ILTC Cold Frontier Episode 4

Another exciting campaign game with lots more character building followed by the biggest Action Scene thus far, including a demonstration of how a Chase works, Sensory Effects and Dramatic Editing.

COLD FRONTIER, EPISODE/DAY 4

Played characters- Sergeant Grayjoy, Private Ramirez, Deputy Hayes, Private Fentington/Snow Plough

Prominent squad Friendlies- Dr Mya Ross

Pre-credits scene

We open with a flashback as an old battered Marine Corps dropship slowly burns its way through the cover and debris of an asteroid field, lights out, approaching a large cylindrical trade cruiser making its way through the rocks adrift in space.

We cut inside the dropship, where an incredibly Texan pilot declares docking ‘we’re ready when you are Sarge, yeeeehaaaa!’

The camera then cuts to show the rest of this squad, which includes some new and familiar faces; the Sarge in question is none other than Ramirez, with flesh and blood arms and legs and different armour, with two knives on his hips and his silenced pistol still present. There is also Yeti, looking unchanged, sharpening his massive blade, and Snow Plough (though he is referred to by Ramirez as ‘Drones’) looking considerably calmer and less twitchy than the version the audience will be familiar with. With them is also a short, plump woman with blonde hair in pigtails wielding a minigun, (she is referred to as “Brumhilde”) and an incredibly tall, pale, stick-thin Astro sniper referred to as “Limbs.”

We cut inside the cruiser as the airlock door is ejected by a controlled explosion, and Brumhilde and Crusher enter the corridor, where there are several men and women running towards the opening; the attackers have rifles and pistols, but have minimal or no armour and are easily cut down by the pair of miniguns wielded by the woman and the drone. Ramirez congratulates Brumhilde; he then orders her to go with Drones and Yeti to secure one end of the ship, whilst he goes the other way by himself, ordering Limbs to stay put and watch his back.

We get glimpses of each of the squad in action as Brumhilde and the drones storm a canteen area, cutting down everybody who resists, Brumhilde singing mock-opera as she does so. Brumhilde ducks down for cover as more people attack from an adjoining corridor as Yeti says “leave this to me” and strides right into the gunfire; even without armour, the bullets seem to cause the powerful Aug little but irritation as slow dribbles of blood come from the wounds. He charges the attackers, tearing them to pieces with his sword, as Drones follows behind. Brumhilde takes a breather, and says she’ll catch up, as the other two marines head off.

Ramirez strides down the corridor as doors open on his left and right, an enemy coming from each; with his left, he easily slashes one across the throat, drawing a blade, as he punches out with his right, slamming the other’s head against the wall. He then proceeds to beat him repeatedly, finishing the man off with a knife through the face. He walks on, as another man runs out behind him, and immediately has the back of his head blown open. “You’re clear”, calls Limbs through the comms, as he reloads his sniper rifle.

Ramirez carries on, and Limbs tells him he’ll be out of sight when he turns the corner, and asks whether Ramirez wants him to follow, but hs ordered to hold the airlock so the pilot and the dropship are kept safe. Ramirez then vanishes from sight, as the camera shows the shadow of a floating knife across a wall, as the knife falls from above, slamming into the back of Limbs’s neck. He futilely reaches behind him to try and grab it choking, as another shadow is shown, one with long waving hair, surrounded by other floating, knife-shadows.

In a somewhat rasping female voice, the shadow says “They call you Limbs. They call me Knives” as the other three knives descend.

We then cut to Brumhilde, alone, reloading, as a massive shadow similarly casts over her, as a large fist catches her across the back of the head and knocks her to the floor. We then cut to Ramirez, as he enters a gigantic chamber, filled with many dozens of people; there are large gantries with armed guards up on either side of him, but he stands on what appears to be some kind of factory floor, as tubes cascade around and above him, transporting some kind of red liquid. Among the workers, many are in masks, and a few in body covering environment suits, moving away as Ramirez strides in. A man with a similar confident stride walks through the crowd of fleeing workers, holding his hand up to the guards, who hold their fire.

The man is shorter than Ramirez by several inches, but makes up for height with thick shoulders and bunched muscles. He wears a mask, and otherwise just a white vest and blue jeans. His head is bald and his skin Hispanic in tone.

“Ramirez, you got a lot of balls coming here. Now, how about you fight me like a man, unlike the way you slaughtered my people?”

Ramirez grins, and starts removing his armour.

The opening scene ends

Roll opening credits!

The episode opens in darkness. The sound of metal chipping against something of similar solidity can be heard, along with Doctor Ross’s frustrated voice. Snow Plough opens his eyes, and sees Ross sat at the centre of the floor of the helicopter, which is covered in furs, except for a small area, where she has placed the head of one of the Razor Ants. She has her medikit open, and is trying and failing to cut open the chitinous shell.

