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”Boring!” Karel teased in response to Sulser’s ‘teetotaler’ comment before acknowledging Ulrik’s order, turning the Mongoose’s torso toward the Raven. ”Race you there.” He joked, matching the slower ‘Mech’s pace as they headed back to the DropShip to pick up a load of crunchies of their own. Hardly a surprise to Karel they’d done this well. Given the pirates’ equipment and tactics, the bar was so low it was a tripping hazard in Hell, The League could’ve mopped them up. Well, okay, (un)SAFE would still probably swear up and down the moon was uninhabited, but that was just a fact of life one accepted and moved on.

Not feeling like clearing out pirate bunkers - if he wanted to do that, he wouldn’t have spent years training to be a MechWarrior - he keyed his mic. ”I’m staying outside. Don’t get turned around in there in case you need to scram.” He continued the role he’d been filling thus far, circling the base in search of trouble, or perhaps some stragglers who saw the writing on the wall and tried to surrender. Not that he expected anything of note, given the amount of scrap the company has left in their wake as they charged up the valley. Not unless the VTOLs fancied round two, which would’ve been straight up suicide. They got their shit kicked in when they had jumpers and a ‘Mech, alone they’d be headed for a slaughter. Maybe they could go look for them later, a few intact VTOLs never hurt.
Camp Hannula, Pöyrisjärvi National Park, Finland
2000 Local Time

“Well, you can't just go rogue when the world's hunting anything that has your face.” Adam moralized, eliciting a chuckle from Ebrima as he let go of his weapon again, visibly loosening up. ”Evidently she can.” The Cameroonian shrugged, ”And if convention was followed in Raven, there would be no Raven. I’ve learned that much in my brief time here. Welcome back, Major. I trust a dog’s nose.” He stated plainly, a mischievous smirk growing on his face. ”Correct answers, sure, but: Dog.”

”We’ve agreed to postpone the fight to the death until after the current world ending crisis is resolved. One might say we are balancing on a knife’s edge.” He followed up on Purna’s comment about their little situation. Ebrima wasn’t in the least surprised Raven knew a lot about a lot, and if Raph had indeed taken part in the Shalev operation then it only made sense he’d have shared what he knew about the boxed crook they were supposed to trust with their lives in a fight. He’d have to do some digging later, figure out just how good Raven’s homework squad was. His work for Shaelv was hardly a secret, Enri having been one of the behind the scenes crew while Ebrima had been Avital’s pale shadow wherever the arms dealer went, but if they had somehow managed to dig up his childhood, he’d be officially impressed. Also mad as fuck.

But something Skye said caught Ebrima’s ear. ‘Enri’. A name was just a name, familiar or not. Once is a happenstance.
A Japanese woman named ‘Enri’ in her late twenties, short, thin. It was a Japanese woman’s name, and half of that country needed a few burgers to bulk up and platform boots to see a bus over a proper dog. Twice is a circumstance.
A Japanese woman named ‘Enri’ in her late twenties, short, thin, and a superstar hacker of loose morals. Thrice was deliberate action.
And then the full name. A ghost from the recent past, soil barely settled on the figurative grave in Ebrima’s mind. No wonder he didn’t recognize her standing there, even if he’d known she was alive. Comparing her then to now was like if he grew an afro and painted himself his biologically correct skin color.
Enri Uemura
Camp Hannula, Pöyrisjärvi National Park, Finland

Enri, on the other hand, was shocked by Skye’s knowledge, or at least an aspect of it. ”Hang on a fucking minute: You knew we used to work together, you knew how that ended, you probably then knew the specifics, you work with this coke-faced, spineless, backstabbing, shameless fuck and you didn’t fucking tell me?” She gave Skye a face and a wide shrug with her hands, an expression and gesture practically yelling ‘What the fuck?’ almost as loud as Enri. It was a good thing that woman dragged Ban away so she could break decorum and speak her mind without concern. Not that anyone would really care, every single person in that room could bench her and call for more weights doing it, the big ones with just one hand. She was like a chihuahua yelling at a Belgian Malinois in the presence of German Shepherds and Saint Bernards.

