THEM

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The Homicidal Ego-Maniacs was a long-term campaign from the Platinum Age of AIFing.

Referee: Dave

Players: Clay, Don, Jeremy, Ulrich, Bonnie, Lou


The characters:

  • Vasculus (Clay) - a Halamite swordmaster (retired)
  • YoYo (Jeremy) - a Human shock trooper
  • Theofrastus (Don) - a Colloidling assassin (retired)
  • Death Monkey #9 (Ulrich) - a Robot (deceased)
  • Anaximanda (Don) - a Takolee sniper
  • Kolum (Bonnie) - a Anurian shock trooper
  • Thrombosis (Clay) - an Equidon sharp shooter
  • Bob (NPC) - a Robot/Walking assault flame thrower
  • Zod (Lou) - a Reglactin swordmaster
  • Heliozoan (NPC) - a Human scientist(?)

Chapter I - Assault on Trupepol Base

The setting is planet Riax, a company planet in the first galaxy owned by Grip Inc. There is a moderately strong Tundak Mafia presence on the planet and the characters are affiliated with a smaller associate crime organization known as the Havug Group. The characters are a mercenary group known as THEM – The Homicidal Ego Maniacs. They’re definitely not the ‘good guys’. They start as 3rd stage characters and have a number of underlings loosely allied with them.

The game starts with a meeting with Commander Saf. Commander Saf is a Gavagh Malitia robot that is a member of the Havug group. He offers them a job to retrieve some large-scale explosives that were hijacked from the Tundak Mafia. The hijackers are suspected to be Trupepol. They are loaned a ship and pilot. Payment for successful completion of the mission will be the ship they are loaned. It’s called the triple-e or ‘EEE’.

The mission is mostly a success. The Trupepol were indeed responsible for the hijacking and they had a number of coerced mercenaries to protect them. They were hiding in an old Confederation base on planet Riatus. The characters managed to fight their way into the base, get aboard a ship that housed many of the weapons and take off with it. In the process they rescued a Human female scientist named Heliozoan and killed at least one Trupopol and many of their lackeys. Unfortunately, in a battle that killed the Trupepol mentalist, Death Monkey #9 was destroyed. As payment, they were given the EEE and retained the services of the pilot - Lidiak.

Chapter II - UGLLY

Upon return to Riax, Theofrastus left the group to go bud an offspring, and another member of THEM returned to the group. Anaximanda, a Takolee sniper, returned to the group after being in therapy for compulsive shopping. They were given a small job involving roughing up a mill forman named Dragus (a Hylosus) who wasn’t paying his Mafia fees (protection credits, extortion, y’know what we mean) Anyway the mission sorta succeeded. They battled through Dragus’ goons and two Redeemer bodyguards. Unfortuantly they killed Dragus as well, and they were suppose to let him live.

For the mission they hired a few underlings - Kolum (an Anurian) and Sozen (a Human) - both shock troopers in training and Bob (a Robot). Bob turned out to be a walking assault flame-thrower.

Time passed and soon they discovered some competition. A mercenary group of Trops had been offering their services for next to nothing fees. They had been nicknamed UGLLY for UnGrateful LowLife Trops. They seemed to have an inexhaustible money supply, but it wasn’t from being mercenaries for hire. Upon a little investigation they found that they were associated with the Kvankii-Lood mafia and that they had a number of underlings of an unknown ape-like species. The two groups met, talked, and eventually tried to kill each other. Combat ensued with the three leaders of UGLLY - Maragrak, Bodora, and Sho. The toughest of them, Bodora - a Yiptak seasoned shock trooper was assassinated by Anaximanda early in the combat and the remaining Yarks were swiftly dealt with.

The group laid low for a little while, re-equipping themselves, healing, eating and resting. Not too much interesting was happening on planet Riax. There were a couple of large cruisers orbiting the planet that were fairly unknown, but they weren't doing anything out of the ordinary. At one point the members of THEM received a message from Heliozoan the scientist they rescued from the Trupepol. It was an urgent plea for help - she said that the Trupepol was after her. THEM chose to ignore the message. A few days later, Heliozoan returned to the group - she explained that she got really drunk one night and sent the message.

Chapter III - Brute Squad

One night, the group was in a bar when a group of Grotens attacked them. They were all members of Brute Squad, a loosely organized gang of Groten mercenaries. While the Grotens out numbered THEM, they lacked the skill necessary and were all defeated. There was one tense moment when a Groten got a hold of Anaximanda, completely engulfing her with his fist. Fortunately, the Groten was already hurt and was killed a moment later. After the battle, one surviving Groten was interrogated and the group discovered an immense bounty had been placed on their heads - of the order of about a million credits. Smaller bounties were offered for all of the underlings. Upon trying to contact their underlings, they were enraged to discover that most had been killed - including Sozen who they had recently worked with.

THEM decided to go seek out Brute Squad and started randomly killing their members. Eventually, they discovered the location of a bar in which the leaders of Brute Squad could be found. In a bold move of either intense bravery or intense stupidity, Vasculus walked right into the bar. The bar was filled with Grotens and as soon as he set foot in the door, the room fell silent. Vasculus eventually found the leader of Brute Squad, Fabry, and started talking. Eventually, it came out that a Trop was offering tons of money to have THEM killed. Perhaps a member of UGLLY had survived.

