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Chapter Five: A Show of Hands

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Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Robotech: Broadsword. Chapter Five: A Show of Hands

Definition: "A Show of Hands" (per Google) = "the raising of hands among a group of people to indicate a vote for or against something, with numbers typically being estimated rather than counted"

Definition: "Hand" (Poker lingo, per "Poker Terms") = Five cards, made of a player's pocket cards and the community cards

* * *​

The double-explosion of Fat Man and Little Boy literally blew the Zeki-Zentraedi Assault Scout in half. Huge chunks of flaming debris showered the water in all directions. All hostile fire ceased as every living creature aboard the vessel met its end. There, off the Florida coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, a pair of little suns had briefly shone over the waters to deadly result. Due to the speed and course of the alien spacecraft, very little of the flaming, radioactive debris came near the Wild Cards and their allies. Nothing was left of their enemies but memories.

"YAAAAA-HAHAAA!!" Cera cried in happiness incarnate. Nothing brought reaction like this out of a Meltrandi, Ura or otherwise, than having a hand in the complete and wholesale destruction of their Zentraedi rivals. Cera bounced in the backseat, her hands hammered the cockpit glass, as she let off charged phrases in her own language that were light years past busy-but-relaxed Elinor's understanding. Still, Elinor knew ecstatic, nigh-fanatical cheering when she heard it.

In English, the Ura-Meltrandi yelled, "Take that, jerk-faces! Rot in oblivion like you deserve! Raaaaah!!" Less than a day old, Cera was in heaven.

This is Cera's brain right now. Happy bouncy Cera brain. Why not share the fun with you too? =)
"Color My Love" by Fun Fun

By this time, the Wild Cards were as safe and as stable as could be reasonably provided under the circumstances. Hovering about 100 feet above the morning water, Elinor had the satisfaction of having correctly calculated and communicated the science behind providing Mario's VHT a way not to get wet.

Mario looked about and saw his tank firmly between a white Valkyrie and a cherry-red Valkyrie in Guardian mode. Their thrust held his tank aloft so securely he was confident he could climb out of his tank in Battloid mode at this very moment.

So too held aloft by the amazing power of protoculture was the Super Tomahawk. Still in supine position, the immense destroid avoided dropping into the deep waters below you simply by the power of all of the thrusters on its "backpack". However, it was clear the vehicle could not change position any more than Mario could transform his tank; one wrong move and either vehicle would sink, well, like a mecha dropped into a gulf. Meanwhile, Iris seemed to be motionless as if sunbathing or greeting the slowly-rising sun.

Covered in sweat from head-to-toe, Toph rendezvoused with the Wild Cards. In moments, she found her Ajax hovering in helicopter mode near her comrades. As the pieces of the destroyed Zeki-Zentraedi warship continued to splash into the water, everyone was able to enjoy the sight of the broken, smoking vessel smashing into the water in two great pieces and several million smaller pieces.

The nearest Florida beach was now some 15 miles north and well out of your sight. You had heard no radio chatter over your channel nor seen any sign of friendlies in your area. For once, all was finally calm and peaceful. As the glowing orange sun slowly peeked over the eastern horizon, Cera continued to cheer like a woman possessed.

Very far off in the distance, you sighted another vessel. This one was neither ASC nor Zentraedi, but a huge and beautiful starship about the size of a Salan Scout Ship. It was sharply angular and dangerous-looking to the extreme. It was cruising away from you and in no hurry. Slowly, the entire ship began to spin into a maneuver recognized by all of the Wild Cards.

It was a victory roll.

Cera beamed and pointed with great pride and longing. "War-queen Taniya honors our victory over the Zeki with this salute!"

It was a new day - and it belonged to combination of the Traversers and the Army of the Southern Cross - more formally known as the Wild Cards.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
As they hover, Mario does his best to make sure to keep his mecha's arms locked in position so the two Valkyries carrying him don't drop him. His attention is so fixed on that he is barely able to tear his eyes away to watch the massive explosion behind them as the assault scout is blown to bits. "Please please please tell me that someone got that blast on tape! Holy shit! Did we just pull that off?!? A whole freaking Zentraedi ship just got blasted out of the sky and we are the ones that did it! Hell yes!"

The impact of what was just accomplished is more than enough to wash away any sleepy feeling he was fighting with as it all sinks in. One thing is damn sure: that is going to be on my tank as a kill marker!

A few other things are starting to rattle around the noggin as he waits for solid ground:

1. The General knew about that ship before ever sending them out. Hell, it's not like a special pair of nukes are routinely added to the payload of a Spartas! Why were they not warned about this before gong in?

2. What will become of Cera? Will she even want to stick around with them?

3. Who is Spaceman Sam? Where did that Super Tomahawk come from? Why were the Zentraedi so interested in him?

4. What is the Maelstrom? How is the Super Tomahawk related to it?

5. What the hell is a Super Tomahawk, and where did it come from?

6. Can I Traverse my Hover Tank to be a more lethal combatant, fighting as one without spending time to use the controls?

There are other questions, but these are foremost in his mind, and he wants to make site not to let them be forgotten I the post-mission excitement.

"Um, hey guys? How are we going to get to shore?"
 
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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph lets out a laugh. "Don't worry, corporal. I have good footage of it just so we can all enjoy watching it over and over again. Just sit back and enjoy the ride while you can. Soon enough, we are all going to be stuck in the after mission briefing, keeping us all busy and away from the much needed rack time that we all need." She lets out a sigh. She was not looking forward to that. If the General and his cronies find out about Iris, the alien may get stuck in an examination room for the rest of her short life, so they would have to be careful just what is said and to whom.

As they hover, Toph keeps an eye on the radar and her various threat-detection gear, just in case. Right now, both Mack and Elinor are very busy getting Mario back to dry land where he can then be put down safely. It would be just her luck to have to deal with a Zentraedi fighter or some ground fire right now.

