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  • Emily King goes home to the UK. She's done a great job.
  • The Canadians want Melissa Matthews back even though she hasn't completed her course - maybe they just want to take a look at the Meld in her system. I deny the request. They threaten to pull out of the project.
  • We are ready to extract our covert operative, but the Egyptian government does not want to add to its current instability by allowing us to intervene. We risk losing the operative if she is exposed. What's with the attitude lately?
  • We overnight a crate to the address of the X-ALT cell that has all but coopted one of the militias there. Stuff clears immigration a lot easier than people. There are six SHIVs in it. Two were built in a hurry and don't have alloy plating, also, we're out of alloys. There have been small incursions, we just haven't been called for it - good that local forces can handle it, bad that we're running out of resources.
  • Yes, we sent a bunch of drone tanks named after Santa's reindeer as our extraction squad. In August. The Council wanted to see the SHIVs in action, after all...


"We're confident that you will handle the matter with discretion." You don't say?

Hoda's cover is busted - the X-ALT cell is being run from Cairo, roughly in the city centre. She gave a nearby petrol-station-cum-mechanic as her address, bunking with the owners above the shop. Fortunately, this let us get the SHIV crate delivered as car parts. Given that seeing private trucks with machine guns mounted in the back has been somewhat common in Egypt lately, nobody blinked at seeing armored stuff -- and nobody recognized the laser cannons, those are still too new.

She's inside the little food stand protecting the transmitter; she put a laptop with an old version of our SHIV control software? next to the gas pumps as a decoy. At least the place has already been evacuated. The plan is simple; let Hoda wrap up the upload and then drive off while the SHIVs burn holes in everything that moves. We've bribed local police into cordoning the area without making it very clear why, and Hoda has called in a bomb threat - the plan is for her to turn herself in when X-ALT has exposed itself.


Hoda keeps in cover while the SHIVs drive around the gas station towards where the pumps are - a trio of X-ALT warriors arrive from the farther side. Hoda gets behind the counter and shows us the situation; the idea is for her to stay hidden as much as possible. Other X-ALT agents show up - one has a rocket launcher; Hoda spots a sniper getting on the roof. The SHIVs roll in; a X-ALT agent realizes what's going on and throws a smoke grenade. The problem is solved by having COMET, VIXEN and PRANCER position themselves right next to their targets before they shoot, which results in two perforated X-ALTs. The other SHIVs begin to lay down suppression fire.

The guy with the rocket launcher fires into the cloud of smokes, taking out a gas pump, a police car, one of his buddies and damaging PRANCER and COMET. DONDER is moved to try to get a shot at the sniper, while the other SHIVs are given the simple routine of driving next to remaining agents and then unload on them in order to minimize the effect of the smoke on their lasers. DANCER is set to guard the decoy transmitter.

Bradford advises that there are multiple hostiles inbound, but given that they can only come at us from the gas station area, there's a line of SHIVs ready to take them out as soon as they show up. BLIXEN is made to drive around in circles to help the smoke dissipate and be a target to distract from the less-armored DANCER and PRANCER. Hoda is a local, and while she's not very religious she grew up Muslim, so she has a much easier time than the bridge bunnies in keeping a straight face - she's told to just watch her back and wait for the fireworks to stop before "surrendering" to local police. So far there's been two cars blown up.

DANCER and VIXEN take out two more X-ALTs that were coming in from their base of operations. In Cairo, they managed to take over a quite nice looking ex-colonial office building for their propaganda work. From camera feeds, they're evacuating it -- a small fire has started, likely to destroy paper documents.

The next wave of X-ALT fighters is greeted by a huge lightshow that doesn't accomplish much; the smoke grenade has dissipated, but there's still the stuff coming out from two destroyed cars and one gas pump. There are no civilians in the immediate area, so the SHIVs are set to drive up to any white guys they see and perforate them - Hoda just has to mark the targets. DANCER gets shot once, but the repair systems begin taking care of it immediately; none of the drone tanks has received serious damage yet. A X-ALT agent climbs on top of a billboard to get away from the SHIVs' treads, not realizing that it makes him a very easy target. BLIXEN shoots at the guy, and... with a Meld-yellow flash closing some of the holes in him, he starts laughing like a maniac! What the hell?

Hoda manually redirects VIXEN and DANCER to take care of the matter, and the latter SHIV gets shot by the enemy agent before finishing the job.

"This is the last of them!" The office building is being quenched by the fire department - the rats have left the ship, probably. Bradford confirms that there are no more incoming other than the last three -- two of which have rocket launchers! As PRANCER drives up to one of them, another manages to get a rocket up - the SHIV is still moving, but most of the plating is gone.

Hoda finishes PRANCER's target, and the other two X-ALT agents fall from concentrated fire. The upload finished, Hoda stands in the middle of the scene with her hands up as the SHIVs run up our collateral damage bill by trashing the workshop and burying themselves in the wreckage. Local police shows up once it's safe, and carries her away in handcuffs.

When the Egyptian government is informed of the operation, they tell us that Hoda will remain there a while to assist with inquiries. Bradford makes sure that this isn't a euphemism for keeping her locked up before agreeing to those terms; the SHIVs are shipped back to us in the following days one by one by Hoda's host family, as the repairs and upgrades to their business get done. All in all, a successful operation.

Hoda's data let us exclude the United States as the location of the primary X-ALT base -- it's either Canada or Mexico. My bet is on the latter; it wouldn't surprise me to know that X-ALT has made a deal with the narco armies.

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Page last modified on January 02, 2015, at 05:25 AM