A deal was made with Fabry (many of his men were killed by THEM so he wanted to end the hostilities). THEM would supply Brute Squad with a dead body that resembled Anaximanda and members of Brute Squad would attempt to claim part of the bounty. Hopefully this would lead THEM to the Trop that was offering the bounty. In return, the Brute Squad would declare that they had beaten THEM and chased them out of their area of the planet. Fabry wanted to save face and the reputation of Brute Squad.

Chapter IV - Tuskat Yark

A body was found (the hard way) and members of Brute Squad went to one of the orbiting space stations to make the deal. A radioactive emitter was hidden on the body that would mark anyone in a 20 meter radius once activated. The Grotens met with a group of Yiptak Trops and eventually the deception was discovered. A Tuskat Trop came out of hiding and started yelling at the Grotens - identifying himself as the source of the bounty. THEM, who had been monitoring the situation, activated the emitter and marked everyone in the room. Eventually the Grotens and Yiptaks starting fighting and the Tuskat fled. The members of THEM, including all surviving underlings - Kolum, Bob, Thrombosis, Hecate, Oaxaca, and Tapir, chased after the Tuskat. This Tuskat was extremely adept at stealth and if it weren't for the radioactive mark, he would have lost them easily. Eventually, after much chasing though-out the station; they were sure they had the Trop cornered.

They were all in a large room with a number of laboratory benches in it. There were three exits; two doors and a vent. The members of THEM had all the exits covered, but they still couldn't find the Trop. He was definitely there due to the radioactive mark that kept moving around. Eventually, Vasculus got fed up, went over to Bob and got him to torch the entire room. Bob complied. Soon the entire room and all members of THEM were in flames. One of the underlings - Oaxaca died in the inferno, but the rest of them survived and managed to put themselves out. The gamble worked. The Trop had been hiding behind one of the underlings trying to get open one of the doors. Burning, he panicked and was no match in combat with THEM.

The Trop's ship was found and, after a brief fight with the crew, they discovered a bit of the history of the late UGLLY. The ape-like beings that they were seen with were slaves and the inexhaustible money supply was due to the sale of these slaves. The species called themselves Chofnu. UGLLY has discovered the Chofnu home planet within a vast nebula and teamed up with the Kvankii-Lood Mafia to slavamize the entire planet. Because of the nebula, the outside galaxy had never discovered the planet. The inhabitants of the planet never ventured into space. Apparently, the populace had gone through a major catastrophe. They had reached the mass-computer information age and their calendar system had recently gone from a four digit number to a five digit number (year 9999 to year 10000). Their entire civilization had been highly computerized for over a thousand years and none of the systems could handle the five-digit date. (Can you tell the referee is a computer geek?) Their civilization fell to anarchy within days of the turn of the millennia. The Kvankii-Lood easily conquered the planet and started to gather slaves.

THEM relayed the coordinates to the Tundak Mafia. Unfortunately, it was found that the entire nebula was layered with high yield mines and no ship could get in. A quick trip in the EEE confirmed that there was no way in. However, an impressively large ship owned by the Tundak Mafia was blockading the area, making sure that the Kvankii-Lood couldn't get in either. Both Mafia's were in a stalemate.

Chapter V - Kvankii-Lood

Back on Riax, THEM decided to pay a visit to members of Brute Squad to show their 'gratitude'. They walked right through the area of town that, according to the deal they made with Fabry, was off limits. They walked into a bar that, sure enough, had some members of Brute Squad there - nine to be exact. They were having a meeting with a couple of Kvankii-Loods and a Hessler. The members of THEM present were Vasculus, Anaximanda, YoYo, and Kolum. Vasculus and YoYo went and sat down and ordered a few drinks, while the Grotens nearby glared at them. Anaximanda and Kolum watched the situation from other areas of the bar.

Eventually, two of the Grotens approached the table and demanded to know why THEM were in Brute Squad territory. Insults flew, and then fists. Two more Grotens came to help their comrades, while the rest headed towards the exit with the Kvankii-Loods and the Hessler. Vasculus and YoYo were holding their own, with help from their comrades across the room, when suddenly, a shot fired from the third floor of the bar. A sniper was up there hidden in the crowd. The shot drilled into the back of Vasculus' head bringing him down. YoYo was busy fending off the Grotens so Anaximanda charged in to help Vasculus before he died. Kolum charged to the side of the bar and hopped (as only Anurians can) up the three floors to where he thought the Assassin was. Anaximanda put a couple of medical-patches on Vasculus and he was up a few moments later. The Grotens were all but taken care of but unfortunately, Kolum was not to the sniper yet. Another shot fired down, this time ripping through YoYo's throat. Now Kolum was close enough to see the assassin - a Kvankii-Lood.

Kolum and the Kvankii-Lood traded a few inconsequential shots before Kolum landed a nice hit on the assassin's gun. It had to switch to another less powerful weapon while Kolum landed another couple of hits. Anaximanda tended to YoYo while Vasculus climbed up to help Kolum. The Kvankii was on the defensive now, moving towards an exit and dodging most of Kolum's shots. Fortunately, Vasculus arrived and found that Kvankii-Loods are just not that good at hand to hand combat. Kolum and Vasculus eventually brought the Kvankii down - then proceeded to smash it to little tiny bits.

