Episode 705: Battle For Boros

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Air Date: 31 Jan 2012
Present: Andy, Bobby, Kim, Maer, and Terri

Special Features

We leave Grasshopper Station in a big damn hurry on 08 August 2523 and arrive at Regina to drop off our medical cargo on the 17th. The Regina delivery nets us a job to Boros: the Independents need us to make a high velocity drop of a covert team outside Vandenburg. When the team arrives, we get a pleasant surprise: the team is made up of the people we extracted from Vandenburg over a year ago. While their reaction is not effusive, it is a cordial one and during the four day trip to Boros, they tell us a little about their mission.

They've explosives amongst their gear. Or rather, various chemicals that will be combined on site to make explosives. One of the team members shows us their ace card: it's grey and looks like something the cat hawked up. It's a hair clog, but not just any hair clog. At the moment it's the size of a child's fist but once exposed to water in the pipes, it expands many many times its size. That one ball he's got is enough to clog up the pipes inside an entire high rise building. More than that they are unwilling to say.

Fair enough.

We spend the four days to Vandenburg figuring out the best way in and out. We know that there will be a strong Fed presence there, thanks to the shipyards at Ares and Vandenburg is the capital city and bound to have Feds crawling all over it. Nika decides to come in fast out of pulse and dive for the ground, fly nap of the earth to the drop off point, then get the hell out of the vicinity. If we're lucky, the Feds won't notice we're there until we're already gone.

Of course, that's not exactly what happens.

Saturday, 21 Aug 2523
Boros, Georgia (Xuan Wu) system

Nika times it so we drop out of pulse almost in atmo. She gives the crew enough warning to allow us to get into our places: Beglan and Rina are in the engine room, ready to boost the power for maneuvers. Joshua mans the copilot's chair while Arden takes over at sensors and communications. Kiera straps in for the ride in a spare seat—this ride bids fair to be an exciting one and there isn't a better place in the house to watch it, to say nothing of cheering our crew on. Sometimes we just perform better with an appreciative audience.

Nika drops us out of pulse and Boros fills our viewports, crashing-distance large. Our sensor console flashes and yelps like a pinball machine on full tilt. Rina boosts the power, Kiera cheers Nika on, and Nika sends us right into atmo. We're tumbling and painting a fiery trail across the sky … and the sensors tell us we've picked up a tail. We aren't able to pinpoint it but we think we've got lock-ons pinging our ship. Arden launches a jammer out of our weapons bay but it fizzles. The lock-ons grow stronger. We might not be able to evade the locks but Arden fine tunes our sensors to see what we've got. The results come back: Two ASREVS are on our backtrail and they've just fired two missiles each.

2 ASREVS + 4 Missiles = 6 killers on our ass.


Nika warns everyone to hold on and she starts evasive maneuvers. We get clipped by a missile but our armor soaks it, leaving us with minimal damage. The rest spend out in atmo and tumble for the dirt. Rina boosts the power again and Kiera encourages Arden to work harder. Nika flies and evades the second volley of four missiles from the ASREVs. They spend out and fall like the others. A third volley is launched at us and Rina boosts the power again. Nika evades all of them and that's the end of the missiles. Now all we have to do is evade the ASREVs.

Nika sends us straight for the dirt and pulls out at the last second, flying nap of the earth through the gullies and canyons of Boros. Rina flubs the power boost and it takes a few minutes to recover the lost ground, but Joshua's ably supporting Nika's efforts as copilot and we manage to stay out of firing range of the enemy long enough for Rina to boost the power again.

The ASREV pilots follow Nika's lead through the landscape and one pilot just doesn't have the chops to handle it. The ASREV augers into a canyon wall halfway through the chase, clipping the other with debris. The other pilot recovers, however, and stays on our tail. Rina coaxes a little more power out of engineering yet again and Nika pulls out all the stops, squeaking through a narrow defile by a cat's whisker. The ASREV climbs out of the canyon to avoid crashing into it. It drops off our scopes and we fly toward Vandenburg.

Given the Fed presence in the area, we don't stop but make a hot drop off: Nika hovers us a few feet off the ground, lowers our ramp, and our covert team jumps off. We turn right around and get out of there, to avoid giving away the LZ to the enemy … but our proximity alarm yarks and we find that the ASREV from the canyon has followed us. Nika yells for more power and Rina gives it to her—and Nika flies right for the ASREV coming up behind us.

The trick to playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.

