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Opinionated nerd for hire.

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In the middle years of their twenty-first century, the people of the Earth Realm have grown accustomed to their own private struggles, their own existential dreads, their own demons and hells that they fight on a daily basis. For most, those struggles are of a mundane variety, their demons and hells figurative. Only a precious few, however, know just how close the Earth Realm is to experiencing demons and hells of a very literal kind...

The Earth Realm is but one of many, and in its opposite Realm, the savage and brutal Outworld, the cunning and despotic emperor Shao Khan plots to grind all Realms beneath his heel. His sinister forces have conquered several Realms to absorb into his own, and now he has his sights set on the Earth Realm, and its billions of souls to consume. Whether it be through his hordes of vicious monsters or his manipulation of dark magics, Shao Khan has laid his plans to subvert and destroy the world of mortal men.

The only thing that has kept his dark armies at bay thus far has been the imposition of the Elder Gods. In order to conquer another Realm, the Gods have decreed the champions of both Realms must compete in the ultimate test of life and death: the Mortal Kombat tournament. Only when one Realm's champions have won ten consecutive tournaments can they lay claim to Konquest.

As of now, Outworld has won the last nine.

In a year's time, the tenth and final tournament between Outworld and the Earth Realm will begin. Raiden, God of Thunder and protector of Earth, is gathering the Earth Realm's greatest warriors in a desperate last defense, calling upon ancient allies, and making deals he would have never considered. Meanwhile, Shao Khan's emissary, the devious sorcerer Shang Tsung, gathers his own forces and schemes to undermine Raiden's champions, hoping to weaken or kill them before they even have a chance to make it to the tournament.

The fate of the Earth Realm hangs by a thread, and those who answer the call of Raiden or Shang Tsung will be tested. And both Raiden and Shang Tsung themselves will be tested as well.

What cost are you willing to pay for victory?

What are the things an evil soul would die for? And what are the things a good soul would kill for?

The tournament draws near. Konquest is nearly at hand.

Prepare for Kombat.





CHOOSE YOUR DESTINY


KonQuest is an RP set in an alternate version of the Mortal Kombat universe. While the driving figures behind each side (Raiden, Shang Tsung, Shao Khan, and a few outsiders like Quan Chi) are the same as they are in the games/movies/TV show/etc, the actual Kombatants will be OCs created by the players and pitted against each other. In this world, there is no 'Chosen One,' no unbeatable champion, no incorruptible hero to single-handedly save the day. The Earth Realm stands or falls based on your decisions, with Raiden attempting to bring the best out of each of his warriors, and Shang Tsung whispering in their ear to bring out the worst.

Players will be allowed to create characters (sorry, Kharacters) fighting for the Earth Realm or Outworld, or potentially outsider factions such as the Netherrealm (at GM's discretion). Heroes, villains, mercenaries, monsters, assassins, soldiers and sorcerers are all welcome. If you prove that you can reliably post with one Kharacter, you may be allowed a second one.






TEST YOUR MIGHT


All Kharacters are free to seek each other out and engage in PvP (this is an RP based off of a fighting game, after all). As well, the GM may send agents of rival factions after a Kharacter to test their abilities. In these moments, players are encouraged to communicate with each other on how the Kombat should go, brainstorm fun and creative ways to use their abilities on each other, create lasting consequences for the winner and loser of each fight, and of course, talk copious amounts of trash.

Given the most famous part of Mortal Kombat, there is one other thing that sets this game apart from similar RPs...




FINISH HIM!!!


At the end of Kombat, it is entirely possible for your Kharacter or for one of their NPCs to die. Players are forbidden from killing another player's Kharacter or their NPCs without explicit consent from the other player, but if it feels like a fitting story beat, players are encouraged to come up with an appropriate death scene, with the loser reaching some kind of final pathos before the victor performs a Fatality. A good Kharacter might try to dispatch an enemy quickly and painlessly, while an evil or sadistic one might take their time drawing the carnage out as much as possible. In any case, a Fatality should be just as much an expression of your Kharacter as any other part of them.

And if your Kharacter does die, that isn't necessarily the end. If your Kharacter has an NPC, or if you're allowed a second Kharacter, they may take their place and attempt to get revenge, or continue their legacy. And with the Netherrealm involved, there's always the possibility that your Kharacter could be restored to life....though whenever the death-god Shinnok and his minion Quan Chi are involved, there's always a price for that kind of 'miracle.'




FLAWLESS VICTORY


This RP will come to its end one year after the IC thread goes live, after which Raiden and Shang Tsung's preparations are complete, and the Tournament itself begins. Kharacters can change factions and even change alignments during the year-long buildup, but once the Tournament begins, everyone is locked in and all bets are off until only the forces of Earth Realm or Outworld are left standing.
I'd be down for a Deadwood-style RP, something centered around a small town where the PCs need to interact to achieve their personal goals. Mark me as interested.


People's Memorial Park (Formerly Xiu Springs Park)
Balya Gora
0900 Hours
29 March, 3030




"People of Espia," Grand General Nikolai Malenkov bellowed, his voice amplified through speakers throughout the park, "you have come here today to witness the People's Justice in action! Today, we bring judgment to enemies of the revolution, to enemies of the people! Today, we deal with those who spread chaos and terror, who spread lies and misinformation! Today, the will of Espia will be done!"