The remaining Grotens and Kvankii-Loods were gone, and THEM headed to the EEE to recuperate. A heated communication from Fabry confirmed that the war was back on.

The characters are now 5th stage and have gained quite a reputation. Especially since they like to record their fights and put the really bloody parts on the global computer network. They're in a war with a Groten organization that seems to be dealing with the Kvankii-Lood. The most influential Mafia in known space backs them, and who knows whom they'll piss off next. Soon we will see...

Chapter VI - Commander Saf

After healing in the EEE for a number of hours, the main members of THEM began calling the underlings not present to warn them about the resurgence of hostilities with Brute Squad. A call to Tapir resulted in an urgent plea for help. Members of Brute Squad had tried to kill him, and crushed one of his legs before he got away. He was cornered in a bar and it was only a matter of time before he was found by the Grotens. THEM got there as quickly as they could and killed all five Grotens without breaking a sweat. Tapir was put into the medical cabinet in the EEE for treatment of his leg.

Calls were made to Bob, Hecate, and Theofrastus. All were fine and had not encountered Brute Squad. A call to Thrombosis revealed an interesting story. Four members of Brute Squad and cornered him and were about to kill him, when Thrombosis convinced the Grotens that they had the wrong guy. He quickly pointed out another Equadon that looked similar to himself and convinced the Grotens that the other Equadon was himself. Well, the other Equadon was not pleased as he got his limbs ripped off. After the bloodshed, Thrombosis sat with the Grotens for a few drinks, waiting for the rest of THEM to contact him. THEM eventually arrived, and the following battle was easily won.

Healing, eating and rest followed. Then, the situation THEM were in took a turn for the worse. They got a call from Commander Saf who asked to see them immediately. A meeting in a bar followed. Saf showed them a datapad, slammed it down on the table, and told THEM that he regretted the decision it contained. He told them to read the datapad… if they survived. With that he leaped into the air, pulled out rifles and attacked THEM. Saf was a very adept combatant (a seasoned shock trooper) and had impressively powerful blast rifles. Fortunately, early in the combat, Yoyo managed to disable one of the rifles, halving the damage Saf could inflict. The battle was long and both Saf and THEM were heavily wounded. The penultimate action was Vasculus getting a good hold on Saf, intending to restrain the robot instead of destroying him. Unfortunately, Saf was able to signal his weaponry to overload. The resulting explosion destroyed Saf and all but killed Vasculus. Yoyo and Anaxamanda grabbed Vasculus' body and the datapad and left in a big hurry. Unfortunately, the EEE was nowhere to be seen. The underlings aboard had been told by Lidiak that Yoyo, Anax, and Vas had wanted to meet them in the bar. Once all members of THEM were gone, she took the ship and left.

THEM found a place to hide in a nearby university. Vasculus was treated to the best of Yoyo's abilities, but was still comatose. THEM stole an aerospace van and traveled to a desert planet either for Vasculus' recovery or his funeral. Eventually he revived, but having been blown up by a couple of overloading rifles caused a significant amount of mental stress. Vasculus and the other members of THEM decided it would be in all their best interests if Vasculus took an extended leave of the group. He stayed on the desert planet.

The datapad that Commander Saf had left them revealed the reason for the attack. The Tundak Mafia and the Kvankii-Lood Mafia had made a deal. In the deal, the Tundaks acquired control of the Chofnu planet and the slaving profits it represented. The Kvankii-Lood in return got a large sum of money, control of a number of previously Tundak controlled areas, and the death of THEM. According to Saf, Fabry, the leader of Brute Squad, somehow got himself present at these negotiations, and was instrumental in making sure that the death of THEM was part of the deal. Fabry and all of Brute Squad had recently been made part of the Kvankii-Lood Mafia. Upon learning of the situation, Saf insisted that it was he that carried out the executions. His superiors wanted to send battle suits, but Saf convinced them otherwise.

At the end of the message, Saf revealed that the cpu in his body when he attacked THEM was a copy and the original was contained within the datapad. He asked to be delivered to a trusted technician friend of his for implantation into a new body.

Chapter VII - Recruited by Giamons

THEM took the van they stole and headed to a factory planet called Nooker Six. They needed to lay low for a while and figure out what to do next. They no longer were backed by the Tundak Mafia and in fact were now being hunted. While resting in a bar on Nooker Six, they were approached by a simple looking Human who requested their services. Suspecting a trap, they were cautious, but listened to what the Human had to say. The Human stated that he knew who they were and wanted to use their reputation more than their skill. Interested, THEM decided to hear more and accompanied the Human to his ship.

The Human flew them back to Riax to one of the two large cruisers orbiting the planet. They were let to a meeting with Bez, a gigantic Daemon member of the Giamon Empire. The members of THEM were intrigued to know that it was the Giamon Empire that owned the cruisers. Bez explained to THEM that the Giamons were in negotiations for a takeover of the control of planet Riax and they needed an outside force to help the talks along.