A few paces away, the coke-faced, spineless, backstabbing, shameless fuck was visibly confused on several levels, wondering how she was there, where all of this was coming from and how and when to start unpacking this issue, all the while trying not to laugh at the absurdity of the scene and the fact Enri was somehow alive. There was enough fuel in the dumpster fire already without pouring gasoline on top of it. ”I have no clue how you survived that, but it’s clear that we’re both missing critical pieces of the puzzle that is the past two months. I’d-”
”Fuck off and don’t even breathe around me, you know what you did.” Enri jabbed a finger in his direction and turned to storm out, stopping halfway when she remembered that door didn’t lead where she was going and quickly making her way to the correct one.
”Talk later I guess.” He sighed with a big, dumb grin on his face.
Jemaa-el-Fnaa, Marrakesh, Morocco
1412 Local Time

’Old man? Who was the Hobbit calling old? The age difference between them was less than a good whisky.’ Ebrima thought with an eye roll as he came upon the ambush, a team of people speaking French and wearing Moroccan Army kit setting up with an RPG-32. They were probably on Artemis’ payroll - they better fucking have been on Artemis’ payroll - but even if they were legit, no one tries to point boom tubes at his team, even if his employment contract was on the unorthodox side. With Purna working the other side and no exosuits among them, he didn’t have that much to worry about, doubly so since they were preoccupied with their equipment and hadn’t noticed either of them.

He flew between them like a bowling ball between pins, shoving the rocketeer over the railing before he could react. An uncontrolled two story fall wasn’t necessarily lethal, but definitely debilitating for a time. Two steps for a running start, he grabbed onto a TV antenna to swing around another man’s back with a burst from his jump pack, a satisfying crack - to a Raven operative, normal people would’ve called it disturbing - announcing the spine losing its brief clash with Ebrima’s heel. By now the two remaining ones had scrambled for their weapons, until a piece of gleaming metal described an arc through the air and separated the third man’s shooting hand from the rest of him. Placing the amputee between himself and the last man would’ve slowed any bullets fired at this range enough for the armor to handle them, but the fourth man refused to fire at his comrade and that small moment was all Ebrima needed, kicking the still screaming one toward the fourth one. He moved out of the live projectile’s way easily enough, but it left him open for a follow-up strike, the Himalayan blade continuing to prove its worth as it found the fourth man’s neck.

Finishing off the wounded and wiping off the blade, Boraro rejoined Purna at the edge of the roof, not one to turn down praise from a Gurkha. ”Oracle does not seem like a man who offers second chances to just any merc he comes across.” He shrugged, listening to Purna’s complaining before following him down. His armor being on the heavier side compared to Purna’s, Ebrima didn’t want to risk breaking something fragile by jumping onto a truck from the roof, instead working down to the street across window sills and other protrusions and the jump pack, catching up to the truck and leaping up onto it with a backflip after letting the driver know he was there. It was as if a switch had flipped in the albino’s head. Although they still weren’t entirely out of the weeds, the mission was pretty much wrapped up and with that, a different man replaced the clinical precision displayed thus far. He took off running, leaping between vehicles and looking in the side windows to find the one the VIP and the rest of the team were in, returning some of the gunners’ high fives and fist bumps as he went past.

Following Purna down the transport’s top hatch once he’d found the right one, he squeezed in wherever there was room and took his helmet off to wipe down the sweat from his head before jabbing a finger in Purna’s direction. ”You do not get to call me old and then complain about running, mon ami.” Ebrima couldn’t resist an opportunity to sweep the Nepali’s words back in his face, a wide grin ensuring the verbal jab wouldn’t be read in a bad way.

Camp Hannula, Pöyrisjärvi National Park, Finland
2000 Local Time

In their line of work, there was no such thing as ‘impossible’. As this whole mess was proving, some things were highly improbable, but two weeks ago he would’ve said the same about a clone-hopping consciousness of an omnicidal maniac. Even when nine people agreed something was highly improbable, it was the duty of the tenth one to ask “What if?”. A staggering amount of people didn’t accept that, but Ebrima assumed that was why Mossad were the ones who got them in the end. Therefore he’d learned to expect the unexpected to a point. A nice buffet to refuel before the next outing would’ve been unexpected. But what, or rather who, he saw qualified for a category of its own: A Skye-looking individual and two others he’d never seen before. And while he may not have expected the statistically improbable, he at least could roll with it and process it on the go. ”What was the last thing you and I spoke about before you jumped out of the Hercules?” He asked, the Origin reappearing in his hands, if pointed at the ground, hoping the real Queen knew enough to tell an Atlas from a Hercules and had good enough memory to remember the conversation.

