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Thunder Dome
Sat Nov 5, 2011 12:51am

The Albatross maneuvered carefully through the constant buffeting winds of the Siberian tundra. Even with Jim Sikorsky's consummate skill the ride was far from pleasant. Inside the cabin every mercenary could hear the dull pops of stressing metal and the constant heavy whine of the transport's engines as the craft struggled to stay airborne. The tense atmosphere was doubly amplified by the fact that one could see nothing out the viewports but white. Sometime while the Freelancers were crossing the Pacific a major storm pattern that should not have existed came into being.

Meanwhile, in Malibu, a wizard examined the fresh ice-cubes in his drink critically then swirled the concoction with a philosophical air and went back to admiring the Brazilian dancer wriggling enticingly just past his feet.

It wasn't much better for Kaze's group on the ground. The mercs found that the 'transportation' Giles put together for them was a single Snow Prowler. A massive vehicle to be sure. But when one stuffed that many armored figures and their weapons into a single cabin things became cramped in a hurry.

All in all every Freelancer above and below was very excited about reaching Troska City.

***Troska City***

From the outside the mining complex looked like an incandescent pearl half-buried in the tundra. Only when the Albatross swooped closer did the various comm towers and data broadcasters become apparent.

Even the iridescence wasn't what it initially appeared to be. In truth Troska City was coated completely in a thick layer of ice that sparkled in the late-day sun.

Cocker leaned forward towards the cockpit. “Yo Demios.”

Demios quirked an eyebrow at the casual address. He'd been with the Freelance Reploids a long time and the sheer audacity of the rookies when it came to veterans never failed to surprise him. “Yes rookie?”

“So we're back on the squad system right, Techno, Magick, and Shadow yeah?”

“So I've been told rook. There's a point coming up yes?”

Cocker shrugged and grinned. “We ain't really any of those. So what's our squad name boss?”

Jim gave a tight laugh. “How about you survive this then pick a shiny squad name hm?”

You have entered Imperial airspace. Transmit FOF signature or leave airspace immediately. This is only warning.

Jim glanced over at Demios. “Friendly sort aren't they?

“Can't wait to meet the women.” Demios deadpanned.

Identity confirmed. Freelance Reploid Transport FRT-13 A. Proceed along designated flightpath. Do not deviate.

“Confirmed control.” Jim swung the nose of the Albatross about and set it on the transmitted flightpath.

“I wonder what sort of welcome the guys in the Snow Prowler are getting...”

The Snow Prowler was met just inside the wall by a nondescript black sedan with actual wheels. The sedan broadcast an order to stop on an Imperial band. Needless to say, the driver stopped.

From the car a thin man in a voluminous black coat emerged, tugging on skin-tight black gloves as he examined the battered Prowler with slanted Jade eyes.

Kaze, something like the elected leader of the band, was the first down the ramp to meet him.

“We're with the Freelance Reploids.”

“Yes. So I have been informed.” The man in black replied. As he moved a hand forward to clasp Kaze's the Freelancer noticed a curious silver pin almost covered by the collar of the man's coat. It was practically a button but with a straw broom imprinted on it.


Kaze shook the man's hand.

“My name is Wan. I am here to escort you through the city.”

“I'm sure we could find our own way. I imagine the Baron's in that gigantic fortress over there.”

“Indeed.” Wan agreed. “This escort is at the Baron's request and for your own safety.” If the man in black thought there was anything funny about saying that to a group of heavily armed and armored mercenaries it did not show on his angled features. So Kaze refrained from laughing as well. One of his band was less scrupulous. Wan's eyes flicked briefly to the mercenary's face then returned to Kaze's.

“Okay Wan. Lead on.”

The walk through the city was a lesson in drab décor. The buildings were rectangular with rounded edges and all at nearly the same height. The people wore primarily gray jumpsuits with the occasional flash of color due to what Kaze assumed were rank insignia or perhaps group identifiers.

Everywhere they looked the Freelancers saw dull decay reinforced by the uniformly gray world sealed inside the dome.

It was worse for Shinsei. Always something of a bleeding heart the young mage found herself almost choking on sympathy and rage. A figure brushed briefly against her, she saw a flash of carrot-red hair and it was gone.

Startled, she looked around then down at her hand. A crumpled bit of paper resided there where nothing had been before. Checking to see that Wan was occupied she unfolded the paper and read quickly.

'We know why you're here. Don't trust the Baron. We have something to barter for the help of you and the other mercenaries. Contact us.'

After that was a comm frequency.

Shinsei tucked the note in her pocket and looked towards Kaze's back.

Not an hour in the city and already things are complicated. She sighed. He's really not going to like this.

NRP: Okay guys, we're about ready to start. The group on the Albatross under Demios will be met and led into the Baron's chamber once Kaze's group arrives. Figure maybe one or two reaction posts to the world and I'll get down to more of the nitty gritty of the business.

Sorry for the long wait.

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