A throng of angry voices roared, thousands of the Espian capital's citizens shouting and pumping their fists in the air. Many had been all too willing to believe Malenkov's bluster, having suffered long under the previous government and wanted a change. Many shouted just to shout, to have some outlet for their rage and their frustration, and didn't care who was suffering now as long as it wasn't them. Many more, however, cheered because they knew the consequences of not cheering. Better to be a spectator of what was about to happen, than to be an unwilling participant.

"Comrades!" Malenkov called to the black-clad officers of Minister Ilyanovich's secret police, standing just to the side of the stage. "Bring forth the enemies of the people!"

As the angry, hungry masses shouted and jeered, a paunchy man with a receding hairline was dragged onto the stage. The prisoner did his best to put on a brave face, all defiance and indignation, until a guard struck him roughly in the gut with the butt of his rifle. He let out a somewhat nasal wail as he collapsed to his knees, drawing another roar from the crowd.

"Jeremy Soo-Won," the Grand General addressed his victim without looking at him, "You have been accused of spreading anti-revolutionary lies and propaganda. How do you plead?"

"This is lunacy!" Soo-Won protested. "I-I'm a news reporter! All I did was report ComStar's message about the--"

A second guard kicked the reporter in the teeth, and Soo-Won cried out, clutching his hands over his mouth. After a few seconds, blood visibly trickled from his fingers.

"You admit to perpetuating a dangerous and anti-revolutionary conspiracy theory," Malenkov pressed, "started by members of the Blakist cult, suggesting that the massacre at the Keahi Township was not perpetrated by the vicious and evil sell-swords the Green Knights, but by our own gallant allies the Crimson Fists in disguise! This notion is not only ridiculous on its face, but makes radical insinuations about the People's allies, and by extension the People themselves! By admitting to this deception, you are an enemy of the People!"

Jeremy Soo-Won was pulled from the center of the stage, taken a few paces back and to the side, where another pair of black-clad secret police officers were waiting for them. Soo-Won's face went white when he noticed there was a large tarp covering the floor where he had been set down, and the tarp already had a collection of dark brown-red stains.

Another victim was brought forward, a young olive-skinned woman with a buzzed haircut, and a wad of gauze taped over one eye.

"Regina Molokovich," Malenkov rattled off her name, "You are accused of using a stolen IndustrialMech, converted into a weapon of terror, and firing upon soldiers of the Espian Guard. How do you plead?"

Molokovich scowled defiantly and spat at Malenkov. While the wad of saliva fell short of the target, the message was clear. The two soldiers that had brought her to the stage quickly descended upon her with a flurry of boots and rifle butts, making sure not to hit her head and end the entertainment too early. Once she had been brought low, they dragged her to the back of the stage next to Soo-Won.

This brought a decidedly mixed reaction from the crowd. Many shouted all the louder, their rage brought to a fever pitch. Others turned their heads and looked away.

"Kai Li Hu," Malenkov addressed the next prisoner as if nothing had happened, "you are accused of aiding and abetting the radical terrorist organization known as the Heavenly Sword, a cult of zealots who would see our world and our People brought back under the oppressive yoke of House Liao. How do you plead?"

"Glory to the Celestial Throne!" Li Hu shouted with fanatical vigor. "Premier Federov is a false ruler, and you are a blustering puppet! Only the guiding hand of Heaven can--"

Like the others, Kai Li Hu was silenced by the heavy-handed guards. This time, the crowd was united in its cheering. While many have secretly harbored sympathies for the Free People's Army, no sane person on the planet had any love for the Heavenly Sword.

One by one, more prisoners were dragged before the mob, and their alleged crimes against the people read aloud. FPA soldiers and sympathizers, teachers and academics who promoted 'anti-revolutionary thinking,' workers caught slacking on their shifts, neighbors who had been reported for not reciting the Pledge of the People's Loyalty during morning reveille or evening curfew. Even a few actual criminals sprinkled in here and there, just to keep the crowd's righteous fury stoked.

This was not merely a public execution. In fact, many of the people brought to this stage would live...but only after they had been thoroughly broken. This was a "struggle session," a political ritual first popularized on ancient Terra in the twentieth century. Rather than merely being shot or hanged, these prisoners were to be humiliated, beaten, subjected to all manner of horrors until they confessed to their crimes, until they swore true loyalty to Federov's rightful rule, or until they died.

The secret police would begin their punishments, but soon after, members of the crowd would be allowed to join in, then people close to the prisoners. It wasn't uncommon for students to turn against their teachers, husbands to betray their wives, children to turn against their parents, and vice versa.

Under Federov's watch, with Malenkov's iron fist bearing down on the people and Ilyanovich's secret police in the shadows, Balaya Gora had become a veritable hell, where fear and paranoia reigned supreme. And too many people had come to believe that the only way to survive in hell was to behave as devils.

