The next 48 hours on board of the “Dancing Panda” became way more stressfull than I had originally hoped for.
The day after I realized what our true purpose at the Wotan Gate most likely would be, I had to break the news to my subordinates, who obviously weren’t pleased about this “change of plans” either.
Shifts that shold have been easy going “Getting to know the area”, instantly turned into precise battle preparation work, checking every area of the “Dancing Panda” Spaceship for potential areas of infiltration, defensive positions, ambush points, targets of interest for possible attackers, and other things like it. Obviously we couldn’t go as far as to barricade ourselves in and openly prepare our defenses, the mission of the “Dancing Panda” was after all still presenting Yu Jing Culture to the other nations at the Wotan Gate, and hostile activities, even if they should take place, would most likely be under cover, forcing us to keep the image of the friendly tourist attraction, no matter what might occure.
By the time the “Dancing Panda” reached the Circulator Ship and linked itself into the train like structure like it was designed to, most of the basic preparations to counter enemy infiltrators was done for, and since my crew had done plenty of overtime to do so, I decided it was time for a bit of relaxation, after all that was what everyone had originally hoped for, and one had to enjoy the little things when the opportunity presented itself….or so my father used to say when he had one too many sake and mother wasn’t around to scold him.
So it was when my shift ended on the third day that I left the “Dancing Panda” and entered the Circulator’s amusement area, a clean white painted part of the ship that resembled a small town full of high class bars and other establishments designed to keep the weary traveler happy during his stay.
I went there because Father Anderson swore that it contained the best bar on the whole Circulator, and they sold one of the meanest whiskeys in the whole galaxy….not that I knew much about whiskey, but one could always learn right?
The promise of high quality alcohol lead to our little party growing in size, now containing a few Celestial Guards as well as 2 of the Crane Agents, and of course Kanren Umibozu, who always seemed to magically appear next to whomever mentioned good liquer. Obviously a large group of military looking Yu Jing would raise some suspision, so we decided to leave the armour at the base, but kee the guns with us, hidden under our Japanese styled traveling cloaks…or old trenchcoat in case of Father Anderson, who’s coat even had a special connector point on the inside for just such situations.
The bar itself looked like most other bars from the outside, but the blasphemous nature of the bar’s name “Judas’s Kiss” was quickly enchanced the moment you stepped into the joint, as it was hung with upside down crosses and anti PanO Propaganda at almost every free space of wall or furniture. There was even a messageboard which stated “PanO guests, please take a seat here, your god shall be with you soon!” with an arrow pointing towards a waste disposal chute that probably lead to a waste burning facility in the lower areas of the Circulator.
Now I wasn’t too keen on religion myself, always considered it “opium for the foolish masses” of other less educated nations than Yu Jing, but I reckoned this joint wouldn’t get many PanO customers, and a fair bit of trouble should one show up after all.
The barman seemed more than capable to handle any such situation however, his arms thick as tree trunks and scarred like a grizzly bear wrestler, and a boarding shotgun laying on top of his counter…not below it like most other establishments would most likely prefer.
I wasn’t the only one giving Father Anderson a confused look after this sight, but Father Anderson just turned towards us and said “Everything’s alright lads, trust me, I know the guy, hard shell but the inside’s as fluffy as cotton candy…..what do you call them types in Yu Jing? Tsun…Tsun…Tsuntsun…” which was harshly interrupted by an empty bottle crashlanding next to Father Anderson’s feet, followed by a shouted “Next one will Tsuntsun your bloody head you old fool! Now come over here, I haven’t seen you in ages, and you still haven’t cleared your tab from last time!”. Father Anderson seemed embarassed by the both friendly and demanding tone of the barkeepers request, and just tilted his head to the side in excuse and then turned around and wandered towards the barkeep, scratching the back of his head as if trying to rub a good excuse out of it. “Well you see…”
The next few hours went by in a blur of “alternative” christian music, an odd experience I can assure you, choking cigar smoke, and the best non Yu Jing Liquor I’ve ever had in my life, which made the whole ordeal actually enjoyable despite everything.
The Barkeep turned out to be just as Father Anderson had described him, rough shell, but once he got to know you, he opened up a bit, and we had quite an enjoyable talk about the merits of close combat weapons in modern military engagements at one point, the Barkeep turning out to be one of Father Anderson’s old Mercenary colleagues who had quit because of some sort of knee injury which he didn’t want to talk about….most likely because it happened during an encounter with some Yu Jing “Ninjas”…
The mood broke when a few PanO Soldiers on R&R suddenly entered the bar, reeling back in shock at the sight and instantly starting to curse the Barkeep, claiming that a heretic like him deserved to be nailed to the cross. One of them even tried to pull a gun, but Father Anderson was quicker and at the sight of his nasty Viral Rifle, the PanO soldier decided that today maybe wasn’t his lucky day after all, and he’d rather not die in such an unholy place. One of the other soldiers whispered something into the ear of the groups would be commander, and afterwards the group quickly left the establishment, the soldier that wanted to pull his gun swearing his vengeance as he left.
After this little encounter, one of the Celestial Guards checked his watch, and a row of “Tzzzzzzk ooooooh” followed as we realized that we only had 5 more hours until our next shift, and thus better got going before it was too late for detox pills.
Promising the Barkeep to return should we get the chance we said our goodbyes and went “homewards” towards the “Dancing Panda”‘s link on the Circulator.
We didn’t get far however, before the terribly drunk Umibozu suddenly stopped us with a hand sign and stared into the streets before us. At first I couldn’t make out why he stopped us, but a faster growing ringing sound, followed by a quick burst of bullets from a Sierra Dronbot on a nearby balcony instantly cleared up the confusion. Shouting a slightly drunk “Aaaaambuuuush!” we quickly spread apart into the best battle formation we could muster, Father Anderson dashing to the right flank, myself crawling up to a nearby roof, while the Crane Agents and Celestial Guard went into formation in the middle of what would become our battlefield.