Clicking on her radio, she calls out, "This is Lt. Kirin for Colonel Sharp. We are currently hovering approximately [insert distance here] from the coast, and are in need of something that can carry our two ground mecha back. Are there any naval units in the area for us to drop off our cargo onto? At the moment, we're a bit stuck, unless the water is less than a mile deep for the mecha to walk back themselves."
 
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Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Elinor watched the Meltrandi ship's victory-roll salute with a broad grin. She'd probably have been cheering just like Cera if she wasn't so focused on making sure she and Mack didn't drop Mario. Moments like this had to be celebrated somehow! Once the hover had stabilized at a constant altitude, she let her focus expand slightly and looked around, taking stock of the situation and of everyone's relative positions ("everyone" meaning Toph, Sam, and Iris; Elinor knew very well where Shirley and Mario were!). Over the nexus, she told them all, "I think I can get calculations for Mack and me to get Mario to shore, but it'll take forty forevers even once we get moving. I don't know about Sam, though, and I'd sure hate to leave the SuperTomahawk after all that. It seems pretty important."
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph nods in agreement. "If you can get the tank to shore, I can push Sam in his Tomahawk along, assuming that we don't come across a ship or an oil platform big enough to set these guys down on."
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Toph's mention of ships sparked an idea. Maybe it would come to nothing, but maybe not. "Hang on a sec," Elinor replied. "I need to check some numbers."

She prodded the Valkyrie's computers, hoping it would have the data she wanted: meteorological predictions, or at least history, and gulf currents. Maybe there was some way to use wind and waves to get them to shore.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"Down by the Sea" by Men at Work
Partial lyrics:
Listen to your heart
Screamin' at the sky
Can't you feel it tremble?
Don't you wonder why?

Clicking on her radio, she calls out, "This is Lt. Kirin for Colonel Sharp. We are currently hovering approximately [insert distance here] from the coast, and are in need of something that can carry our two ground mecha back. Are there any naval units in the area for us to drop off our cargo onto? At the moment, we're a bit stuck, unless the water is less than a mile deep for the mecha to walk back themselves."
Approximately 15 miles south of the Florida Panhandle, Toph changed frequencies from the squad channel to the A.S.C. main channel. This was a very good time to use her comm in an attempt to advise Colonel Sharp and get a rescue going.

Static was her reply.

She tried again and again, but each time nothing came back. She could be certain it was not damage to her radio, for her HUD told her it was working as intended. She was also well within range. Having no answer, this was one of those times that being a rookie was working against her. The rest of the Wild Cards were on the squadron channel or in the Polyphonic Nexus; they would have no idea that Toph was unable to get through unless she told them.

Toph then felt an odd feeling. Her throttle hand (left) was shaking slightly. Her eyes were like lead weights. Her breaths were forced. Fatigue had come a'calling. If nothing else, the overtaxed Wild Cards needed a rest, even if only a short one.

As if in agreement, Toph's empty stomach chose that moment to growl like angry lion...

* * *​

She prodded the Valkyrie's computers, hoping it would have the data she wanted: meteorological predictions, or at least history, and gulf currents. Maybe there was some way to use wind and waves to get them to shore.
Before the Rain of Death (the initial assault, decades ago, by Lord Dolza's Zentraedi that wiped out at least 70% of Earth's population and technology), checking the weather was a simple click of the screen on one's smartphone and you would have accurate data in seconds. Since the destruction of most of Earth's satellites, countries, businesses, manufacturers, and the people behind them, Earth's technology had been blasted back decades in some places, centuries in others, a millenia or more in yet others. Some wondered if Earth and humanity would ever completely recover.

So, for Elinor Hall, a farm-girl-become-test pilot born in this time, waiting for what little accurate detailed meteorological data that folks were still sending was just part of life. Most of such data in this area came indeed from Eglin A.S.C. base. The way most pilots in the air received this data nowadays was simply to call Eglin Tower. Since the Fall of the Internet, only intranets remained. Eglin's intranet was the finest in the area and Eglin Tower had access. A radio call to the tower was in order.

When Elinor flipped channels, she heard Toph's voice over the A.S.C. band. Muppet was trying to contact Colonel Sharp and getting nothing back. Just static. This was unusual. Her extensive education seemed to "think" that with no solid masses or further weather disruptions (for the tornado had passed) between here and Eglin, they should have clear communication. So what was it?

With no weather data to be shared and something wrong with their radio channels, it seemed the Wild Cards were on their own for the moment. Plus, Elinor's engineering background told her that while it was feasibly possible to slowly guide their mecha back to shore, it would happen at a snail's pace compared to what the T.A.S.C. pilots were used to. Toph's Ajax in Battloid mode could indeed theoretically push a hovering Super Tomahawk, but she would have to be "Super Careful" too. If she tipped the destroid, it would probably go right into the gulf along with everyone in and on it.

Then Elinor became aware of another factor that might put a snarl into things... She was having a hard time keeping her eyes open. The adrenaline had worn off for the upteenth time and dawn was here. Elinor knew better than most the toll a hard day could have on a farm-girl, much less a test pilot, much less an active duty Traverser who had just taken part in the longest adventure of her life. Her endurance, and likely that of everyone else's, had long reached its limit.

The Wild Cards required a break. Though Cera seemed as aware as ever, Elinor saw Shirley's head lolling in the cockpit of the Red Baroness. The longer the better, but any break would be better than none. Elinor also realized she had the situation under well-enough control as to set the incredible veritechs on auto-pilot without trouble. Mario and his tank would be all right as long as nothing else exciting happened.

* * *
About that time, the Wild Cards noticed movement on the Super Tomahawk. The destroid, flat on its back with thrusters still raging like a space shuttle, was hovering quite safely. Iris, her green carapace turning slightly gold-orange in the rising sun, turned to the head of the machine. There, you saw "Spaceman Sam" with a shoulder-mounted-MechaKitten on his left side. Sam had managed to exit his cockpit and now put his hand to his eyes.