Malenkov stepped from the podium, moving to the far right of the stage and stepping onto the tread of the massive tank they had brought out for this ceremony. A hulking beast with a rounded, dome-like turret sporting a pair of wide-bore cannons, the Demolisher was one of many new toys the Espian Guard's benefactor had so generously given them. This was a tank that could kill assault Mechs, and Malenkov had promised to ride it into battle against the Green Knights, and any other 'enemies of the People' he could imagine.

The Grand General waved to the roaring crowd, ready to let the struggle session begin in earnest. He knew most of them hated him, would cry for joy and relief if he died. But as long as he fed them "enemies of the people," they would fear him more than they hated him, and in time, would convince themselves that they loved him.

"People of Espia," he shouted as they rose to a crescendo, "Let the People's Justice be done!"




Temporary Headquarters of the Free People's Army
Abandoned Metro Station, underneath the corner of 41st and Mayfly
South Nui Awa
0930 Hours
29 March, 3030




"You're sure this is real?" Councilor Maria Kang asked, watching again the footage of a Hunchback in Green Knights' livery being gunned down by a lance of mechs flying the same colors.

"As sure as we can be," Captain Ryan Taggert answered. "This was delivered to us by our contact within the ComStar compound. We can't find any trace of digital tampering, and our contact promises it's the raw BattleROM footage."

"Of course, we all know how much a promise from ComStar is worth," Commander Suraj Patel remarked. A former Free Worlder, his people had had a long and turbulent history with the Blakists. "We must remember that information control is their lifeblood; believe nothing they tell you, and only half of what they show you."

"If that's the case," Kang mused, "then the original footage of the Keahi Township massacre should be called into question even more. Taggert, tell our contact that the meeting is back on."

"Consider it done," Taggert said. When the news of the massacre first broke, various cells of the FPA were thrown into chaos. Before, many had been pushing to find and recruit the surviving members of Gawain's Green Knights, but were now calling for their blood. ComStar's supposed revelation of a frame-job had calmed some of that, but many still weren't sure what to believe.

"This is not something we should take lightly, Madam Councilor," Patel said.

"Agreed," Kang nodded, "that's why we're not making any promises or signing any deals. Just meeting with the Knights, making sure they're above board."

"I seem to remember Gawain's Green Knights on Governor Xiu's payroll," Patel mused. "Using mercenaries who were in the pocket of our previous oppressors will not go over well."

"The Knights were on Xiu's payroll, but they weren't part of Xiu's regime," Taggert countered. "All reports we have of their actions before the coup were clean. The only civilian casualties on their record were caused by Espian Guard troops working with the Knights, not by the Knights themselves."

"You think we can trust them?"

Taggert considered his answer carefully. "I think we can deal with them. More importantly, I think we can't afford not to deal with them, and they can't afford not to deal with us. We have supply lines they need, logistical support. We have infantry, artillery, and armor we can offer. They have heavy Battlemechs-- and let's not forget, if Stiletto is correct about the after-action reports at the Nui Awa Dam, they have a nuke."

That last part hung heavy over the three de facto leaders of the FPA. A weapon of mass destruction, even a low-yield one, could swing the tide of the war if put in the right place at the right time. It could also leave a stain on their souls forever if things went wrong.

"We need to end this war," Kang stated, "and the Green Knights are our best shot at doing it. I want to meet them face-to-face within 24 hours."




Maintenance Sub-Level
Fort Tie Shan
1200 Hours
29 March, 3030


"Hello?" Diego von Kemp called out, his voice echoing down the long, dark corridors. "Is anyone here?"

Diego had gotten into it with one of the older kids, the ones who had come in after them and didn't have parents. They'd grouped together into little gangs, and while Miss Sally and the other grown-ups tried to keep them in line, when the adults weren't looking, the big kids would find any excuse to torment the younger kids like him. This time, during the mid-day recreation break in the yard, he'd stood up for himself and given one of the boys a bloody nose. They hadn't liked that, so they chased him around the yard, threatening to beat his face in.

"Hello-o-o-o?" he tried again, this time more for the fun of making his voice echo than for any actual hope of being heard.

The guards didn't pay much attention to the kids in the fort; they were more interested in keeping the grown-ups from "getting any funny ideas." It was easier than he'd thought to slip out of the yard when the guards weren't looking, but his pursuers got past them just as easily. He knew better than to run down the main halls; another guard would catch him, send him back to the yard, maybe give him a backhand for annoying them. He'd tried to hide in a janitor's closet, but found out it was actually a hatch for a maintenance tunnel, one that led down and down further into the prison.

When Diego heard the older boys also climbing into the tunnels, he kept running, going down until he no longer heard their voices. He had no idea where he was, other than it was somewhere way down, and somewhere too dark.

"Whoa," Diego said to no one as he rounded a corner, the small, narrow maintenance tunnel suddenly becoming a catwalk. The catwalk was old, rickety, and creaked when Diego stepped on it. His foot caught a loose screw and rolled it off, and it was a couple of seconds before Diego heard it hit the ground. Wherever he was now, he was on the top part of some big room, and it was a long drop if the catwalk broke.

Every rational part of his brain, every sensible bone in his body, told him to head back, to find his way back upstairs before the guards noticed he was missing.

The part of him that had crawled around in forgotten mine shafts on Strang's World, the part of him that wanted to know every dark nook and cranny to hide from bullies or sneak up on his sisters, had to know where this led.