Plough- “Doctor, what are you doing?” With this, Ramirez stirs and opens his eyes, staring at the two of them.

“Trying to get inside it’s head… literally, if I can access the brain, I can at least learn how they think. See how intelligent they are. It might give us more of a… damn, look it bent my scalpel!”

Then then lifts up the head, trying to find any possible weak points, and stares at the hollowed out neck. She grabs some tweezers and reaches inside the neck, and frowns in irritation. “No, that won’t work, I won’t have anything to examine if I pull it out in pieces.”

The Sergeant’s eyes open in irritation, whilst Hayes is also awake, he turns over, wrapped in furs, still trying to sleep.

Greyjoy- “If you must be doing something, can’t you be doing something useful?”

Ross looks furious. “Useful? I am a BIOLOGIST. I AM being useful, trying to find a way to help fight these things. What about you Sergeant, what have you being doing that’s useful? So far, all you have managed to do is lose the people you came to rescue, and one of your own men in the process.”

Greyjoy’s irritation turns to amusement at her greater frustration. “I saved you, didn’t I?”

“Yes, and managed to leave the others behind. Good work.”

“We’ll get them back. And I think you still owe me a drink. Maybe we can talk about this at the pub later.”

Ross is hardly amused by the Sergeant’s joking advance, and continues to rant at him, and then goes back to inspecting the insect head.

Snow Plough then grins and pipes in “Hey Ross, maybe when your done getting to the insect’s brain, you can see if you can find the Sarge’s!” which both Ross and Ramirez finds very amusing.

Then Snow Plough gets an idea; he calls Jeeves, who floats over to a window and tells the support drone they are going to fix the helicopter, and then the drone tech goes characteristically quiet as he remote controls the drone to open up the helicopter and works on using it to try and unfreeze the engine.

Greyjoy says “Rather than poking at an insect head, shouldn’t you be patching up our injuries?”

“Well first, you have to tell me you need help!”

Greyjoy raises his helmet visor and points at his vicious facial scar.

“Oh, Stapes did a terrible job suturing. I’ll have to restitch it.” She sits next to the Sergeant and does as promised, whilst continuing to mock his idiocy.

Hayes gives up trying to sleep and sits up, looking out the window, squinting, looking out for trouble, but it is still pitch black outside; he doesn’t see any moving shapes, though the spiked and jagged rocks at many different angles look ominous enough by themselves. He tries to tune out the conversation in the background and calm himself, but instead he just hears the screams of the Foragers he had come to ensure were rescued. And then he remembers his heated words before the mission to Greyjoy; “You’re not a man, you’re just a ****-up!” His fists clench, and his expression seethes as he grits his teeth.

Ramirez moves closer to Ross and asks if he can help with the insect head whilst she is busy patching up Greyjoy. Ross points out the hollow neck, as the only weak point she can make out. Ramirez picks it up and turns it over, and then looks inside the open mouth; a blade snaps out of his cybernetic arm, and he pushes it into the mouth, but he just finds that it is similarly plated inside and frowns in irritation.

Greyjoy continues to annoy Ross more by constantly mentioning going for drinks, an intention she doesn’t reciprocate. She does however seem to warm to Ramirez and Snow Plough for both taking interest in her and joining in with mockery of the Sarge.

Greyjoy decides to climb into the cockpit of the helicopter, examining the equipment, but Ross snidely reminds the Sergeant that the helicopter is frozen and isn’t going anywhere.

Snow Plough eventually reports that he and Jeeves have fired up the engine. When the squad discuss who can fly it, Greyjoy looks back and tries to order Deputy Hayes to fly it since he can drive the jeep. Hayes is just so aggrieved of the suggestion and hateful of the Sergeant that he can barely bring himself to make a coherent response before Dr Ross chips in with her now established spite towards Greyjoy; “My goodness, Snow Plough is right, I really do need to check if you have a brain, though I doubt I will find one. In what world does somebody able to drive a jeep mean they know how to fly a helicopter? We have one pilot, and you send her back to town, meaning we are stuck here.”

“Fine, he can be co-pilot, I’ll work out how to fly it.”

“If he can’t pilot, he can’t co…. I would ask if you had any idea how to fly anything, but I fear I know the answer.”

The banter continues a little more and eventually dies down, as the realisation the squad isn’t going anywhere settles in.

Ramirez radios back to Frost and gets through to Bull, to inform her of their position, and to ask for the Alkarbi to come and pick them up, requesting a pilot since they have a working helicopter, but is told that they have refused, since Gerda informed them that the alien insects could fly, and tells them they are on their own; they can’t risk losing anyone else.