He seemed to stare long at the receding Ura-Meltrandi vessel. The farther away the fighting starship got, the more relaxed Spaceman Sam seemed to be. Once, he made "shooing" motions with his right hand as if to hurry the alien vessel on its way.

"What is Spaceman Sam doing?" Cera inquired.

Then finally, the Ura-Meltrandi spacecraft departed. Spaceman Sam turned and ran toward the trio of Toph, Elinor, and Mario. He began to pantomime. He pointed at you. He pointed north toward the Florida coastline. Then he shook his helmeted head vigorously. A pause. Then he pointed at you. He pointed downward. He folded his arms behind his head and crossed one leg, leaning back as if relaxing. Then he clasped his hands together and shook them while bending forward toward you.

There he stayed, apparently awaiting your reply.

Meanwhile, MechaKitten stood tall, evidently enjoying the morning sunshine and the constant rush of waves 100 feet below you.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
"Yeah," Elinor said over the squadron channel, which she believed she remembered Sam joining earlier. "You're right. Mack! Recommend everyone catch up on the sleep we didn't get last night before we start making some serious mistakes. I can get us set to auto-pilot on this hover for the time being." She repeated that over the nexus in case anyone, like Toph, was on a different channel, and added, "Cera, you seem freshest. Can you keep watch in the meantime, and wake us up if anything happens?"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"Down by the Sea" by Men at Work
Partial lyrics:
Listen to your heart
Screamin' at the sky
Can't you feel it tremble?
Don't you wonder why?

sunrise-over-the-gulf.jpg
(Image credit: TripAdvisor)

Shirley nodded faintly at Elinor. "Yeah," she projected wearily through the Polyphonic Nexus, her every word sounding heavy and drained. "Wake us... in, like uh, two hours or if anything unusual happens, like radio contact."

She repeated that over the nexus in case anyone, like Toph, was on a different channel, and added, "Cera, you seem freshest. Can you keep watch in the meantime, and wake us up if anything happens?"
Cera seemed to respond to Elinor's request as if she had been ordered. She quickly replied in the military manner of her people. "Your will, dentalla." Her red-brown alien eyes examined Iris. "Unit One. You will assist."

Iris sounded genuinely happy as she raised a pincer in salute. "This One is pleased to be of assistance, soldier of my saviors!"

Cera cringed. Incomplete, with no weapons or kills to call her own, and less than only six feet tall instead of forty-plus, she felt like anything but a soldier. And yet the scrath's cheer got a mild grin out of Cera. It felt good to be appreciated and Unit One was never known to lie. Fortified by this, the Ura-Meltrandi sat up in her chair and watched the skies, sea, and Valkyrie instrumentation as if their very lives depended upon it.

"Spaceman Sam" saw this interaction and heard Elinor's reply. It caused him to literally hop for joy while MechaKitten hung on and protested as cats do when anything takes place in the universe that is not their idea. Sam then turned southward. He seemed to stare off into the distance. He did not move like a person suffering from fatigue but rather with the eagerness of an eternal explorer. The waves of the open water in the Gulf of Mexico tossed endlessly. The gorgeous golden glow of the Floridian dawn warmed everything under its beams. The sky held only a few giant passing clouds as company to the Wild Cards.

* * *​

Mario's energy was like that of every young man who was taking part in the dreams of his childhood. He had survived the Assault Scout! There were new races on Earth! He got to fire a nuclear device from his cannon! The Wild Cards had recovered the tank General Steele wanted! They had faced danger after danger, battle after battle, and mystery upon mystery and lived to tell about it! He could go on like this forever! How exciting! How--

If Mario was the type to snore, at least there was no one else in his tank's cockpit to hear it. Fatigue had finally caught up with the tanker.

* * *​

Toph, too, was not immune to her body's demands, and she had been demanding more from her spirit, mind, and body then she ever had in her life. Both sides of her bloodlines were flat out of juice. Either she recharged her body's "batteries" or she chanced making some irreversible mistake. She did not need to be a doctor or fighter pilot to know this. The sounds of the thrusters endless firing began to lull her.

Toph closed her eyes for "just a moment". The darkness and silence that followed was as wonderful as it was necessary.

Still, her stomach grumbled...

* * * * *​

Dreamtime can be a wonderful thing. Not that your characters slept long enough to really dream this morning, but just the idea of being deep in a peaceful slumber is a heavenly idea. Especially after the past 24 hours your team has experienced. And as for sleeping in a mega-suit inside of a mecha hovering just 100 feet above vast waters? Sleeping in a mega-suit is more comfortable than one might imagine. Custom-made to the contours of your body with padding in the right spots, internal air conditioning, and microcomputers to keep you comfortable - it's like being in your own personal little hotel suite.

So you can perhaps imagine how shocking it is when you hear Cera yelling, "CONTACT!! ARISE! CONTACT!!" straight into your mind thanks to the Polyphonic Nexus!

With a sudden gasp from each of you, suddenly you were sitting up in your seats. Your chests were rising and falling with heavy breaths, eyes wide open, while your minds tried to remember where in the hell you were and what it was you were doing there.

But if nothing else, you felt somewhat refreshed!

"CONTACT!!" Cera repeated and pointed, her tone aggressive and ready for battle. "Twenty degrees starboard! Range, one thousand meters and closing slowly! It is under the water!"

What she was talking about, none of you had any idea. You were groggy, bleary-eyed, and in the throes of that physical confusion people get when they are surprised out of a deep sleep, but, boy, were you up and awake now!

Your ships were still hovering. Mario had not slipped out of Elinor's or Shirley's grasps to his doom. Cera had Elinor's Valkyrie's missiles aimed on the thing with the firing safeties off. Spaceman Sam still stood on the main body of the Super Tomahawk, his hand raised in salute. Iris was calm, absently petting MechaKitten who was also sitting, but not saluting. The three of them were facing southward and watching the approaching thing in the water. The sun hung a little higher in the sky than you remembered...