Slowly, carefully, Diego inched himself along in the dark, praying to find a light switch somewhere at the other end of the catwalk. He didn't know how long it took, stopping himself short every time the old metal structure creaked, moaned, or shuddered. Eventually, however, he reached the end of catwalk, finding a dusty metal wall, and he clumsily groped for a light with every slow, deliberate step he took.

Finally, after what felt like hours of fumbling in the blackness, he found a heavy switch, and flipped it.

For a moment, nothing happened. Then, with an angry buzz, a handful of service lights flickered on. They were dull and dim, and most could only manage a few seconds of illumination before flickering back out, but what Diego could see made his jaw drop.

This was a loading bay. A big one, like the one on the Clover. People could move all sorts of stuff in a room this big, maybe even Mechs.

At the far end of the bay, Diego saw a pair of huge sliding doors, cracked partway open. And again, he had to know what was on the other side.

Diego slowly crept along the scaffolding, holding onto the railing whenever it looked strong enough to support him, flattening against the wall where it looked dangerous. He reached a ladder well and began climbing down, cursing when he realized the ladder didn't reach all the way down. There was a good five foot drop onto a hard floor, and Diego thought about his choices.

He could climb back up and find another way to the floor. He could head back up and hope he didn't get in too much trouble. Or he could let go at the bottom of the ladder, and risk really hurting himself.

At the bottom of his climb, Diego took a deep breath...and let go of the ladder.

He managed to land on his feet, but his legs gave out underneath him and he quickly crumpled to his back. Diego groaned painfully for a moment, quickly checked to make sure his arms and legs weren't broken, then with the confident sense of invincibility only afforded to children who don't know how fragile they are, he picked himself up and approached the enormous doors.

Why is there a loading bay so far underground? he wondered to himself. What kind of stuff were they moving down here?

When another service light flickered by him, casting a long shadow against a distant wall, Diego got a better sense for how big this place was, and how much trouble he could be in. Maybe the guards or the big kids wouldn't find him, and something else down here would...

He was ten years old, too old to believe in monsters and bogeymen. But he'd heard Pops tell stories of huge animals on some of the alien planets he'd visited. Big crab-like things that lived down in the bottom of the ocean. Winged lizards so big, you could ride them. Worms that dug through the ground and left tunnels you could drive a train through.

His imagination running wild, Diego began to tremble, but he kept moving forward, one careful step after another, until finally he reached the doors.

They were gigantic, easily big enough to fit a Mech through. And while they were mostly closed, 'mostly' at that size meant still more than enough room for him to peer through.

Diego poked his head through the enormous bay doors, and saw a sign. Dimly lit by the service lights, he could barely read it, but the sign was in plain English.

WARNING!

ACCESS TUNNEL 033

UNDER MAINTENANCE

DO NOT ENTER


At the bottom of the sign, Diego saw something that made him gasp: an eight-pointed star, the point on the right side elongated to make the star look almost like an overturned kite. In his old copy of Doctor Banzai's Primer for Elementary History, that logo was the sign of the Star League.

A few more ancient Star League service lights flickered in the distance, showing him a tunnel that stretched on and on into the distance.

"Oh wow," was all he could manage. He'd heard Miss Sally and Miss Cynthia arguing about what they were going to do, what if the guards decided to start hurting them, how they might get out.

This might be the answer they were looking for. He had to get back up to the top levels, to tell Miss Sally what he'd found...

...that is, as long as he could find a way back up off of this floor...
I N T E R L U D E


NPDRE Forward Operating Base
North Nui Awa
1800 Hours
28 March, 3030


"What a goddamn mess," Jester 2 muttered to herself as she read the tactical debriefing on her noteputer, detailing the ambush at the Hiyan-Chia Mountain Pass. This operation was supposed to be easy; knock over a company of mercs who weren't expecting anything more than a few angry civvies, then keep the local yokels in line until the cavalry arrived. They had an army at their back, and the "resistance" groups they faced were a joke. Two thirds of Gawain's Green Knights had been wiped out in the initial coup, and they were supposed to be down to a single lance. The Knights were supposed to be on the way out.

So how the hell had they gotten the better of them twice now?

"Excuse me, sir?" the timid voice of one of the local AsTechs came from outside of her tent, with a light tapping on the front flap the closest equivalent to knocking.

"What is it?" Jester 2 growled.

"I, ah, was asked by Captain Albano to ask how long you and your Warhammer were planning to, erm, 'grace us with your presence' before you rejoined your Lance, and--"

The AsTech- a twentysomething blonde girl who always looked like she was trying to defuse a bomb when speaking to her- ducked with surprisingly fast reflexes as Jester 2's noteputer flew past where her head was a split-second before.

"I don't have a Lance anymore, you idiot," Jester 2 spat as she fumbled around inside her tent, looking for the full-face mask she wore to cover her identity from the people of Espia. When she finally managed to pull it over her face, she opened the tent flap and stared the AsTech down. "Haven't you read the reports?"

The ambush in the mountain pass had been a disaster. Stroheim-- or rather, "Yellow Jester"-- had gotten too lost in his gimmick, especially after they'd stomped that village. He was always a creep and an animal, but something had finally driven him fully looney. He led her Lance mates right into a trap, and rather than withdraw until backup could arrive, he'd charged in and gotten them all killed.

