Mission 00

Mecha combat roleplaying.
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Tenebrae
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Mission 00

Post by Tenebrae » 08/20/18

Mission 00

Setting:
During the month of April 2028, the United States government withdrew the last of its military forces from Afghanistan. The Taliban began a major offensive in direct response, hoping to take a few American heads to round out their newest pitch for control of the region. Their offensive is materially and spiritually supported by factions within the government of Pakistan. Throughout the month of April, also, Iranian and Chinese proxies attempt to work through local warlords in the east and west to establish their own spheres of influence in the region.

To put a fine point on it: BOHICA. In the early morning hours of April 23rd, the last flight out of Kandahar Air Force Base warms up its engines. The defense of the base has been bolstered up to that point by a half-platoon of M1A3 tanks led by Major Tyler Andrews. The flight is almost ready, but the Taliban have other ideas.

Dramatis Personae:

MAJ Tyler Andrews
Callsign: Odin
The commanding officer of the platoon of M1A3s, designated 'Zulu.'

LT Linear Azure
Callsign: Hailstone
The Network Warfare Officer for Andrews’ unit and the final evacuation of Kandahar Air Base. A NWO synthesizes and summarizes network warfare data for the consumption by commanders in the field. She also relays operational directives from above. For a variety of reasons, it is typical for them to be identified by callsign only.

Chain Principal
Callsign: Frisbee
Operating as live SIGINT for Network Warfare. Capable of razor-based traffic analysis and cryptanalysis.

Post 1
23 April 2028
0100 Hours
Kandahar Air Base

“Odin,

Taliban operational tempo significantly faster than anticipated. Frisbee is claiming to have confirmed emissions from a truck-mounted anti-air system 32 clicks southeast of Kandahar AFB. That would place it just behind this ridge line.

Image

Unfortunately this asset has been moved into place and brought online prior to the last flight out. No one is flying anywhere until the SAM site has been destroyed. F35s are not available to local operations at this time.

You are to immediately suspend preparations to destroy prototype Zulu-1 ("Freya") and your other units. Recommend you leave two elements of your platoon to reinforce our line of defense and take the remaining four south to disable the SAM site. Then return to the base prior to the departure of the C-17, render your equipment inoperable, and board the plane before it leaves.

Enemy strength in this offensive is between 3,000 and 4,500, with their usual array of equipment.

Over,
Hailstone”

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Naze
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Re: Mission 00

Post by Naze » 08/25/18

"Fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!"

Captain Andrews growled as he almost tossed the tablet away, then thought better of it and instead firmly slammed it onto the 'desk' of his 'CP'. Nothing more than a tent, some operational equipment, and a several work lights and generators on the tarmac of Kandahar, surrounded by a half dozen tanks in various states of 'undress' and a pallet of probably a lot more C4 than was strictly necessary.

"Stop preppin' for Demo!" he shouted as he stalked out of the tent, shouting to the crews under his command. His Southern accent was slipping in, usually a bad sign, and the crews knew it. The looked at each other uneasily before giving their attention to their commander. "Ragheads just brought a SAM battery online. About 30 klicks that way." he says bitterly and points off to the southeast.

"We have 5 minutes to get all our demo shit off, and then load for bear. Vasquez, you and Williams get back to the dugouts on the Airport perimeter. The rest of you: I want every goddamn active TROPHY and intercept system we still got loaded and linked into 'Podium' on Freja. Our NWO," (he pronounces it NeWO to everyone's consternation) "Says we have 3-4 thousand crunchies advancing and I don't wanna run into forward elements with dumb anti-tank unprepared." he nods to his crews who nod back. No sense biting it now not when they were so close to going home.

Andrews looks to a man of Japanese descent in fatigues with glasses on top the oddest looking tank of the bunch with all sorts of extra bits and sensors sticking out of the turret and potions of the body. "Gendo," he calls his gunner by his callsign. "How many RGHE rounds we have left, and do you think we can finagle the targeting system into acting more a mortar like we did at Herat heights? Hit the SAM from over 10 klicks out?"

Gendo shrugs "I'll look into it sir." Andrews nods "Good man. I be back out to help prep, going to go update our handlers first. We move out by 0145." he scowls and turns back to the CP tent as behind him NCO's bark orders and the flurry of activity increases as they prep their vehicles.

Andrews move back to his tablet and quickly types out a message over the secure channel:
--------------------------------------------

Hailstone.
Copy. Halting Demo and re-arming: Operation to begin at 0145. Perimeter of Airbase to be set by Designation Zulu-4 & Zulu-6 at perimeter dugouts 12 and 16.

