Grizzly Dal Fona game

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Plot Infliction 00 - Plot Dump

Long ago, planet Medved in the Third Galaxy was an original colony of the Orbodun predating the Confederation. During the reign of the Confederation, Medved prospered along with Orboduns in general in context of civilized society. Since the Fragmentation, the staunch Orbodun influence has been drastically eroded in the region, and now Medved exists totally separated from any other Orbodun-controlled space. The protectorate of the planet has turned into a de-facto dynasty, which has been a successful state considering the almost-continuous state of battle the planet finds itself in with its lawless surroundings. The Protectors have been benevolent and capable wielders of executive power, managing to keep a trickle of trade despite the lawless predations of pirate nations lurking.

On Medved is a rare and secretive institution - a Dal Fona school, producing the cultural enforcers of the Orbodun way of honour. Aarg, begins as a student in the Dal Fona military college.

Also on Medved, but seen mostly as an external influence seeped in from the anarchistic wastes, is a belligerent political movement called Grizzly. Grizzlies have grown to resent the constraints imposed on Orboduns by the cultural honour code - seeing it as a hinderance that puts them at a competitive disadvantage, especially in lawless circumstances with other honourless beings. The movement is primarily underground, but vocal members avoid problems with the Dal Fona by merely refusing to give their word or to say much of anything. The population of Medved is still primarily honourable, but a very large proportion find themselves thinking that this should be voluntary. There are extremists, however, feeding philosophical tensions.

The flashpoint of the plot infliction has to do with Crown Prince Winnie-The-Pooh. He was personally conducting difficult negotiations with a nation of sometimes-pirates nominally to arrange passage for increased trade in exchange for some compensation. When the Prince's ship was abducted (probably for ransom), it was detonated with some pre-installed nukes taking out a very significant number of pirate vessels. While this might seem to be a significant tactical victory, the Prince was actually not on his ship, and had in fact lied and misled the pirates to bait them into the trap.

Dal Fona felt compelled to send an assassin to kill Prince WTP.

The Prince's mother, Protectoress Teddy, was not pleased and swore vengeance against the Dal Fona.

It's high-alert time at the Academy.


Population centered on a continent with primarily temperate climate. Entire continent is well-populated, but in a mostly-sprawled manner. Terrain is dominated by rocky mountainous cordillera from continental collision. The only really densely populated portion is at the palace, but even that is mostly built into a mountain. Dwellings and buildings are built into the rock formations regularly, but few structures protrude much above ground. Transportation is almost entirely personal craft - and walking. Most of the continent is lush with vegetation, and herds of food animals roam freely. Visibility is often very poor - less than 4 km, due to thick, persistent cloud cover.

Hmmmm... will a Rifleman's sensors see through the cloud cover? If not, it may make more sense to have a cluster of smaller weapons instead of the long range laser.

Does Aarg have personal gear?

Active sensors can penetrate cloud cover, passive sensors generally cannot (unless an active source illuminates something).

As a student, Aarg has limited personal gear. Say 15 credits of whatever you want, plus an heirloom item if you can construct a suitably detailed history leading to Aarg's possession of it that balances the practical value it may have. This is augmented by the fact that the Dal Fona has an extensive stock of combat-relevant items, and that as a professional-level student Aarg can requisition pretty much anything he wants short of assault weapons (those need to be requisitioned by seasoned students).

Which is a thought almost everybody contemplates simultaneously as multiple instances of neophytes at the school declaring themselves Grizzlies and trying to commit acts of sabotage at the armoury, the garages, and the walkers. The Instructors organize the professional students (who have definitively proven themselves honourable) to remove all non-sworn individuals from the Dal Fona school.

2011.04.07 - Beginning Hostilities

Circumstances clarified the war as being between trusted members of the Dal Fona school, primarily driving their large "rifleman" walkers, and radical Grizzly volunteers driving smaller Battle Bear walkers from the Protectoress' palace arsenal. The Grizzlies mounted a general assault, and the Dal Fona deployed a tactical defensive perimeter against the larger attacking force. However, the Grizzlies were able to divine - probably via mentalist cheating - a weak spot in the Dal Fona defensive line and concentrated a rush attack through there and penetrated into the school. Luckily, the Dal Fona command was mobile enough to evade the attack, though vital stores were destroyed before the assault force withdrew.