She didn't particularly like any of the other members of Jester Lance-- frankly, they'd all been assholes. Not that she was any better; she'd taken part in the carnage just as willingly as the rest of them. But that didn't make them any easier to get along with. She wouldn't be crying for 'Honk Honk' or 'Mister Dimples' or whatever other stupid names 'Jester' had given them. No, what got to her was the fact that if it weren't for her foot actuator acting up...she would've died right along with them.

"N-no, sir! I-I was told anything about your unit is n-need to know!"

"Well," she snarled, "What you need to know is that I'm waiting for Crimson King and Fire Witch to come here, so I can rendezvous with the other Crimson Fists."

The AsTech gulped. "Th-they're coming here?"

"They'll be here within 24 hours," she said, "And they're not going to like it if my Warhammer still has a busted foot actuator."

The blonde girl turned pale, and underneath her mask, Jester 2 grinned. Things might be getting out of hand, but it did make her feel a little better about herself to be able to make these indigs squirm.

"And whose responsibility is it to make sure that the Crimson King and the Fire Witch aren't upset about that foot actuator?" she said, twisting the proverbial knife a bit.

"...th-the maintenance te--"

"Yours," she snarled. "Which means if the repairs aren't done, then all of the repercussions of that are yours as well. Got that?"

"Y-yes, sir," the AsTech stammered.

"Now say it again. Whose job is it?" Jester 2 said, her hand wandering to the laser pistol by her nightstand.

"M-mine! Mine!" the AsTech all but screamed.

"Good, now go," she dismissed the shivering blonde. "And tell Captain Albano-- and use these exact words-- that if he has any more stupid fucking questions for his betters, he can take them up with the King."

The trembling AsTech ran from her tent, and Jester 2 laughed to herself. This 'masked villain' routine was ridiculous, but she did get a kick out of scaring people like this. She could see how Captain Humphr--that is, "Crimson King"-- and the others, could buy into this act.

"Mine...mine..." the girl kept muttering as she ran from the masked mercenary's tent. Tears flecked the corners of her eyes, and a few of the other techs sneered cruelly as she ran past.

Whoever this Mechwarrior was, she was just as much of a psychopath as the stories all said...

"...mine....mine...."

....which meant that she was going to sleep easy when the time came to kill her.

"....mine....mine...."

Since coming to North Nui Awa, the woman in the dirty faded jumpsuit had been any number of things. She'd been a hungry refugee, trying to escape the horrors of the conflict. She'd been a ditzy party girl, looking for some thrills with a hot young man in uniform. She'd been a desperate out-of-work wrench monkey who would do any job for a paycheck. And when backs were turned and guards were down, she'd been making quite a mess.

"....mine....mine...."

Killing NPDRE soldiers and officers had become almost second nature to her now, getting her the supplies she'd needed to escape Baliya Gora, the food and money to survive in a strange city, and eventually the credentials to get onto the NPDRE forward operating base without drawing attention to herself.

She was getting closer and closer to her ultimate target, but it wasn't going to be easy.

"....mine....mine...."

She was thankful that the Crimson Fist Mechwarrior always wore a full-face mask. And that she was close enough to her size that she could pass for her once she put on the flight suit. But it wasn't going to be a simple matter of jumping into the cockpit and strolling away.

There was a long list of checks and procedures that had to be followed. Security measures she'd need to overcome. The Neurohelmet itself was almost certainly neuro-locked to 'Jester 2,' so anyone else putting it on would likely have their brain fried. These were problems, but none were insurmountable. Just like she'd done back on Von Strang's world, if she couldn't figure out a problem herself, she had all sorts of ways to pressure the people who did know to do it for her.

"....mine....mine...."

Lena Von Kemp, 'Wrathchild' of Gawain's Green Knights, slowed her run to the collection of gantries and cranes that made the makeshift Mech bay. Pretending to be rattled and out of breath, she told the other Mech techs to double their efforts, overriding any and all security protocols if need be. When the chief tech asked who she thought she was, using the name of the Fire Witch scared him into compliance.

That itself was a bitter pill for her, since she'd learned the Fire Witch was in the Longbow that had killed her own Wolverine during the coup. But Lena would make sure that both she and this so-called 'Crimson King' would get what's coming to them.

She looked up at the 70-ton Warhammer, and while frightened and breathless on the outside, on the inside Wrathchild was hungry.

Mine.
HOOOOONNNNKKKK!!!!!


As if in reply to Daschke's demands, the loud blaring horn of a big-rig truck cut through the air, causing no small number of the crewmen to flinch.

"What's that?" Sunny asked from inside a hollowed-out clothes dryer, one of the dozens of hiding places she'd found in the scrapyard where she could watch the Mechwarriors without getting in the way. Pops, who had been keeping her far enough away that she didn't get caught in the brawl but close enough that he could still watch and take bets, grunted.

"Ol' Maxie wasn't kidding," Pops said as the rumbling of huge diesel engines grew into a dull roar, "His boys work quick."

