Doghouse Blues

The Smirker in the Mist (24th March 2181: a little bit more, later)
24th March 2181: a little bit more, later

“I’m getting a bad feeling about this” thought Clarissa; after the last muffled cry of the marshals the mist seemed to close in as they trod among the gravestones, with both sight and sound limited to only a few metres. Ahead she could make out vague shapes which might be mausoleums or small buildings, and to her right loomed the central obelisk and four cornered memorial stones of the Hussars monument. Then she could make out vague forms in the mist around her at the limit of her vision, and these started to move forwards towards them.

She squinted and peered forwards and then she fealt something grab at her ankle; looking down a withered hand was reaching up out of a grave plot, as were many others all around her. A clear voice cut through the fug of the mist.

“Foolish mutants! Did you think your approach had gone un-noticed. Those fools from the New Church will never recover my secrets. " the sneering voice called. “I have mastered life and death and you cannot defeat me! Soon you dance to my tune” A sibilant laughter petered off, and the agents saw that many figures now moved towards them. From behind muffled screams rand out from beyond the wall of fog.

“Sounds like the runners got more than they bargained for” She thought, and fired. The shot blew clean through one of the figures, but it kept on coming. Several rushed at Chick clawing and biting, engaging him in a messy melee.

“Discretion and all that” thought Clarissa, and started to back away towards the monument. The agents were not having good luck.

Moe was blazing away with twin blasters, but despite his hits this too seemed to be having limited effect. Anwyn’s blaster overloaded on the first shot vapourising a headstone and draining her powerpack, but totally missing a zombie, and then the things were on her, where she stood next to Chick. While Chick attempted to blaze away, Anwyn didn’t bother to reload and with her six foot two height (ignoring horns) she head butted the skull of one of the cadavers, smashing it to a pulp and causing the thing to collapse like a puppet with broken strings. Grunting with satisfaction she holstered her pistol and engaged in brutal melee.

’Enery was having a little more success. He had spoken with Miguel the Armourer at the Doghouse and had purchased a pair of Positronic Blasters which had been in stock- supposedly effective against sorcery and magical creatures. Clarissa and Moe had also bought a few (expensive) positronic grenades between them, and a case of incendiary grenades. In the excitement however, they seemed to have forgotten completely about them.

Each shot of a positronic blaster felled one zombie instantly, and eventually ’Enery started to shoot at two different targets each time. Both Chick and Moe were now very badly wounded by the claws and teeth of the horde, which was now pretty much approaching on all sides. Chick was bleeding heavily, when both Moe and Clarissa remembered their grenades.

Retreating backwards Moe tossed his sole positronic grenade into a bunch of zombies assaulting Anwyn, and with a dull flash of purple light half a dozen or so of the shambling horrors crumbled to a fine dust, falling into the ground. A light bulb flashed in Clarissa’s head, and she started fumbling in her utility belt.

Out of the mist ahead half a dozen robed and cowled figures had now appeared however, five of them forming a protective line in front of one in their midst; this one was muttering and gesturing, with strange energies flowing around his body. But within the swirling melee and the other robed figures, nobody could get a clear shot.

“Ia!!” finished Wylde, and a seething mass of darting black forms, similar to a horde of smoky, darting tadpoles swirled through the air and enveloped Chick, who screamed and fell to the ground. More zombies lumbered forward.

From her position at the rear Clarissa was able to use her grenades to protect ’Enery and Anwyn, who were still doing good work with positronic blaster and head butts respectively. Moe frantically scrabbled to pull the fallen Chick back away towards the monument. Clarissa was dimly aware that yet more of the things were shambling round from the far side of the monument towards them.

Once again Wylde yelled out with a piercing shriek, and this time it was Anwyn who fell stricken to the ground immersed in darting black smoke. Moe looked, and dragged Chick toward the safety of the looming ‘Enery. And then ’Enery shrieked and fell to the ground also, stricken by Wylde’s dark sorcery.

The positronic grenades had done their work well however, and there were only a few zombies in view. Clarissa threw her last one at the party surrounding Wylde, but shrieked in frustration as it missed completely: she was all out.

Both Moe and Clarissa had noticed that Wylde’s spellcasting was relatively slow. There were only two of them now , and they had a few seconds before Wylde could bring his lethal spells to bear once again. The remaining zombies lurched towards them.