Aarg's team performed well in their engagements, keeping their sector well-contained. As visibility worsened and the Grizzlies withdrew, Aarg's team foraged the remains to collect patches and weaponry. The Dal Fona forces re-established their tactical communications array and hunker down to see what happens next.

Plot Infliction 01 - After-Battle Jitters

Old Ben: "OK guys, we need to coordinate better during combat. We can trust Paddington to generally tell us the ebb and flow of combat and how we need to focus, and we seem to do well in terms of comporting ourselves ad-hoc. But I think we need to think up some slam-dump group action combinations in order to be more efficient against these guys - because I have the bad feeling that we're going to be a lot more supply-limited than they are, which means the odds are going to get worse."

Buddy: "Well, with my doubled firepower and my ability to hit pretty much anything, I think it's mostly a matter of just making sure everybody else helping point out what the scariest target is."

Buster: "Pffft. As if. No more mister nice mercenary. Next time those Grizzly motherzarkers show their honourless faces, I'm hosing them down two at a time with guided +3-seeking doom!"

"I think we should only use the missiles when we're desperate. I'm worried we'd kill them to the point of not having any salvage. I'm quite looking forward to bigger guns as well. Plus, if we can salvage patches, that would be good too. Heck, salvaging entire walkers may become necessary if we start losing our own.

How about this - we try to be all out of cover at the same time and dive behind cover at the same time. When we're attacking, Buster, you go first and fire on two different targets. We can judge the effectiveness of their ducks and choose the one we're most likely to hit - or in Buddy's case beat by 10. Also, keep attacking the same two targets until one of them is down, then add 1 new one.

Old Ben: "Yeah, about that. I know most of us are really personnel combatants, and it seems like virtually all of the Grizzlies are too - so we're all most accustomed to the manner of typical personnel combat. Which is to say, line-of-sight weapons. As soon as the Grizzlies clue into the fact that those missiles they're carrying are both guided and have 100m range of effect, cover isn't going to be as useful as it was. If a combatant goes all-aggressive and then flings themselves behind simple cover, it's not that hard to guess approximately where they'll be and send a missile (or ten) to fly around the corner and explode."

Buster: "Huh. Scary. Wicked scary."

Buddy: "That's simultaneously awesome and horrid."

Hmmmmm... I send a message to Paddington. "Sir, can you or our mentalist give us a probability that the enemy will have figured out they can hit us with missiles when we're behind cover for our next encounter?"

Paddington: "45% standardized probability for projected next phase of combat initially, increasing to a plateau of 85% within 3 subsequent waves with 15% variance attributable to high population of personnel combatants."

Old Ben: "It's also probably also pointing out that, since we're on a linked tactical network for our squad, we can guide missiles launched from another walker."

Buster: "D'Oh!"

2011.04.14 - Extirpation Offensive

The Grizzlies gathered a gigantic group of volunteers, jacked them up on stims, sat them in BattleBearBots, and sent them forth to kill all Dal Fona.

It kind of worked.

As chance would have it, the extremely variable weather of Medved ushered in a torrential downpour that reduced passive visibility to under 50 meters. This meant that waves of Grizzlies crashed against the Dal Fona defenders at odds of more than 3:1. The more-skilled Dal Fona destroyed most of the attacking force, but also lost over half of their own force.

Aarg's team survived better than most, losing only the shock-shooter BuddyBear. As the storm eases, they find themselves surrounded by the ruined wreckages of their vanquished foes, but also regaining contact with the Dal Fona battlenet showing how bad it was overall.

Plot Infliction 02 - Tactical Split

Buster: "Fuck."

"It could be worse."

I eagerly await orders/info from Paddington.

Paddington's army of AI's deploy orders for all units to quickly scavenge as much as possible, with each team deploying a watcher sentry, then with detailed retreat vectors to be initiated in 10 minutes. Priority for patches and seeker missiles. Secondary target is enemy blasters for retrofitting.