After another blast of the horn, the gates to Uncle Mack's Scrapyard swung open, allowing in a small convoy. The scrappers themselves, still covered in dust and grime from digging through the debris of the Green Knights' battle, mostly rode in on smaller vehicles, dirtbikes and ATVs and buggies, hooting and yelling with triumphant excitement about the haul they'd brought in.

Following behind on a trio of flatbed trucks, was the haul itself.

As the fray in the makeshift Mech bays parted, Colonel Wayne emerged from the Mobile HQ, just as "Honest" Ollie Maxwell poked his head out from the cabin of the lead truck. "Good t'see ya agin, Mister Colonel Sir! We done brought in one helluva catch fer ya!"

"I'll be damned," the Colonel muttered as he approached the lead truck, and Ollie Maxwell clambered out onto the roof of the cabin, then began climbing on top of his prized salvage.

Strapped to the bed of the lead truck, battered and crushed but still in one piece (for the most part), was the Crimson Fists' Catapult. Somehow, though for the life of him Gaius couldn't have guessed how, Maxwell's pickers had managed to dig a 65-ton Battlemech out of the rubble and drag it out from the bottom of the mountain pass.

"Weren't easy, I can tell ya that fer sure," Ollie answered the Colonel's unspoken question, beaming proudly from atop the ruined Mech. "An' I do b'lieve my boys'll be entitled to some proper compensation fer our efforts. But hot damn if this ain't the best scrap we ever got! Reactor's intact, gyro's stable, mosta the in-ternal structure's holdin' up. All she really needs is a few patches here'n'ere, a fresh licka paint, an' spray out the cockpit with a hose, an' she'll be ready fer some action!"

"A total salvage," Pops said, letting out an impressed whistle. "I'll be dipped in shit."

"That's gross," Sunny remarked.

"Maxvell not onlee vonn viz great syalvage," piped in the big burly Marozov from the second truck. "Vee heff pulled as much vyaluwabul eqvipment and veapons from enemy byattulmyechs as vas vorth taking. Enough to fix Mechs, to repair dyamage, to customize Mechs how you vish! All at very reasonable prices, of course!"

Maxwell and Marozov's crews began unloading ton after ton of equipment picked over from the ruined Crimson Fists.

Several tons worth of Battlemech-quality armor, bundles of myomer fiber and actuators, pieces of Mech "bones," enough raw material that an experienced crew of Mech techs with the right equipment could patch up structural holes and even rebuild lost limbs. Pops saw plenty of spare engine and gyro parts in the mix as well, and his mind began turning thinking of ways to tune up the Green Knights' machines.

The haul of weaponry wasn't half bad, either. Partial salvage on a PPC and an LRM launcher, full salvage on pair of medium lasers, a flamer, two SRM launchers, even the massive autocannon from the Hunchback, with spare parts from the Mechbuster's cannon as well.

"Not bad, Mister Maxwell, not bad at all," Colonel Wayne said, clearly getting plenty of ideas of his own. "I want a full inventory of the salvage, and then we'll discuss the best way to split everything up. Chief!"

Deck Chief Sol Aadil, a wrench in one hand and someone's lapel still in the other, looked up. "Sir?"

"Coordinate with Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Marozov on where to store the salvage while we negotiate. Green Knights?"

Looking over the scene of the brawl, the Colonel scowled. "Since we don't have a functional brig to administer Level 1 disciplinary action at the moment, we'll have to make do with something more short-term, but which will still get the point across. Ten lashes for everyone involved, before the day is out. Dismissed."

As the crewmen involved in the fight sullenly began to line up, Sonny tugged on Pops' overalls.

"Why's the Colonel being so mean to them?" she asked. "I thought he was happy about getting all this stuff!"

"I'm sure he is," Pops nodded, "But he's got to keep the peace, even if that means being hard on the people under his command sometimes. Besides, sticking our Mechwarriors in some rusty shack for a week would kill our morale way more than a few welts and bruised egos. This way, they can take their licks for acting out of turn, then still get to celebrate their win after they're done."

"Awright, boys, git the hose an' let's open 'er up!" Maxwell shouted as he started to pry at the cockpit of the Catapult.

"Now c'mon, squirt, let's go find somethin' else to do for a bit," Pops said, pulling Sunny out from inside the hollowed-out dryer. "You don't need to be seeing what's in there."


"You stupid little--get offa me!" Remy snarled inside his cockpit as a det-pack went off underneath his Mech's right arm. The infantry trooper hadn't positioned it well enough to damage the actuator, so it did little more than blast off a few pocks of armor, but the fact that these ground-pounders were even on him in the first place chapped his ass something fierce. And it wasn't exactly a party on his stomach, either.

Twisting the Firestarter left and right, rapidly throwing the Mech's throttle from full-speed to full-reverse, swatting across the 35-tonner's chassis with his arms, Remy tried to shake the jump-troopers off. While they were like fish in a barrel during their initial descent, rooting the rest of them out had been a lot more difficult, as they'd gotten into cover and a few had managed to outflank him. If he'd been a more dedicated Light 'Mech jock, he probably would've been able to avoid the trouble, and could've used the Firestarter's speed and agility to put himself into a better position. But Murder One had always been a heavier girl in all of her past lives. He was used to wading into the thick of it and letting his guns and armor do the work.