The plan was simple. THEM would be transported to a high level meeting taking place with the officials on Riax. Upon arrival, they had three tasks. One: Kill one of the people at the meeting, a Human female. Two: Take a shot at another person at the meeting. However, at the last instant another person (a Giamon) would get in the way of the shot, saving the other's life. Both would then escape. Three: Make the attack look as random as possible, without any specific targets. A fourth, not essential task would be to kill another person at the meeting, a male Hylosus. To help convince the people at the meeting that it was not the Giamon Empire orchestrating the attack, a Batori and controller would accompany THEM. This would make it appear that the Radicals are behind the attack. The Batori's target would be the Jaganath battle robot protecting the meeting.

THEM were transported to the meeting using some kind of transporter unknown to THEM that passed through all of the transporter blocking fields that normally were in place. Once there, the attack was swift. Kolum quickly headed to the other exit to watch for additional guards and to pretend to block people from escaping. Anaximanda killed the Human target while Thrombosis took the shot at the target that was supposed to escape. The Giamon did get in the way of the shot but was not expecting Thrombosis to use a moisture disrupter. The intense pain of the disrupter slowed them down but they still managed to get to the exit. The Giamon shoved Kolum out of the way with obvious telekinetic power and escaped as planned. Yoyo and the Batori attacked the Jaganath battle robot while Hecate and the Batori contoller traded shots with other security personnel in the room. The Batori inflicted heavy damage on the Jaganath before being taken down by the robot's massive antimatter rifle. The rest of THEM finished off the robot and Thrombosis claimed the antimatter rifle as his own. The Hylosus and a few others were killed before additional security with assault weaponry came into the room. Their mission complete, THEM were transported back to the Giamon ship. They were paid and taken back to Nooker Six.

Chapter VIII - Bounty Hunters

They started to toy with the idea of staying on Nooker Six for a while and maybe get themselves a bar. Eventually, it was decided that they would get themselves a portable bar that they could move to different areas of the planet. They bought themselves a technician slave named Novunum and bought themselves a tug. Theofrastus, who was still on Riax, was called and it was decided that he would manage the construction and running of the bar. Ever since Theo budded a child, he wasn't too much into the heavy combat that THEM usually dealt with.

Checking the news, THEM discovered that the government of Riax offered a large reward for their capture. Apparently, their recent attack had gained them additional infamy. To be safe, Yoyo, with the help of some hired medical personnel, altered the appearance and DNA of all members of THEM. Hopefully, this would prevent every two-bit bounty hunter they came across from recognizing THEM.

THEM hung out in a bar while Novunum and Heliozoan checked over the tug. The bar was relatively crowded, but no one took particular notice of THEM at first. After some time passed, they were approached by an Exterminator robot. There was a group of six others across the room. The Exterminator stated he was looking for a group of mercenaries to perform a job. During the negotiations, Thrombosis noticed that an intensive scan was being performed on both the members of THEM present and on Thrombosis' antimatter rifle. After a few more minutes of talk, the robot stated that it knew that they were THEM, and asked them to come quietly while the robots collected the bounty. Of course, when do THEM go quietly? Combat erupted in the bar. The robots quickly found that they were outmatched and all but one beamed away. (The one staying having been assassinated by Anaximanda)

A quick discussion with the bartender and other patrons of the bar, THEM discovered where the robots may have gone. A trip to one of the spaceports on the planet revealed an assault shuttle that THEM were sure the robots were in. A call to Bez gained THEM access to the Giamon teleporter that was able to get through dispersion fields. THEM were transported inside the shuttle, much to the surprise of the Exterminator robots. One of the robots was at a communication console, and a visual display showed that he was talking to a Gavagh Militia robot, most likely a member of the Tundak Mafia. A heated battle (literally, the robots had flame-throwers) ended with THEM victorious and in possession of an assault shuttle. Unfortunately, the robots had incorporated much security and booby-traps in their shuttle so it will be some time before THEM could use it.

The tug that was bought needed superluminal drives, so a group of Colloidlings was hired to install one. Payment was the remains of the Exterminator robots. The Colloidlings also made arrangements for a meeting with a combatant that was looking for work. At a bar, they met Zod, a Reglactin swordmaster. After the interview, which involved a test fight with a Simiad robot, Zod was hired as a THEM underling.

Chapter IX - Back to Riax

During the refit of the tug, a couple on onlookers were spotted. Upon being noticed they quickly headed away. Yoyo and Thrombosis followed and were led to a warehouse. Heading inside, they observed the two in an office, hastily talking on a communicator. Suspecting they were being turned in, Yoyo and Thrombosis burst into the office. After a small firefight, the two surrendered and were bound. Unfortunately, the brief combat activated a large battle robot that was assigned to protect the building. The robot was considerable tougher than the two who surrendered, and once Yoyo and Throm heavily damaged it, three more transported in. Feeling outmatched, Yoyo and Thrombosis fled the warehouse.

Outside the warehouse, they found that the three new battle robots beamed outside to cut them off. Yoyo and Thrombosis were again attacked by the robots and their assault blaster rifles. The rest of THEM were called for help while Yoyo and Thrombosis returned fire. Yoyo managed to disarm a couple of the robots, but new weapons were beamed to them. The combat was long; the robots not having as much skill as THEM, but significantly more armour and stamina. Anaximanda, Hecate, Zod, and Tapir arrived to help the by now quite hurt Yoyo and Thrombosis. Eventually the robots were brought down.

