Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by FourtyTwo
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Somewhere over New Ireland, Papua New Guinea
0600 Hours

The grey-coloured V22 Osprey was a magnificant warbird, if your classification of magnificent was an ugly hunk of metal that flew only thanks to a pair of very powerful, variable angle turboprop rotors. And inside sat our two, the VTOL subcontracted in from a Australian-based aviation firm to support Iron Wolf's operation here, a specialist assault that needed not so much numbers but a show of firepower and direct attack. The cost of deploying this way and using very expensive but then again, the reward from this was huge. The thick foliage could be seen through the thick banks of cloud coating the rainforest, the white puffs illuminated by a pink sunrise past a distant peak sticking out of the thick cloud. It was not your usual warzone this- there was nothing here at all apart from thick rainforest, well, not apart from the mining facility they were taking back that was a distant brown scar on the landscape. An unnatural crevice in an otherwise untouched, verdantly green landscape.

Sitting across from each other, the two titans were ready to go, Tobias sitting armoured up with his helmet off and his hair left long, the black and white Cornish cross on a fabric patch on the suit's main frontal webbing reminding the Israeli across from him that he wasn't English- he was of Kernow! For this op, Tobias had gone with a fairly standard loadout- a M134 Minigun with a 12-round mini-missile pod on his left shoulder, the standard comms array and Trophy system on his right shoulder. He had a pair of modified P90s on his suit's chest, a backup for blasting rounds in quarters the minigun couldn't be wielded in- as well as a aerial insertion setup, comprised of a parachute and an airbag system mounted across the suit's legs and lower back beneath the minigun's ammunition rucksack- they were going to be dropping from above into the mine, and all the way to the ground, covering their own insertion. They weren't here to blow the entire mine apart, but take it back- and while a flamethrower in the rainforest sounded like a wet dream to clear out a squad like this, the mine had been mostly cleared of trees and vegitation from the main command area that they were assaulting. It still felt pretty surreal, the two of them taking up multiple seats in the rear of the tiltrotor and spread across.

"Lionheart, Gabby, Bluestone here, can ya give me a comms check? Reading me loud and clear?" The South African accented voice rang out in both their intercoms, Tobias acknowledging. Their boss, well, their handler really was a nice enough guy, but he hadn't been on the other end of being shto at for a very long time. Managing two multi-million pound assets was more than enough for him to concentrate on, after all.
"Gotcha loud and clear, Blue." Tobias replied, his cool, crisp voice exuding the kind of confidence that came with being used to sitting in a shell of armour with a weapon that didn't normally go as easily man-portable as this.
"Righto. Anyway, give me a moment, you two. Just gotta check the UAV feed. How's the flight?"
"Fucking textbook. It's noisy as fuck and we have the fucking cooling cranked to max." Tobias replied, sighing as he looked across to the Israeli on the other bench, giving a sigh. With the headphones from the V22 on they could talk, just about.
"Good to be back here again. I don't miss the heat..." Tobias commented to Gabby, knowing she'd likely be feeling the same, even with all the cooling the suits had in the morning sun it was still humid as hell.

The sound of "Careless Whisper" by George Michael could be heard on broadcast over the commms as Bluestone went off, Tobias looking across to Gabby with a look of disapointment, and underhandedly, some amusement.
"Oh, fuck you, Bluestone..." Tobias replied, chuckling at his terrible sense of humour. He was a cunt, but a funny one at least....the comms came back as Bluestone pitched back in.

"Anyways...welcome to the South Pacific, you two. Just to remnind you, we're heading for the Taron Range Mine, brief still stays the same as we went over earlier. It's an open cast rare earth mine that's been taken over by a local insergency group- and our client obviously wants this sorted out very quickly and cleanly. Easy pickings- they have a couple of BTR-80 vehicles on site, you're looking at around 90 or so insergents on the ground- and more to come if we don't drive them out here. From what I can see, they've got some AT and some emplaced weapons scattered about, but nothing you can't handle. Just remember the plan. We're dropping you direct half a klick north, use your chutes to guide in and clear the road, then breach the main compound. Don't fuck up and land in the trees- if you do, we are not getting the ladders out, ladies and gents! Once we have the mine under control, their security team will take it from there. It isn't gonna be pretty when you arrive- they massacred a lot of people in the mine, so they're not exactly free of blood on their hands, just focus on what's at hand here. Then we get you out, and we get paid." Bluestone reminded, Tobias knowing as easy as that sounded, there were still questions to be asked.

"Affermative. Bluestone, wth all due respect, why did the client just drop the money on our operation, not send in another PMC that would be cheaper? They know we're not exactly cheap, nor uhh...well, committed to sending a lot of operators in, right? Seems a bit more mild compared to I don't know, a few weeks back?" Tobias asked, the South African chuckling a little as he knew it did seem just that easy.
"Our contracts team just smashed it out of the park, and the client wants nobody to know this even happened. It'll hit their shareholders confidence for their next stock release, you think having a bunch of insergents moving house into your prized mine using it as a tool against the PNG government looks good for PR? Way, way easier for them to sweep it under the rug...and you two happened to be right in the area after all."
"I'll take your word for it, Bluestone- we'll give them lead. Over and out."

Looking to Gabby, Tobias sat up as he checked the M134's breach, loading the belt inside and checking the aerial insertion kit over once again. Dropping out of one of these things wasn't exactly a skydive, more like a plummet into hell's kitchen- but easier because at least you could reply with a bit of fire from the sky.
"Ten minutes out, Gabby. How you feeling?" Tobias enquired, checking over the rest of his suit's systems, the motorised synthetic muscle of the exoskeleton whirring into life, as he clawed his hands in and out, just making sure he still had the same connection going as earlier.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Silverwind Blade
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Gabby had elected not to suit up immediately as the Osprey chuntered its' way across the jungle below. The Stormhound wasn't especially build for comfort, and the more bulky and angular powered exoskeleton didn't lend itself to sitting or reclining in any fashion, particularly. Instead, the tall, powerfully built Israeli was lounged across a few of the fold-down seats on the opposite side of the bay from Tobias, the Stormhound standing to her immediate right with its' back yawning open, ready to close around her at a moments' notice.
The dusky-skinned, dark-haired woman listened in to the communication, smiling in amusement as the music came across, and getting to her feet as the conversation continued. As Bluestone ran over the specifics, she climbed into position. The padded interior layer of the suit rested against her front, and both arms slid down into the suits over-sized gloves with their 'waldo' style arm manipulators. Her feet were cushioned by and rested on stilt-like extensions, and with a few carefully chosen commands and movements, the suits' back folded down and locked into place with a hiss of equalising pressure seals. A low hum came from the backpack as the exoskeleton came to life, and stood under its' own weight, a little hunched under the ceiling of the V-22's cargo bay.
"Like a virgin taking home the prom queen" she replied over their radio channel as she followed suit, checking her suits' systems. She went over her own gear with the same meticulous precision as her partner; checking the feed on the M134 on her right arm and the auto shotgun on her left. Likewise, the aerial insertion gear all read true, which gave her a brief sense of mental relief. However, the thought of dropping out of the sky encased in as mass of metal soon subdued it. She rolled her shoulders and twisted her hips slightly; as always, as soon as the suit was sealed around her was the exact moment she found - or rather, felt - a crease or rucked-up bit of fabric in her piloting suit, or some damn itch or tingle that couldn't be dealt with. But it was all part of the job.
"I suppose it's too late to go to the bathroom," she said deadpan, flexing her arms and twisting in small arcs with a whine of servomotors and hydraulics, the orange polarised visor of her suit turning towards Tobias as if he could see her smile through it.
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Tobias watched as she clambered in, Gabby someone who even in a spar the Cornish merc found relentless like his method. Perhaps he did have the handicap of his legs, but even so, she was powerful, someone with that similar kind of fire and energy. Regardless of the suit's capabilities, it was a needed characteristic to have, despite however much technical knowledge you had on what the suit could do, it was all about having that mindset, that warrior's fight. He stood up, himself pulling his suit's gauntlets into fists and back open again, chuckling as he heard her comment. Sliding his helmet down over his head, the HUD and OS fired up, quickly calibrating in Tobias's personal diagnostics, heart rate, and so on, before connecting to the weapons systems he was carrying. The suit wasn't there yet but in theory, it wouldn't be a huge step to pump adrenaline or other drugs into an operator's body to help survivability and combat resilience- though Tobias didn't want to be all drugged up if he had any say about it. The ultramarine blue tinted visor of Tobias's surrounded by the the black honeycomb contrasted the orange polarised visor and combat green of Gabby's Stormhound, the Cornish merc aware the Israeli had a heaping grin underneath as he did too.
"But not late enough to flex your big guns? I get it, you started pumpin' more iron so you can turn down the motors a percent. You could just piss yourself in there anyway....though please don't don't say you need a poo now. This whole jumping out of planes malarky is not going to help lurve, honestly..." He had his tongue out at this point in time as the accent drawled, aware that her deadpan deserved an equal reaction, and he gave her exactly much shit as she gave him as he looked out towards the pilot, before looking back to Gabriella.