... and something very, very large was darkening the water with its sheer size. It was far larger than any of your mecha.

And it was slowly coming right at you...
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mario snags a bottle of water and takes a quick drink, feeling almost human again. Ok ok ok. You are awake and alive, with some huge-assed thing under the water, coming right towards us. Let's try a comms check. "Mack? If memory serves, we have those cutting-edge submersible carriers out there; maybe it's one of them coming to give us a lift? Permission to try to establish contact with it?"

As he talks, he does a quick check on the radio to see if he can catch a incoming signal of any kind. Come on, come on! There's got to be someone talking out there somewhere, right?
APFSDS x 30/24 rounds (Range: 4 miles. 3D6x10 M.D.)
HEAT x 6/6 rounds (Range: 2.2 miles. 2D6x10 M.D.)
MPAT x 6/5 rounds (Range: 2.2 miles. 2D6x10 M.D. to a 50 foot radius)
Plasma x 6/6 rounds (Range: 1.5 miles. 2D8x10 M.D. to a 25 foot radius and an additional 4D8 M.D. per minute for 1D6+1 minutes

Main Body: 475 / 250
Left Shield: 500 / 290
Right Shield: 500 / 230

Currently in battloid mode

In the Hover Tank
Number of Attacks: 8
Strike: +10 / +12 with the EU-11
Parry: +16
Dodge: +15 / +17 in Transport Mode from Combat Driving
Roll With Punch: +6
Disarm: +3
Pull Punch: +4
Initiative: +3
Action Points: 8 (2)
 
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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph jerks awake, both glad of the little bit of sleep she had and shocked that she couldn't keep awake any longer. Taking control of her Cookie Monster, she puts on a bit of speed and raises up her altitude to stand as over watch on the near helpless trio below (no offense meant to Spaceman Sam, but he is still an unknown factor and is not a part of the team - yet).

"Radar is on, and I've got my eyes open and searching for contacts. Just hold on down there, guys."
Currently in helicopter mode

Toph's/Muppet's Ajax munitions:
2 / 15 Mini Fragmentation 5d6 MDC
0 / 15 Plasma/Heat 1d6x10 MDC
and 24 / 30 HEAP 1d4x10 MDC

Muppet's Ajax (170 / 400 M.D.C.)

Number of Attacks: 7
Strike: +12
Parry: +13
Dodge: +14/+18 to Auto Dodge While Flying
Roll: +7
Initiative: +4
Action Points: 8 +3
 
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Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Elinor jerks awake at Cera's call, eyes instantly turning first to the outside, then to her displays, to see what Cera meant. Her next thought was for the precarious position they were still in. "Mack, Mario, Cera, do not fire unless you've done the reaction calcs first! Recoil could drop us into the drink before you know your feet are wet!" By "us" she really meant Mario and his tank, but it all came to the same thing at the moment. Resuming her normal calm, she added, "Recommend we take a higher position in any case, don't know when that thing's gonna stop, if it intends to. Say the word and I'll pass you the numbers, Mack."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"Suicide Mission" by Jack Wall, Sam Hulick, David Kates & Jimmy Hinson for the Mass Effect 2 Original Soundtrack

There were no handy bottles of water in the Veritech Hover Tank, so Mario had what water was left from his canteen. From a look on his wristwatch, it seems the Wild Cards have been hovering here for just over an hour. Mario's body told him this was not nearly enough, but again, it was far better than nothing.

Outside the SDF-1, Mario had never seen a submersible carrier. All he knew was that this thing is the size of a military naval ship, decidedly larger than a nuclear submarine, but certainly smaller than an aircraft carrier. Then again, it was under the water and Mario had no idea of its depth. Without knowing that, he could only guess.

Mario leaned forward and took to the Veritech Hover Tank's communication instrumentation. He knew for certain that the aircraft-based veritechs in the squadron would have communication gear that would put to shame anything inside a tank (600 mile base range as opposed to the VHT's 200 mile range).

He received static, even now.

As a communication specialist, Mario's education told him this made no sense. He continued to work his magic with the limited communication gear provided in the VHT-A1's console. Then he came to a solid conclusion - the Wild Cards's radio communications were being jammed! All channels, almost all signals. Nothing in or out. Out there in the Gulf of Mexico, they were deaf as well as mute except with each other. The sole exception was the squadron channel. It was the only thing alive Mario could find.

"Mario?" Shirley called, sounding calm but alert. "What have you got?"

"Mack? If memory serves, we have those cutting-edge submersible carriers out there; maybe it's one of them coming to give us a lift? Permission to try to establish contact with it?"
Shirley woke up and had no earthly idea where she was. At first, she thought she was waking up in her officer's quarters to the smell of the fire that destroyed all of her clothes. She did not realize it, but she was reliving the day before from her about to jump into Baby to make it to the Assembly with Colonel Sharp and General Steele all over again.

How it was a relief to suddenly realize she was in the cockpit of the Red Baroness instead!

She saw what was coming and remembered where they were as it all came flooding back into her like one big rush. It took her a moment to reply to Mario. "If that thing is on our side, then no one told me about it! Then again, most of this mission's been that way, hasn't it?" She cast a doubtful eye to the radio. "Is it working again? I tried to raise the colonel, but all I got was noise! If you can get through, do it!"

* * *​

The Gulf of Mexico yawned wide and blue before Toph's eyes. The weather and time of day were almost ideal as could be for flying; only a few massive clouds far away blocked her view. Toph scanned her instrumentation and could bet her pink hair on it - the Wild Cards and the Super Tomahawk were the only things in the sky near here.

* * *​

Seeing the vast size of the thing darkening the water coming toward them, it was almost a certainty that mecha-sized weapons were going to be of little use. Still, Shirley mustered up the courage to ask Elinor for the altitude calculations. "Sure, why not?" she said, using humor to try and counter her fear.