Dropping Chick, Moe pulled an incendiary grenade and rushed straight through the lurching forms of the few remaining zombies, putting himself straight in front of the five berobed, silent figures protecting Wylde. Withered talons raked out to claw him, but for once his luck was in, and they failed to snag him.

“Take this you Poxy Bastard!” shrieked Moe, flinging the grenade directly at Wylde, and diving sideways for a little cover. The throw was good, and Wylde looked up at the last second as the thing impacted straight onto his chest.

With a startling “WOOOFFF!” the thing exploded in a burst of flame, immolating the cowled figures around Wylde, blowing the sorcerer off his feet and turning him into a burning torch. Agonised screams pierced the air.

“I..will….” Wylde screamed, before his legs collapsed from under him. The few remaining zombies collapsed to the ground.

Around them the fog was starting to disperse. As the mist thinned they could see the marshals, joggers and hobbled zombies running (or lurching) for their lives. Clarissa bent down and started seeing to the injured. She flashed Moe a brief smile, and he puffed his chest up. The smell of roast pork wafted across the cematory; Moe fealt hungry.

“Ey! Ey!” he chirruped. “De ye tink we could sell ’dis stiff to MacSaunders like?”"

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Elevenses of the Dead (24th March 2181: a bit later)
24th March 2181: a bit later

Eventually they spotted the memorial- one among many- directly ahead. It seemed that the route arrows for the Survival Run ran directly towards it, and they noticed that something like a racecourse hedge had been placed across the path.

Beyond this was a large inflatable pool with two slippery planks across it, and beyond this a large bouncy castle. Beyond this was the memorial itself, with two yellow jacketed marshals chatting to one another, and occasionally talking into their mobile phones.

Anwyn noted that half a dozen ill concealed zombies lurked among the gravestones, also talking into phones or smoking cigarettes. One of them was eating a sandwich.

On the other side of the tall obelisk like monument the path went off left and right, and on the right the path had also been obstructed with a hedge. Strangely enough just beyond the path was a wall of fog: a little odd in a temperature controlled geodome. Clarissa approached the marshals.

“Er hello. SD agents, no need to panic. Just how does this zombie run work then?” she asked.

It transpired that the runners followed a course, and at various stages encountered obstacles. At the obstacles a number of zombies lay in wait, their feet hobbled with ropes to give an authentic zombie pace: their role was to grab the runner and mark them with red paint that they carried over their numbers. Once caught, the runners were out.

“Ach hobbled?” laughed Chick. “Better and better!”

“And have you seen anybody else about?” asked Clarissa. “A man like this perhaps?” she asked, showing him her warrant meter.

“Oh yes, odd chap in a robe. Popped out of the wall of mist a while ago and asked us what we were doing. Borrowed a box of matches. A bit odd the mist- must be some sort of computer problem. I think he was near one of the mausoleums just south of the monument.”

“Ok thanks” said Clarissa. She nodded at the others and they fanned out into a line, entering the wall of mist.

“Here come the runners!” called one of the marshals as they entered. “Get ready you zombies!”

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Zombies, Zombies Everywhere (24th March 2181)
24th March 2181

Veronica did actually have an SD office: staffed by a hard faced Company Security man called Dekker; more a company mercenary than a policeman. The mining colonies were subject to company law, and their interpretation of the SCA’s law was more in the line of harsh frontier justice. A man like Wylde was beyond their experience though.

“He arrived a few weeks ago but we had no idea who he was: we get a fair few tourists visiting the Jupiter battlefields, as well a quite a lot of extreme sport nutcases climbing and base jumping. Don’t ask.”

One of the maintenance men noticed that he seemed to have set up camp, but he got kind of scared when he approached and backed off and reported him to us. We sent a drone to have a look and when we ran the pictures through we came up with an ID and informed the GCC. I guess that’s why you’re here."

“’As ’ee been any trouble?” asked Anwyn.

“Not really. He moves around a bit too-the war grave is a huge area. We’ve just warned the staff to keep their distance and so far it hasn’t been a problem. " replied Dekker.

Thus forewarned the Agents decided to check their gear into a Mutel and caught a train towards the War Grave Dome.

Inside there was a fairly orderly queue. Anwyn noted with interest three Zombies with MacSaunders meals (“Well that’s appropriate”,she thought), sucking their extra thick shakes. They showed a ticket to one of the staff and wandered through into the Cemetary, where she noticed they sat on a small skimmer with five other zombies. A man in a flourescent jacket drove them off.

