"Are we sure they came down this way?"
Alev Marvel sighed wearily and tried his best to ignore the kid's question. He adjusted the gain on his Tiger's infrared camera, hoping to pick out signs of the enemy's presence in the tunnel through which he and his comrades were moving. Dozens of meters beneath the surface of Terra Nova, the MacAllen tunnel was largely pitch black. A variety of fungus gave off a faintly luminescent, purple glow that his low-light sensors could use to help him pick his way through the stalagmites and rocks, but Marvel preferred the infrared camera. It would pick out any kind of heat against the cold background of the tunnel.
Even as he thought that, a hazy, orange shape darted from behind a rock. Marvel reflexively snapped his autocannon to bear on the shape, but relaxed when he recognized it as some kind of hopper. True to its name, the critter leapt into the air towards the small river. It landed on something solid however, which piqued Marvel's curiosity. Switching to low-light, he saw that the hopper was perched precariously on the remains of a stalactite that had fallen from the ceiling. The creature peered curiously at Marvel's noisy group -- four Heavy Gears and three APCs full of infantry -- before continuing its journey across the river and to what it probably regarded as safety.
Marvel sighed again. "Yes, Malone. We're pretty sure the Earthers came this way." He flipped over to IR again and continued scanning the path ahead. "I told you that now, what, seven, eight times?"
"Nine," corrected Vanessa from her Long Bow.
"There. Nine times, kid. What gives?"
Malone hesitated with his reply, and Marvel thought he heard him gulp nervously. "It's just that, well, we're making all kinds of tracks down here. I mean, we've had to move boulders out of the way just to get the Badger through, for Mamoud's sake. How did the Earthers get down here without clearing out a path?"
"Kid, you have seen their Gears before, right?"
"I thought they were called Frames."
"Stay focused. You've seen them before, right?"
"And how did they move?"
"Pretty wicked fast." There was a long pause. "They hovered, if that's what you're getting at. But how the hell do hovercraft get around all these damned stones? They'd have to clear a path, and I don't see any path." There was another long pause before Malone finally caught on. "Oh. The river. I see. Still, how do we--"
The Badger APC came to a sudden stop. As its missile rack came to life and unlocked from its stowed position, Allison Taifuu, Marvel's counterpart in the Jarlson Freelancers accompanying his team on the patrol, called out, "Okay, patrol. Hold up. Everybody halt."
The two Caïmans came to rest beside the Badger, and Marvel signaled his team to stop, too. "What's up?" he asked.
"One of my gals spotted something along the wall." The Badger's hatch opened up and a squad of infantry spilled out, taking up positions around the rock formations of the tunnel. One of the Caïmans likewise opened up, and its infantry swarmed over the rocks, fanning out as the men and women approached the wall of the tunnel. After a brief pause, one of them radioed back, "Yeah, Captain. Jen was right. It's a cable -- fiber optic wire, millimeter-thick. Looks like it leads deeper into the system as well as back the way we came."
"Great. Can you tap in?"
"Just a minute. Nope, I don't think so. Not discreetly, anyway."
Grace, a GREL from the War of the Alliance and now one of Marvel's team mates, asked, "Red and gold color bands every 150 centimeters along its length?"
"Just a minute. Yeah, looks like it."
"It's a remote sentry cable. Probably connected to a sensor back the way we came. We used to use them for early warning around the perimeters of our bases. Assuming nothing's changed with the CEF in 20 years, they probably know we're here."
Sentinel Lake is a small, underground lake located in Terra Nova's MacAllen tunnel network, situated south of Khayr ad-Din, near the Southern Republic city-state of Réunion. In TN 1944, as part of the CEF's Operation Icarus, a detachment of the 3rd Fleet's 137th Battle Group, "Orion's Arrow," used Sentinel Lake as a base for raids carried out against various Terranovan installations in the surrounding countryside. By exploiting the MacAllen network, the Special Forces unit (SFU) was able to approach its targets undetected, strike, and then retreat back into the tunnels before serious opposition could be mounted.
On 5 Spring 1944, a group of Khayr ad-Din Army irregulars managed to track the SFU to its base at Sentinel Lake and engage it in combat. Because of a concealed, silent alarm, the SFU had advance notice of the KADA force's approach, and they were able to mount a decent defense of their base.
|Time of Day:||"Night"|
|Base Terrain:||MacAllen Network Cave|
|Raiding Force:||KADA 9th Raider Patrol|
|Defending Force:||CEF 137th Battle Group SFU|
|Raider Objectives:||Destroy CEF forces|
|Defender Objectives:||Destroy or drive off KADA forces|
This battle takes place along the shore of a small lake in a MacAllen network cave. There are essentially two types of terrain: water, over which only hovercraft can travel (in this scenario), and the surrounding rocky surface, which is treated as Rough terrain. Several rock columns dot the cavern. Stalagmites (rising from the ground) provide some amount of cover. Floor-to-ceiling columns provide complete cover. Stalactites (hanging from the ceiling) provide no real cover. (On the accompanying map, full columns are solid black circles and stalagmites are the shaded ones. Stalactites are not shown.) Because of the cave's low ceiling, indirect-fire weapons must be treated with care. If an IF weapon has no minimum range, it may be direct-fired. If it has a minimum range, however, the weapon cannot be used because it cannot be direct-fired.