Still, no time like the present to learn some new tricks.

Bracing himself from within his cockpit, Remy deliberately threw the Firestarter backwards, his stomach lurching up into his throat as the 'Mech toppled over onto its back. On impact, he was thrown hard against his command couch, and alarms began blaring, but as soon as he confirmed none of his bones were broken, he grinned. Any poor bastard clinging onto the Murder One's back would've been squashed flat.

Torquing hard on the control sticks and straining the Mech's gyro, he was able to get his Firestarter to roll over onto its front, crushing more troopers under its weight. 35 tons wasn't much mass to throw against another Battlemech, but against an 80kg human being, it might as well have been the weight of the planet.

Using the Mech's arms to push itself up and get its legs underneath it, Remy got Murder One back to a standing position and began looking for any survivors. Sure enough, a single infantryman was trying to crawl away from him, dragging himself by one good arm while his mangled legs hung limply.

"Lucky little bastard, surviving that," Overkill said over his external speakers, before pointing the arm-mounted Flamers at him. "Well....maybe not that lucky..."

With a loud FWOOSH and another sharp spike of heat inside the cockpit, it was done. "All clear, boss," he chimed in to the rest of the lance.

Remy looked at the aftermath of the battle, and couldn't help but wonder what the hell these pirates thought was so damned valuable to be worth getting wiped out like that. Most of the pirates he'd ever encountered weren't exactly the type to stick around for a fair fight, much less one against an overwhelming force. Not just that, but they had a lot more hardware than expected- artillery, jump troopers, even a damn Hunchback. He was pretty fairly convinced these guys had more going on than your average pirate band.

On the other hand, they'd also tried to use infantry to engage a Firestarter, and Remy couldn't have imagined a stupider move, so maybe he was giving them too much credit.


"Oh, I see you've got some jokes of your own!" the Yellow Jester shouted over his comms, apparently oblivious to the stone bridge beneath him beginning to buckle from the combined fire of the Green Knights. "Stop me if you've heard this one!"

The Crusader turned its attention to the Green Knights' Ostroc, letting loose into the already wounded Mech with a salvo of Short-Range Missiles, Medium Lasers, and Machine Gun fire. Both lasers struck home, carving rivulets of molten armor from the Ostroc's left leg and scoring a direct hit in the center of its torso. While the Machine Gun fire sparked and panged harmlessly across the Mech's armor, six of the Crusader's twelve SRMs impacted. Armed with Inferno warheads, these missiles coated the Ostroc in white-hot incendiary gel, spiking the laser-boat's heat to dangerous levels.

"Hey, Jester?" Captain Waffles called out in his effectively pristine Catapult. "I don't think this ground is safe. What say we back off and--"

"NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BACK AWAY!!!!" the lunatic shouted, the bridge crumbling with every step. "NOW IS THE TIME TO HARTY-WARTY-PARRRTYYYY!!!!"

"Oh, to hell with this," the Catapult pilot said, triggering his jump jets and rising up into the air. "You can get killed all you want, Stroheim, I'm gonna--"

A volley of SRMs from the Green Knights' Raven cut off Captain Waffles' sentence, with most of the warheads blasting away chunks of armor but doing little else. One missile, however, struck the Catapult directly in the cockpit, throwing the Crimson Fists' Mechwarrior hard against the restraints of his command couch and smacking his head hard against a console. Reflexively, his grip tightened on the firing studs of his control sticks, returning fire against the Raven with a salvo of medium lasers just as he lost consciousness.

Two of the lasers went wide, but the other two connected. One caught the smaller Mech square in the center torso, while the other penetrated the remaining armor on its right side, and appropriately enough, disabled the SRM launcher that had killed him.

Rather than retreat back to safety as intended, the unconscious Captain Waffles brought his Catapult straight up, then straight back down onto the bridge, just as the combined fire of the Green Knights caused the bridge to give way.

"Ohhhhh," Yellow Jester said, seemingly finally aware of what his enemies had done. "...now that's funny!"

The mountain pass resounded with the thunderous noise of crumbling rock as the bridge gave way, the last two Crimson Fist Battlemechs plummeting down into the ravine. Amid the deafening racket, the Yellow Jester's laughter played out over the comms as his Crusader, the Catapult, and the remains of the Hunchback were swallowed up in the darkness and dust below.

"Sensors are showing the other Mechbuster is bugging out," Colonel Wayne called out on the Green Knights' channel. "The Espian Guard still has a wing of Meteor fighters on patrol, estimated time they'll be converging on the area within thirty minutes. Plenty of time for us to give them the slip. Return to base for debriefing and repairs."

Closing the channel, the Colonel let out a deep sigh.

"Whoo, that's how it's done!" Cadet Higgins shouted, pumping his fists into the air. "Scratch one whole lance of Crimson Shits!"

"I thought you were calling them 'Fisters,'" Cadet Windham said.

"Well, the latter eventually leads to the former," Higgins sneered.

"That's disgusting," Lieutenant Lyons scolded her cadets.

