

A few minutes ago I saw the APC that I sabotaged grind to a spluttering halt in the swamp, so it looks like that plan was a success. The other vehicles, including this one, are continuing on to the attack site.

04:45 UTC. Argonaut crew private radio communication log.

Serron: Okay, I've shot the gunner.

Paris: I'll get the drivers.

Iki Piki: Carefuly there!

Paris: Aaarrrgh..!

Spanners: What happened?!

Serron: She fell off the roof. She's okay... she's climbing back up the rope. I'm tossing the gunner off the roof and getting into the seat.

[Laser fire and explosions.]

Iki Piki: Nice shot! Look out! They're returning fire! Spanners, brace yourself, we might take a hit.

Paris: I'm in the driver's cabin!

Iki Piki: Nice work. She's thrown a driver out!

Paris: I've stabbed the other one - I've got control of the vehicle now.

Serron: Look out! Iki, get down there and drive!

Paris: We're nearly at the base fence!

Serron: I can see... that other gunner has blown a hole in it. Hang on, I'll take him out. [Laser fire.] Got him! That's all the gunners gone.

Iki Piki: Hold on! I'm going to ram that one!

[Collision and sounds of crunching metal.]

Serron: Good work! He won't be getting through that fence any more! I'm jumping across!

Spanners: What's happening?

Paris: Two of the APCs have made it through the fence and the mercenaries have jumped out and are attacking the base. The Royal Guard troops are trying to return fire, but it looks like they're fighting amongst themselves. Some of the Guards are turning on their own forces!

Iki Piki: Traitors!!

Spanners: What?!

Paris: Paris to HQ, Paris to HQ. Viscount Conrad, are you there? There's no answer!

Spanners: He must have been behind this all along! We're in big trouble. What's our situation out there?

Iki Piki: Serron has rolled a stun grenade into the back of the APC we rammed, and blasted one guy who managed to climb out. A second mercenary has tried to get out too, but Serron's ducked behind the vehicle for cover and tossed a frag grenade, which seems to have taken him out.

Paris: Look! The traitors are winning! They're sending some of the mercenaries this way!

Iki Piki We have to get out of here! Serron, get back here or you'll be left behind!

Serron: On my way.

Paris: Look out! They're shooting at you!

Serron: Okay, I'm on... go!

[Loud engine noise and splashes of water.]

05:51 UTC. Field log entry by Serron.

We have driven our APC some distance north of Bluefields Royal Guard base. We have not seen any vehicles in pursuit yet, but believe it won't be long before they come looking for us. As best we can tell, the Orionis mercenaries and the traitorous Royal Guard troops have taken control of Bluefields, and presumably taken the loyal Royal forces captive.

We have managed to contact some Royal sympathiser forces in Rheydt with the news. They offered to send help, but it will take several hours to arrive, and we can't afford to broadcast our exact location in case the Orionis forces intercept our communication.

In fact, we are planning to ditch the APC and make our way inland to one of the nearby towns on foot. Nueva Guinea is the closest settlement, so we are going to head inland up the river just to the north of Bluefields and then strike south overland. Iki Piki has volunteered to drive the APC downriver, then abandon it and swim upriver to meet us, who will take the rubber life dinghy upstream, so we leave no tracks betraying our direction. He is also going to booby trap the vehicle with some explosives, giving a nasty surprise to whoever finds it.

13:27 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.

We have come a few kilometres south of the river, after being met some way inland by Iki Piki after he abandoned the APC. Resting for lunch, we were surprised to hear a voice over Viscount Conrad's radio link. It was Professor Byron Smythe! Iki Piki tried to answer, but Serron seems still not to have forgiven the Professor for past events and tried to drug Iki with a dose of morphazine. Iki was too quick for him however, so Serron turned and drugged Paris instead!

It turns out Smythe is not sure what has been happening, but Viscount Conrad seems to have disappeared. Jarren Surmik was with him, and they are both baffled by recent events. Surmik in particular expressed surprise and dismay at the turn of events here at Bluefields, and vowed to find Conrad and make him accountable for this treachery against the Queen.