Cera responded to Elinor by way of a strange, confused expression. Don't fire on this thing, whatever it was? Mario was only a male; they were easily replaceable just as Cera was. But then, thinking that, Cera realized she was probably wrong on both fronts. Mario, she told herself for the upteenth time, was a human male, not a clone. They were born, whatever that was. As for herself, Cera faced facts. She was the only surviving member of the 2nd generation Ura-Meltrandi. The rest of that generation died while still in their body banks. Incomplete. Without glory or honor. Helpless. Cera shuddered.

Then she took a good look at Spaceman Sam. Her thumb flipped on the safety on the fire control and her hand fell from the stick. Her jaw opened in silent shock.

What do the Wild Cards do?
 
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Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Elinor noted her safeties coming back on and nodded in relief. Then she realized Cera's attention was elsewhere -- and a very specific elsewhere at that. She followed the Meltrandi's gaze and realized something she hadn't noticed before. Over the squadron channel, she asked, "Er, Sam? These friends of yours or something?"

While she waited for a response, she went ahead and did the calculations for getting the Mack-Mario-Elinor trio of mecha to what she considered to be a safer altitude. A hundred yards ought to do it for now, she figured; at any rate it would give them time to move again if need be. When she was done, she passed on the info to Shirley.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Gang? I have been looking forward to writing this post for over two years. Hang on to your hats! =) )

"Extended Galaxy Map Theme" by by Jack Wall, Sam Hulick, David Kates, & Jimmy Hinson for the Mass Effect 1-3 Original Soundtracks

Elinor guided Shirley and Mario up from 100 feet off the water to 300. She realized traveling vertically was not so difficult; traveling horizontally was the challenge. It could certainly be done safely, but not quickly, and nowhere near fast enough to escape the shadow of whatever it was below them in the deep.

The vast, oval shadow crept forward unceasingly. If one had to guess, the thing was not aimed at all at the veritechs, but the Super Tomahawk upon which MechaKitten and Iris stood and "Spaceman Sam" saluted. Sam lowered his arm and returned to his cockpit. A moment later, the roaring thrusters keeping the great machine aloft roared louder. Iris and MechaKitten flattened themselves out as the Super Tomahawk rose to an altitude matching yours. Once there, Iris and MechaKitten relaxed. Then Sam returned and stood precisely where he had before, walking calmly along looking high-tech space suit-clad astronaut exploring some far-off world. His body returned to attention stance, his fingers returning to sharp salute. There he remained.

Over the squadron channel, she asked, "Er, Sam? These friends of yours or something?"
All of the Wild Cards noticed the one live channel they had was coming in clear - crystal clear. More clear than it had before. Elinor sounded as if she were speaking from your cockpit instead of inside her own. But how?

Sam's head turned a touch when the squadron channel came to life. Very slowly, very meaningfully, Sam nodded twice. Then he glanced at Cera. Iris and MechaKitten followed his stare toward the rear seat of Elinor's Valkyrie.

Cera both spoke and transmitted her thoughts into the Polyphonic Nexus. Amazed, she recited. "'The key to the Broadsword is the key to the Maelstrom!'" She put her hands in her lap and away from her fire controls. Her battle-lust disappeared, replaced by calm awe as she stared at that great shape in the gulf.

"Leader Mack, Dentella Elly Nor, Toph Kirin, Mario... the Super Tomahawk is that key... Lord Dalzak's Zeki-Zentraedi did not find it. My War-queen Taniya and we Ura-Meltrandi did not find it. You did. The Wild Card Debran Traversers." She sighed in disbelief. "It was here on Earth all this time..."

"What, Cera?" Shirley asked in trepidation and wonder. "What was here?"

"The Normandy Reborn (Extended)" by Jack Wall, Sam Hulick, David Kates, & Jimmy Hinson for the Mass Effect 2 Original Soundtrack

"Spaceman Sam" turned back toward the gargantuan shape in the water.

The oval shape in the water grew and grew as it came closer toward the Super Tomahawk. The entire thing seemed to pause in the water, holding its position about 400 feet from your position. The oval shape slowly rose like a sleeping giant out of the water. It was nearly 200 meters long and some 60 meters wide. It's beautiful hull gleamed a polished red and silver in the dawn's light as sheets of water poured from it down into the gulf. The water momentarily shrouded lettering on its hull.

It was a starship unlike any ever imagined.

Partial Lettering across the bow... "CL-107 BRO"
With these colors, "maw" open.

SCL-107 Broadsword - Garfish with Synchro Cannon.jpg
(Image credit: Seesaa Wiki)

Katana from seesaawiki.jp.jpg
(Image credit:seesaawiki.jp)

The Starship rose until it completely filled your view. It was like nothing made by Lord Dolza's Zentraedi nor Commander Lisara's Meltrandi nor anything made by anyone in the United Earth Government. An eerie feeling crept over each one of you, for this ship seemed from the beyond.

"What does that say?" A small laugh escaped 1st Lieutenant Shirley Mackenzie's lips. "Oh my God..."

It was then the great rivulets of water fell away revealing...

SDCL-107 BROADSWORD

The Starship hovered but 400 feet away. Cera sat stunned. Iris remained motionless. MechaKitten spazzed out and ran around in hyperactive little circles.

Spaceman Sam's salute remained steadfast.

What do you do?
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mario first reports, "All of our long range communications are being actively jammed, from an emitter that is more powerful than what any of us have on our mecha. At a guess, that thing under the water is the source, since it seems to be right on to of us. Probably not one of our submersible carriers or else why jam out of signals?"

He feels like a huge target, sitting here totally exposed and unable to maneuver or shoot back. He hated it, being so helpless. He wonders what is about to happen now.

