APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 6 August, 2002


The 45th Black Talon

Josh Peters

Garvin gulped hard as he approached the caravan. It was heading on evening and the desert breeze was strong. Dust and sand filled the air. Garvin made a mental note to thank his teammate Gwynn for lending him a pair of polarized goggles.

"What's the meaning of this?" Huang was indignant, especially in the face of Garvin's credentials, "the Westphalia Cabinet has a law enforcement branch?"

"More or less," Garvin replied stoically. He wasn't a customs agent, but he remembered those encounters with Republic Customs he and his family had at the Mekongese and Republican border crossings, "Mr. Huang, I'd like to see your bills of lading."

"What? Out here, in the Barrington Basin? Are you mad?"

"Mr. Huang," Garvin repeated, "your bills of lading."

Huang muttered to himself and produced the datapad. Garvin glanced over it quickly.

"It's a fake. You had better let me see your cargo bays."

"Go to hell! You've got no jurisdiction here," Huang spat and turned to leave to his caravan.

"Mr. Huang, don't move," Garvin pulled his pistol from his holster and cocked it loudly. He had a feeling it wasn't going to be easy this time.

Huang froze and grinned. One of his Jager caravan escorts moved towards Garvin, it's autocannon at the ready. Garvin didn't even blink as Jeycen fired a supersonic round into the Jager's torso from long range; the gear lurched and toppled, pressure juice and fuel spurting out onto the hot sand.

Behind the caravan, Mandorellen's dark gray Hunter heavy gear popped up from behind a ridge and let loose a bazooka rocket at the Bear gear standing at the rear. The warhead slammed into the gear's exposed flanks and ripped it apart.

Garvin found Huang crouched behind some cover, trying to get orders through to his caravan. There was no way his little personal communicator was going to cut through the electronic interference that Gwynn was creating.

"You've been smuggling weapons to CEF agents on Terranova, Mr. Huang. I'd like to see your cargo."

The 45th Black Talon

While over half of the Black Talon teams created since TN 1941 are devoted to commando, scouting and infiltration missions in the Loki and Heofon systems, there are other Black Talon units that are tasked with an equally important, if less glamourous mission: counterinsurgency. When the presence of CEF agents and infiltration teams were discovered on Terranova, the fledgling Westphalia Cabinet began developing a program to locate and eliminate these insidious threats to the planet's security. However with the return of the 1st Black Talon from Caprice and the subsequent funding increase the Westphalia Cabinet received from the polar Leagues, the Black Talon program took over the counter-insurgency role.

The Westphalia Cabinet began development of what was to be the 45th Black Talon immediately after it was discovered that the New Earth Commonwealth was responsible for the destruction of Peace River. With most of the Cabinet's meager resources slated for the Black Talon program-especially the Dark Series gears-it became necessary to contact trusted non-affiliated operations that would be willing to do all of the field work. A dedicated cadre of four agents was eventually selected from the variety of individuals working as independents throughout the Badlands. After a brief training period, the agents were sent into the field to do counterintelligence and counterinsurgency operations with great success.

Operational Profile

The 45th Black Talon is one of the few Talon teams that is not solely concerned with blowing things up. By the time the heavily armed Black Talon units have arrived on the scene, the 45th has already faded into the background, tracking down leads and making sure to avoid detection by NEC sympathizers on Terranova. Operations the 45th usually undertakes can be divided into two broad categories, Counterintelligence and Counterinsurgency.

Counterintelligence operations generally include investigation, surveillance and breaking and entering. The 45th must track down NEC operatives, unearth their networks and eavesdrop on their communications. Whenever possible, the 45th attempts to capture their targets alive for questioning, despite the high risks involved. Only rarely are enemy operatives assassinated, as that tends to alert other NEC agents on Terranova.

Any operation dealing with Terranovan assets is also considered counterintelligence. Since the Westphalia Cabinet requires the support of the polar Leagues, but still sees the need for a high level of security and secrecy, there have been many covert operations the 45th Black Talon has undertaken against Terranovan organizations to protect the security of the Black Talon Program. Perhaps the most harrowing of these was related to the delivery of the Dark Series gear components to the Black Talon Werks station in the Karak Wastes. Although the Westphalia Cabinet had paid for the gear components (albeit through many intermediaries), it was still deemed essential to order the 45th to infiltrate each manufacturer involved and erase all record of the advanced components ever existing.

Counterinsurgency operations are usually a little more straightforward. The 45th Black Talon can double as a light raiding and special forces unit. This usually takes place when there are time constraints or no one else is available to do the job. The agents of the 45th are known for their dirty tricks in combat and general sneakiness, and while they know they are usually undergunned and undermanned, they have already proven themselves to be resourceful under fire.

Makeup of the 45th Black Talon

The 45th Talon consists of four field agents, their controller, and a small support team. The field agents have known each other for a number of cycles and are a tightly knit unit.

Agent Mandorellen Nessen is the 45th Talon's primary gear pilot. He is also a fledgling duelist, having spent some time in the gladiatorial pits in Khayr ad-Din. He pilots a customized Hunter heavy gear (remove: LAC, LRP. Add: MBZ (F: 3 shots), MRF: (F: 20 shots) FGC (F: 20 shots), Stealth R2. Change: Man: +1, Top Speed Walker: 9MP, Top Speed Ground: 13MP)

Agent Jeycen Kasmir is a former Granis Cartel assassin who specializes in sniping and firearms. He is assigned a Jaguar heavy gear (Remove MAC, LRP. Add: HRF: (F: 20 shots), 3x MPZ (F), Stealth R3).

Agent Garvin McMasters is a former MILICIA Special Intervention Unit gear pilot. He drives a Black Mamba (Add Stealth R2).

Agent Gwynn Raleigh is a Jill-of-all-trades. She fills the role of electronic warfare specialist and infiltration expert. She causes electronic mayhem with a Black Box Iguana (Remove LAC, Add MAC (F: 40 shots) Stealth R2).

All field agents have been cross-trained in various espionage and surveillance techniques, supplementing their previously learned skills.

Using the 45th Black Talon in an RPG Game

As an Ally: The 45th Talon is made up of agents specially trained in blending in, noticing things and tracking people down. As the Player Character's allies, the 45th Talon could be the spooks the players have to meet, extract or rely on for shadowy information. They can also be used as extra muscle, but this isn't their forte.

As an Enemy: The 45th Talon is not the kind of unit that likes stand-up fights. If the Players are facing the 45th, it could be because of botched intelligence (the 45th is an infiltration unit, after all), or perhaps the 45th is about to pull a covert operation on the organization the Players belong to. The Players may find the 45th Talon performing surveillance on their shady operation. However the moment the Players turn around to confront them, the 45th has already made good their disappearance.

As a Resource: The Black Talon Program is a great way for Players to get their hands on equipment, people and places. The 45th Talon is no exception. They will have less access to heavy military resources, but better access to information, people and transportation than the average Black Talon team.

Author's Afterward

I thought up this campaign idea for my players and figured I'd share it with everyone. I am not a big fan of the standard "Go in shoot everything and leave quickly" missions, and my players are even less enthused of those things. However, I was eager to get them involved in the Black Talon story, and they seem rather enthused thus far with their lower-power hardware, and intrigue-laden plots. I just like keeping them paranoid and on their toes.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 6 August, 2002