"Hey, what's disgusting is how one-sided our win was," Higgins laughed. "The Crimson Fists kept talking a big game about how they were gonna wipe the Green Knights out, and then when it came to an actual stand-up fight, they went down faster than a Canopian Cat-Girl on--"

"That's enough," the Colonel cut them off.

"Apologies, Colonel," Lieutenant Lyons said, rebuking Higgins and Windham with a dirty look. "We're just excited to have gotten a big win on the board. After what those guys did to that village, taking them down has to have felt pretty good, right?"

The Colonel looked at the monitors, showing BattleROM footage transmitted from Ziska's Raven.

"We've bloodied their noses, and collected data that will help clear our name of the massacre," he stated. "As for it feeling good, after what happened to Keahi, seeing what they did while wearing our colors....no, it really doesn't."

The rest of their trip was spent in silence as the Mobile HQ made its way down the mountain pass, slinking away into the night.

M I S S I O N S U C C E S S F U L
I was planning on putting in an application a week ago, but life happened. Now that life has settled down a bit:

Name: Heart of Dixie Wrestling
Territory: Alabama, east Mississippi. Shows (mostly) run out of the Gadsden Coliseum, an all-purpose sports complex, gym, and rec center in Gadsden, Alabama.
Style: old-school Southern rasslin'
Television: NWA-HDW Saturday Night Special, airing at 11pm Saturday nights on CBS-affiliate stations in the surrounding counties
Promotion Champions:
Heart of Dixie Champion: "Action" Jack Macklin- a muscle bound hunk now well into his forties, Action Jack was at one time the hottest up-and-coming contender in the NWA...until he got injured and Mighty Morgan took his spot. Macklin is a shell of what he used to be, and while he puts on a happy face for the fans, inside he's a deeply bitter, resentful man.
HDW Tag Team Champions: The Hollywood Express. A pair of cagey heels who know every dirty trick in the game, "Nasty" Nick Rogers and "Handome" Dan Henshaw used to terrorize the larger Georgia territory along with their arch-rivals the Rockin' Rebels. Once the Rebels broke up, however, the Express have been floundering, and are trying to revitalize their career.
Queen of Dixie Champion: Princess Pauline McLarty. A 20-year-old beauty pageant contender who is only there because her father, car dealership tycoon "Big Bill" McLarty, is a lifelong mark who pays HDW's bills.

Promotion Top Stars:
"The Outlaw" Bart McCall: an aging cowboy wrestler and former NWA Champion, everyone respects and reveres McCall as a legend, just as much as everyone knows the Outlaw's best days are far behind him.
"Disaster" Don Murdock: a 400-lb biker with a questionable past, Disaster Don has been HDW's top heel for years. Don is fiercely loyal to HDW, and doesn't like that the title and the spot of head Booker have both gone to "tourists" from up north.
Ricky Romeo: a good-looking rookie talent, Ricky Romeo is something of a local heartthrob, but hasn't really found his character yet. Most people agree he's only here until he's ready to move on to a bigger promotion.
"Rocketman" Shawn Dillon: a high-flyer and former NBA hopeful, Dillon is a reliable fan-favorite who struggles with cracking the main event. Shawn suspects he's being intentionally held back because of his race.
Mad Maxie: another rookie with a "crazy mental patient" gimmick, Mad Maxie is actually Maxine Macklin, Action Jack's daughter. While she was initially happy to follow in her dad's footsteps, she's beginning to resent only getting opportunities because of her dad, and is struggling to find her own identity out from under his shadow.

Booker: Dennis "Sonny" DeAngelo
Sonny DeAngelo started his career in the movie industry in the 1970s, working on low-budget action flicks, corny daytime soap operas, and trashy pornos. While he's always done low-brow work, he nevertheless takes the creative side of his job seriously, as he sees it as the only "honest" art there is, giving people the cheap violence and sex appeal that everyone wants on a primal level. In the 80s, Sonny found himself working for the NWA in the New York territory, and found it a natural fit. His proclivities for drugs, cheap sex, and gambling made him popular with the boys in the locker room, but also got him in trouble with some very shady people. When the NWA began to clean up its corporate image, DeAngelo was one of the first people on the chopping block.

Looking for work and wanting to put as much distance between himself and the shady types he owed back North, Sonny traveled South and found a rinky-dink rasslin' promotion in Alabama, somewhere he could ply his trade as a creative genius of the low-brow arts without drawing too much attention to himself. He befriended the promotion's money-man, the boisterous and dumb-as-a-brick Big Bill McLarty, and before Big Bill knew it Sonny was the head Booker of Heart of Dixie Wrestling.

Over the last year, however, Sonny has started to realize he may have bitten off more than he could chew. Heart of Dixie was always smaller than the larger Georgia territory, but now the Atlanta shows are starting to move in on their turf. The crowds simply aren't as interested in the old-school Southern heroes as they used to be, especially since most of them are getting old and fat and dysfunctional, and any up-and-coming talent is quick to get poached by Atlanta. HDW can barely afford to keep the lights on, even after squeezing more money from Bil Bill- and worse, Sonny's "friends" from up North have caught up with him. Both HDW and Sonny himself are on borrowed time, and if things don't change quickly, neither one might live to see 1991.
Edit: wrong thread
I'm definitely interested.
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