Then the shadowy figure under the water begins to rise up, and the young tanker stares in open-mouthed amazement, his eyes darting over the hull as more and more of the ship is exposed. "That doesn't match any Zentraedi ship I've ever seen! It almost looks human made with the linear lines of the hull! Hot damn, that is one beautiful ship. I would kill to be able to look at the systems on that baby. Sam? Is that where you came from? That ship?"
APFSDS x 30/24 rounds (Range: 4 miles. 3D6x10 M.D.)
HEAT x 6/6 rounds (Range: 2.2 miles. 2D6x10 M.D.)
MPAT x 6/5 rounds (Range: 2.2 miles. 2D6x10 M.D. to a 50 foot radius)
Plasma x 6/6 rounds (Range: 1.5 miles. 2D8x10 M.D. to a 25 foot radius and an additional 4D8 M.D. per minute for 1D6+1 minutes

Main Body: 475 / 250
Left Shield: 500 / 290
Right Shield: 500 / 230

Currently in battloid mode

In the Hover Tank
Number of Attacks: 8
Strike: +10 / +12 with the EU-11
Parry: +16
Dodge: +15 / +17 in Transport Mode from Combat Driving
Roll With Punch: +6
Disarm: +3
Pull Punch: +4
Initiative: +3
Action Points: 8 (2)
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Sam nodded.

This, but with white armor and the words "Spaceman Sam" painted across his chest.
Spaceman Sam - VR-052-Cyclone-MOSPEADA-Veritech-Motorcycle-109.jpg
(Image credit: Mecha Journal)

"Space Suit" by They Might Be Giants (because it's easy-going, kind of adventurous, and so very "Sam"). =)
 
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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph stares at the rising ship in amazement as she banked her Ajax around the rest of the team. Her mind was racing, trying to figure out if that class of ship had ever been built by the RDF or the ASC.

"I've never seen a ship like that before! But look at it! It's clearly not Zentraedi; it's nowhere even close to any of their known designs."
Currently in helicopter mode

Toph's/Muppet's Ajax munitions:
2 / 15 Mini Fragmentation 5d6 MDC
0 / 15 Plasma/Heat 1d6x10 MDC
and 24 / 30 HEAP 1d4x10 MDC

Muppet's Ajax (170 / 400 M.D.C.)

Number of Attacks: 7
Strike: +12
Parry: +13
Dodge: +14/+18 to Auto Dodge While Flying
Roll: +7
Initiative: +4
Action Points: 8 +3
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Elinor's character sheet
Action Points: 4/6

In the Valkyrie:
Initiative: +4 = +1 JKD, +2 MECT, +1 Valkyrie
Number of Attacks: 6 (+4 JKD, +2 MECT)
Ranged Strike: +9 = +4 PP, +2 JKD, +2 Valkyrie, +1 Weapon Systems
Ranged Strike with GU-11 gun pod: +10 = +4 PP, +2 JKD, +2 Valkyrie, +1 Weapon Systems, +1 GU-11
Missiles will have their own Strike which is generally 4 = +3 missile, +1 Weapon Systems
Melee Strike: +10 = +4 PP, +2 JKD, +2 MECT, +2 Valkyrie
Parry: +12 = +4 PP, +3 JKD, +1 Athletics, +1 MECT, +3 Valkyrie
--Automatic Parry (Jeet Kune Do)
Dodge: +15 while flying = +4 PP, +3 JKD, +1 Athletics, +2 Combat Flying, + 2 MECT, +3 Valkyrie
--Automatic dodge while flying
Auto dodge while flying in fighter mode: +16 = +4 PP, +3 JKD, +1 Athletics, +2 Combat Flying, + 2 MECT, +4 Valkyrie
Roll with impact: +10 while flying = +1 Athletics, +2 Gymnastics, +3 Combat Flying, +1 MECT, +3 Valkyrie
Disarm: +1 = +4 PP, +1 MECT
Pull punch: +6 = +4 PP, +2 MECT

M.D.C. by Location
*Sensor Head – 100
Arms (2) – 125 each
Hands (2) – 50 each
Utility Arms (3 in right forearm) – 10 each
Legs (2) – 150 each
Feet/Vectored Thrust Nozzles (2) – 100 each
**Wings (2) – 150 each
***Vertical Stabilizers (2) – 75 each
Head Weapons (1A has 1, 1J has 2, 1R has 3, 1S has 4) – 50 each
GU-11 Gun Pod – 150
Wing Hardpoints (2 each) – 20 each
Reinforced Pilot’s Compartment – 175
****Main Body – 170/350 M.D.C.

Valkyrie munitions:
- GU-11 Gun Pod (21/25 bursts)
- two sets (7/10 missiles total) of HEAP SRMs
- one set (5/5 missiles) of Fragmentation SRMs
- one set (15/15 mini-missiles) of HEAP minis
It seemed getting just that little bit of sleep had restored Elinor's ability to be dumbfounded. Like the others, she stared at the enigmatic spaceship that had appeared from beneath the waves. Half-unknowingly she wondered aloud, "But where's it from?" Her voice was awed by the sight before them, and slightly hushed. Spaceships she'd seen before, of course, and even flown a few times as prep for her career as a test pilot, but this was nothing like any of them, nor anything human-, Zentraedi-, or Meltrandi-made she'd ever heard of. "Uh, Sam? What do we do now? They know we're friends?"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"The Enterprise" by Jerry Goldsmith" (I can't resist listening to this during this scene. =) )

"Uh, Sam? What do we do now? They know we're friends?"
Sam nodded again, this time slowly and confidently. Or perhaps it was relief. It was hard to tell when you could not see a face but instead a spacesuit's dome reflecting whatever it shone back upon the beholder. Sam turned and faced you as the colossal vessel, beautiful in the dawn's light, drifted ever closer toward you. Iris took a few hesitant steps back but MechaKitten ran over to her front leg and tugged on it in the direction of the ship. Iris stopped resisting and took in the magnificent view.