Plan to proceed South down the A75 corridor with Zulu-1,2,3 & 5 at best speed until reaching spur junction and proceeding over terrain directly to firing range. Right now, we're looking into modifying targeting to utilize downlink from surveillance in conjunction with 'Newtype' to create a mortar of sorts with Razor guided Munitions; Should keep us from getting too deep: Horse-shoes and high explosive. We'll keep you informed. Have Frisbee on standby through with an open port for downlink before we get into position.

Also, either one of you, let me know if the techs have got 'Podium' to finally handshake and work with the so far useless Laser system for the Active Defense Umbrella. I have a feeling we're going to need it.

Over.
-Odin

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Tenebrae
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Re: Mission 00

Post by Tenebrae » 09/26/18

Background
Andrews' tank company is field-testing technologies to be later used in Project Vulcan. While Andrews is not aware of Vulcan at this point, he (and most of his men) have been told they are testing these systems for an unnamed ‘next-generation tank.’ Systems which might later be united in a single mech are spread out across various M1A3s in his command.

Most of the company, and of course Andrews himself, are justifiably skeptical of what they have been asked to deal with and to what end it will be used for.

Zulu-1 ("Freya")
Commanded by Captain Andrews. The engine has been replaced for a higher power output, which is in turn used to power a suite of high-draw items.
Razor-capable CPU (Common Systems)
BUCKLER: Controlling active defense systems. In operational order.
JITNEY: Supposed to provide automatic guidance. Not ready for the field.
DOMINO: Supposedly conducts analysis on buildings and walls to provide ways to demolish them. Barely works.
NEWTYPE: Anticipating and highlighting threats. In operational order.
Advanced Netwar (Highlander)
Netwar information is painted onto the soldier's retinas.
S-FEL Active Defense (Highlander)

Zulu-2 ("Loki")
Primarily a test bed for Adaptive Camouflage. It is less effective here than it would be on a Pulse Drive unit, given the difficulty of hiding the heat signature and noise of an internal combustion engine. The performance of the Net Launcher left much to be desired.
Adaptive Camouflage (Spider, Gray Ghost)
Net Launcher (Spider)

Zulu-3 ("Baldr")
Featuring a reinforced internal structure. The Jump Jets are mounted in four pods on the exterior of the tank. They work well enough. The rocket-powered grappling hook is regarded as great fun. Men in the company have hypothesized it was made for stunts to drum up support for the Army.
Jump Jets (Common System)
Grappling Hook (Highlander, War Pig)

Zulu-5 ("Thor")
Modified to be able to fire the rounds for the Mattis 120mm AMOS. The turret has been modified to be able to elevate to 33 degrees, giving it a range of 7 KM when using HE or RGHE.
Close-Assault Weapon Pod (Mattis)

-2-
Chain stood over the three dimensional terrain map of the area around Kandahar Air Force Base. The map had various GIS overlays which she could switch between using a floating interface. She had all the same NetWar data that was available to field commanders, as well as reams of additional unprocessed or irrelevant spatial data, and additional volumes of data that wasn’t spatialized but could be in short order. Mining the ore of enemy radiation and refining it into the gold of actionable intelligence was her main function, and in this capacity she was the best in the world. Technically, though, her only real competition in this capacity was standing next to her, and had exhibited thus far no desire to challenge her.

The virtual space in which she was presently confined with her sister AI, Linear, was known as the Sandbox and was modeled after the Bonneville Salt Flats. Various weather settings were available, the least obnoxious of which was an overcast sky in late afternoon. It was relatively easy to summon objects into the large open space and reposition them as desired, especially if they were not affected by gravity. This environment was the one Linear had chosen for their joint exercise to test the combat razors being developed for Project Vulcan Wolf. It had proved to be an auspicious choice, given the ad-hoc nature of the enterprise. The testing regime was nearing its end, and the result of all that was that the area she and Linear were standing in looked like someone had turned a space battleship upside down and upended its CIC onto a basketball court. A basketball court was the model Linear had chosen as the stage for their efforts. It seemed pleasant to walk on and spacious enough, at least at first.

Chain looked at her nails, which she had recently applied a gloss to, and then over to her sister Linear. The woman was dressed in a truly ugly Navy Battle Dress Uniform with a deep blue digital pattern. Though the Navy had phased out the “blueberry” digital camouflage a few years ago, Linear still preferred it, and in the privacy of the Sandbox no one except Chain really had to put up with it in person. Chain herself, technically a civilian contractor, wore a white blouse with a black skirt and flat shoes.

The crowding of objects during the course of the testing had filled every corner of the court with junk. There were virtual computers all with outdated or useless information alongside virtual replicas of the equipment and systems aboard the experimental systems deployed in distant Afghanistan. Four full-size M1A3 tanks were resting line-abreast in the sand adjacent the half-court line.