Thanks to Kanren Umibozu we managed to avoid the ambush and I instantly ordered one of the Celestial Guards to cover my position with a Smoke screen. The Celestial Guard apparently had a bit too much whiskey at the “Judas’s Kiss” though, and several of his smoke grenades went completely wild, covering some of the nearby neighbourhood instead.
Cursing my bad luck I ordered the Crane and Celestial Guard team to advance instead, taking out the Sierra Dronbot through the building in the middle of the battlefield. However with the team’s coordination ruined as it was by the heavy liquer consumption all they managed to do was getting one of the Crane Agents wounded by the Dronebot in the fire exchange instead.
At this point an enemy Nisse Sniper popped up on a nearby rooftop, trying to take out Father Anderson, however the seasoned Veteran of many battles and expert drinker seemed to be in way better shape than most of my other subordinates and instead disposed of the Nisse with his Viral Rifle! I reminded myself to give Father Anderson a little bonus payment the next time his hire was due…the guy truly was worth every penny every single time!
A Crock Man tried to make up for the Nisse Snipers failute in the center of the battlefield, but one of the new Celestial Guards had apparently brought his Mad Traps along…must have been some sort of special operative at some point I reckoned, and the surprised Crock Man was glued to the ground before he could do any serious damage.
At this point the bit of luck we still had left began running out though as my wrist holo suddenly warned me of a big target appearing on our left flank and rapidly moving towards us.
The target revealed itself to be a bloody Cutter TAG…and instantly proceeded to take out the already wounded Spitfire Crane Agent. One of the Celestial Guards guarding it’s flank actually managed to wound the giant invisible TAG in return, but that only seemed to make the pilot more angry, who instantly proceeded to take out the Celestial Guard.
As the Cutter continued to take out Kanren Umibozu the remaining Crane Agent managed to damage the giant death machine once more, but now she had pulled the things attention to herself and was wounded herself before she managed to hide behind a corner, the giant now heavily damaged death machine doing the same on it’s side.
With the adrenaline clearing some of the alcohol from their body one of the Celestial Guards finally managed to throw a Smoke Grenade in front of me,which I instantly used to take out the heavily damaged Cutter TAG, finally ridding our flank from the PanO Abomination.
I also managed to take out the Sierra Dronbot, but took a wound in return myself.
In the meantime Father Anderson reactivated his Holo Echoes and proceeded to cover my position at ground level.
We quickly found out how much those damn PanO’s wanted to take revenge when one of them, an Akal Commando if my knowledge of PanO troopers was anything to go by, suddenly dropped from the ceiling with his Drop Harness and started opening at the Crane and Celestial Guard team with his Boarding Shotgun!
Taken completely by surprise the initial salvo instantly took our the Celestial Guard Specialist from before, as well as the remaining Crane Agent, leaving only the last Celestial Guard to dash for cover and return fire. Luckily for him the enemy Akal was still a bit unbalanced by his drop, and thus the Celestial Guard managed to take him out even in his drunk state.
In the distance I could hear an agonized scream by one of the PanO soldiers, followed by a sudden explosion from the room in the center of the battle field. Having no clue what was going on I ordered Father Anderson to take look and the remaining Celestial Guard to cover his flank.
All that Father Anderson managed to see where the signs of an Explosion inside of the room, but we didn’t have time to investigate further as the PanO troopers suddenly did a coordinated push on all fronts, taking me and Father Anderson out in the process….
The next thing I remembered was one of the Circulator’s Security Guards slapping me in the face shouting “ARE YOU AWAKE NOW!?” followed by accusations of weapon usage inside of the Circulator which took another 2 hours to clear once the Security Guards finally understood that it wasn’t us starting this fight, but rather the PanO Soldiers that we had met in the Bar before, but by that time there was already no trace of them left in the area, and we where sent back to our ship and put under “house arrest” for the remainder of the flight….for our own security as they proclaimed.
When I meet Father Anderson on the way back he told me that someone had apparently carved the word “TRAITOR” on his back, most likely wanting to finish the job afterwards, but getting interrupted by the Security Guards arrival….for most people such a branding would have been a horrible thing, forcing them to search for skin recovery threatment or other ways of getting rid of the mark, Father Anderson however just shrugged with a smirk and pulled down his shirt a bit further, revealing a series of “HERETIC!” “SCUMBAG!” “CHEATER” and other nasty scar “messages” on his back, while adding “Just another one for the collection…”
Boy oh boy did I get a beating in this battle report. It was my first battle report against PanO after a loooong time, and I wasn’t very familiar with what PanO can bring to the table, a fact that I paid for heavily throughout the game as I hadn’t taken proper care of my lines of sight, allowing my opponents drop trooper and Cutter to run rampage in my flank and back…
It didn’t help that I couldn’t make a single armor role throughout the whole game, so all I could really do was trying to scratch some points during the mission, and maaaybe grab a draw in the end, but the Coordinated Auxilia Offensive and the Mine in the Control room (I assumed it was a Camo Trooper cause I didn’t know it was possible to lay a mine with minelayer if you are in hidden deployment state) brought an end to that hope quickly…
It was still a very fun battle though and my opponent was a good sports all throughout the game, which made the streak of bad luck only half as bad as it’d normally be. I hope he can forgive me the “my troops where drunk” narrative, but when we talked about his troops finding Father Anderson in a Bar and him hunting him down as a Traitor to PanO, the story just began writing itself, and it fit my terrible rolls so well ;-P
Anyways, this was the last battle Report before Strikezone Wotan starts! Look forward to my next Reports in the Campaign!!