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@Turbowraith Don't worry about that too much, I think we're heading into the Deadzone for a bit of down-time, more than enough opportnity to replace his stuff at the black market. Besides that, we've got a great weaponsmith aboard (if I do say so myself) If Joe's gear isn't properly recovered, it'll be easily replaced!
@Silver Carrot Accepted! Welcome aboard. There's gonna be a slight delay before you can join us, because the team is currently on a mission, but we are in the endgame of it so hopefully it won't take too long! Sorry about that. (I haven't forgotten about you either @Zardoric!)

On that note, @Banana@Azereiah@Turbowraith@mackielars@Rultaos@Tickout@Xandrya@PlatinumSkink Everyone ok with concluding the mission after another round or 2 of posts?
@PlatinumSkink Well, consider the Federation, the largest entity in the known universe, a conglomerate of dozens of species. The concept that every single one of their millions of soldiers would be highly skilled is unrealistic, especially considering a job like this, where they were never meant to be assaulted in this manner, so yeah, I think Lataniva should be able to carve them up like turkeys, especially when their main focus was on trying to avenge their fallen leader, that was all well-within reason!
@Banana@Azereiah@BKburke

"I'll give you this much Sepitan, we get out of this alive, you've definitely earned your pay" Stryker said, as he turned his attention over to the flashing on his datapad that signalled another drone had fallen. Including the one he'd retasked to Grayson's location, there were only 3 left. They were definitely living up to their reputation as glass cannons. A message came in from 772, area secured. He pushed back a command to have them fall back to the shuttles and re-secure the hangar for exfiltration.
"Energy readings are spiking again, and the system is just getting more crowded up here with every blast that strikes a moon or one of the planets!" Stryker noted, both to present company and into the comms channel "Bomb squad, status update?"

@Turbowraith@mackielars@Rultaos

"Arriving at reactor floor now" SAL replied as he stepped out of the freight elevator. He led the way down the short hallway and into a fairly tall, round room, some consoles lined the wall, and sections of the floor were thick glass, presumably to allow technicians to visually locate issues with the reactor before sending a drone into the lead-lined chamber below. It was strangely unguarded
"Curious" SAL noted aloud before engaging his optic scanners and doing a wide sweep of the room.

He turned to Benny and began to offer his gathered intel to the explosives expert.
"The reactor is in the room directly below us. This would appear to be an observation deck of sorts. My scans indicate that a rupture to this room's integrity would be enough to allow the reactor to backfire upwards through the station, as per our objective. A cluster of explosives set at the center point, as well as on the ceiling directly above would cause the main structural damage. A second pair of charges set 9 feet off-center at 45 degrees to the main blast point would damage the main ventilation shafts, and a final charge 7 feet from center at 70 degrees, above the largest glass panel, would allow for a secondary point of access for the energy backfire. Do you agree?

@Tickout@Xandrya@PlatinumSkink

"Alright then" Grayson said, lowering his rifle to waist-level "This station's gonna go kaboom soon, we've got a team down below setting charges on the reactor core as we speak. Between them, the squadron of drones currently engaged in combat on the other end of this floor, and a psychopathic arsonist wandering around here somewhere, I'd say chances are you all might be the last Feds standing, and the odds of all of you makin' it out alive are slim, would ya agree?"

The voices started scratching at the inside of his head, nagging at him.
'Keep your guard up!'
'No relax, everything's fine!'
'Give the order, kill them all now!'
'Dive on Amy to keep her safe!'
'Talk, use your words.'

One voice jumped out head and shoulders above the rest.
'Keep it cool Danny, you're a professional at this, twist their arms just right'

“That’s fair,” Commander Xeltos finally said after a brief pause, then turned around to address his small group of men.

“Keep an eye on them, and use deadly force if you must.” The commander stared at his men for a moment to reassure that his order was also to be carried out against Amy if it was necessary. She wasn’t under his command anymore, and therefore she was considered the enemy, regardless of the fact that she was blood. But that’s the way it was for him, duty over family.

“Now, let’s attempt to reach a compromise…”

Commander Xeltos slowly walked towards Grayson with his weapon down by his side, and then the both of them walked away from the rest of the group to talk in private

Grayson followed along with the Commander, holding his rifle loosely near his hip. Just out of earshot from the others, Grayson decided to break the ice.
"So here's the facts mate, ball's in your court as it were. We need intel, whatever the fuck reason you all have for bein' out this far, we wanna know why. We were on the way up to your command center at the time to try and find some of that out actually, so how 'bout it?"