When Ramirez asks the Sergeant what they are going to do, Greyjoy says they need to go back to the tunnel they left yesterday and find Yeti. Ross mocks the idea that he would be alive, but Greyjoy points out that she and her Foragers lasted the night in the tunnels, and that none of them died; even if the Razor Ants got him, they would likely have taken him and the Foragers to be fed on. Ross theorises that as insects, they would likely have been taken to a feeding chamber to feed the colony, but also points out that the chances they haven’t eaten him already is minimal and that it would be a waste of time… but Greyjoy won’t listen to any suggestions and orders the squad to move out, and that Ross needs to come with them, which she isn’t too happy about.

As the sun rises, the squad set out back to the tunnel they briefly inspected before, now blocked off with the massive boulder trap Snow Plough had rigged. Greyjoy asks Ross what he can about the tunnels, but she doesn’t know a lot; she has only explored some of the upper tunnels, and these nearest ones are new to her. She was never allowed to go deep, which is likely why the Razor Ants were never encountered, “until some idiots started firing gunshots of course, now those tunnels aren’t safe… and whichever of you did that, is not in my good books”, but none of the marine’s open up. “I can guess who it was” and she stares out Greyjoy who just gives a disarming smile. When further questioned about where Yeti may have been taken, she theorises that the tunnels are likely on the outskirts of the colony, and it will be much deeper into the mountain. She then points out that finding him will be likely impossible even if they get deep enough, since it will be pitch black and the Razor Ants seem to react to light as well as sound, though this doesn’t deter the Sarge, who points out they are going in without light, and gives Ross a ball of string from the survival kit he got from Chang, telling her to go and tie it to the helicopter.

She groans and says “Finally, we get to find out how long a piece of string is…” She does as told, and when she returns, is told she is going into the tunnels as well.

Ross is outraged at the idea, so Ramirez passes her his silenced pistol “This’ll make no sound.”

“But I don’t know how to fire the blasted thing!”

“Its not for them”, Ramirez says “Its for you.”

“Right, let’s go. I’m not leaving another man behind”, Greyjoy says.

“Really!?? What about Blinky?” Snow Plough suddenly yells “You made us leave him behind!” And then everyone pauses as the echo of Plough’s shouting spreads throughout the valley. Some rocks and sediment tumble down slopes, but fortunately they are at one of the higher peaks and not in danger from such things.

Sergeant Greyjoy decides he has had enough with debate, and scrambles into the nearest open tunnel to the one where they left Yeti; it is isn’t high enough to walk down, so they partially scramble down it. Greyjoy is quickly followed by Ramirez and Hayes.

Then Plough gets onto his bottom to follow, but slips onto his back after getting a few feet, looking straight up at Ross, stood above him with her hands on her hips. And then Snow Plough’s eyes widen.

“I don’t think this is a good idea, I said they react to sound and with you yelling… Snow Plough, what are you staring at?”

Snow Plough is speechless as he watches the eight forms rise up into the air hundreds of foot above. And then Ross sees a shadow flit across in front of her and instinctively turns, and sees eight winged Razor Ants making a beeline for her. She looks back down the tunnel.

“I told you it wasn’t safe!” she yells down to Greyjoy, as her voice echoes down the tunnel. And then everybody in the tunnel hears the distant, now familiar scuttling noises, as Ross runs.

“Get back to the helicopter!” Greyjoy yells.

“What do you think I am doing!” says Ross as she runs across the mountaintop, looking up as the creatures keep pace, but still several hundred feet above her.

Ramirez flips blade out of his cybernetic arms again, using them to stab into the tunnel sides to climb over Hayes and Snow Plough, throwing himself out of the top of the tunnel and landing on his feet as he sprints right by Ross, scooping her over his right shoulder. “I’ve got you!”

The drones, Jeeves and Crusher are still at the top of the hole. Snow Plough stays where he is lying on his back as he takes control of Crusher, firing the battle drone’s minigun at the flier, as two fall out of the sky and hit the ground and another falls and disappears down a hole. The shells of those that hit the rock appear undamaged. Ross shrieks as one drops only two foot behind her and snaps at her face, missing by inches.

The Razor Ants are about the length of a horse, with thick segmented bodies and long thin spider-like limbs, though there are six of them. Like the bodies they have found, these have serrated mandibles around a large, circular mouth, with a pair of small segmented eyes above and below the mandibles. They have foot-long necks connecting to their bodies and four armoured, serrated wings which fold into their backs.