"Looking good, sounding good, Gabby. Drone feed should be live. Looks adequately spicy, main compound is certainly where the most of them are, so that's where we're headed." Tobias called out to him, the little icon coming up as it stayed pinned in the top-left corner of his HUD, giving a bit of an oversight of where the enemies were, movements, and where the IFVs were posted up.
"DZ is five minutes out, door opening." The pilot called into their comms, as Tobias watched the door open, the wind howling as he looked back to the other armoured titan, Gabby's Stormhound certainly a lot more vast and larger. While she had a lot more armour, she was still a bit more lumbering, it was less of a suit of armour and more of a minature mech, better at being an anvil while his own armour was more like a hammer, and between the two of them they could pincer anything. He could at least take his indoors, but then again, he couldn't wield another weapon on a hardpoint, so sacrificed firepower for movement. The glowing pink sunrise could be seen as the door finally opened up wide, but was rudly interrupted by the noise of flak, pumelling away into the sky around the V22 as the pilot turned hard, banking in a combat manuever. It almost threw the Cornish exoskeleton, Tobias putting strain on the side wall as the pilot dived the aircraft, bringing the tiltrotor onto a different heading before the craft took any damage.
"It's a slightly warmer DZ than we expected...hold on, I'm taking us lower into the valleyside and popping up, I'll get you there....you two both able to find that AAA and knock it out when you get out on the green?"
"Got a visual of it chief, it's in the southern corner of the mine. We'll knock it out for your way out, just get us to that LZ without getting killed!" Tobias called out, aware that while this thing would survive it, getting flak on an engine would be the end of their fun- or their parachutes. These suits were pretty fucking good, but falling out of a tiltrotor at 2,000 feet without one was not gonna be survivable...well, at least not yet. Pulling out of the valleyside and skimming past the mine's entrance, they had a short window on the green light, as the red flickered off on the reflection of their suits to a green.

"Light's green, go go go!" The pilot yelled, the Cornish marine already prompted to go. With that, Tobias gave a visible thumbs up to Gabby, grinning like mad as he ran the suit out towards the gaping rear door and with the mine and hostiles in full view, and lept into the void. This was a low-drop at full speed, so they weren't going to be under their parachutes for long as it fired automatically, the rectangular-shaped black and white-crossed parachute Tobias's personal choice. Well...it wasn't like there was room for personalisation in the military, but there was over this pride and joy, right? The airbag system would be a final crashing impact, activated by a large yellow handle- indeed, much like an ejection seat in some ways when it came to it. But right now, they had an LZ to clear, as Tobias brought the M134 to bear, and with a gentle pull of the trigger, the barrels span.
"I'm clear and on target...light em' up, Gabby!" The sound of roaring fire erupted downrange, as tracers flew from the sky, and the two armoured exos announced they were coming.
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"Roger, I've got the drone feed coming in good", Gabby replied as she studied the video as it streamed onto the inside of the suits' visor. Like Tobias, she pinned the feed to one corner of her view. As the V-22 banked into the approach to the drop zone, she looked to opening ramp, taking in the view. The Osprey shook as blossoms of dirty smoke exploded into the air around them, and Gabby adjusted the Stormhounds' stance as Tobias leaned against the wall of the cabin. The Israeli pilot held her arms out and wobbled for balance as the tilt-rotor shifted and wove through the air.
"Well, I don't have to go to the bathroom anymore," she grumbled, turning the suits' visor toward the rear hatch, watching the tracers stream upward as the ground loomed larger. "Such a rude welcome too".
The light flashed green and Tobias charged out the ramp, disappearing from view. She gave a few heartbeats' count and then charged after, the heavy feet of the exo suit ringing against the deck before they met air. This was no HALO drop, so there was no time for any fancy moves. Getting the landing right was key; exosuit or not, getting it wrong would still hurt. The suit might survive, but her skeleton; well, that was different. And that would just be embarassing.
The suits' LIDAR kicked in, giving a clear and accurate altitude reading to the rapidly approaching ground, and she spread the suit out to get the most control, before the parachute kicked in automatically, dragging her upright. Much like Tobias' chute, there was a little flair involved, and the rectangular chute had a big and bold star of david emblazoned on it, white on the blue background. One-shot rockets would fire to cushion her impact, heavier as it was compared to the Firehound.
Targeting came online as Tobias spoke and she grinned into the cushioning around her face as the Stormhounds' sensors and targeting systems correlated with the UAV's electronic overwatch.
"Bringing the noise, Lionheart," she replied as the GMG on the Suits' left shoulder opened up with its' staccato chattering, sending a stream of high-explosives onto the enemies' positions as she glided lower.
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Tobias had his target in mind- the AAA battery, a target that barely needed much at all compared to some. With a singular blink and a call-out, he assigned two pings to it, the mini-missile rack popping up for only a moment and flurrying rounds with another blink to confirm, the rounds outbound and flying into the distance. While it didn't compare to the sound of the GMG blasting and Tobias's M134 blaring, the gentle puff of smoke and fire in the distance of the mine was nice to see for the few seconds it took, before he came back to looking for other targets.
"Roger that Duner. AAA threat is gone, you have good connect right there. Eyes on BTRs coming out of the mine itself- want me to run security while we run in?" Tobias asked, knowing that on this run Gabby was packing more heat, but he was. It was a strange dichotomy- Gabby's suit was certainly heavier and had a lot more firepower, hell, Gabby almost treated it like a mini-mech compared to how Tobias's worked. But then again, what he lost in firepower he gained in movement- he could actually go indoors, it seemed more "wearable". Well, some indoors, at least. Depends how you enlarge the doorframe, and well, with the tools at his disposal, there were a lot of ways to do that. Suppressing a squad on the gate, Tobias quickly cleared them down, steering his canopy gently to avoid the trees and into the wide road coming out of the mine. The ground closing and closing, Tobias yanked on the yellow toggle, the three enormous black airbags firing moments before he hurtled into the ground.