As the Broadsword closed within a football field of your position, you saw the middle hatch in the center of its three bottom-most hatches yawn open. Inside was a tremendously spacious landing bay meant for some kind of aircraft or perhaps mecha. You could see it was empty of vehicles, but full of attractive machinery that appeared both useful and aesthetically-pleasing; this lended to the idea that what it handled came out the same way.

The ship closed in very slowly. It was clear it was picking up the Super Tomahawk and everyone on board. Iris picked up MechaKitten and looked back toward you. Sam turned and watched you too. He beckoned with a lively wave of his arm. The Broadsword, he seemed to think, was no threat to you. In fact, from the way the starship had angled itself, it was in a position to swallow up all of your mecha. And after that? Who knew what would happen?

However, nor were you under any obligation to accept this invitation. You could instead make the slow flight north to the Florida Panhandle and try to restore radio communications. But that would mean leaving Spaceman Sam and the Broadsword behind. Iris and MechaKitten seemed intent on joining you.

Your fate was in your hands. It seemed like a very good time to talk about it if you were going to.

"All right, Wild Cards," Shirley prodded in her best attempt at being non-biased. "What hand are we gonna play here? We gonna fold or are we all in?"
 
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Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Elinor remembered a line from an old movie that seemed appropriate. "Mack, like they said in one of my mom's old films, 'I think we'd prefer to go with the bizarre and risky. It's worked for us so far.' " She grinned at the video feed, then added, "Sam's done right by us so far. If he trusts these guys, we probably can too. And just think, not only have we found the Broadsword but we can go inside her! And actually, I'd guess it's a whole lot less risky than tryin' to hover us across the Gulf of Mexico. I'm all for all-in."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mario chuckles. "Its not like we have a whole lot of options right now. If I have a vote, I'd say to go for it and let this ship pick us up. Once we are onboard, we may be able to get some answers about Spaceman Sam and this Super Tomahawk, not to mention this strange ship that no one has ever heard of before."
APFSDS x 30/24 rounds (Range: 4 miles. 3D6x10 M.D.)
HEAT x 6/6 rounds (Range: 2.2 miles. 2D6x10 M.D.)
MPAT x 6/5 rounds (Range: 2.2 miles. 2D6x10 M.D. to a 50 foot radius)
Plasma x 6/6 rounds (Range: 1.5 miles. 2D8x10 M.D. to a 25 foot radius and an additional 4D8 M.D. per minute for 1D6+1 minutes

Main Body: 475 / 250
Left Shield: 500 / 290
Right Shield: 500 / 230

Currently in battloid mode

In the Hover Tank
Number of Attacks: 8
Strike: +10 / +12 with the EU-11
Parry: +16
Dodge: +15 / +17 in Transport Mode from Combat Driving
Roll With Punch: +6
Disarm: +3
Pull Punch: +4
Initiative: +3
Action Points: 8 (2)
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph slows her flight speed to a near hover as she pulls up next to the others. "I can't say that I'm not nervous, but we'll never be able to live with ourselves if we don't take this chance to go inside the Broadsword. I say we go for it." As she talks, Toph reaches out and shifts her Ajax into is Battloid mode and continues to hover. "Besides, if we wanted safe and sound, we wouldn't be considered some of the finest that the ASC has to offer."
Currently in Battloid mode

Toph's/Muppet's Ajax munitions:
2 / 15 Mini Fragmentation 5d6 MDC
0 / 15 Plasma/Heat 1d6x10 MDC
and 24 / 30 HEAP 1d4x10 MDC

Muppet's Ajax (170 / 400 M.D.C.)

Number of Attacks: 7
Strike: +12
Parry: +13
Dodge: +14/+18 to Auto Dodge While Flying
Roll: +7
Initiative: +4
Action Points: 8 +3
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"Main Title" by James Horner from the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Expanded Motion Picture Soundtrack

From inside the crimson Valkyrie, Mack relaxed. A soft smile crossed her lips. The adventuress in her was equalled by the adventurer in every Wild Card - they were all in! She had dearly wanted to head inside the unknown starship, especially seeing that it was evidently an ally of Spaceman Sam and it had identifiers on its shiny hull written in English. She had so many questions, she dared not start to think of them lest the rest waterfall over her and take away her train of thought.

She contacted Sam over the Wild Cards' squadron channel. "All right, Sam, you silent, spacey beach bum! We accept! Gratefully, too! Just tell us what we need to do. However... you can... do that."

Spaceman Sam turned to the Red Baroness and nodded once. Then he pointed at the spacious hangar awaiting them. There, in the crisp, clean bay, came three other humanoids wearing the same kind of mega-damage spacesuit Sam possessed. There were two women and one man from the shapes of them, each with bright gold displayed upon their helmets and chests. Long wands flashed red in their hands as the three spread out in the hangar.

Spaceman Sam casually tapped Iris on the pincer in a way that suggested she stay put. Then "he" scooped up MechaKitten and with the aid of his forearm-mounted magnetic grapple-gun, he reentered the roaring Super Tomahawk. The pilot compartment sealed up. Then, each of the Wild Cards heard a distinctly-strange, rapid-fire beeping come over the squadron channel. In moments, you realized what it was - Morse code. But super fast! Only a master of the code could listen to it and discern the full message. Then there was a response from the Super Tomahawk - a single clicking of the microphone which meant "I copy you" or "O.K.".

In what can only be described as a delicate and awe-inspiring procedure, the Super Tomahawk and the Broadsword seemed to communicate with such precision as to be near-perfect. The starship crept in ever so slowly while the augmented destroid's upper-rear thrusters blasted away to full throttle, carefully righting the entire mech from supine to standing position. Just as the Super Tomahawk had returned to its giant metal feet, Sam had something to put them on. The Super Tomahawk touched down on the deck and followed along one of Sam's crewmates to make room for all of you.

And there was plenty of room to go around.