Nika superlatively hands the Fed pilot his ass, leaving him no choice but to fly away. Nika does a little victory run and in her exuberance, clips the dirt with our girl. It costs us some stun and you can hear Rina cursing over the damage, but hey! We evaded HOW MANY missiles, did a thrilling rollercoaster run through how many canyons, augered an ASREV and chickened out another? C'mon!

We don't linger but fly away from the area—no point in hanging around the scene of the crime, right? Even so, Arden's curious enough of what's happening behind us to train our sensors on it and he announces the ASREV had found our LZ. And then he tells us it's bombing it.

Bombs? Oh crap!

We fly back to check on the status of the team and we see the area covered in smoke. But it's a funny kind of smoke. Heavy and … sticky, for want of a better word. It's not dispersing like it should. Nika does a tricky bit of flying, rotating our thrusters on their gimbals to backdraft the crap away and when the smoke clears, we see our covert team standing in the field, apparently unhurt.

Nika follows convention and flies in low, wagging our 'wings' to ask their status. They give us the high sign they're fine but Nika's sharp eyes notices that they aren't holding their guns right. Hinked, she circles back and lands our ship as close to them as is safe.

It's a rough landing, earning another curse from Rina. Nika, Kiera, and Arden slap on rebreathers and run off ship to check on the team. Joshua mans the bridge and Rina keeps the engines running. Kiera gets to the team and they're looking dopey to her critical eye. We see that the team actually has been affected. The odd characteristics of the smoke makes sense now—it's a gas weapon of some kind. Our crew hustles the team aboard and our doctors march them right over to med bay for tests. Joshua warns us that something big is coming up on sensors and we jet out of there, find a safe place to bivouac and gather our breath.

The test results come back. It's not a standard narcotic, though there are some narcotic elements. No, the real kicker is there are retroviruses in the weapon they've been hit with, and it's busily working away, changing them. There are drugs and treatments to halt and reverse retrovirus rewrites on the human body—we just don't have any on board. What can we do for these people?

Not much. Valerie speaks up in Arden's head. He can only take so much medical kibitzing, however, and tells her to shut up. He and Kiera do what they can for our team but there's little else they can do besides securing them and making them comfortable. They will need to be watched. The retrovirus has befuddled them enough to effectively turn them into children.

Nika grabs her XO and they go off to the side to discuss what they're going to do. The team has been effectively rendered inoperable but the mission must still be carried out. Do we take their place or do we call our superiors and deliver another team. And in either case, what do we do with the original six? It doesn't take long to figure out what the plan is: we'll take over the mission and deliver the team to Nika's sister Nala. She runs a station on the Underground Railroad and she can smuggle them out. That way if we're caught, the original team still has a chance to escape.

Nika announces the plan to the rest of the crew and we go through the team's gear. In addition to the explosives and the pipe clogger, we find a business suit, a set of IDs and résumés. There are also coveralls with a plumbing company logo on them and a few bags with some plumbers' tools. We also find blueprint. The blueprints are to the communications hub in Vandenburg. Examining the blueprints, we see the main pipe room is right next to the power regulator that runs both the main power and the back-up power source for the entire building. The blueprints have a spot marked on the wall separating the two and that is where we're pretty sure the team expected to plant the explosives—a shaped charge would blow out the wall and take out the regulator, totally kiboshing power to the place. Putting the puzzle pieces together, we realize that the team was to knock out the hub, depriving the Feds of a way to coordinate their movements and communications …. something big is about to happen. The timer we find with the explosives only lends credence to our supposition: the military detonator is set to blow at 1205 hrs TOMORROW.

We quickly come up with a plan.

  1. Joshua will Borrow someone off the IDs and the papers. Kiera will use the sonic caelum on him to change his face.
  2. Joshua will go in with the hair ball, pose as someone interviewing for a job, use the restroom, and flush the ball down the drain.
  3. Rina will hack into the comms at the hub, so as to intercept calls going in or out because …
  4. Nika, Kiera, and Rina will pose as plumbers called in to fix the problem with the pipes. Once we're in the pipe room, we'll plant the explosive, blow the power to the building, and take down the hub. Then they'll strip out of their plumber's coveralls and evacuate the building with the rest of the workers in office wear.

Arden has some strong misgivings on taking over the mission. The majority of the crew is for it and he stands down, overruled but at least having made his position known. We have less than a full day to get ready. Kiera and Joshua hie off to medbay to rearrange his face. Joshua spends the rest of the time studying the paperwork, creating the character he is to play. Rina gathers the tools she needs to hack into the comms system and will hand the actual intercepted call off to Arden when it comes through. She will be with Nika and Kiera, waiting nearby to go in. We know we cannot take weapons with us—the blueprints has the entry scanners marked, and by them we know that they're the sort that will detect anything suspicious. The explosive the team brought in the form of chemicals now makes sense. Anything that looked like an assembled bomb would see them caught. But no one would look twice at gallon jugs marked as drain cleaners. We'll be going in with just our plumbers tools, the gallon jugs, and little else.