Meanwhile, we have only a few emergency survival supplies and rations stripped from the APC. We also abandoned the life dinghy, sending it floating down river as a further decoy before we started south overland.

18:46 UTC. Field log entry by Paris.

After an exhasuting day of walking through the cold forests and swamps in this part of Rubilith, we have made camp so we can sleep and recover some strength. We are some distance south and west of Bluefields base, but still only a fraction of the way to Nueva Guinea. We don't think we can survive out here in this wilderness for the ten or so days it will take us to walk there, so we are considering our options.

2 July, 2775. 08:13 UTC. Field log entry by Iki Piki.

Following a good long sleep, we have decided that our best chances of being rescued from this situation are to try to infiltrate the base and steal some sort of vehicle. A helicopter would be ideal. To this end, Serron and Paris are setting out to scout the base from the southern perimeter. We expect most of the guards to be posted along the northern and western sides, and the southern approach offers cover of the forest as well. Spanners and I will remain here for now.

10:09 UTC. Operation Orionis radio communication log.

Prof Smythe: Byron Smythe to field team. Please come in.

Iki Piki: Iki Piki here, Professor. What's the news?

Prof Smythe: Jarren Surmik and I have secured the Queen here in the palace. News of this attack has leaked out through the corporate media and they're playing it up as a breakdown in the cohesiveness of the Royal Guard and the Government. I fear violence may break out in the streets at any time. We have to get you out of there. Can you tell me exactly where you are so we can send a team out to pick you up?

Iki Piki: Not exactly, because I don't know exactly where we are. Serron and Paris have gone to scout the base and hopefully steal a helicopter for us. Spanners and I are guarding our camp.

Prof Smythe: Jarren will order loyal troops on to standby to evacuate you as soon as we can. Let us know as soon as you have a pick-up location for us, or if you can manage to get out on your own.

Iki Piki: Will do.

13:16 UTC. Field log entry by Spanners.

We have lost radio contact with Serron and Paris. The last we heard they were just approaching the southern perimeter fence of the base under cover of the forest. We fear they have been captured, or worse. Iki Piki is going to investigate.

14:47 UTC. Argonaut crew private radio communication log.

Iki Piki: Spanners, I've found Paris!

Spanners: Good. Where is she? Is Serron there?

Iki Piki: She's up a tree. We're just outside the southern fence of the base. She looks unconscious. I can't see Serron anywhere. Hang on, I'm climbing up and reviving her.

Paris: Wha..?

Iki Piki: It's okay, it's me. Looks like Serron has been using you as pincushion again.

Paris: So, what's been happening?

Iki Piki: I don't know!

Paris: Where's Serron?

Iki Piki: I was about to ask you the same question.

[Huge explosion, muffled by distance.]

Paris: Do you think that explosion had anything to do with him?

Iki Piki: Very likely. Come on, let's go.

Spanners: What was that?!

Iki Piki: There's been an explosion on the base. Looks like one of the berthed starships has blown up. There's people running everywhere. This could be our chance. They're all running for the starships pads. Spanners, we're going to circle around the base and come in through the swamp side and try to steal a helicopter.

15:31 UTC. Argonaut crew private radio communication log.

Paris: Spanners, we've reached the breach in the fence on the northern side and are going in. We can see some helicopters just a few hundred metres away. There's a few guards, but hopefully we can take them out and take off before we attract too much attention.

Spanners: Okay. Keep an eye out for Serron too. He must be in there somewhere.

Iki Piki: Look! It looks like something's happening in that hangar.

Paris: Maybe the prisoners have broken out. Now's our chance!

[Sounds of running and panting for breath.]

Iki Piki: We've reached a helicopter. Paris is starting the engine. All the mercenaries and disloyal troops have raced over to the hangar, where fighting has broken out. We're going to lend assistance. Paris, fly over there... I'll man the gun.

