After the fightin' ended, we took care of the wounded, and the tech guys did their job. I didn't go in the building, but looked inside one time, it was just a little room, stuffed full of gray consoles, lots of buttons and some little lights. Some picture screen type things with wavy lines. Didn't make no sense to me, but whatever it was, still seemed to be workin' from the Before, and the tech guys were all kinds of happy.
The guys worked for awhile, then the LT, Sergeant Hand, and Hernandez, the lead tech guy, talked a little bit. After that, we ate some chow and bedded down for the night.
In the morning, we started home. The initial descent was slow going with the wounded, talkin with Sam and Panky, we was pretty sure the guys that shot Panky was the same people from the blockhouse, so after yesterday, we was keepin' a lookout for more of them.
After descending the slope for awhile, Despite being burned and bruised, Panky insisted on leading the way, and after awhile, we saw some movement ahead. Panky gave us the signal to take cover, while she checked things out a little more. Everybody tried to get into some cover, but a lot of guys was climbing down cliffs at the time. Us scouts continued to spot. This was more like what the old manuals from the Before taught us, rather than our normal stuff jus' explorin' the wastes.
When I finally got a good look, I knew they was those people from that blockhouse. They wasn't gang members, they were soldiers, like us, but with some better tech. They were moving slowly and carefully; pretty sure they already saw us too, probably been tracking us.
The people in front of us advanced slowly, using cover. Then all of a sudden, I realized that there were guys real close, down below, to my right. I got off a shot, but don't know if I hit them, 'cause one of them got me. Armor got real hot, and I dropped and crawled back out of site.
Panky said she hit the guy that hit me; must of got him good, 'cause their other guys grabbed him, and all of 'em got back out of sight.
More shooting started, guys gettin' hit on both sides, but armor doing the its job for the most part, on both sides. They looked to have us out-numbered, and we started taking lots of hits.
Panky got hit twice and put out of action; the Lt got hit, and so did some of the other guys, a couple hit kinda bad. Sam got hit at some point, but hit a couple of them afterwards.
Panky needed help, but Sam and I couldn't see her, and didn't even know she was hit, while dealing with our own problems at the time. But Sergeant Hand saw her and his team was trying to make their way to her. That's when Sergeant hand got hit, twice, and he went down, briefly.
Lew, with that big gatling gun, got into position and started hittin' em, knocking down at least three of them, at long range. And that was the problem, the rest of us could hit them, but our rifles wouldn't knock them down.
We was really in a bad way, over half of us got hit, with some being hurt, and some just losing their armor. Problem was that with no armor, it got a lot harder to stay in the fight with them lasers.
And that was another thing, there is no report from the lasers, so if you don't actually see the shot fired (and you likely won't; they just sort of blink for an instant, like a shooting star), you don't know where they are. Hate those lasers.
Their armor is better than ours too. If we get hit with a bullet, it hurts; lot of times it will knock you down. With them, we hit them, and mostly, they just look at us, and shoot back. Ain't a fair fight. I don't mind an unfair fight, but I want to be on the upside of it.
Anyway, like I said, we had a lot of guys hit, most just burns from armor, but still, things wasn't too good, and we had clearly, at least wounded some of them (mostly Lew's work), but they clearly had the upper hand. Then all of a sudden, they started dropping back.
It was an organized withdrawal, with guys covering the retreating soldiers. But why'd they run away? They had us. And then they just stopped. Don't make no sense.
We regrouped, Doc treated our wounds, mostly burns but a couple of guys were a little worse off, including the LT. Doc got everybody walking, but we was a little more slower now.
Sergeant Hand was in charge now, which was probably best; Lt is a good guy, just not as experienced in the wastes as the Sarge. Plus Sergeant Hand isn't human; I mean more than human really. He's got that metal hand, and half his head is metal. I realized too that his one eye and ear are special too. Better than ours; he sees and hears stuff we can't see or hear.
We actually made better time than I thought, getting back to where we left the APCs. Problem was, they weren't no APCs, when we got back. Sarge had Sam pull the motor processors out of each, just little 'lectonic boxes, but they make the rides go, and without them, they don't.
There were no tracks, footprints, nothin'. Somehow, they was just gone. A couple of the grunts was sayin' that we must just have lost our way, be in the wrong place, but Sarge assured them, that wasn't the case.
Sarge says he can't get lost. Sounded like he was just bein' Sarge, but I think it might be more than that. Somethin' to do with his metal parts, maybe.
We went on a little more; then found a place on top of a small rise to camp for the night. We ate a bit and got some sleep.
Odd thing, the Sarge took a double watch. I had second watch with him, and asked him why he did that. Told him he should get rest after taking the hits from those lasers today. He said other guys needed it more.
After a little while, I asked him, " You took the extra watch, cause you can see in the dark, huh?" He looked at me for a minute, and for a second I thought he was gonna smile, then he just said, "Be quiet, you're makin' too much noise." So I listened to the quiet, and watched the dark, and wondered how it sounded and looked to the Sarge.
Notes and Thoughts
Kind of an odd game, both sides spotted each other at pretty extreme range having very lucky dice. Far enough apart that some of the weapons never got into firing range.
Because of the range, the game lasted longer than I might have expected, and brought something into play that I hadn't expected. The Confederation troops (who's perspective is presented above) were in a bad way, spread out, with wounds starting to add up, were only going to be at more of a disadvantage as the Hope Island Research Center (HIRC) troops got closer.
The HIRC troops did have three significantly wounded troopers, but still had the upper hand, until their technology caught up with them. Lasers are "expensive", their rifles use a sort of battery pack, rather than clips with ammo, and the batteries do not have great endurance, so they began running out of "ammo", and had to withdrawal.
The Lasers work well against wasteland survivors, roving gangs, etc., who usually don't have advanced armor, and often don't even have firearms, more often not trying to fight the HIRC troops during encounters. But the Confederation troops are a different creature, better armed, better armored, and trained to some degree to fight as soldiers, rather than warriors.
I had considered writing this encounter from the perspective of the HIRC troops, but as they were a chance encounter selected by the dice, I didn't have developed characters for them, and didn't want to take the time to create them, prior to the game.
Additionally, I had anticipated a number of interesting possible "storylines" that might have come out of this; prisoners, captured technology, etc, though none of them materialized.
In any event, I don't actually know what happened to the stolen APCs (again, a die roll), but the event will lead to at least a third scenario before everybody, or anybody, gets home.