Enri Uemura
Camp Hannula, Pöyrisjärvi National Park, Finland

Enri was miserable. The hasty departure would’ve been bad on a good day, having to quickly pack up or secure a lot of hardware she didn’t want in anyone else’s hands, but heap on the death of Hataro-sama and the possibility that it had all happened because she made a mistake somewhere and it made for a very bad day. Still on the way to the airport she messaged everyone else from her network involved with the heist a recommendation to disappear for a few weeks and spent the entire flight to and their stay in the United States going over every single line of records from the heist to see what had gone wrong.

And now she was in Finland, bundled up in at least five layers making her look like Jackson Pollock’s redesign of the Michelin man and still cold. And that was when he entered. She couldn’t, nay, didn’t want to believe her eyes, but how many tall albino Africans in this profession could there be running around? The absolute nerve of this prick to stand there like she wasn’t even in the room was just a frosting on the shit-covered cake this day had turned into. Ordinarily she would’ve gone and punched him straight in that pale, stupid, false face of his, but although a punch from her was hardly a threat at the best of times, wearing what he was she’d be like a fly tackling a windshield, and that was not even factoring in the others, with several of what could pass for Oni among their number. Her rage would have to wait for a more opportune time.
The interceptor raced skyward, its launch site nought but a tiny dot in the distance. Its target - likewise still a mere dot in the sky - was rapidly approaching. Deep beneath them, the Seattle Space Needle stood tall and defiant like a true American patriot, a steel and concrete middle finger to the Communist menace grasping at it with its centrally planned claws. The interceptor reached the target altitude and detonated, a blast wave screaming toward the incoming warhead, but alas the fuse triggered early and the shockwave dissipated before it met the incoming munition. With the way clear, the ballistic missile continued its murderous mission until its fiery conclusion, the Space Needle falling to its wrath. ”Frickin' bastahd.” Vigil cursed under her breath, popping the Atomic Command holotape out of her Pip-Boy and returning it back into its protective casing. 300 points and she would’ve passed her high score from two months ago.

She’d spent most of the trip on the weather deck, looking out across the ocean in search of whales. Back in the Commonwealth, she’d of course heard the legend of ‘Ol’ Peg’, a supposed Ghoul Whale living off Boston harbor, but she’d believe it when she saw it with her own eyes, and two weeks on the Green Horizon weren’t looking too good for Ol’ Peg’s credibility. That being said, Vigil was looking forward to getting off the ship. The sight of ocean was nothing new to her, but there was something fundamentally wrong with the scene that greeted her when she looked down along the hull, an endless mass of water churning at the bow and stern, threatening to swallow anything and anyone who’d fall in.

She hung back from the crowded sections of the deck, wanting no part in the moshpit and the landmass ahead being just a landmass to her, uninteresting like any other. Lounging lazily on a squeaky deck chair, she noted the reporter trying to talk to the drunk, rolling her eyes. Bothering a drunk was risky business, much less a grieving one. In a way, Vigil could sympathize with losing a loved one to a machine, a fellow Vault 75 Dweller she was very close to falling to an Institute Courser at Bunker Hill, though the drunken man’s specific circumstance had a special sting to it she couldn’t help but feel bad for. Seeing the newsman and his colleague heading her way, she moved her hat down to shield her eyes from the sun to take a nap, hoping it would dissuade the reporter.

It didn’t.

“Hi, Sam from California Channel 89! We’re broadcasting live to California now. If you don’t mind, could you tell our viewers at home about what made you come onto the Aloha Isles?”

“Work.” She replied with one word, merely canting her head so she could see Sam with one eye. “And why do the viewahs cahe? How does knowing help them in life?”
She was about to swing when another crack was heard, not a part of the fighting but the sharp barking of sonic cracks followed by shouting. Turning to face the angry voice, in utter disbelief at what just happened. ”What by Odin’s ravens are you doing? Has no one taught you how to safely handle firearms, you maniac?!” The combination of discount berserker rage, blatant violation of gun safety and sudden onset tinnitus enough to get even the sunny-natured MechWarrior to fly off the handle. Not that she couldn't be expected to apologize for the outburst by breakfast except under extreme circumstances. But first and foremost, she simply didn’t see Ingrid’s threat being worth taking seriously in this situation. Even Takka, the apparent instigator of the brawl, wasn’t that batshit nuts, right? Right…?