Beglan elects to stay behind on Exeter to take care of the disabled team. They've regressed to childhood-level intelligence, singing songs and nursery rhymes.

Sunday, 22 Aug 2523
Vandenburg, Boros

Joshua uses his skills in disguise to get Nika, Kiera, and Rina prepared for their roles as plumbers. To protect their identities and also to make it easier for them to exit as departing office workers, we decide to make them look like men. Nika pulls off the look best, being tall and all leg. She makes a handsome lanky blonde man. Rina is short and sturdier and looks like a troll. Having her chest taped for the sake of her ribs only helps the illusion. Kiera, however, Joshua has problems disguising. Luckily, the plumbers' coveralls cover a multitude of sins, including Kiera's irrepressible woman's figure. A cap jammed low on her head and a bandana around her neck helps disguise things further. We'll just have to hope no one looks at her closely.

We land our shuttle just outside Vandenburg and find the city is on alert—there will be demonstrations held at the Governor's mansion today, with a parade leading to it. As a result, there is an increased LEO presence in the streets on the parade. It appears the entire protest was engineered via social media networks, like a flash mob—hard to trace and suppress. The turnout is expected to be in the tens of thousands. Vandenburg is covered in purple as armed and armored soldiers patrol the parade route, just in case anything happens.

You know, like a riot.

Stopping short of the comms tower, Arden and Rina hack into the outgoing lines so as to intercept the call for the plumbers when it's made. It takes half an hour but they get it done.

Joshua goes on ahead into the building. He's spent hours going over the résumé and has made up a convincing persona: a hard working but down on his luck man from the more remote regions of Boros, looking to fill the data entry position advertised. He gives the two armored Purplebellies standing guard at the entrance a nervous nod, but doesn't linger. He goes to the proper floor and encounters a bored receptionist. Apparently, they aren't ready to see him even though he's on time. Please take a seat. The interviewer saunters in from outside a few minutes later and goes into his office.

Ten minutes go by and Joshua watches the news on the flat screens in the waiting area. The parade is taking shape. Thousands of people have assembled and are starting to move. Another half hour passes. Joshua checks his watch. We've less than two hours before the detonator blows. We have to get our team in place and the bomb made and installed before that happens. Joshua waits, playing the part of the nervous, impatient, yet clearly desperate interviewee until she clears him to go in.

What happens next is a textbook case of impersonation: Joshua's eager and willing to work, but it's clear he's underqualified for the job. He talks himself up well, though, and stays with the interview to the bitter end. For his part, the interviewer faithfully goes through the motions but ends the interview with nothing more than a thank you, we'll keep your application on file. Joshua pretends to be highly agitated over his failure and asks for the restroom, obviously on the verge of being sick from nerves. He's pointed the way and he beats a fast path to it.

Once safely inside, he closes himself up in a stall and waits for a bit, giving his story about being sick the proper amount of time to play out. Once he's sure enough time has passed, he flushes the hair bomb down the toilet and the reaction is almost immediate. The stuff expands and grows, snaking through the plumbing system throughout the floor, and then throughout the building. Along with the clog, an incredible stink pervades the building—a combination of sewer gas and other things best left unimagined. His part of the mission accomplished, Joshua leaves the restroom, playing the concerned visitor. Um … You seem to have a plumbing problem. Maybe you should call the plumber?

The call goes out and is intercepted by Arden. A plumbing problem? Sure, we can send someone over. We've got a team in the area. They can be there in a few minutes. Sit tight. We'll fix it.

Boy, will we.

Nika drives the van over and she, Kiera, and Rina are shown to the pipe room in the basement. Arden accompanies them as the plumber's supervisor, with the story of insisting on overseeing the job. A single guard takes them down and it's clear the hair bomb has done some considerable damage. Pipes are bursting at the joints and leaking, spraying water and sewerage over the walls. It's already a few inches deep down here and the guard is reluctant to follow them any further. The women wave him back to the relative safety of the upper floors and they get to work finding the right spot on the pipe room wall to plant the bomb. Once they find it, they unpack the jugs of chemicals and pour the ingredients together. Rina handles the demolitions portion of the job and she manages to get the bomb assembled and planted. The team retreats half way up the stairs and checks the time.

Ten minutes before 12:05.