“Hmm, yes...of course. Unfortunately, I am under very strict orders that prevent me from disclosing any information which pertain to our mission. You know how it goes, we’re on a ‘need to know’ basis and unfortunately, you don’t fall within that bubble.” The commander stopped, and then turned to face Grayson. “I’m just pointing out the obvious here, but we’re clearly outnumbered. Due to such disadvantage, we will refrain from attacking you if you and the rest of your crew agree to leave this station at once. If not, I cannot guarantee the safety of any of you, including Amy.”

There was a small hint of emotion on Commander Xelto’s otherwise expressionless face when he mentioned his daughter’s name. Despite his words, he wasn’t too sure whether he himself believed them.

"Ok fine, we'll leave then, there is one problem though. Now, I'm no expert, but leakin' reactor cores are bad yeah? You get that one little puncture and it becomes a time bomb, only a matter of time now before it melts down, our bombs are just there to hasten it. And based on the craft ye got down in your hanger, none of yas are escapin' the blast. Now you seem like a reasonable chap, you know, you're only gettin' out of here on our ship, And the only way on our ship is if you give us a little information. Time's ticking on this offer, and to be perfectly honest, if ya don't mind my sayin' that the only reason you're gettin' the offer is because I fancy Amy a bit"

It was the first true thing he'd told Xeltos, he thought she was quite attractive and had enjoyed their brief time chatting back on the ship. She had an aura about her that he hadn't encountered in a woman in several years. Grayson had been coming to this slow realization since they'd been ordered to come find her. That he was geniunely concerned for her safety was the first real sign of it.

Commander Xeltos couldn’t help but smirk, although there was an obvious streak of sadness in his eyes. “That’s the problem with you humans…you let your emotions override any stretch of common sense.”

With rather unpredictable quickness, the commander tightened his grip on his weapon and aimed it directly at the group. More precisely, the laser dot fell on the small space in between Amy’s eyes. He had crazy-good aim, that which was made better by his enhanced vision.

“Since it is apparent that my daughter is a weakness of yours, I’ll have to ask you yet again to consider my offer. I’m not giving up information, and you’re not inflicting further damage upon this station. Have I made myself clear enough now?”

"Yeah" Grayson said "Perfectly clear. Heh, it's funny really, I'm nowhere close to being in charge. Leadership never suit me, and I never had a desire for power anyway, but here I am, an assassin who's worked alone his entire life, arguing for the lives of teammates I never wanted. What do they call that again? Ahh, the word is right on the tip of my tongue, its uhhh"

He brought his left hand up into view, snapped his fingers repeatedly, while subtly letting his rifle slide out of his other hand, it slipped lazily on its sling, its weight dragged down by the artificial gravity until the barrel scraped along the pristine white floor. His free hand grasped at his holstered pistol.

"Oh yeah, I remember the word. It's ironic. Just like it's ironic that I'm apologizing about a kill. Sorry about this"

With lightning-quick reflexes, Grayson's left hand struck out, grabbing the commander's wrist and pulled it away from his dead-aim on Amy. At the same time, he brought his pistol up and jabbed it under Xeltos' chin.

I'm sorry Amy. His finger tightened on the trigger, and squeezed.

BANG

The bullet exploded out the top of Xeltos' head. Immediately, the troopers spun to face them, guns raised. Acting quick, Grayson spun Xeltos' falling corpse between himself and the troopers, who in their knee-jerk reaction to retaliate, had left their backs entirely exposed. Maverick fell behind Xeltos, the alien's lifeless eyes stared back at him as he realized that, in his instinctual drop for cover, he hadn't paid much mind to his rifle, which was now trapped under his leg. Grayson had no choice but to inch a hand up to his helmet to reestablish comms.

"Lataniva, little help?!"

A burst of automatic fire boomed over the sound of the trooper's laser rifles, echoing off the walls of the tight hallway. Stryker's drone had finally arrived, and upon flagging enemy IFFs, opened fire into the crowd, tagging 2 of the troopers. 6 on 5 was closer to a fair fight at least. With a jolt of sudden realization, Grayson scrambled for the comms again.
"Maxi, shield Amy! The drone might see her as a hostile!"
@Rultaos Your call, I can whip up a quick post of the bomb squad arriving at the reactor and do some layout-establishing if you want.
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