But something kept tugging at her eyes. Something wasn’t right. It took Marit a second or two to figure it out, maybe on account of a pretty good haymaker she found herself on the receiving end of just before Ingrid’s non-negligent negligent discharge. But there it was. Despite standing some distance away, Marit was looking Ingrid in the face with her head level, not canted downwards. She started snickering at the sight, pointing the box out to Ziska.

Nevertheless, orders were orders and she took her place in the queue. Best to get it out of the way early, and maybe the pain would go away by the time she went to sleep. ”I ever tell you you can be hard to like sometimes?” She said to Ziska in the same tone someone complains they ran out of milk, a smile nevertheless creeping onto her face despite knowing how much the rest of the day would suck.
Jemaa-el-Fnaa, Marrakesh, Morocco
1412 Local Time

Ebrima followed the Nepali ghost out of the cafe, once again replacing the half-empty magazines with full ones, noting they were the only full ones remaining aside from the fragmentation grenades for the launcher. They better start wrapping up, else he’d have to start scavenging 5,56 and forget he even had the Origin. In absence of a grappling hook, the Albino had to employ a bit of imagination to find his way topside again. A younger, less experienced Ebrima would’ve taken a few seconds to give Purna good-natured grief for showing off with his flips and mid-air cartwheels, but the man knew it was more responsible - not to mention fun - to wait for the right moment. It was a great shame the rest of his previous team didn’t get the same opportunity he did, he could vividly imagine comments about ‘wearing tights to a fight’. Well, those who made it out of Colombia at least.

Coming back up onto the roofs following some jump pack-assisted gymnastics of his own, he paused with a double take, the disbelief at a heavy operator somehow stuffing himself into a mech almost physical, but with no good angle on the man and an armor-clad personification of Twitter or whatever it was called these days showing up to handle the problem with brutal efficiency, he let it go. Still, it wasn’t looking great down there, even the heavies looking worse for wear. Calling out to Purna to go on ahead along the evacuation convoy’s intended route and that he’d catch up, he took up a position behind a low wall on the market-side edge of the roof, shouldering the MSRx again and taking potshots at whoever he could find down there that was still causing trouble until the evacuation trucks arrived. Purna of course had a good point in getting out while they could, being on foot and thus slower even if the city would slow the vehicles down considerably, still leaving while the fight was still on felt wrong.

With that, he turned around and broke out into a run, keying his radio. ”Wilk, Boraro. Viper and I are withdrawing, will try to follow along your route and join you when we’re clear. Out.”
Ebrima opened a satellite map on his PDA, trying to figure out which way the convoy might take as he made haste to catch up to Purna and gave up almost immediately. The Souk was a mess of alleys, meaning the lead vehicle would most likely be guessing their route on the spot based on roughly the direction they wanted to go and which alleys were open, unless they had an Italian there to make sense of the street spaghetti they found themselves in.

They had to clear out an attempted ambush or two, but the chaotic nature of their environment worked for them as well, as the sheer amount of possible routes made setting up an ambush difficult and the hectic day had seemingly started to slow down at last, allowing the two Rooftop Ravens to slow down a little. Someone really should’ve told him being ‘the good guy’ was this much effort, he would’ve at least considered networking from the prison instead.
Karel watched the Hunchback’s demise and its pilot’s ejection, tracing the flight path of the seat with his crosshairs. Nah. Pirate or not, there were boundaries better untested. Not like it was any mercy, his buddies in the VTOLs had already run away and it would most likely be a while before they’d dare venture back here, too long for the poor sod to make it in these conditions. ”Hope you’ve got a sidearm on you, guy.” The MechWarrior mused to himself. Puking one’s guts out while going red from radiation buns was not a good way to shuffle off this mortal coil.

He did a quick check, no alarms blaring, nothing feeling off, the row of ‘Really Bad Lights’ along one side of the panel likewise remaining dim. ”Not a scratch on the Mongoose, nothing on the scope.” He reported. Good, keeping this thing in good shape for as long as possible would make life easy for their quartermaster and it would keep him away from the Urbanmech and the rest of the assorted wrecks their ‘Mech Bay had been graced - cursed - with.

Looking over the company, it looked like the commander had taken the brunt of it. It was always nice to see when the commander was leading from the front instead of playing tail end charlie. He waited to see if Firestarter guy asked for help or not, moving to help him out if so and otherwise taking up his post at the formation’s right flank again.
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