The two that had surrendered were taken away and interrogated. They had indeed been talking with the Tundak Mafia, saying they saw a group that fit the description of THEM. Apparently, the changes to their appearance and DNA could do nothing to hide THEM's style and capabilities. It was revealed that the specific member of the Mafia that had been contacted was someone named Greg who resided on Riax.

THEM decided it was time to head back to Riax and find Greg. They knew the area Greg could be found, but not the exact location. They also knew nothing on what he looked like. A trip to a café and a discussion with some business looking types revealed that someone named Greg owned a bar in the area. Yoyo headed to the bartender and pretended he was a businessman looking to invest in the bar. The bartender set up a communication with Greg. Greg stated that he was not interested, that he owned the bar completely, and did not need investment. He suggested that Yoyo talk to a fellow named Rixlan who owned another bar nearby. Yoyo then told Greg that he had some information on the whereabouts of THEM. This gained a little interest from Greg and he agreed to a meeting an hour later.

During the hour, THEM headed to the bar Rixlan owned. It was a gladiator bar filled with a lowlife clientele. Talking with the Trop owner, THEM talked about the possible investment of the bar. They found that Greg was forcing Rixlan to make payment to the Tundak Mafia for his 'protection'. The Trop agreed that the meeting with Greg could take place at his bar.

THEM prepared for the meeting. Yoyo sat himself at the ring of the gladiator pit and waited for Greg to arrive. Thrombosis, Zod, and Anaximanda were in other areas of the bar in locations overlooking Yoyo. Kolum was outside with the van and it was his job to block the entrance once the meeting started so that no-one could escape if a firefight started. The rest of THEM were nearby with the tug and assault shuttle.

At one point a nerveous Heliozoan called to make sure everything was alright. Apperently, she had a 'bad feeling'.

Chapter X - Tundak GH9001

With everything in place, THEM waited for Greg to arrive. Eventually, a male Anurian and female Human came into the bar and headed towards Yoyo. The Anurian introduced himself as Greg and the woman as his assistant. They ordered drinks and the conversation began. As Greg had already stated that he was not interested in investors, he immediately inquired about THEM. Yoyo danced around the topic and during the conversation, he became aware of a probing into his mind. The Human was a mentalist and was attempting to extract information from Yoyo. Yoyo resisted for a time, but eventually succumbed and felt his mind being forced open. The mentalist learned his identity.

The Anurian broke the conversation abruptly and stated: "Alright, I know who you are. You know she's a mentalist. Now what are your intentions with me?"

Yoyo feigned ignorance for a time, but the Anurian insisted, continuing to ask THEM's intentions. By this time Anaximanda had locked onto him and was ready for an assassination. Thrombosis' intended target was the mentalist. Kolum, who had already wedged the van against the main entrance, had been listening to the conversation through Yoyo's communicator. He quietly stated that Greg sounded wrong, not like a Anurian should sound. He felt that Greg was under the influence of slave juice.

Anaximanda, feeling that the conversation was getting nowhere, decided to act. She opened fire on Greg with her needle beam. The beam pierced the center of Greg's skull and he slumped to the floor. Thrombosis shot the Human, in the head, with his moisture disrupter. She screamed in agony, fell to the floor writhing in pain, and fell unconscious. The battle was over before it began. It seemed too easy.

A few moments passed as the echo from the weapons fire subsided. Anaximanda, Yoyo, and Thrombosis scanned the crowd for signs of aggression, but found none. Suddenly, there was a flash of intense light on the table Yoyo was sitting at. As Yoyo's eyes refocused, he saw a robot standing in front of him. It had a humanoid torso, with a very skinny waist. It's lower half resembled the body of a large bulldog. Thrombosis was the first to recognize the robot. It was a GH9001 series Tundak, one of the most advanced battle robots in existence.

The first thing the Tundak did was talk. It seemed to have a very loud and obnoxious personality. It stated that it was a new robot and that THEM were its first targets. It tried to get the members of THEM to name it, and pranced about the room saying how much of an honour it must be to be killed by a Tundak. Communications were jammed, so the rest of THEM couldn't be called.

Anaximanda started to acquire an assassination on it. As she was concentrating on the robot, a telepathic voice that sounded very similar to Heliozoan told her where the actual vital parts of the robot were. Anaximanda was concentrating on a decoy system, and quickly switched to the actual vital area. Thrombosis headed towards the exit and, finding it blocked by the van, started to kick it to get the attention of Kolum.

The Tundak finally attacked. It was armed with an armour piercing assault blaster rifle and the Tundak wielded it with great skill. Fortunately, most of the members of THEM were not wearing much armour, so the shots made clean cuts. The Tundak was moving with blinding speed making itself very difficult to hit. The members of THEM had to take very aggressive stances to hit it at all. But they did manage to hit it. Yoyo landed repeated hits with his needle beam (when he wasn't slapping medical patches on his comrades) and Thrombosis landed shots with his antimatter rifle. Once Zod got close enough, he managed to pierce it with his force blades a few times. Anaximanda was waiting, concentrating on his assassination attack.