Also highlighted in the tactical battlenet is that part of the incursion included one of the Protectoress' powerful SmokeyBear walkers. It was thought that none of them were willing to attack the Dal Fona because they did not partake in the initial assault. The poor visibility meant that it was almost missed, because it did not leave any surviving opponents, but a lucky pilot that was on foot from a different battle observed the attack. All units are advised to use stealth if encountering the SmokeyBear, and that coordinated effort of shockshooters and remote missile launches should be employed.

Several Grizzly pilots have been captured, and are being interrogated. More information to follow.

Ok then. MISSILES! We go scavenging.

Any data on how scary the SmokeyBears are?

Most of the BattleBears Aarg's team faced have already been well-scavenged with respect to missiles, but there is profitable scavenging to be had for both missiles and patches amongst other nearby fallen BattleBears.

The SmokeyBears are full linkers, with all their stages contributing to vehicle stamina, and they're Seasoned. The SmokeyBears are also capable of flight, and flight-enhanced ground movement.

Old Ben tags the squad-com with a thumbs-up with respect to missiles, patches, and blasters. Buster grumbles about his fumbling trying to tamper the hold on the one BattleBear he was trying to scavenge, but accepts Ben's help. Aarg was voted as being the sentry.

Buster: "OK, here's the plan - when we roll out, my walker carries Old Ben's walker, and he works on refitting mine with blaster-o-rama."

SmokeyBears scary... Hey, our walkers are sentient. Can they earn skill? Might be worth giving them some of the skill to go up in Infantry.

To Buster: "Sure, as long as I get all the seekers. Have fun being the prime target."

The walkers can indeed earn skill - if they do stuff. Unfortunately, they're only semi-intelligent, so have limited options. They're also 0-skill, and rock-bottom awareness and willpower. The sentience mostly serves as security.

Buster: "We all get to share the seekers. Neener neener."

2011.04.21 - Rear Guard

Four professional goombahs, one shockshooter spotter, and five jacked dweebs hauling around missiles.

It was exciting and flashy. And left Aarg's squad and another squad separated from the main Dal Fona forces. And carrying 6 empty BattleBear walkers.

Plot Infliction 03 - Adrift

Buster: "Let's book! Get back to the main group as fast as possible."

Old Ben: "I dunno. Might we be just leading the Grizzlies back to them?"

Buster: "Because a seventy 200-tonne walkers are going to be soooo hard to track?"

Is the breadcrumb connection to Paddington still active?

"Y'know, we need to replenish our numbers. I wonder if there are any combatants sympathetic to Dal Fona at that pub we passed by."

The breadcrumb link with Paddington was severed when the heavy swarm of missiles from the mules came over the ridge, and the left DEF squad behind as observers with orders not to engage (read: sacrifice themselves) and report back if possible. DEF squad is waiting to see what you do, and might be assuming that you'll be heading back to the MainForce with them.

Old Ben: "Are you meaning that one of us dismounts and talks to people in that pub?"

Buster: "I volunteer."

Old Ben: "To recruit allies that can drive a walker, you drunken panda."

Buster: "It's not my fault I'm the prettiest. People will want to help me because people tend to like me."

Old Ben: "I don't like you, little dipper."

Buster: "That's just because you're old and uncool."

"Well, let's see if it's easy enough for us to track the main group. If we can do it, they can and there's no point in trying to lead them off. If we have trouble tracking them, maybe we can leave a trail away from the main group. Anyway, let's meet up with DEF squad."

There are tracks you can make out if you try, because that's just the reality of 200-tonne walkers in dense vegetation. Because Aarg is a genius, he's got a strong inclination that the individual squad vectors are nested such that true numbers are hard to extrapolate, and that the most obvious path will tend to guide trackers such that they stumble across ambush opportunities.

Buster: "So, wait, now we're not going to talk to any locals in the pub?"

DEF squad would prefer to keep a tactical separation between the squads - to maintain LOScommNet, but to allow one squad to escape if you get intercepted by Grizzlies.

To Buster: "Nah, I was just thinking out loud. The risk is to great that Grizzlies will come upon us while we're inside and take out our prone walkers."

"Ok, let's follow DEF back to the main group, or at least until we can get comm back with Paddinton."

Buster: "Aaaaawwww. YOU guys could stand guard in your walkers while I went inside..."

Old Ben: "Give it up, Rummy Bear."