Crashing down in front of the gates, soldiers ran out, Tobias clambering out forwards, cutting the material and the airbags away, leaving the mess behind. They were armed with nothing more than AKs....man, they had no idea. With a turn of the M134, quickly the front group turned to paste, the rest realising very fast what the hell was going on, as Tobias cut the last of his bits away, seeing an RPG-7 carrying infantryman raise up and fire a round. It wasn't gonna hit, but the Trophy System still snagged it, yapping it out of existence as very quickly Tobias's M134 did it to him, the shrill of the minigun roaring as he moved forwards, seeing Gabby come in.
"Got your six, gal. We've got a shitload more hostiles coming in. Let's take em hand-in-hand, hey?" He added, moving forwards as the suit's actuators pushed into the dried mud, giving him the chance to push forwards and get around. With another burst, the M134 cut down another fireteam deeper inside, tearing apart their technical in the process, the Cornish merc able to create a bridgehead for Gabby to join in with. The compound was fairly thin in terms of buildings- a large group of portacabins, a vehicle pool for the mine, a small warehouse-sized maintainance shed and a few dump trucks sat about here, with enemy forces milling all over. Quite the scene, and quite the canvas to paint.
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The GMG's fire withered the gun position into a smouldering wreck, and the Israeli operator followed up with a stream of minigun fire toward a squad of armed men as they raised their weapons to open fire on another squad moving to reinforce those at the gate. Barely a moment later, the Stormhound followed suit to Tobias' suit. The retro-rockets fired with a blast of yellow flame, and the parachute disconnected, rippling away on the wind. The rockets brief blast was enough to cushion the landing, before Gabby landed hard with a resounding thump, the rockets blasting away with explosive bolts. Inside the perimeter of the mines' fence, she quickly took stock. Gunfire chattered out from the portcabins; a zoom in with optics showed a small knot of people, one of them firing an RPK from the door frame, others darting in and out and firing a motley assortment of old-school SMG's or AR's.
"Got a few to my three, moving to suppress 'em while you cover my ass, wait one".
Launching into a darting run, she loaded FRAG-12 rounds into the auto-shotgun on the suits' left arm and played the weapons' muzzle across the front of the portacabin. Shards and splinters of particle board, plastic and plaster burst out from the front of the structure along with plumes of debris, before she slid into cover.
"Roger, Lionheart", she replied as he called out about the hostiles moving in. "Moving to your position".
She spurred the suit into movement again, sprinting across the outside space of the mine using the cover of a large dumptruck and a rock crushing machine. Another burst of minigun fire cut down a fireteam along with a couple of grenades for good measure that blew the pickup they were using as cover to pieces. She drew to a halt alongside Tobias and gave a wave with one of the suits' hands. "Hey, 'sup. Got bored on my own, came to see what you were up to".
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Lionheart watched as Gabby tore things apart, running the gauntlet near the cabins, Tobias taking the chance to lay down fire and suppress the vehicle pool, eliminating another onrushing team of hostiles, using the dump truck as cover on the far side from where Gabby was, as she came over. She had a dry and funny sense of humour, even while getting directly shot at, and he had to admit, it was why it was a pleasure to work alongside her. As much as she pissed him off, he took it well, just like she took how annoying he was, saluting back to her.

"You know, the usual. Making holes in things...how 'bout yourself?" He replied, turning and firing the minigun on another team, quickly decimating the cover they were behind, dropping an elevated walkway with a group of enemies on it as what could almost be a Wilhelm scream could be heard, Tobias coming back into cover to let his M134 cool. The barrel was glowing orange hot, and while miniguns were the shit, it did go to show just how much lead they were both burning through- as serious as their supply was, rounds like that would heat weapons fast.
"Like uhh...getting the drop on them? No?" He added, moving out, aware she'd get that shitty pun, as he moved back into the open, bullets ricocheting and bouncing off the suit as blared more rounds out, moving up through the courtyard up to the maintainance shed.

"Right, so since your fat Israeli arse can't make it in, mind running security? I'll handle the inside of this. I'll be back in a jiffy." Tobias added with a calm demeanour, moving to the front door and sliding his M134 onto his side, taking an axe into one hand and a P90 into the other. It was a pretty wild dual wield, but one that would be effective, as he gave a nod to Gabby, moving past the jeep in the garage and into the bay itself. A lot of gunfire could be heard, and a couple of screams even as he went out of view, before coming back a minute later, a lot more blood and rounds over his suit. It'd been fun, whatever he'd been up to- Gabby hadn't seen it, though maybe she'd see the footage latero n.

"That's that one cleared.....wait, shit, the plant's manned!" He said, looking to Gabby as he came out, hearing another rumble from inside. With a gentle run, Tobias shoved into Gabby's suit, pushing her out of the way as he turned and laid fire out with the remains of the P90's mag, watching as the wheeled loading shovel drove out of the maintainance shed's shutter door and slammed straight through, rolling over the pickup in the garage and steaming towards them- the fact Tobias had shoved Gabby out of the way probably putting them out of harm's way. With a spray of rounds, Tobias laid out the operator, and in comedic fashion, the plant continued, the throttle pinned as it drove through the base's interior, towards another enemy group. For nearly dying, well, he'd take it.