The platform had acquired a cramped, maze-like quality, in spite of the fact that the Sandbox had infinite space and the mountain range in the distance was just a flat image painted on the skybox. Basketballs were lying around here and there and on top of random bits of equipment. There were more of these stray balls spreading out into the salt flat beyond, a whole starburst of missed shots that neither of them had bothered to retrieve, given the ease of summoning another. About a hundred meters away was another basketball court, which they had spawned in after it became impossible to play basketball on the original court. Chain wasn’t a fan of the mess, but she was even less keen on picking up after Linear.

Linear wore a black blindfold around her eyes as she looked down at the terrain map, which was about the size of a dinner table for four. Red lines were skating around the map, appearing and disappearing, which represented razor-guided high explosive targeting solutions into the target box which had been so far defined for the SAM site in question. Linear, who wielded the Physical Simulation razor, was hoping to find a place from which an RGHE round could be launched with minimal danger to Andrews’ platoon. She had identified several candidates already, but none of them were really better than the base case determined by the pure razor. If an Ultimate system couldn’t do better than the base case, she had, if not failed, at least failed to justify the time spent. Even a human could accept the base case.

“Take off that silly blindfold or I’ll do it for you.” Chain said.

Her black haired sister turned to her methodically and reached out her hand to rest it on the edge of the table with the 3d map. She missed the table with her hand and, with a sort of forced casualness, found it again on the second try.

“I feel there’s something to it. Using a blindfold to increase the sensitivity of Razor-Ultimate interactions.” Linear said. “You know how blind people--”

“Yes, I know. How blind people. The data doesn’t agree with your assessment. Just listen to me for once.” Chain said, cutting her off, then paused to give her a chance to respond. There was no response except the flash of a frown across her sister’s features. Linear began to work the blindfold off of her head.

“A targeting solution would be easier if your target box were smaller.” Linear said, turning her light blue eyes on Chain. “RGHE isn’t a large explosion in the cosmic sense.”

“I’ll try to draft in additional systems on that bandwidth along a longer axis to narrow the box. Until then we have to contend with the laws of electromagnetism.” Chain said.

Linear made a skeptical hum. She reached over onto the table and grabbed a portion of the terrain. Throwing her fingers out, she zoomed in on the red box that Chain had delineated as the possible location of the SAM.

“The laws of electromagnetism?” Linear said. “And what about gravity?”

“Gravity? I... suppose it has to, or at least is likely to, be located on relatively level ground. That sort of wheeled system. A lorry.” Chain said, tilting her head. In the rough terrain box there were only a few places on which a truck could rest. Linear highlighted them at a glance and gave Chain a blank look of expectation. “What?”

“Afghanistan isn’t The Sandbox. You can’t just teleport a truck into any available piece of flat ground. You have to drive it there. That means all the intervening ground must be navigable.” Linear said, deprecating a few more of the candidate sites after flitting her eyes around the potential routes in and applying the physics razor. “Forget about establishing a larger baseline from our current position. We can narrow these candidate sites once we get on the move. I’ll generate a whole swarm of potential shots. So you focus on your SOP and get their outdated smartphones and unsecured radio. Give me a GIS point cloud overlay related to man portable AT across open channels and heat map it by time. I’d rather know more about their dispositions than getting data we’ll get anyway after we move. Then we’ll wrap it in a live overlay and send it to Odin.”

“...sensible enough.” Chain said. Linear handed her the blindfold. Chain gingerly took it between thumb and forefinger and threw it in a nearby wastebin.

“Do we have any RGHE left?” Linear said, “The prototype rounds cost $250,000 each, wouldn’t we have expended all of them? For testing?”

Chain held up two fingers. “We have two left.”

“Why do we have two left? That’s half a million dollars. Were we just going to detonate them in a pile?”

“They are, or were, for testing. We were testing whether the RGHE rounds could withstand rough handling over a long period of time in field conditions.”

--

“Odin:

I’m forwarding you two new overlays. The first is the current best solution we have for the location of the SAM truck alongside suggestions for RGHE trajectories into this box. The second is a heat map of man-portable anti-tank radii based on local SIGINT. Both of these will be dynamically updated and the location of the SAM truck will improve drastically as you approach.

Realistic odds from each firing position are not currently predictable. You will have them as soon as they are. Zulu-5 will be making the shot.

-Hailstone”

Image

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Tenebrae
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Re: Mission 00

Post by Tenebrae » 09/27/18

Supplemental:

"You'll be handling disambiguation for Freya's FEL in a crisis situation." Linear said. In tone it was a decisive statement, but not without a tincture of guilt.

"Me? You're supposed to." Chain said.

"Yes, that's what we decided on, when it didn't matter," Linear said, "But I have a lot to keep track of in reality. Your work is mostly done at the point of a firefight, or at least it should be. You're at least 80% as good as I am."

--

"Odin:

Live direction of S-FEL active defense is possible and will be handled by Frisbee. 10km from Zulu-4 on their AMOS is possible but not advisable.

-Hailstone"

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