Kolum, hearing Thrombosis, notified the remaining members of THEM and charged in to help. The Tundak was landing hit after hit on the members of THEM. Tapir was the first casualty, as repeated blaster shots fired into his skull. Hecate was next, falling to the floor, a bloody heap of burnt flesh. Kolum fell a moment later, as blaster shots tore flesh from his neck and face. The remaining members were also heavily wounded by repeated blaster fire.

But the Tundak was getting hit too. Its metallic body was soon covered in burn holes and dents. Finally, Anaximanda made her shot. Her needle beam shot out while the Tundak was in mid-leap. The shot pierced the Tundak's outer shell and burrowed into its vital components, causing it to spasm and crash to the floor. As it was falling, the torso disengaged from the lower section. After the fall, the torso remained motionless, but the lower half continued the fight.

Yoyo managed to continue firing at the lower section as Thrombosis pulverized the torso, making sure it would never rise again. The lower section was not as skilled on its own, missing frequently, and not moving with the same skill. The remaining members of THEM continued firing until the Tundak was finally brought down and destroyed.

Tapir and Hecate were dead, but Kolum was recoverable. THEM grabbed pieces of the fallen Tundak, piled Kolum and themselves into the van and left.

...

The characters now range from 6th to 3rd stage, and it seems that no one is on their side. They are enemies of both the Tundak and the Kvankii-Lood Mafias, as well as the government on Riax. The only organization they've encountered that doesn't want to kill them is the Giamon Empire. They have the cpu of the late Commander Saf, and a scientist who's suddenly developed telepathic powers. They've accumulated a small fleet of ships and, while dodging Mafia hit-men, plan to start a bar...

Chapter FINIS - THE Tundak

By Dave Littley

"If I had a boredom gauge, it would be at maximum at this point." the Tundak thought to itself. The GH9000 battle robot surveyed the scene before him. Its owner, Valarius, was seated in front of it at the head of a large oval table. The vile Hylosus often kept the Tundak close at these meetings just to remind everyone he was involved with the galaxy's largest Mafia. The business Valarius was involved with ranged from a perfectly legal factory planet to a very illegal drug trade. This particular meeting involved the latter. The other occupants of the room were a mixture of races, ranging from a small sleazy looking Felinid, to a large ugly Insectizoid. They had all come to Valarius' bar to decide who would be in charge of an emerging market in a nearby system.

Occasionally, the occupants of the table would cast a fearful glance towards the Tundak. At the moment, the Tundak was in its relaxed state. Its body resembled a crab - a low metallic ovoid shape sprouting eight multi-jointed legs.

For amusement, the Tundak simulated how quickly it could kill everyone in the room. During its three years of ownership by Valarius, it had rarely seen combat, as its mere presence kept potential threats away. The occasional times someone was stupid enough to try something, the combat was brief and easy.

Today would be different. Monitoring a camera linked to the outer door, the Tundak noticed a group of combatants approaching the bar. Immediately, they attacked the Groten bouncers who were guarding the door. As the Tundak saw this, it shifted itself into battle mode. The bulk of its body partially raised and split down the middle. A section of the Tundak few have seen exuded forward through a gap in the robot's shell. This section swung upward as it unfolded into a humanoid head and torso while its lower half closed into a compacted form. The torso, joined to the lower half with a thick snake like midsection, scanned the room and then locked eyes with Valarius. Valarius quickly understood.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," Valarius said, "if you quickly move to that corner of the bar, I can activate a shield to ensure your safety. I do believe my Tundak is going to get some exercise." The small group moved to where Valarius was pointing and a hefty energy shield was activated around them. The Tundak then leapt to the ceiling of the bar and waited for the attackers to enter.

<Request system status>

<All systems nominal, energy transfer at 99.998%, activate external energy shield?>

<Negative, start battle logging for future study>

<Log started>

<Engaging four combatants. First is a male Human, armed with a large needle beam rifle. Appears to be trained as a shock trooper.>

The Tundak saved an image of the Human for its files. Humans were one of the more populous species in the area. This one was male, had a slim build, little hair, and seemed to have an air of menace about him.

<Second is a male Equidon, armed with an antimatter rifle. Also seems to be trained as a shock trooper.>

The Equidon was the largest biological of the group. He was covered in thick brown fur, had an elongated head ending in a large snout, and hoof like growths at the ends of his limbs. His large muscles strained every time he fired the powerful weapon. This one seemed to be very calm, calculating each move as he fired his weapon at the bouncers.

<Third is a large biped robot. It is not engaging in combat so I do not know its skills. It appears bulky and slow. Both arms appear to have flame-throwers incorporated in them. Fouth is a female Takolee, armed with a similar weapon to the Human's. She is not engaging in combat. None of the attackers are wearing armour.>

The robot and the Takolee were standing to the side behind cover waiting for the combat to finish. The three-meter tall robot was motionless. Its large torso gave it the appearance of a hunchback as its smallish head was slung about a half-meter down the front of its body. The Takolee beside the robot was miniscule in comparison. She was less than a meter tall, covered in fine blond fur, with a long bushy tail. Her upraised ears seemed to twitch involuntarily. Takolees were known for exceptional speed and agility and this one seemed to have difficulty staying still.