Keeping up with DEF squad proves difficult for Old Ben due to being slightly overloaded with two BattleBears plus a pile of blasters and missiles and patches. "I'm leaving a pretty deep track, and struggling to keep up this pace guys. I'm going to drop one of the BattleBears."

"Can we redistribute some of the other stuff to us so that you can keep it? If not, no big deal. Actually, could you tamper it's control systems so that we can get it walk along beside us on it's own power?"

"And, if you wanted, you could drive one of the BattleBears and let your Rifleman walk on it's own. How quickly could you make a switch if we end up under fire?"

Old Ben: "We could shift the missiles and patches and blasters around so that we can carry everything, but I find myself doubting the value of carrying around two spare walkers each. It's not like we're in a place where we can recruit new pilots that we can trust. And being in a BattleBear makes me dangerously incapable of picking up either of your downed riflemen. The transfer from BattleBear to rifleman would mean two rounds of being prone - one while I disengaged from the BattleBear and one while I scrambled across - and a round of relying on the rifleman's innate duck while I plugged in. I'd rather not."

Buster: "Maybe we can sell the BattleBears."

Old Ben: "Sell them to whom? And do what with the money?"

"I was thinking some of our pilots might have survived their walkers being taken down, and are riding along with the main group. That's what I was thinking with these extras. Ok, let's turf one. Make sure it's unusable before you toss it."

Old Ben: "Roger that." One BattleBear is unloaded from off of Old Ben's back, and he does some technical something to it, and hides it in some dense undergrowth.

Buster: "Wouldn't it be easier to just make it blow up reeeal goood?"

Old Ben: "Easier to fix our location, yeah. Retard."

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to the main battle group we go...

Buster <separate channel>: "Old Ben is a bit of a dick. Kind of pushy for somebody who mostly hides from combat."

Old Ben <same separate channel>: "You just initiated a new secure group link, not a private link. Moron."

2011.04.28 - How To Get Blown Up (Repeatedly)

  1. Go all-aggressive and dive behind nominal cover, forgetting that the enemy primarily uses guided missiles.
  2. Fall into an ambush with a hidden shock shooter remote-controlling countless swarms of missiles.
  3. Charge in front of an array of slaves instructed to attack aggressively with even more missiles.

Having one of of the pilots on your squad quietly disposed of and their walker driven by an assassin is also unnerving, but less explody.

Plot Infliction 04 - More Running Away

Buster: "We kicked their asses!"

Old Ben: "Let's get the Zark out of here."

F: "I'm the last one alive from my squad. Again. This is getting kind of depressing."

Buster: "Whiner. At least you're alive; would you rather be confetti like D?"

F" "..."

Old Ben: "You're such a dick."

"Let's see how many missiles we can harvest."

Private to Ben: "Ben, what do you think about me being your turret gunner permanently? I'd probably loose fewer walkers that way. If we can get you up to another stage of Infantry combined with my rarely miss-ness, we would supremely kick ass and be quite survivable. As it is now, I don't duck so well. And if I'm taken out, you'd be stuck with Buster."

The slave-walkers used up a lot of missiles - such that the whole bowl of the valley is scorched and blasted from hundreds of ship-scale explosions. Still, there's 80 seeker missiles left to harvest from the defeated BattleBear walkers.

Old Ben (private channel): "I don't really like having to be dancing all the time, and would prefer to revert to more of a support role. I have some philosophical objections that make me want to avoid killing as much as I can, while still being true to my promises to help defend the Dal Fona. But I have to admit that this Nikola person does cause me to appreciate having another person in the cockpit. I'm loath to ask about what happened to E's body..."

Buster: "Are we going to eat any of these guys?"

To Buster: "Nah, they're slaves. Can't eat slaves."

Old Ben: "Think about how much dancing you'll have to do if Buster and I are taken out. Also, as a turret, I'd be able to rely much more on the blasters rather than sending swaths of missiles. It's much more likely the pilot will survive being taken down by the turret, than by 20 missiles. Me being your turret will result in fewer actual deaths on the other side."

Buster: "What if we use ketchup?"

F: "Please, just stop talking."