“Well that’s a bit odd” offered Clarissa.

“Mebbe we should ask one of the staff, loike?” suggested ’Enery.

With her bandanna covering her third eye Clarissa approached one of the green polo shirted staff, and examined his name badge.

“Hello there Mr….ahh, Gamgee.” she purred. “As you can see we’re SD agents and we noticed the , err… zombies entering your magnificently kept cemetary.” The man looked up with dull eyes: clearly two blackberries short of a jam jar.

“Arr mississ” said the buck toothed cemetorial maintenance operative (2nd class), “It be for thaat Zombie Survoivaarl Run that be takin’ place today. Them zombies be chasin’ the runners loike.”

“Chasing the runners?” Clarissa smiled, teeth glittering.

“What the fuck is he talking about?” she thought privately. Anwyn tapped her on the shoulder and pointed.

A check-in desk had been set up in one corner of the entrance compound, and a number of joggers were lined up to receive their numbers. Dozens of spandex bestrewn poseurs were doing warm up exercises and stretches on the surrounding grass. Clarissa frowned.

“It’s some sort of Fun Run?” she asked. Gamgee nodded in the affirmative, drooling slightly.

“And, um, the strange man the Security Guards have warned you about, have you seen him?” asked Clarissa.

“Arrrp. ‘Oi saw ’im this mornin’ dewn boi the 11th Hussars memorial loike” said Gamgee, pointing toward the orientation board. Clarissa thanked him and they examined the map.

“Well, well” said Chick, “Couldn’t this be the total fucking disaster then?” They all looked at one another.

“We better get over there” said Anwyn.

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A Short History Lesson (24th March 2181)
24th March 2181

Io scarcely looked inviting, and their six hour stopover on Ganymede had revealed little regarding Wylde’s movements. Clarissa’s questioning of locals had ended abruptly when a six foot four bull dyke with a mohican recognised her from a YouTube posting, and started chatting to her about body stockings and chastisement.

Clarissa looked worriedly at the swirling mass of Jupiter, as the Pilot of the Mining Transport informed them that they were about to be assaulted by an intense burst of radiation. This was one of the hazards of Jovian living: the four Galilean Moons of Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, and Io, all orbited within Jupiter’s magnetosphere, and were protected from the solar winds – but in turn were all subjected to intense radiation from the planet. This magnetosphere was fourteen times stronger than the Earth’s,and the poles of the planet emitted intense radio bursts that were more powerful than those of the Sun. Colonies within the magnetosphere needed to be heavily shielded.

In concert with this Jupiter’s gravity well drew in stellar debris and comets. Jupiter and its satellites received the most comet hits of any planet in the solar system. There were those who believed that Jupiter is what protected the rest of the solar system from the bodies that floated through from the circling Oort Cloud.

As they approached Io Clarissa stared down at her datapad. Io was the innermost of the four Galilean moons, and the fourth largest moon in the solar system. What was distinct about Io was its geological activity – the most active object in the Sol system. It had two primary features, including mountains and volcanoes.

The surface of Io was composed primarily of silicate rock, with extensive plains coated in sulfur and sulfur dioxide frost. This covered the surface in shades of black, green, red, white, and yellow. From these plains rose more than 100 mountains, some of which were taller than Mt. Everest. They averaged 6 km/4 mi. in height, reaching up to 10 km/11 mi. They were all tectonic structures, not volcanic, so they were stable –except for the occasional earthquake.

The volcanoes were reserved for the paterae, resembling terrestrial calderas, which dotted the surface. There were more than 400 active volcanoes on Io, some producing plumes of sulfurous spray more than 500 km/311 mi high. These produced lava flows across the surface, some more than 500 km/311 mi in length.

Colonisation on Io was focused on two company towns burrowed into the mountainsides of the more stable calderae. They were headed for one of these -Veronica-owned by the Wickmann Mining Corp. These were one of the original diaspora corporations hailing from the time when mankind was still speading out into space, and ahead of the attempts of the national authorities on earth to impose their own rules on the new colonists.

The results had been a series of colonial wars, including the Jupiter Wars, as the new colonies rebelled against earth authority. With the onset of intersteller travel the situation had become even more complicated of course.

The development of warp drive also curtailed the rush to colonise the solar system, and the situation was still little better developed than it had been eighty years ago, and the system beyond Uranus was still little explored, except by a few brave mining prospectors: the stories they sometimes brought back were to be regarded with a pinch of salt.