"Well, that could have ended badly! Honestly, some people, you take mining equipment out of a Cornishman's hands and that fucking happens!" Tobias remarked, aware of just how stupid a way that could have been for them to die...and now another squad that had just come in were running away from it, as Tobias switched back to the M134, spraying in their direction and catching them while they were scattered. Oh, this was fucking hillarity, and Tobias was chuckling. With that taken down, other rumbling could be heard, as the BTRs were on their way, likely with more men.
"That sounds a bit more serious...the pleasure's all yours, Dunner. Don't go punching the drivers out of their cabs. Or do. I'll get the rest of the teams coming in, UAV shows they're coming out of the central area itself. Should be easy pickings, most of them will run once we start firing down there....and then it's fucking brekkie time, and my pasty is gonna be fucking freezing." Tobias said, a little nonchalant towards nearly getting run over by 10 tons of machinery, with or without armour, that was pretty much how you died a stupid death as a merc. But it wasn't over yet- and they still had the BTRs, and a few more squads to mop up.
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"Same old, same old," she replied as she added her own minigun fire to his, withering the team and their cover to not much more than splinters and bad decisions. She laughed at his bad pun, grinning into her helmet as she followed him up in the move from cover, laying down suppressive fire with the GMG on the corner of some kind of concrete structure that looked to hold sand or earth dug up, and the wheel-loader parked in front of it, as another group attempted to rake the pair of suits with gunfire to little noticable effect.
As Tobias tooled up for some close-and-personal work, the Israeli pilot gave a mock huff of indignation at his comment.
"Rude," she said shortly, backhanding the face of a fighter who charged up behind her, yelling with a grenade in his hand. The crunch as the metal of the suits' forearm met his face was both satisfying and sickening. "And I'll have you know, my arse is not 'fat'. It is generous, curvy, voluptuous, and, if you're really feeling brave, Pixar dumptruck phat".
The grenade fell out of the concussed man's hand as he slid to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Gabby caught it in the open palm of her suit, and tossed it toward a small toolshed where some half-hearted rounds pinged off of her suits' shoulders, the flimsy wooden building collapsing with a sighing explosion and a cloud of smoke as Tobias rejoined her.
She stumbled a few steps aside as the cornishman propelled her out of harms' way, and watched incredulously as the construction equipment rolled off to cause more havoc.
She clapped her metalshod hands together with glee at the prospect of the BTR's. "Oooh, fireworks". She said with a wolfish grin that couldn't be seen through the visor, but that her body language through the suits' frame picked up. "I'll get on it, and then move to cover you and mop up. You're right; this is working up an appetite"
The Israeli operator flashed him a V-sign and then trotted away, moving through and around cover towards the sounds of the rumbling diesel engines, navigating using a combination of her suits' own sensors and the UAV coverage from above, before taking position and readying herself.
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Tobias gave a simple middle finger back, chuckling.
"Now that is the sound of a hot girl with a fat arse, always thinking about food and shit blowing up..." The Cornish merc slyly remarked, swinging his M134 in the opposite direction, aware he was going to take a different angle to her. Moving the other way and back through the courtyard, a few stragglers pinging off rounds at his armour. With a spool and a blast, the silence was deafening, then broken, then back. The hard stomps of steps into the gravelly mud gave him more than a moment to refocus on another group of targets. They really weren't expecting something like this, Tobias thought. They were ready for an aerial assault, maybe a poorly planned attack by the mine's security team- this in itself was like taking a lemon to a knife fight. Not gonna end well, not for the lemons who were here...and Tobias knew full well that while they'd torn the base's upper part to bits, they had left most of it in tact. Maybe a few bullet holes, but nothing major yet. That was their gift. Though if they did have permission to raise Ragnarok, no doubt the scene would have been different...

Covering off the other part of the base, Tobias took his pick of the angles at the other end, taking aim at some of the infantry disembarking, laying fire into a digger further down the mine, cleaning up a squad by another Hilux technical, decimating them with relative ease as the tracer rounds caught the pickup truck and lit it on fire. An insergent ran up to him on his right, the suit's sensor picking it up as Tobias watched him come in close, letting him continue running with the comedically oversized machete for the small frame the guy had, knowing this guy had certainly some balls. He was too close for the M134, but that was just gonna end badly. As he swung, Tobias swiped to the side, punching the guy with a solid right hook doubled over, before grabbing him by the scruff and yeeting him, all the way over the protected gate edge that led into the open-cast ravine below and to a very long way down.
"Guess he tried to get the drop on me, right Dunner?" The shit pun echoed with no silence, as he approached said gate, seeing the BTRs crawl up as he raised his M134 again, the barrels spinning as the rounds went down range, blasting a group of following infantry peppering her with rounds, making sure that when she went to fire her AT, she wouldn't be the main target in view.
"All yours, Duner! Turn em to scrap!"
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Gabby grinned at Tobias comments as she peeked out of her cover. The two russian-made APCs were grumbling forward, spaced well apart. They were impressive looking machines; angular and brutish with huge wheels and a pugnacious profile. The turret atop each one held a powerful automatic cannon that was more than capable of turning either of the battlesuits to scrap, making them probably the most credible threat they'd faced so far. Which meant it was a challenge to take them out - and just the way the Israeli operator liked it.
Briefly, she licked her lips and took a sip of water from the Stormhounds' internal water supply as she gave a moment of thought to her approach before nodding as she settled on a strategy.
"All right, Lionheart. I'm moving in now. Get ready for some more noise!"
The fire from the infantry was a distraction, a series of whacks and pings glancing off the suits' thick - comparatively - armour, and registering nothing more substantial than minor or cosmetic damage. She was already moving forward with her plan. A shower of gravel and clods of dirt sprayed into the air as the splayed 'toes' of the Stormhound dug in as she set off at a run. As soon as she broke cover, the suits' smoke launchers blasted out with a series of rapid firecracker-pops and blooming clouds of thick, grey-white smoke. A breath later she'd changed direction, running parallel to the BTR's, and away from their front ends. The guns on the tops of them opened up, but as she'd anticipated; they were firing where she'd been instead of where she was.
Using the pupil-tracking of her suits targeting systems, she unleashed a chugging volley of 40mm HEDP, aiming low along the side of the BTR closest to her. The rounds hammered home in a rush of heavy explosions and battering concussions, before she spun again, leaping sideways into a shoulder roll - towards the second of the BTRs as the first sagged on its' wheels on that side. The second BTR, moving parallel and a little behind the first at a good distance away opened up toward her with its' autocannon. Rounds slashed toward her, coming dangerously close, so much so that her suit registered shell splinter damage, and she felt the hammerblows of the concussive impacts even through the suits' armour. But it was a move unpredictable enough that she'd got close enough to hit the next part of her insane plan. A few simple commands set the light-and-sound of her speakers and spotlights into full-on 'disorientation' mode, a pattern of ultra-bright mismatched flashes and high-frequency sounds that were on the verge of nauseating for onlookers. Inside an armoured vehicle, the effect would be minimised, but enough to make any crewman look away from their sights for a few moments - a few enough moments that she could get inside the arc of the gun on the top, and right behind the wheeled APC.
Gabby skidded to a halt, taking a knee by the back door of the as-yet undamaged machine. She swiveled as she dropped, and the barrel of the Recoilless Rifle mounted on her suits' shoulder dropped into position. With a hollow boom, a rocket-assisted HEAT round went on its' way, aimed directly at the troop door on the rear of the immobilised BTR.
As soon as it was on its' way, she turned to the one in front of her, and grabbed handholds on the rear of the APC, using the suits' strength and agility, she awkwardly scrambled up the rear of the vehicle and onto the top of it. Reaching the turret, she crouched and applied the battlesuits' full strength as she grasped the barrel of the autocannon. Servomotors whining and metal groaning, the autocannon shifted out of alignment. The chainsaw on the underside of the suits' left arm whined to life, and metal-cutting teeth tore through the co-axial 7.62mm machine gun, before swift and brutal wrenches, punches and kicks smashed and twisted the optics, antennae and firing ports of the 8-wheeled APC. Last, but by no means least, Gabby turned the GMG on the rear engine deck of the BTR, letting off a short burst of grenades, hammering the engine from above. Thick black smoke spat and coughed from the exhausts and unhealthy grinding noises followed, before she stamped heavily on the roof of the machine with one foot.
"All right, ya bunch of dickheads! Stop this shitheap and come out, or else I get really creative, and really cruel in sealing you in and letting you stew in there!"
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The entire scene played out right in front of Tobias's eyes, watching on as Gabby did what she did best. He had other troops to suppress, easily tearing through a group of enemies further in the quarry, the M134's tracers lighting up the distance, a few stray RPGs and rounds flying past with barely anything- after all, they were having so much lead sent their way, it made them have no chance of a reply from Tobias's anchored position at the top of the mine. Whilst he had mobility on his side, this wasn't an op that needed him to be moving around- he was an anvil to Gabby's hammer today, and with weaponry like they kind they had, sometimes it took that kind of dynamic to really tear things apart. The infantry that were trying to now get accurate fire on were now getting strafed with M134 fire, the rounds leaving nothing to the imagination when they hit their mark and cut them back.