Old Ben (private channel): "If you think there's a clear tactical advantage to you being a turret gunner and splitting skill instead of having separate dice and the ability to have a separate technician in reserve, then I'll abide by your wishes. Because tactical advantage means survivability and serves our need to honour our promises to help protect the Dal Fona. But if you're asking, my preference is to not be driving the group's primary combatant walker."

Nikola (telepathically): "Ah, there you are. I can't help but note that I seem to be excluded from most of the conversations - well, except for Buster's comments. Which I assume are not the tactical core of discourse. We should talk before we get to the main Dal Fona force."

Old Ben: "Hmmmm... splitting skill bad."

Nikola: "Gah! Don't do that. Bloody mentalists. Yes, we should talk."

Everyone except Nilola: "Guys, what are we going to do with the creepy mentalist lizard? I think we should allow him to tag along until we get close to the main group, then offer him one of the battle-bears so he can leave in a walker. Then I'd be back to having a Rifleman of my own."

Buster (excluding rifleman_E): "We can't act against him directly unless he does something shitty, but I think we should escort him to the edge of the main force so that he can be pinched by other Dal Fona not prevented from harming him. Let Paddington figure it out."

F: "I hate to say it, but I agree with the sociopath. I'd like to make a case for having him held accountable for killing E."

Old Ben: "I don't think he's stupid enough to get caught like that."

F: "If he's going to continue to not engage in combat, we could ask him to trade the rifleman for a BattleBear - that could just happen to be tampered to lock him in at our command. And, you know, not be able to assassinate at us."

Old Ben: "Yeah... he managed to circumvent the sentience in the rifleman, so I'm not sure we could reliably hold him with tampered mechanisms."

Buster: "Bullshit - he's a mentalist, and used his wiles on the sentience. DUH. He didn't tamper shit."

Old Ben: "Hrrmmmnnn... that actually made sense. Which makes me dispair for this conversation."

Nikola (telepathically): "I apologize for the unexpected mental intrusion, but I don't want there to be a digital record of our conversation. Outside of your head, I mean. I have need of some certified Dal Fona, but find that there may be none left soon."

"We agreed we wouldn't harm him unless in self defense. I think that includes trapping him in a walker, or leading him into an ambush. Though trading the Rifleman for a Battlebear sounds like a good idea."

Nikola: "Y'know, if you needed a certified Dal Fona, you could have gone about it better than initially killing one of us."

Buster: "You're totally being a goodie-goodie with your interpretation. We could so wiggle."

F: "No, Shooty's right. We're Dal Fona. We set the standard."

Buster: "Fiiiine. Be that way. But just because you guys prefer to be Lawful Good doesn't mean that Lawful Evil isn't a valid honourable option."

Nikola: "Uh, aye. About that... I sort of had the mistaken impression about this skirmish, and thought that I had stumbled into part of the rogue group and hoped to earn the good graces of the main Orbodun forces under the Protectoress with some stealthy reconnaissance. Didn't figure it out until waaaay too late. Sorry. But my mission is as stated - find some certified Dal Fona who might work with us."

Nikola: "Who's 'us' and what do you want?"

Rest: "Ben, any chance lizard dude is listening in on our comm?"

Old Ben: "Theoretically, no listening in on the comm system should be happening. But that assumes that Buster didn't fuck up the protocol at his node, and that lizard boy isn't using telemagic powers."

Buster: "..."

F: "Easy fix for the first part - let's cut Buster out of the loop too. Win-win."

Buster: "... Dammit. No.Good.Comeback. I hate it when that happens."

Nikola (telepathically): "Ideally I would prefer to earn more trust before trying to pitch my offer, but I'm afraid that this is a case of preventing irreparable distrust. I represent an Organization Of Legitimate Businessmen that operate throughout this sector, and we're looking to change the business landscape. But we need honourable beings in order to do it."

Nikola (sarcastically): "You're timing is impeccable."

Ben Only: "He's talking to me telepathically - trying to convince me killing E was an accident since he thought we were Grizzlies. Now he's saying he represents some business interest and wants to associate with or hire Dal Fona to help him. My gut says its bullshit and he's just looking for a way to get close to our leaders so he can take them out."

Old Ben (private channel): "Ugh. Is it using you to listen in on our conversation?"