Hayes suddenly changes direction as he hears the sounds of Ants in the tunnels and starts to climb back up to the light, though the upward journey is much harder than the downward one, and he frantically scrambles as sediment slips underneath him.

Greyjoy orders everyone back to the helicopter; “I’ll find Yeti” and with a crazed look on his face, continues on down the tunnel. He sees the tunnel split into two directions, guessing that the right-hand tunnel will loop back to where Yeti was left, so he shoots at the ceiling of the other tunnel, and partially collapses it.

Ramirez continues to sprint as the remaining five airborne give chases, ducking as they swoop down at him, miss and fly back into the air. Snow Plough keeps control of Crusher, shooting three more of the five into the air, as they also hit the rock mere feet from the two drones, whilst Jeeves tries to keep the two already advancing on them back by spraying at them with a blow-torch from it’s engineering tools.

The two drones are surrounded by all five of the grounded Razor Ants; Plough watches through their cams as their necks seem to inflate and their mouths widen, as all five of them scream. This does nothing to the drones, but Plough starts Freaking Out as he is nearly deafened. Hayes scrambles closer to the drone tech, whilst Greyjoy scrambles down the right-hand tunnel, hearing sounds approaching him from both directions.

Ramirez leaps over a small crevasse, gaining a burst of speed as the two airborne Razor Ants lag a little behind him, rising in the air. Crusher goes fully automatic as two of the Ants rear up to attack, and are blasted apart with blue goop that splatters over Crusher’s cam briefly.

Hayes, panicking now, gains a burst of speed, climbs past Snow Plough (who has spent the entire action scene on his back) and runs out of the hole, keeping left of one of the Ants, only about a foot between them as it stares at him and rasps. He fires his machine pistol, but the shots ricochet off it’s armoured head harmlessly. Greyjoy keeps moving, reaching another intersection. Up to his right, he sees the rockfall they caused the previous day, looking as if it has been burrowed through; no sign of dead Ants or Yeti. To his left, he hears some closely approaching, and then spies their outlines only vaguely, as most of the light does not reach him. The two Ants open their mandibles wise and hiss. Greyjoy roars defiantly in response.

“ROOAAAAR!”

“HSSSSSS!”

“…ARRRRRRRRGH!”

“HSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

The rocks continue to collapse behind Greyjoy, entirely cutting off his point of entry… and escape.

The nearest Ant snaps at Hayes, making him shriek as he gains a burst of speed and runs ahead of them.

Ramirez jumps a much large ravine this time, as the two Ants swoop down, barely missing him as his feet just brush the other side. This time, the creatures land and scream at Ramirez, though he it doesn’t seem to slow him. Hayes keeps running as Crusher mows down two of the remaining Ants in the background, whilst Jeeves hold off the remaining one.

The Sergeant screams “Come on you ****ers!” and points both machine pistols at the ceiling, and collapses it on the two Razor Ants. Then he runs off into the darkness.

Ramirez runs into the helicopter with Ross, ordering her to start the engine as the rotors slowly turn.

Plough kills the remaining Ant by the hole using Crusher. The two remaining Ants land on the front of the helicopter. The propeller blades just bump off them, unable to get any momentum.

So Ramirez pops a blade and punches a neat hole through the windscreen. He can see the underbelly of one of the creatures, and a slit running along it as he stabs into it, slices along up to the neck and then tears it out, decapitating the creature. The other attacks, and gets the same treatment.

Ramirez looks to Ross and says “Not bad for a first date, eh Ross?”

Hayes open the door of the helicopter and then looks very awkward to see Ross embracing Ramirez with a very, very tight hug.

Snow Plough is still lying on his back. He is out of breath, but grinning.

“Safe… we’re safe.”

Meanwhile, a panting figure runs alone through the pitch black, as his feet crunch against the stone.

End of episode.

Game Notes

  • I got to show off Sensory Effects with the Screamers; the Deafening Effect did the characters no harm, but two of them were Freaking Out and taking penalties… but dice rolls were not with me, and their Abilities they were using were high enough to not totally screw them.

  • Greyjoy’s player, Shawn, used a Glory Point at the end for Dramatic Editing so he could end his part of the Scene at his request. He did so by collapsing the tunnel. Course, now he is trapped underground by himself…

  • The Minigun (at least using Remote Control and Plough’s high Grease Mokey score) had a big advantage on the Razor Ants due to its Arc and Line area and the fact that when they were in Short Range, their effective target number to oppose the attack was only 1 for movement, and I kept rolling terribly to bite, so he easily had enough Success Levels to destroy them. However, the minigun is nearly out of ammo after firing a lot of shots. So next time they might not be so lucky. Especially if Snow Plough is not able to just spend every Beat safely controlling his Drones…

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