But Gabby's work, fucking hell, now that was quite something....Gabby had a flair, a talent almost Tobias thought to himself. She was creative, he would give her that! His end of things looked cleaned up of the remaining hostiles in the mine's basin, as the thermals picked up no more signatures that were there- well, bar a DsHK armed technical running up the valley, or any that were now going the other way from them. Not to regroup, but to get the fuck away. Well, all apart from that technical...the .50 it had could actually do some damage.

With a slight movement, Tobias' HUD locked it and the mini-missile was off the rail from his shoulder, whistling into the distance and then slamming into the distant technical with a poof of smoke, and then a sparking, distant explosion. It seemed almost effortless, clean and slick, like swatting a fly as it erupted into flame, detonated completely. Hearing her comment, he couldn't help but chuckle, as the smoke cleared and the fire from the other BTR could be seen, burning away. Whoever was left was now running, and they were smart enough to realise that they were not winning this fight. Their main battle vehicles knocked out, almost all their technicals dead, they had nothing to win here, and everything to lose. The jungle was infinite, and they were not winning against these two- better to run to that.

"Honestly, you're such a show-off....but seriously, that's nicely done, couldn't have done that one better myself! I got eyes on em from thermals....let em go, Dunner. Watch 'em for anything, but they're no threat to us. I think we proved our point." Tobias spoke, chuckling and yet showing his more sensitive side, aware there was no point to waste ammunition here. With that, the crew of the BTR that Gabby had taken emerged from the frontal hatch of the BTR, speaking a language they both had no chance of understanding, locals of some kind. But they understood the angry Israeli fully, even if the lanaguage barrier was there.

They were fighting a war they believed in to their deaths, but same time, they'd decided to pick on the wrong interest- an independence movement against a major multinational rare earth mining company would not end well, not in any scenario. And they were petrified, covered in dust and soot from the spltutering and failing engine as they clambered out, hands over their heads, staring at the metal goliath, the four IFV operators in ragged shirts and jeans utterly terrified. If they were of a different kind that had fundamentalist ideals, Tobias wouldn't have trusted them even from afar, but these were people trying to earn a living and earn independence. They'd just ended up in a bad place, trying to free their people and using some poor westerners as a lever to that. But a contract was a contract. He had no doubt if the shoe was on the other foot, they'd happily murder him to bits too over money, or worse. They had committed an atrocity in the mine basin, the dump truck containing a dozen mine workers that Tobias's optics could see when zoomed in. But then again, murdering the IFV operators in cold blood as revenge wasn't gonna solve anything, arresting them wasn't an option, and realistically, they weren't the Iron Wolves' problem. Tobias knew Gabby might have her own thoughts on that, but it was why he didn't have the urge to cut down these poor bastards too, or do anything else. Besides, they weren't a paramilitary death squad- a contract was a contract and they had their end of the bargain fufilled, even as easy as it was, Tobias thought to himself. Bluestone wouldn't appreciate needless collateral, when there was already enough anarchy here.

"Bluestone, this is Lionheart, Taron Range is clear. We got 'em on the run, none of these fuckers are staying 'ere anymore. Main compound is empty, there's more scrap metal about here but we're sorted. Call in the calvary, boss." He called out in the comms, moving down from his position down the mine's ramp towards Duner, the open-cast revealing a scarred landscape of barren red rock and heavy rainforest beyond that. It was a spectacle to see, and perhaps reflective of the warzones of the world they operated in, as he stood by her side and to the militants on their knees, looking out across the plain. He gave an arm motion to them to "piss off" and with that, they broke into a run, pissing off into the distance as soon as they had arrived.

"Affirm, Lionheart. UAV has all hostiles fleeing, the security team just cleaned out a mortar team and are now en-route to you, should be 10 minutes out. We'll have you extracted in thirty. I seriously doubt they're coming back after that, good job you two. Professional work out there." The South African called out, Tobias chuckling in reply as he walked around, checking the M134 as he replied.
"Appreciated, Bluestone. Hey, you weren't actually kiddin' for once, this wasn't as stupid as the last time were were deployed. Where we bailing out?" He asked, reloading both the P90s in the moment he had to do so, always wanting to have a mag about after the combat had died back. His body language could even be seen through the metal and composite of the suit, the suit remarkably organic for being a mechanical lump. Exos had that trait to them, more than just servos but an actual augmentation of the legless Cornishman's movement through the various actuators, and it had to be said....kinda fucking awesome.
"The Osprey can land in the far end of the compound, just back where you were. Just keep a perimeter and an eye open, you two." Bluestone called out, as Tobias shrugged, even visible to Gabby.
"Yeah, copy that. We'll waddle on over. Out." He replied, moving around, the heavy minigun and chain following the turn of his suit as he looked over to her, keeping a combat distance and spread so they didn't get iced by a rogue mortar shell. They were going to go back up the way they came as he switched the comms over to their personal channel, out of audible range to Bluestone or any other listeners.

"Y'know...I am gonna sleep like an absolute fucking bear on the way back, Gabby. Honestly, I'm not sure what's worse. Getting shot at by autocannon fire or sitting through tech debriefs in Bracknell. I get it, they need to assess every inch and bloody move of these suits, all the "reflex points" of the exos and so on, but....fuck me, I am gonna need a lot of caffiene to get through that. I honest to god hope they've got those upgrades ready to go, because I could certainly use a more powerful AC unit after today...." As blunt as he could be, he knew it worked on Gabby, giving a little bit of that roughness to her stoic demeanour.
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As the remainder of the enemy ran for their lives - literally - Gabby couldn't help feeling the same kind of satisfaction as Tobias as she saw them rout in the face of what, to them, had to be like angry iron giants tearing through their operation. They'd dropped out of the skies, apropos of nothing, and arrived in a roaring storm of thunder, fire, smoke and death. They were like almost mythical figures, shrugging off firepower and near-effortless in dealing with any threat levelled against them.
It was dangerously intoxicating, she thought with a a sobering grimace. She looked down at the BTR's hull in its' drab and rusty metal under her suits' feet, cold realisation prickling all over her tan skin; she'd thrown herself into the moment and it had worked, but it had been an absurdly flamboyant approach, and could have ended up with her cut to pieces by autocannon fire.
She suppressed an involuntary shiver at the thought, and instead clomped to the edge of the APC's hull and jumped down with an earth-shaking thump, moving to stand close by to Tobias and look over the vista before them. It was impressive, albeit somewhat sad for the ugly scar the mine left on the tropical landscape. Although, luckily, being paid by their employers didn't come with the stipulation that she had to like what they did especially.
The urge to pop the suits' helmet was strong, but she resisted; the area wasn't secure enough just yet, and getting shot in the face by a die-hard sniper wasn't a good way to end the mission. Instead, she followed Tobias' example, checking over her weapons and systems as a kind of calming routine, as much as a necessity, centering her thoughts and emotions through the repetitive actions, before turning and falling into step with the cornishman back toward the other end of the compound.