Nikola: (telepathically): "It doesn't help that you Orbodun have gotten all xenophobic and people with Legitimate Business can't just pop in at an embassy or something. And, seriously, what are the chances that the freakin' royalty aren't on the same side as the Dal Fona? I hope the guys scouring for Vega Lizards and Reglactin are having better luck."

Buster: "You guys didn't actually cut me out of the comm network, did you?"

F: "Why don't you cry about it?"

Nikola (arrogantly): "It speaks volumes that you have to search outside your own species to find someone honourable. Still, I can see the potential of us working together, especially if your Legitimate Business Interest can help us in this bind."

Old Ben: "Maybe. Thought of something worse. Remember how he was able to mark that shock shooter and then give me coordinates to launch missiles? I don't think we can safely join up with the main group. We're undoubtedly marked. If he's in telepathic communication with the Grizzlies, and they have access to something big, like a nuke, he could take out our entire force in one shot. Or am I just being paranoid?"

Nikola (telepathically): "Unfortunately, I fear that there is little possibility of large-scale cooperation. There's no way to get many pirate corrivals past the Protectoress' fleet to help the Dal Fona, and without the Dal Fona I'm guessing the Protectoress can't be trusted. All I can likely offer is to help a few individuals to escape the planet. And I assume that none of you are likely to be freed of your current duties."

Old Ben: "I find myself doubting that the Grizzlies would use a nuke on the surface of Medved. They're helping the Protectoress lash out at the Dal Fona, but their main objective is still to change the minds of the main population. Without their tacit support, neither side can prevail long-term."

Buster: "You're funny, F. You should ask to be officially added to our squad."

F: "..."

2011.05.05 - The Heart Of Seasonedness

Aarg Squad parted ways with Nikola, and met up with the main Dal Fona group. After being upgraded and repaired, they were sent out to help defend against a particularly effective attacking group of Grizzlies with the ability to summon unlimited missiles.

Eventual victory against the raiding party attracted the attention of the SmokeyBear walker. Aarg Squad hid at first, but then couldn't resist trying to take it on. They attacked it aggressively with all their remaining missiles, and hit it, but did not destroy it. It then proceeded to rip the squad apart. Aarg and F were the first walker taken down, but they survived. Aarg transferred to Old Ben's walker to be his turret gunner, and they became the next prime target. Meanwhile Buster got in a luck shot, and drove the SmokeyBear down to single-digit stamina - but it still survived. It then blew apart Buster's walker. This seemed to Aarg to be a good time to try to finish it off by going aggressive. It wasn't; it evaded and blew away their shields and almost disabled their walker. But the theory was sound, so Aarg tried again - and this time landed a telling hit. The SmokeyBear should have stalled and stayed prone, but managed to regain mobility. However the pilot didn't like how vulnerable we was, and used the opportunity to escape. He left the walker to distract Aarg Squad - and the rest of the Dal Fona watching. Aarg stopped the walker - for good.

The experience elevated Aarg to understanding the quintessence of weapon specialization (5th stage weapon specialist, seasoned badassness), and the Dal Fona elevated him to the rank of Captain.

Paddington then revealed the desperate final ploy of the Dal Fona. The force would split into two groups - a seasoned kamikaze group and the bulk survivor force. The kamikaze group would make their way stealthily to the palace, their actions concealed by the prescient powers of their mentalist, while the survivor force lead the main Grizzly force away. When the kamikaze group assaults the palace, it should draw the Grizzly forces back to the palace. This should give the survivor force the opportunity to disperse.

Aarg and two other Captains lead the survivor group, and things went mostly to plan.

Plot Infliction 05 - Medved Underground or Pirate Scum

Remnants of all three platoons survive, but Aarg's squad definitely attracted the least predation with 8 squads surviving. Jichis's platoon did pretty well, but still lost almost half their squads with only 5 surviving. Only 5 walkers trudged out from Mangafodipir's platoon, including the Captain.

First order of business is hiding the remaining walkers, then letting the Dal Fona dissolve into the local population. Paddington left protocols for covert communication cyphers, for letting groups operate as independent cells.

I let F handle the hiding of our walkers. Meanwhile, I contact Nikola.

"So lizard dude, what specifically were you proposing. There might be four of us interested in getting off planet."