Outside, the demonstration is well underway and the news feeds are glutted with images of it. Thousands of people are now on the movie, marching in the streets, signs and slogans evident, with upraised fists and chanting. The clock ticks down in the corner of the news feeds.

12:02 … 12:03 … 12:04 …


The explosive blows out a gaping chunk of wall and the debris flies hard and fast through the neighboring power regulator room. The lights go off, the power to the building dies, and emergency lighting flickers on. Nika curses. Either the E-power is on a separate line not on the blueprints or the regulator is still somehow working. She orders Rina to take it out with her torch. Kiera is ordered to go with her to help. While the engineer is doing that, she and Arden keep watch on the stairs, ready to stall or fend off anyone who might come down to investigate or interfere.

Which is happens. The two guards Joshua saw at the entrance come clattering down in their armor and assault rifles, griping about getting the shit detail—why the hell did they put the power generator right next to the sewer lines? Arden and Nika play their parts and let them pass them on the stairs. Then when they've gone by and have their backs to them, Arden pushes the last of the two down the stairs. The unsuspecting Fed falls upon his partner preceding him down the stairs and together they land in the six inches of effluvia at the bottom.

Ewww ….

Arden's down there in a flash and he rips one of the guards' rifles from him. Ka-chak! Arden chambers a round and points his fully loaded weapon at the Feds. Nika grabs the other rifle. Shaken and bruised by their precipitous trip down the stairs—and covered in sewerage as well—the guards don't resist.

Helmets off, Nika orders them in her deepest most menacing man's voice. One guard complies with alacrity. The other guard pauses, half-raising a hand to his ear comm. Blam! Nika shoots for his leg and misses. At least the man knows she's not bluffing. She repeats her order and Arden advises him to comply. The guard is sufficiently intimidated and hands his helmet over.

Nika yells down the hall for Rina to hurry up. Rina's gone to town on the regulator with her torch. There's no way it could still be operational after she's done with it. It's time to shit or get off the pot—she turns off her torch and hustles out of there with Kiera in tow. When she gets to the stairs, she sees Arden and Nika have tied the guards to the stair rail with their own zip ties. Rina insists we disable the rifles, since we can't take them with us. Rolling her eyes, Nika strips the magazines out of the rifles and tosses the rifles into the drink. If the Feds want them, they'll have to chew through the zip ties and go fishing.

No one lingers any longer in the stink and the wet, but all run up the stairs. Short of the top, they strip out of the coveralls and wellingtons to reveal office attire beneath. A bit of water and a wet bandana takes off the male make-up on the women, and they and Arden run out in the general evacuation of the building.

Mission accomplished.

They meet Joshua outside and go back to where we've parked the shuttle. Nika mutters we deserve drinks for pulling off such a nasty messy job. Kiera quips we should get paid overtime for pulling off such a nasty messy job. Arden logically points out that in order to get paid overtime, we need to get paid regular time first. Which hasn't happened yet. Since leaving Angel, we've yet to dock or land at an Independent military base or space station to pick up our pay.

On our walk back to our shuttle we notice a few things. The everpresent drones that buzzed the city are hovering in a holding pattern. They've got no way of receiving course instructions. Our killing the communications hub is already having immediate effects. We also notice that the protestors have changed course en masse from the advertised parade route and are now heading toward the Alliance military base in the city. And just about all the LEOs and the Feds are waiting for them in vain at the Governor's mansion.

The base is quickly overrun by the thousands of protestors storming the gates and the perimeter. When we get back to our shuttle we start scanning the channels for chatter. We find frantic conversations between the military personnel. "There's like a thousand people out here!" yells one panicked soldier. "They're inside the gate! Should we fire?" The chatter is disorganized and it's clear there is a total lack of coordination and control.

People should not be afraid of their government, Joshua intones. The government should be afraid of the people.

We hear the order to evacuate the base and looking out the shuttle's cockpit windows, we see the silhouettes of the Fed personnel carriers lifting off. There is gunfire from scattered skirmishes audible throughout the city but the Feds cannot withstand the tens of thousands of people who have risen up against them. Arden strongly suggests we not stick around but get back to Exeter. We fire up our engines and fly casually out of there … but Nika keeps the radio chatter on as she flies.

No one hails us. No one stops us. It's smooth sailing all the way back to our ship.

Beglan is waiting for us when we get there. The team is fine, though still incapacitated. Rina wants a shower. Kiera wants to know if we're lifting off and hiding our getaway in the general evacuation. Nika vetoes the idea, stating it's not a good idea to be mixing it up with the Feds as they flee. Besides, the remainder of the Fed fleet is going to be heading our way—you think the overrunning of a Fed base is gonna get a pass? Nope. We need to lay low, avoid the Fed Fleet's attention, then slip away once the furor's died down. Leaving now would give the hounds something to chase.