"Yeah, I know what you mean, Tob. All that activity and adrenaline, I'm definitely going to have a crash on the way back as I come down from it all. And listening to the tech debriefs and the play-by-play with 'death by powerpoint' accompaniment... like you say, I get the point, but it sure as hell doesn't help with the fatigue." She nodded at his comment about better AC, wiggling a little inside her suit as his words provoked a sudden reminder of, now, how sweaty, itchy and uncomfortable she was inside the bodyglove and padding of the suits' interior. The result was the Stormhound itself doing an odd little dance move before picking back up and walking normally. "Yeah, got a few ideas I'd like to put forward myself after this op. Couple of things that would help with quality of life and efficiency... of course," she said with a snort. "When did the big brains ever listen to us?"
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With a wry chuckle, Tobias couldn't help but agree, knowing no doubt she had certainly expended a lot of it in that process. Charging a pair of APCs no matter what was always going to be insane- even if the armour could theoretically shrug a 20mm round, you wouldn't want to be in it's path, getting torn to bits by a vehicle like that. A pretty dumb way to die after taking a hell of a lot of small fire, that was for sure....but alas, she had that capability, otherwise she wouldn't have done it, Tobias reasoned. He'd done far more stupid himself anyways...it was literally why he had metal for legs nowadays. He felt the same as Dunner mind, knowing that no matter how well protected you were, charging at people shooting at you with 7.62 rounds no matter how insulated you were would always be a shock to the system.

"Oh yeah...though when they run yours play by play Gabs, remind me to bring popcorn. Shit, you didn't even see what I did in that vehicle shed...not saying it's as good, but there's a reason that I didn't think there was anyone left in there." Tobias added, the oversized rescue axe covered in a nice covering in blood that he held out for a moment, the Cornishman shurgging as he put it back on his suit's front plate carrier, knowing it said enough. It had been a frenzy, one hand with an SMG, the other with that- but sometimes it was the only way to get things done, especially when levelling the whole thing wasn't an option. While perhaps he wasn't as open as what he could do in CQC, it was pretty grizzly what having a few hundred kilos of force could do to someone's wellbeing.

"Let's just say it's gonna be really sticky in there. Like, literally. Wiping that down is gonna need a lot of Fairy liquid." The darkness of the humour had to go some length to keep them upbeat, the Cornishman adjusting his prosthetic "feet" inside the suit, taking a solid breath of air after that charge in, almost alike Gabby's Stormhound. Her comment on the R&D was true- sometimes it felt glacial in the team, but then again, when the goodies came they were more often than not pretty excellent.
"That's true, they don't listen...but then again, not exactly like they can tell us much either. The feeling is mutual, I got a few ideas of my own. The suits are different in type but there's plenty of overlap for anything we get. Trick is to get the most out of it we can. The overdrive in this suit is nice, but it's still a bit too clunky for my liking." Tobias replied, leading the way up through the compound, knowing that after all that instant-action, it was now the other side of their job.

The waiting felt like it would take forever, as the security team barely even interacted with them, moving in with an up-armoured Unimog into the far end of the site through the mine's side entrance, which given the scale of the mine was at least half a mile away. And given that distance, they probably had no idea of exactly who they were....just two callsigns who had mopped the place up. Probably for the best, given Gabby and Tobias were basically hanging about for the moment being.
"Lionheart, Dunner, this is Sentinel Actual, we're the mine's security team. Cheers for clearing the contacts, I'm sure we can take it from here....wait, holy shit.... what the fuck did you guys do here!? Fuck, was that just the two of you?" The radio call was enough to make the Cornishman chuckle, as even through his blue-hued visor, Tobias's laugh could be seen by Gabby in response to the Australian security team lead's response, a proper bogan in the sense of the word- and it was no doubt an instant reply for to the platoon-sized troop no doubt finding now just what level of mess they had made.
"Yeah, that sounds like a you problem to deal with, Sentinel, not an "us" problem. You'll have breaches on the southern perimeter where whoever's left ran away to fix up. Recomend you deal with that first. Oh, and you should know who you're talking to. There is a lady on the comms. She will kick your ass if you continue to swear on the net. No kidding." Tobias added, giving a middle finger back to Gabby, laughing as he could barely hold back himself at that point in time, knowing he just had to annoy them all a little.

The laughter was interrupted by the thunder of the V22 in the distance, the tiltrotor coming in hot and transitioning into vertical flight as it swooped over the canopy, a far more elegant return than their arrival had been into the hotzone.
"Well, that's our minicab. Ladies first, yeah?"
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Gabby couldn't help but grin wryly in response to Tobias' laugh; it was a grim kind of humour at the realities of the carnage they'd wrought. Likely not one that would be understood by anyone outside of their field. As he dropped the joke about her being on the line, she chimed in with a fake prim voice. "Quite right, gentlemen. Mind your fucking language, if you please. And as the man says; clean up costs extra, pest extermination is just the basic package. Have fun, boys". She waved the suits' hand in their general direction as she walked alongside the somewhat smaller and more compacy Firehound to their LZ. The thudding clatter of the V-22's rotors caught her attention, and she watched as the aircraft swooped in and gently descended for a landing, touching down with a gentle bump. As the ramp came down, she smirked and gestured to Tobias in an exaggerated bow. "Quite right you are. After you, your ladyship"
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Tobias gave a chuckle, as he ran in front waving a middle finger back, just knowing just how much of a shit she was at the best of times, but he knew exactly how to give it back.
"Fuck you very much, princess." His response painted just how it was between the two of them, the kind of banter that most people just saw as shithousing abuse, but they loved it anyway. It was another coping mechanism, but then again, when you could do the sort of damage they just did, it sort of flowed well. Stepping inside, Tobias tapped the side of the aircraft with a nice thump, calling it out.
"Chief, little hand says it's time to roll!" He called out through the comms to the pilot, an easy "Affirm" coming back as the V22 kicked up and with the two of them inside, began to dust off. The door shutting, the scene of the scar of the rare earth mine against the rising sun and the endless island jungle was a splendid sight, one that given they had just been shot at a little while ago, at least left a nice tinge on their return out of here. Taking a seat, Tobias took his helmet off, and reaching over into the reinforced front webbing of the suit, pulled the cornish pasty out. It was still hot, against all odds. Thermal insulation on that particular pocket had it's perks...
"Joy of joys." He sighed, leaning back, the door closing as the V22 began to go into horizontal flight, leaving behind the mine and eventually, the remote island.

---

Part One:

Four Days Later

Bracknell, England

1100 Hours

The small depot on the edge of Bracknell looked fairly inconspicuous, a building that fit in with the business park's drab demeanour, another metal shack among many others. It looked almost cluelessly inconspicious for a private security company, having an indoor parking bay and a relatively drab international design type of architecture of the sort that fit a head office for small to medium business. A clear sign of "this was built as a part of a business park". A reception, a main workfloor, and a couple of offices, with a small workshop and a few breakout rooms and briefing rooms all furnished in a plushgrey and blue colour scheme adding to just that very slick, corporate-like look. But beyond that, a couple of reinforced security doors, one in the garage complex, one in the office itself revealed something quite not like most office- well, that the facility's critical element was hidden beneath ground. In some ways, the contractor had effectively chosen a "hide in plain sight" approach to its operation- after all, it was just a business like any other, but to keep everything at a distant, remote place would just create more fuss when moving the suits around. Here, it just looked like any other security contractor's office.