This cave is the base camp for the CEF SFU. It is normally lit with a few floodlights, but the KADA forces tripped a silent security alarm when they approached, and the SFU is ready. The lights have been completely extinguished and the forces have set up in preparation for a firefight. The battle is thus fought as though at night; enough phosphorescent moss exists that nightvision equipment works adequately, although active sensor scans will do much better at finding a distant target. In addition, because of their advance preparations, the CEF forces have 3 extra Tactical Command Points at the start of the battle.
There is a narrow region near the southern end of Sentinel Lake at which a non-amphibious or non-hover vehicle may make a crossing of the river. Consisting of several large stones, the ford is Rough terrain. It is also a well-known feature for the CEF SFU, and the troopers will try to use it to their advantage.
The CEF's goal is to destroy or drive off the KADA forces; this is a high-priority mission for them. The KADA forces must destroy the CEF forces to claim a victory; because they can always come back with more forces, this is a medium-priority mission for the KADA group.
|Complete destruction of CEF SFU||5|
|Each CEF unit/infantry patrol destroyed||1|
|At least one unit/infantry patrol survives||5|
|Each KADA unit/infantry patrol destroyed||1|
KADA 9th Raider Patrol
Jarlson Freelance 4th Motorized Infantry Platoon
Total Threat Value: 5997
The 9th KADA Raider Patrol operates primarily in the southern quadrant of the KADA patrol zone. It consists of two somewhat independent groups: the Predators, from Trash City's gladiator pits, and Jarlson Freelance 4th Motorized Infantry Platoon. The 4th's Allisin Taifuu (of the Armor Hunter squad) is officially in charge of the patrol, but Alev Marvel and his Predators frequently act independently of the Freelancers. (Stats for the 4th's infantry squads can be found in the Northern Guard Army List. The infantrymen have nightvision equipment.)
The Predators is a gladiatorial dueling team that formed in Khayr ad-Din shortly before the Interpolar War broke out. The Duelists didn't get to see much arena combat before Katryn Sanz made her call to form up the Khayr ad-Din Army, and they were quick to join the movement. The four original members were hardened veterans of the polar nations' armies who had fallen on hard times; joining KADA was an opportunity to reclaim the glory and pride of their days in the armies. During the Interpolar War, one of their members fell, but he has since been replaced -- albeit by what the rest of the team considers to be a rookie. Each member has a slightly customized Heavy Gear.
Corpsegrinder is Alev Marvel's Tiger. Remove the APGL, add a chainsword, and add an armored jacket to the cockpit (Reinforced Location Armor, Crew, R2). Marvel prefers to finish off his opponents with the chainsword.
PAK (short for "Point-and-Kill") is Vanessa Atelier's Long Bow Jäger. Remove the APM and the APGL, and add a vibroblade. Atelier prefers to keep her distance in a battle, relying on her sharp-shooting skills. (See the Southern Vehicle Compendium I for the Long Bow Jäger.)
Boxer is the Grizzly Heavy Gear that belongs to Minerva Grace, a GREL from the War of the Alliance. Remove the HGM, the DPG, and the VB, and add a CR to the left arm and a HSKG with 6 ammo to the right. Grace likes to close in for hand-to-hand combat when her autocannon's ammo runs out, which is surprisingly often.
Finally, Mack is a Sidewinder. It belongs to the group's freshman, "Slash" Malone, a Duelist who only fought staged sports duels until joining the Predators. Remove the APGL and add a vibrorapier and a vibroblade. Malone prefers to fight with both blades at once, holding one in each manipulator while leaving his autocannon attached to its hardpoint over his shoulder. Minerva Grace will sometimes swipe his autocannon if hers is out of ammo, she's remembered that he's likely still to have his, and he's close enough to where she's fighting.
3rd Fleet 137th Battle Group (Orion's Arrow) Special Forces Unit
Alpha Patrol (Blitz Armor Patrol)
Beta Patrol (General Purpose Armor Patrol)
Total Threat Value: 5642
The 137th is an all-human battle group. Comprising young pilots trained in the tunnels, caves, gorges and chasms of Caprice, this raid is the group's first real combat mission. The pilots and troopers are quite adept, however, at using such terrain to their advantage, and all infantry members have nightvision equipment. (Stats for the individual patrols and their equipment can be found in the Colonial Expeditionary Forces Sourcebook.)
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