[Helicopter engine. Laser and blaster fire. Yelling and screaming.]

Paris: Iki has blown a hole in the roof of the hangar. We can see the prisoners in there, fighting to escape. There's Serron! Hang on, we're going to land on the roof and use the gatling laser to disperse the enemy troops.

17:09 UTC. Field log entry by Serron.

The loyal Royal Guard troops have retaken the Bluefields Guard base, with help from myself and the others. After leaving Paris in the tree on the southern perimeter - sedated with morphazine for her own safety - I circled around to the eastern side of the base and vaulted the fence behind cover of the berthed Guard starships.

I sneaked in amongst the ships and planted an explosive charge in the wheel bay of one. Unfortunately I was spotted and chased by some of the troops. They captured me and took me to the hangar where they were keeping the loyal Guard troops prisoner. They didn't discover the explosives, however, since they went off at the time I'd set, creating a diversion sufficient for me to overpower the guards posted to watch us, with the help of some of the loyal troops.

I just about had the situation under control when Iki Piki and Paris arrived in the helicopter and helped to get the mercenary forces to surrender. We took control of the base and have now rounded up most of the hostile troops.

We've radioed Royal forces in Rheydt with the news and they are sending out reinforcements to hold the base and planes to pick us up and take us back there. Paris is flying out in the helicopter to retrieve Spanners and our gear from the forest.

3 July, 2775. 09:16 UTC. Field log entry by Iki Piki.

We are back in Rheydt city after a restful flight from Bluefields Royal Guard base. The news overnight has been very bad. Rioting has broken out on the city streets, with corporate-backed militias attacking Royal installations and offices. The palace has been secured by the Royal Guard, and we are heading there now for a debriefing and hopefully some form of payment for our help. We're not quite sure where we stand, since the offer of an engine was made by Viscount Conrad, who has long since vanished.

10:07 UTC. Rheydt Palace public audience room security video log.

Jarren: Please go on in.

Serron: Smythe!

Prof Smythe: Please... I'm on your side. And we are in the presence of the Queen.

Queen Natasha: These are the people who helped save Bluefields?

Jarren: Yes, your majesty. If I may present Captain Paris Smith, Serron, Iki Piki and Spanners.

Queen Natasha: I thank you for your help in these desperate times. I understand the traitorous Viscount Conrad promised you a fusion engine and a total of 350,000 sovereigns for your service in his dastardly plan. I shall do my best to see to it that you receive these rewards, but unfortunately events have conspired such that we have much more urgent matters on our hands. With the corporations in charge of the manufacturing facilities, getting an engine will be almost impossi...

[Muffled blaster fire. Screams.]

Guard: Get back, your majesty! [Slam and thud of doors. Blaster fire.] Aaargh!

[More blaster fire.]

Paris: Iki!

Jarren: Quick, this way!

11:38 UTC. Free trader Argonaut log entry by Captain Paris Smith.

We have returned to the Argonaut after a dash from the palace to the starport in the Queen's armoured limousine. Corporate factions have raided the palace and interrupted our audience with Queen Natasha, who is now safely on board with us, as are Byron Smythe, Jarren Surmik, and a trusted Royal Guardsman named Dixon Carter.

Iki Piki has a blaster wound to the arm, after diving in front of Queen Natasha when the corporate forces broke into the audience room and opened fire. Serron and Spanners returned fire and gave us enough time to escape via a hidden passage to the garage, where we burst our way out of a blockade in the Queen's car.

Thankfully we managed to lose any trailing corporate mercenaries in the confusion of our escape from the palace, but we have guns ready to defend the Argonaut if they trace the Queen here before we are ready to leave.

Queen Natasha has expressed a desire to travel to Inverness, where she expects to be able to rally off-world support for a military assault on the corporate forces and retake control of Rubilith. Serron is making the astrogation calculations, and we expect to be underway within a few minutes.

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