As the Tundak watched the brief combat outside the bar, it grew impressed with the skill of the attackers. The two bouncers on the defending side were members of the towering Groten race. Each one massing almost a tonne, they each wielded heavy rapid-fire assault weapons. The Grotens, while normally proficient with their weapons, seemed to lack the skill needed to land a hit on the attackers. Unfortunately, the attackers had no trouble hitting the bouncers and the two behemoths were quickly killed. As the two Grotens fell, a glimmer of hope filtered into the Tundak's consciousness. Maybe this will be a half-decent fight after all. The camera he was linked to was destroyed and a moment later the door burst open.

Valarius was standing almost directly in the line of fire from the door. The Hylosus wasn't worried about his safety since he had one of the largest personnel energy shields the Tundak had ever seen.

"I really hope these guys have a shield disrupter." The Tundak thought, "That would wipe the cocky smile off his face." A stream of flame then came through the door washing over most of the bar. The large robot who looked like it was made primarily to house its two large flame-throwers followed the stream of fire into the bar.

The Tundak pulled out his favorite possession - a high-powered plasma rifle, and went into motion. It fired a volley of shots into the back of the large robot still trying to scorch Valarius. Two of the shots, however, only grazed the robot.

<Interesting. The attacking robot is moving in a defensive crouch while firing at Valarius. Perhaps it saw me as it came in.>

The walking flame-thrower continued to focus on Valarius, who was now diving behind the bar. The Tundak scanned Valarius' shield seeing that it was only 4% depleted. Valarius was in no danger. The remaining combatants stormed into the bar and spread out.

The Tundak continued firing on the walking flame-thrower, hitting it almost every time. The Human and Equidon opened fire on the Tundak, while the Takolee attempted to hide near a far wall. The robot was quickly taken down as it's hydrogen fuel supply for the weaponry ruptured and caused the robot to explode in a large fireball.

<Assault robot destroyed without too much effort. The Human and Equidon are obvious shock troopers. The Takolee is a sniper, most likely an assassin. It appears that I am the prime target. Valarius is watching from behind the bar and is not being attacked. >

The Human and Equidon were landing the occasional hit while the Tundak spread its shots over all three combatants. The Tundak rarely missed while the others hit the Tundak with about 40% of their shots.

<Request system status.>

<All systems functioning, energy transfer at 89.43%. 23% structural damage. Left arm actuator pierced by needle beam weapon. Gyro re-calibration was required twice due to hits from antimatter weapon.>

<The attackers are quite experienced. They have landed a total of six hits on various areas of my structure. The Takolee is obviously building up an assassination attempt. Unfortunately, for the Takolee, there is a 92% probability that she is focusing on my decoy vital systems. If there were a combatant in the area that knew how to assassinate a Tundak, I would have been informed.>

<Increase power to cranial internal shielding.>

<Power increase confirmed.>

<The attacker's stamina is impressive. I have landed numerous hits but they are still going. I estimate their deaths will require another 35 seconds. >

As it continued the battle, focusing more on the Human and Equidon, the Tundak envied the Takolee. Assassins were some of the most lethal combatants. They had the uncanny ability to concentrate on their target, anticipate their movements and fire their weapon at the precise moment to hit their target's most vital area. Often, they can bring a target down with just one shot.

Valarius was watching from behind the bar, a grin from ear to stubby little ear.

"These losers are putting on a great show." he mumbled amidst the cacophony of weapons fire. "This will surely bump up my reputation a notch or two. My Tundak slaughtered a group of seasoned combatants. Eight months of butt-kissing to that zarking Mafia Don paid off."

The Takolee, attempting to hide on the wall behind a hanging plant, was in a state of utmost calm. Normally a hyperactive, mentally unstable, mall crazed female, she was now completely at one with her senses. She watched the Tundak moving at blinding speed around the bar. It was landing hit after hit on all three of them and the most recent hit on her leg burned painfully. She ignored it and took aim with her weapon at the metallic death machine. She anticipated every movement before it happened and waited for the perfect moment for the Tundak's vital area to be in view. Her Human comrade had burned a few nice holes into the Tundak's shell, while the Equidon had shoved the Tundak around a few times with the discharge from his rifle. Regardless, by now they were all heavily wounded and needed this assassination. Her bushy tail twitched as she waited.

Suddenly, the opportunity came into focus. The Takolee didn't even think about it, as extensive experience in the art of death took over and pulled the trigger. The intense red beam flashed out of the needle beam rifle. The Tundak was in mid leap as the beam pierced into the center of its lower half.

<WARNING: Central power distrrributiion node hit><CPU power disrupted - auto bypass ena%bled.><CPU power restored.><Damage report: Power overloads in 78% of structure, targeting destroyed, scanners destroyed, aux@iliary probability CPU destroyed, left arm at 60% mobility, overload of internal energy shielding, 43% of stab___ilizers disabled, correction- left arm at 45% mobility.><Exterior shield activated.>

The Tundak, still in mid leap, lost consciousness. Regaining consciousness a moment later, it landed on top of the bar. Small micro-explosions could be seen at various parts around its body as energy transfer nodes overloaded. For a moment it just looked at its opponents and then leapt into motion again.