And downstairs, it was anything but any other- a two-storey basement that certainly had a presence about it. Iron Wolf had a licence to store weapons, ammunition and other military hardware in this very specific area, in a document hidden in the papers of MI6 with lots of black lines through it. It had the licence to keep the suits here too, both of them in a sealed, secured element to make sure that they were kept far away from prying eyes. The basement was another world, a high-tech labarotory with yellow, white and black hazard paint and hard concrete everywhere, showing just how recent it had all been built. The labs themselves were mostly to do with exoskeleton testing and sensor work, but some were specialist in their nature, testing more exotic and interesting tech that was in the final phase before being fitted to the suit. It almost looked like a Formula One engineering department, full of weird and wonderful toys that were very, very expensive. Of course, this was the last bit of testing and experimenting- most of it was done by DARPA and ARIA, as well as the private contractors they worked with in tandem to get the suits through to Iron Wolf, so this lab was relatively small, even for it's size. And of course, where exoskeletons and weapons were, there had to be an internal testing range. A firing range with heavy soundproofing was in place, making it sound to other buildings like heavy drilling going on in the subterrenean facility when a minigun was fired, whilst a miniture assault combat course provided a place to test the suits' ability to move, jostle and react under fire, with portholes for actual live fire to come back at them. It had been a serious cost to pay- but then again, given how much their two operators made them money for it, and given they were literally the main two, there was hardly need for anything else if they could subcontract it in or get it elsewhere.

Iron Wolf was a fairly small company by all regards, the sort of buisness that didn't have many operators or staff for a reason- it subcontracted a lot, but still had to remain professional. A lot of people, including the board of directors and owner worked from home unless they were in for meetings so the depot itself wasn't overtly staffed. But a couple had made the trip down to watch Tobias and Gabriela's play-by-play, with the two of them mostly wanting to fall asleep, but enjoying the highlight reels. It wasn't all go and shoot bad guys- it had boring elements to it too, and those had to be complemented by this, and it was what helped feedback their improvements, as well as iterations to the suits. They were prototypes after all- and getting them to a higher level was going to be what the bigwigs wanted.

It was there in the office that Tobias found himself, his detatched metal legs on his desks in the workfloor, filling out a brief psych eval, one of the last mundane jobs he had to do before he was going to pop out for lunch. A rare desk day, and while usually a lot of contracts would be strung together and they'd do it in the field, here they had actually been shipped home, back all the way from the far-flung jungle of Papua New Guinea. For such a formal company, everyone was usually smart-casual, with Tobias wearing a grey checked shirt with grey cut-length trousers. It did make sense given that well....it was a company still filled with literal mercenaries, and not overtly corporate types. Getting in a suit and tie made no sense- especially not in world where you wanted to actually appeal to people whose choice in high fashion was camoflauge and whatever they could get their hands on. And anyway, it never really demanded it- not unless there was something formal going on. On that thought he finished up, gently jostling his legs off the table and with a gentle turn, stepping into the braces for them both. A gentle twist and he torqued up the brace, the fact he was even able to walk at all still a freakin' miracle to him. He could have been very easily wheelchair bound, but the prosthetics were a literal lifesaver, as he finished up, the routine basically autonomous to him now. It didn't feel really that much different, he still went for runs and climbed, he could even spar just as well with Gabby- but nobody was ever going to take him seriously as a professional soldier again without the armour, not unless he was going to magically grow them back. He checked his phone, looking over the divider of the hotdesk he was at, seeing Gabby over there working on her end.

"Yo Gabby...you up for heading out for a brew? My eval's all submitted. I mean, you're not suffering any hallucinations, are ya?" Tobias asked cheekily, catching her attention among the murmur of phone calls and printer noise. Ordinary this was, compared to the very extraordinary they did for work- but they had a few bits to come back for in half an hour in that basement, and a few drills to run with some new kit.
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"You wish, you couldn't keep up," she replied with a snigger as he made his way up the ramp and then followed suit. She turned the Stormhound and watched as the ground receded, watching the beautiful landscape as it expanded beneath them, before disappearing as the ramp came up. She set the big suit into its' 'exit' position and hit the combination of commands to exit. The back opened up with a hiss and whine and the chunky Israeli pilot imagined a cloud of humid air exiting as she climbed out. The op had been a short one - much more so than some, and certainly a lot, lot less than some of the tests she'd done - but the pilot suit felt like the inside of a salami wrapper to her by now, and she could feel the bun she'd put her thick black hair into was now a slipping, frazzled mess.
Groaning, she sat on the fold-down canvas seats opposite Tobias, and plugged in a headset so she could hear anything said as she leaned back.

------------------------------------

Four Days Later
Bracknell, England
11:00

Gabby grumbled as she leaned over her desk, shuffling between paperwork. Her left hand tapped a pen against her thumb as she frowned intensely at the forms laid out in front of her, studying them for what seemed like the thousandth time. She sighed as she tentatively filled in some details, before leaning back with a sigh and massaging her temples. Flopping forward with a sigh and leaning on one hand, she flicked the bobblehead of a chibi Stormhound that sat on her desk.
"Ugh," she said out loud among the burble of the office. "I can't believe I drive a robotic armoured exoskeleton for a living, get half my intel from robot airplanes and still have to fill out so much actual paperwork".
She looked over as Tobias headed her way, sitting back up. "A brew sounds like it'd be a welcome break," she replied as she stood up a stretched, picking her jacket up from the back of her chair. "And I'm not sure about the hallucinations; I'm sure I've added up everything and counted five times, but there's still something that doesn't add up in my expended rounds". She shrugged and shook her head. "I'll look at it when we come back, I'm sure I can make it make sense". She followed along in Tobias' wake, heading for the lift up to the ground floor.
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Tobias chuckled, shrugging in response. It was true- they had a hell of a lot of boring shit to do, but then again, they needed the operators' input, what they could do and actually pull off when in a combat situation. Though they could do it a hell of a lot better than online forms and bits of paper....
"Yeah, I was thinking that...was it 5,000 rounds you fired, or 5,001? Shit, either way, that was a very tidy contract. I honestly think they make us do it for paperwork's sake." He added, stepping into the lift as it dinged on their floor. Walking inside, he waited on Gabby to come through, pushing the button for ground floor. He exhaled, leaning against the wall of the lift, looking across to the taller Israeli. In the confined space, lift chats always felt a little more higher tense than they were out in the "public" realm.