F promptly tells the squad's riflemen to squat in a muddy lake and wait for coded acoustic summons.

Nikola: "Ah, Aarg. Glad to hear you weren't one of the noble purge. If you want to talk specifics over this public network, though, you better be ready to effect departure in under 90 minutes - that's approximately the minimum time for any Protectorate AI's to sift out and decrypt our conversation, including approximate origins."

Nikola: "Well, then let's use the more secure method of communication we were using before."

Nikola: "Not really capable of that right now; I didn't want to freak you out with a mark, and I'm not good enough to locate you via a comm channel. Doesn't really matter though - as long as we're quick. The quick version is that we are running a protection racket, but due to high turnover in pirate crews they often have difficulty believing we'll keep our word. Hence honourable beings for simplification of transactions."

I set up a listen-only comm of the conversation to the rest of the guys after feeding them what's been said so far.

Nikola: "What's the pay? I assume you realize that if you hire us, and then break your word to someone whom we have dealt with, we'll try to kill you ourselves."

Rest: "This should be right up your alley Buster - lawful evil and all that."

Nikola: "The pay would be dependent on what role you end up playing. Being the Conscience for a raiding party is probably 2% of gross take. Conscience Officer for a ship is more like 7%. Trusted Captain - considerably more. And we're fully aware of the implications of breaking our word to Dal Fona…"

Old Ben: "I refuse to work for thieves. "

F: "What would we be doing to start? The 'Trusted Captain' gig sounds OK."

Buster: "AAAARRRR!"

Old Ben: "I had a feeling you'd lean that way. Would you be willing to be our contact here on Medved? Unless circumstances change, I plan to use this opportunity to raise funds and establish contacts with the hope of one day rebuilding the Dal Fona here and ousting those that betrayed us."

Rest: "The 'trusted captain' does sounds ok, but I'd guess that's something we'd work up to. Aside from the cash, I'm looking forward to the additional battle experience that may come in handy when we eventually return to Medved. I for one am in. Buster, I'm assuming you are too. What about you F?"

Old Ben: "Wouldn't it make more sense for you to have Jichis and Mangafodipir as your on-planet contacts, considering? I'm probably going to avoid maintaining contact with the rest of the combat-oriented Dal Fona remnants now that our oath to protect the order is functionally dissolved. You should consider the benefits of trying to improve the foundation of the Dal Fona by being a positive example for living the path of Honour than by being some vague ogre punishing those you deem unsuitably honourable."

Buster: "You're sort of missing the point there, goodie-goodie. The Dal Fona have never been about good over bad or right versus wrong. It's simply function and order triumphing over chaos and ruin. Perspectives and motivations are all relative, and no consensus is ultimately meaningful or adaptive. In a universe based on entropy and randomness, codes of honour are what let people of all inclinations work together. Combat is as much about resisting things being forced on you as it is forcing others, and that's an elemental aspect of an honour system for it to actually work in our universe."

F: "Shit, was that really Buster? I'm flabbergasted."

Buster: "Don't be too weirded out. It's something I heard one of the teachers spout once, and it worked to pick up a sow. Yeah - I'm totally IN."

F: "Figures. You're such a simple creature."

Buster: "Yeah - so simple that I realize that I'd rather enforce my concept of honour codes on random strangers than to kill or be killed with other Orboduns here."

F: "... Good point. I think I'm in."

Old Ben: "Well, I disagree that our oath to protect the order is done with... I think it's more of a lost the battle but win the war situation. But I totally understand wanting to lay low. Good luck to you."

Nikola: "We've got three Orbodun Dal Fona ready for hire."

Nikola: "That's excellent. Pick some random but accessible coordinates for pick-up, and I'll be there in, say, 20 minutes?"

I look for somewhere well away from the buried walkers and that has a good bonus to sneak and hide, preferable with some avenue of escape underground. If I can get there in 20 minutes, I transmit the coordinates and we go there.

20 minutes later, Aarg along with Buster and F are picked up by a cloaked freighter.

Time to make up some ships. Feel like trying your hand at building a pirate sloop?

Sure. About how big?

I guess a better question would be 'how much Dynomer?'

Let's see what you can do with 3000 units of ship scale dynomer.