<The assassin knew right where to hit me. Systems heavily damaged. External energy shield active. Current target - the Takolee. She knows how to assassinate a Tundak. She must be killed.>

Valarius lost his grin. He suddenly wished he had not fired his other bodyguards when he obtained the Tundak.

The Tundak jumped towards the Takolee, though not with as much agility as before. The female of the group tried to avoid the repeated plasma bolts, but was not successful. A plasma shot grazed her scalp, then another plunged deep into her shoulder. The Tundak was focused entirely on her now. Her comrades tried to draw its fire, but were not successful. Two final shots finished the Takolee off - one ripping her jaw from her face, and the second landing at the base of her skull, almost removing her head.

<Assassin eliminated, energy shield taken hit from Human's needle beam, down to 30%>

The Human was heavily wounded and had recently applied a couple of medical patches to himself. The mesh of nanoscopic robots burrowed painfully into his flesh sealing a couple of the more serious wounds. He squeezed off a trio of shots as the Tundak turned towards him. Two hit, one finishing off the energy shield, and the other piercing the Tundak's torso.

<WARNING: Energy transfer at 3.9%, 92% structural damage. Bypass systems active. External shield disabled.>

As its internal diagnostics examined the hole in its chest, the Tundak focused on the Human. The biological was almost dead, covered in scorched bleeding flesh. Despite the Tundak's destroyed targeting and damaged arm it landed two hits to the Humans head, finishing him off. The Tundak quickly leapt onto a table and landed shots into the remaining attacker's torso. The Equidon, while fighting to remain conscious, took an aggressive stance and landed a nice hit in the Tundak's mid-section. The blast from the antimatter rifle sent the Tundak sprawling backwards.

<WARNING: Energy transfer at 1.4%, bypass systems ineffectual. Left arm disabled. Any further damage will result in possible system shutdown.>

As the Tundak regained its balance, it looked at the Equidon. The large fur-covered biped had overextended his stance to get that last hit and was now in a vulnerable position. Apparently, he had hoped to finish the Tundak off. Biological eyes and mechanical eyes locked as the Tundak raised the plasma rifle with its working right arm. The Equidon's eyes told that he knew his imminent fate. Three bolts of superheated gas plunged into the Equidon's body, one in the head, one in the throat, and one center in the chest. The body of the Equidon crumpled to the floor.

The battle ended with the Tundak victorious. It stood in the center of the room completely motionless. Valarius, while in shock, still regained his composure enough to lower the shield protecting his guests. The sleazy looking Felinid ventured out into the room and peered at the unmoving Tundak.

"Is it dead?", he said in a raspy voice, breaking the eerie silence of the aftermath. The Tundak abruptly turned and stared at the Felinid, startling him enough to make him leap back a couple of meters. The occupants of the room hastily left as Valarius sat and stared at the remains of his robot, a blank expression on his face.

<Final log entry for this battle: This was the first time in over a decade when I was in actual danger of being destroyed. I will not underestimate future attackers again. Yet, despite my mistake and my near destruction, I feel a strange sense of exhilaration that I have not felt in a long time. >

<End logging>

<Logging halted>

The Tundak gathered the bodies of the attackers together and burned their remains in the center of the bar. It never learned who the attackers were or why they attacked.

Ships Owned by THEM

Tug

Speed: 10 mmps / 0.2 pph Stamina: 12 (10 cp) Maneuverability: -4 Shield Power: 5 Durability: 1 Weaponry: F Blaster 1D/2 Engine: Ion Drive Hauling Capacity: 300 cp

Aeorspace Van

Speed: 30 mmps / 1.1 pph Stamina: 4 (1.5 cp) Maneuverability: 2 Shield Power: nil Durability: 3 Weaponry: nil Engine: Ion Drive

Assault Shuttle

Speed: 55 mmps / 3 pph Stamina: 24 (30 cp) Maneuverability: 5 Shield Power: 30 Durability: 6 Engine: Plasma

Booby Traps: Plenty Weaponry:

  • 2 A Blasters 1D+2 each (turrets)
  • 1 Lancer Torpedo 1D
  • 5 missile launchers (hold 5 missiles each) (concealed)
  • 1 F Blaster (ap) 1D (concealed)

Equipment:

  • 5 man teleporter
  • 3 mg force beam


Epilogue

Kolum - Joined the Giamon Empire. Works under Bez as security/boarding raider on his ship.

Vasculus - frolicked on the desert planet for a number of months. Eventually encountered an aging Felinid named Yabetchason and became his apprentice to learn the infamous eye-gouge technique.

Theofrastus and Saf - Open a very successful portable bar they called "THEM's place".

Heleozoan - Gained transport back to the Krem Imperium and joined up with the Unification Army.

The Trupepol Operative - Organized a take over of a neighboring kingdom to the Krem Imperium - and proceeded to start a war. She then found a Gra-Luruk body to possess and went to join Brute Squad, with the intention of turning the 'Luruks against their robot masters as she did with THEM.

The Tundak - Worked for Valarius for another four months before the Tundak Mafia ordered it to kill the Hylosus.