Joshua points out that we have six people aboard we can't care for or feed indefinitely. We didn't stock extra supplies for them. And the team didn't tell us where we were to take them after the op. Did they want to go back to Regina or be taken somewhere else? At the moment, the point is moot, since they cannot take care of themselves no matter where we drop them off. We decide to stick with the plan of taking them to Nala and having her arrange safe passage for them off Boros. She's bound to have contacts who would know what to do.

We keep the shuttle's comms set to the radio chatter and we also train our long range sensors on Vandenburg, just to keep an eye on things behind us as we fly to Nala's ranch. Through the sensor readings we see Vandenburg get hit by MIRV-type bombs and we hear men on the ground screaming "Rebreathers! Now!" We can only assume a gas weapon is being deployed. Multiple sensor pings show us aircraft circling and flying through Vandenburg. More chatter—"They're not seeking cover! They're just standing there!"—paints a horrific picture. The gas has affected the people on the ground and the airborne craft are strafing them down where they stand. Only those lucky enough to don their rebreathers in time have a chance to escape.

It's like shooting fish in a barrel. It's like clubbing baby seals. It's murder.

Stunned, we have no choice but to fly on and pray we don't look suspicious. We arrive at Nala's ranch and circle it first to check out the situation. There is a Fed skiff parked on the ground out front but looking closer, we see non-uniformed people holding the skiff crew on their knees at gunpoint. Judging it safe to land, Nika gets us on the dirt and we disembark.

Nala has a lot more ranch hands—a LOT more—and asking her about them, she admits she's had enough work to hire them all, since she'd been selling beef to the Feds as well as others. Since the planet has a high Fed presence, she's done well for herself. Of course, with the Feds reduced and in disarray, we don't know how long that will last, but if the ranch hands with the rifles are any indication of her preparedness for the unpleasant, Nala's got things well in hand. The twin sisters get caught up on the news and standing off to the side, Joshua notices something that Nika's missed: Nala is pregnant.

Nala offers us a space to park our shuttle and allows us some downtime on her property. We also take her up on her offer of supplies—mostly beef, given it's a cattle ranch. She takes in the "becalmed" covert team and promises to take care of them for us. They will be safer with her on the ground than with us on a ship that might be a target. So we spend the next few days resting up and making repairs. We also keep an eye on the news and parse the rest of the story.

During the Battle of Vandenburg, the strafing aircraft finally retreated and the radio chatter announced the fleet had arrived—no, wait! It's not the Alliance Fleet bringing reinforcements but the PDF Fleet from Blue Sun! The Battle for Boros begins in earnest in space and at the end, only 30% of the Fifth Fleet manages to pulse for the Core. The rest of the Fleet hasn't the fuel to follow. We find out the name of the gas weapon used on the city: Halcyon, touted as "Pax Lite". We aren't able to find out if the effects are permanent but at least we're relieved to learn that it does not turn people into Reavers.

Where do we go from here? The crew unanimously agrees—we get paid! We're able to make it to an Independent source of funds and we finally receive our back wages. It's nearly two months worth of pay and the extra funds are welcome.


The Special Features for the episode is appended, rather than linked, to the page.



Six unnamed Independent sleeper agents were extracted from Vandenburg and lifted off-planet by the Exeter crew over a year ago. They show up again as a special ops team we were to insert on Boros via a high velocity drop, but they were almost immediately incapacitated by a gas weapon.


  1. What are the properties of Halcyon?
    1. How long does it last?
    2. Are the effects reversible?
  2. Was the covert ops team gassed with Halcyon or something different?
    1. If something different, what?
  3. How many Pax derivative weapons are there?
  4. What will happen to the remains of the Fifth Fleet?
    1. Will the ships be appropriated for use in the Independent Navy?
    2. Will the crews of the ships be executed? Or taken prisoner?
  5. What has happened to the Alliance shipyard at Ares?
    1. Was it taken by the Independents?
    2. If so, will they use it to build/repair Independent ships?
    3. Or will they strip it down and destroy the remains to keep it from being retaken by the enemy?
  6. With Boros effectively out of the Alliance's hands, which worlds are next for liberation/insurrection?
  7. The PDF flew all the way in from Blue Sun to fight for Boros's independence. Meadow/Novaya Rodina has its own fleet. Why didn't they show up with the PDF to fight for Boros?

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