Lights and electronic sounds on the squadron channel from the Broadsword alerted Elinor and Mario. Machine-gun-quick beeps, both long and short, came over the radio. Instantly, the Wild Cards's HUDs responded and translated. "H-O-L-D P-O-S-I-T-I-O-N." Light-wands from the crew instructed Elinor to stay where she was. Crimson and white, the Broadsword adjusted its course ever so slightly upwards and was on course to collect Elinor, Mario, and Mack. With fascinating slowness, the Wild Cards were carefully engulfed by the enormous bay while the golden light of the dawn lit their way.

"D-E-C-R-E-A-S-E T-H-R-U-S-T." Elinor and Shirley's HUDs read. Elinor could easily see her golden-clad male guide open his arms wide at his sides, wands out, and raise them into an "x" over his head as both Valkyries gently made contact with the bay followed by Mario's Veritech Hover Tank. "A-L-L S-T-O-P." The HUDs read. The veritechs' feet touched down. One by one, your engines ceased flaring and shut down into a blessed silence. The firmness of something strong and solid supporting you was a terrific feeling!

Finally, the third of the golden trio blinked her wands at Toph as another rapid-fire stream of Morse code came through. Toph received similar instructions and in moments her Ajax in helicopter mode rested comfortably on the hull as the whirling rotor blades cut off and eventually came to a well-deserved stop.

Canopies opened for what felt like the first time in ages. All of the Wild Card pilots save Mario felt like their bodies were made of wood and stuck in their sitting positions. You had been in these cockpits for so many hours that it took a few long moments to work the proper muscles just to stand up again. But, boy, did it feel good to do so.

You watched the great hatch of the hangar bay close up as you felt the entire starship beneath you noticeably descend. The radiant golden sun seemed to wave a cheerful farewell as you lost sight of it. The engines of each of your mecha were quite warm despite their mega-damage housings and for the first time, you saw the damage to each of your machines first-hand. Only the Red Baroness and the Super Tomahawk had come out unscathed.

A young woman's voice came over the bay speakers. It was a calm, controlled voice that seemed to inspire the same. "All hands," the voice said, "prepare to dive in T-minus 30 seconds."

One by one, in the natural way of human beings, the Wild Cards gathered. Shirley took off her helmet and her black, curly hair just about exploded before it fell down her shoulders. With spirited blue eyes and tanned skin that only surfers seemed to possess, she gave all of you a thumbs-up. "We did it!" she smiled. "I'm not sure what we've done, but we've done it!"

Cera, her black bodysuit untarnished, came forward in a very military manner. She stood at attention between Elinor and Mack. "We have found the Broadsword," she stated, her red-brown eyes staring seriously. "Before the Zeki-Zentraedi, before my War-Queen Taniya, before The Enemy, we have found the means to alter the course of the Maelstrom forever." Cera slipped off her helmet and pushed her tidy brown braid off of her shoulder. "Leader Mack... we have made history!"

Iris joined you. Her long limbs crossed the floor as gracefully and as quietly as a hunter-born. Her eyes were a happy, animated green. She stood tall with pride. Without a word, she looked all around the bay in childlike wonder. She was like a girl in her favorite museum.

Finally, Spaceman Sam strode with MechaKitten perched on his shoulder. Sam's dome was, as always, shiny and reflective and providing you no facial features of any kind. MechaKitten on the other hand positively beamed. The little mecha-critter flashed his teeth in feline pride.

All of you shared a feeling not often felt in life. It was success. It was reason for great, perhaps life-changing, satisfaction. It was the feeling of having done the impossible. Yesterday was behind you. All that you had done since the Assembly, since entering the ghostly town of Milton and meeting Iris, since defiantly facing the Scavengers in their Frankenmecha, since entering the Zeki-Zentraedi Assault Scout, since meeting War-Queen Taniya, since losing Sgt. Booty, since battling and defeating the Beastmaster and his squadron, since discovering "Fat Man" and "Little Boy", since being reinforced by Col. Sharp and the only A.T.A.C. company of Veritech Hover Tanks, since firing off a nuclear device and escaping death, and now this - the discovery of the SDCL-107 Broadsword.

Yes, there was a great deal more to do. Col. Sharp had no idea of your whereabouts. General Steele still lacked the Veritech Hover Tank that Mario now piloted. And more. So much more.

But this hour belonged to all of you.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Once Mario's borrowed tank is finally down on the deck and free from the double grip of the two Valkyries holding him up from a watery grave, he walks his mecha forward to get clear of the two ladies hovering above him. He then transforms his mecha into its transport mode and follows directions from the ground guides on where to park his rig. With the engines powered down, the tired tanker slowly climbs down onto the deck and stretches, feeling his spine popping and cracking as he does so.

Mario leaves the SAW in the tank, but doesn't bother to remove his sidearm.

Looking about, he takes in the vast hangar bay with interest before turning to look at the deck hands, instinctively looking for some kind of rank insignia. In any case, he will position himself in front of the trio and goes to the position of attention and snaps off a salute. "Corporal Mario Zuko of the Wild Cards Squadron, ATAC of the Army of the Southern Cross out of Eglin Base."
APFSDS x 30/24 rounds (Range: 4 miles. 3D6x10 M.D.)
HEAT x 6/6 rounds (Range: 2.2 miles. 2D6x10 M.D.)
MPAT x 6/5 rounds (Range: 2.2 miles. 2D6x10 M.D. to a 50 foot radius)
Plasma x 6/6 rounds (Range: 1.5 miles. 2D8x10 M.D. to a 25 foot radius and an additional 4D8 M.D. per minute for 1D6+1 minutes

Main Body: 475 / 250
Left Shield: 500 / 290
Right Shield: 500 / 230

Currently in transport mode

In the Hover Tank
Number of Attacks: 8
Strike: +10 / +12 with the EU-11
Parry: +16
Dodge: +15 / +17 in Transport Mode from Combat Driving
Roll With Punch: +6
Disarm: +3
Pull Punch: +4
Initiative: +3
Action Points: 8 (2)
 
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