"No prizes to say that it's not gonna matter. I did see how much the mining firm paid us for it. It's a really peachy number. Solid seven figures, and that's without bonuses for how little collateral damage we caused. For thirty minutes work....I've never seen any margin like it in security work. This shit we use comes along leaps and bounds, there's no insergent that is gonna want to be in our way...it's gonna change the way security is done. For better or worse I suppose..." He added, a little thoughtful on that note as the elevator doors opened, the open plan office visible as Tobias led the way, adjusting his cuff as they walked towards the exit, the hum of the office quiet yet consistent, a place that felt eeriliy dry for a place that supported a pair of operators causing more carnage than a company of soldiers could. He gave a quick glance at his phone, checking for any messages or calls, before stepping out of the building, an inconspicous entry for what was such a complex facility. The business park come industrial estate was fairly plain, but the recognisable logo of a coffee branch across the road, the one that rhymed with "Lard Ducks" gave it at least an 8/10 from Tobias, at least in providing coffee. The overcast sky of Bracknell was what stopped it being a 9, but fuck it, caffiene was a necessity when you weren't being shot at or firing heavy weaponry back at people.

The queue was relatively short inside, as Tobias and Gabby got through to the counter, the Cornishman looking up to the Israeli with a certain reassurance, aware that some may have seen their partnership as a little odd, strange even in any office setting, let alone even a warzone. The cripple with the chiseled athlete in smart casual, what a sight to behold, but it worked somewhat. They bounced off each other, and well, she was the only person Tobias could really talk to properly about what they did in the context of the fighting they did.
"I'll cover this one, I owe you for last time." He said, the barista coming around.
"Hiya, yeah one latte and a jam donut, Gabby, yourself?" He asked, the Cornishman aware that tight as he was, a round was a round and it had to be paid homage.
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The tall Israeli drifted along in Tobias' wake, leaning on the opposite wall of the lift as it took them up from the basement to the main floor of the office, nodding as he spoke.
"I do wonder," she agreed as he made his comment about paperwork. "Half of it does seem like it's there to keep us nearby, rather than doing anything else more," she waved her hands in a circle as the pair crossed the office floor and headed for the buildings' lobby. "...Interesting, I suppose". Gabby cocked her head and listened attentively as he spoke about the unusual realities of their particular profession, and it was a point; theirs was a job like very few others. Even among private military operations, there was little that came close.
"Not just security, I think," she added, stepping through the door to the outside. A glance at the sky made her briefly shake her head in an ironic smirk, black ponytail swinging as she did. The weather and climate couldn't be more different to where they'd been four days prior. She looked back to Tobias as they crossed the car park towards the coffee shop. "All the advanced robotics and exo stuff we're using, as well as our control systems, the force-feedback, all of that side. I bet that will feed back into other technical areas too. Especially since we're 'stress-testing' all of it".
She cut off as they stepped into the inside of the shop. Gabby studied the menu with a frown, hawkish eyes looking eagerly over the sweet treats on the counter, before Tobias' look caught her eye and she gave him a warm smile.
"All right, not going to refuse that," she replied with a nod, waiting as he made his order, before chiming in with her own.
"White chocolate hot chocolate and a double chocolate muffin," she replied with a friendly smile to the barista and a thankful nod to her partner. "And next one's on me, of course," she replied with a grin and stepped to one side for the next customer, folding her powerful arms over her well-padded stomach as she waited for her order.
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Tobias chuckled, stepping aside and doing that awkward thing of standing not too far from the till, Gabby's grin reciprocated right back at her by the Cornishman.
"Yeah sure....I mean....this isn't exactly dawn over PNG, but I'll take it." He dryly replied with a small chuckle, watching as the barista got to work, before back to the Israeli-American, aware she certainly found this as dreary as he did. It felt monotone- he remembered himself how it felt, how it had been leaving Raven International, involuntarily of course. Getting the prosthetics, the months of physio and work it took to actually learn how to live again, like a functioning human being. Without the legs, he basically stood barely up to Gabby's hip, which was utterly, utterly surreal, right now of course being only a couple inches shorter due to the titanium lumps at the end of his stumps. He remembered how empty he had felt when he was jobless and out of the forces, literally without a leg to stand on, and coming to a place like this almost was a complete shock to his way of doing things. Perhaps the spartan way of living had taken over him from the forces- he couldn't function without the early starts and punishing regime, almost like it was a way of making sure his mind was always screwed on, fit to function. Observant, like the way a hawk would look at its surroundings relentlessly. Without purpose, it took a lot of fiber in him to remain on course- and while he knew Gabby did get it, she was an athlete, a copper, a special forces soldier who had that relentless conviction behind her, that change in his life felt like pulling the plug and rewiring up his head.

Even looking around, he could see it, the other office workers and builders, people who had no idea that him and Gabby were in the business of killing people in faraway lands so they could have stability of some kind. It was surreal, almost as if Tobias could almost tip over into that jaded side of him, but he was more than intelligent enough than to let him go that way. The truth was, it was a lesser evil what they did. And hey, it was cool as fuck...right? And on that melancholic note, the barista raised a hand and called out, the Cornishman motioning to go over.
"Thanks love." He commented, passing Gabby her hot chocolate and muffin, taking his brew and sugary donut after as he swiped his watch over the card machine, a satisfying bleep pinging across. With a gentle sigh, he picked out a group of seats by the window, walking over with a gentle clatter and taking a seat, exhaling as he gave it a moment for his caffiene rush to cool from its molten-hot state. Looking across, Tobias brushed a longish lock of his hair back a little, aware he didn't have that Israeli sass of his counterpart but more a surfer's vibe that perhaps was one of the few perks that came with private military work.

"Damn...what do you reckon, they gonna send us halfway across the world again? Seems sort of standard in our line of work...though I have to admit, it would be nicer to spend a bit more time somewhere. See the sights, actually appreciate the locals rather than you know....yeah." Tobias candidly remarked, gently sipping the coffee a bit in spite of how burningly hot it was, reclining back into his seat.
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Gabby took her order and followed along with Tobias, taking a seat opposite him and leaning back in the chair, crossing one leg over the other as she picked up her muffin and started to peel the wrapper from around the base, her almond-shaped eyes flicking between the sweet treat and her partner as he spoke.
"Hmm," she said, plucking a chunk of the spongy confection off and putting it into her mouth and chewing as she thought. "Well, we always end up where the action is," she reasoned. "And more often then not, with corporate interests in mind, rather than governmental or national ones - though, who knows," she quickly added. "Given we're based in the UK, and the legalities that entails, there's a few places off the list; I doubt we'll be heading to Russia or China anytime soon for example. Or anywhere 'dictatorial'. But that still leaves plenty of hotspots". She ticked off places on her fingers as she set the muffin down and glanced out the plate glass window at the come-and-go of the business park.
"Central Africa, Central or South America, Eastern Europe, or East Asia again. They're all pretty likely".
She sighed and nodded in agreement lifting her cup and taking a sip with a murmur of appreciation at the sweet silkiness of it, though the lava-like temperature ensured it was only a short sip.
"Mmm, got to agree with that," she replied to his comment about staying somewhere longer. "Sitting on a beach, or by a pool in the sun, sipping something with far too much alcohol and fruit in it and watching the world go by from behind a pair of fashionably oversized sunglasses. Sounds glorious," she said with a wistful expression crossing her face.
"Of course," she said with a resigned smirk and another sip of her drink. "More likely, is we'll be going to some rotting industrial craphole to rescue a bunch of idiotic businessmen whose private security went to internet mall ninja training school, and all we'll see if out of the Osprey window and the airport. But" she shrugged. "I'm banking up all my pay for a long, long holiday somewhere".
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