The area that was now Veronica had been the scene of several of these colonial engagements, and a shielded dome on an upland plateau forming part of the settlement now encompassed a War Grave and Memorial to those who had died in these conflicts. It was here that Wylde had apparently been spotted.

As the shuttle landed, and the elevator descended the craft below shielded and protected doors into the heart of the colony, the Strontium Dogs gathered their gear for disembarkation.

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Back on the Road Again (22nd March 2181)
22nd March 2181

“Where have you been?” asked Clarissa. Anwyn rolled her eyes.

“Don’t ask” replied Anwyn. “They kept me on that bleddy station for two weeks-they only let me off yesterday. Tests and more tests.”

“What for?” asked ’Enery.

“Bleddy progidy I am.” replied Anwyn. “That alien box they made me play with did somethin’in my ’ead. Psychic I am it seems.”

“Psychic? A psi you mean?” asked Clarissa.

“Yeah don’t get excited though” replied Anwyn,“I can’t read your mind or anything. More like a sort of performing puppy.”

“Or Goat” said Moe.

“Thanks for that Bug Boy” said Anwyn. “Anyway you seemed popular up there Clar. Lots of pictures of yew I saw in some bodystockin’ thing. Excitin’ was it?”

“It was a controlled scientific experiment” said Clarissa po faced.

“Well it certainly ‘ad the Techs goin’ I think. There was a bit of a paper towel shortage after a few days.”

“Anyway I jest ’ad a word with Norman, my tech friend.” she continued, “Got a tip off for two warrants’ere, both in system. One’s on Io and the others on Titania, out near Uranus. They won’t get posted till last thing tomorrow-and there’s a shuttle leaves for Io in six hours. We can get a good head start.”

“And these are?” asked Chick.

“Darlok Wilde, some nut job Sorcerer wanted by the New Church spotted on Io.”

“And the other?” asked Clarissa.

“Theodore Mauler. Ex Kreeler, spotted on Titania” replied Anwyn.

“Two Gun Teddy?” said ’Enery, sitting upright. “The Butcher of Bodmin? That bastard was at the Bodmin Neutralisation Camp.”

“Yeah, been on the run since the War.” said Anwyn. “Still hates us. Still killing mutants. I take it you’re interested?”

“Oim interested.” growled ‘Enery. “E’s a threat to every one o’ us. And a psychotic scumbag to boot. Count me in, Blue.”

Clarissa pouted slightly as she eyed up Anwyn dubiously. She was feeling more than a little frosty towards Anwyn, not having enjoyed the humiliating experience of the Research Lab experiments one little bit, even if she had received another big gun to play with for a while.

“I would have preferred to keep the body stocking rather than the gun,” she sighed to herself. “Providing that I could have worn clothes over it. Honestly, now I’m scared to make an Atari Search under my name. Those bloody pictures are probably all over the Web by now.”

She stopped moaning to herself and tried to put on her sweetest acidic smile to Anwyn.

“So, Anwyn, have you been able to put your new found powers to work in looking into the future to check that this is a normal mission this time? One where we just shoot people and they shoot back? No requirement for me to copulate with a Mork this time or anything equally humiliating?”

It was hard to tell if Anwyn was at all embarrassed, her skin being cobolt deep blue and all.

“If it’s just a standard warrant, then I’m in too.” said Clarissa.

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Safety First (28th February 2181)
28th February 2181

The next day the Strontium Dogs found themselves boarding a GCC shuttle, and spending a boring six hours being shuttled to an unknown location somewhere within the system.

As they approached the large station they saw the markings identified it as belonging to the Waylingbrook corporation: presumably one of the many contractors assigned to the GCC Research labs.

As they exited the shuttle they were approached by a smallish, sunburned man with a mole on his left cheek which riveted everyone’s attention.

‘Good evening… erm… afternoon… morning?’ the man in his bright yellow lab coat proferred, somewhat confusedly, ‘I lose track sometimes. Not that it matters up here, anyway"

He stood up,several clipboards gathered under his arms, “My name is Dr. Yamin Henry and I will be overseeing your equipment testing.”

“Now, the GCC already signed all of your release forms for you,” the doctor continued, handing each agent a clipboard,“So all you have to do is decide what in today’s line up you will be testing. Oh and do we have a good array of fabulously experimental technologies for you to test!”

The Agents looked over the clipboards, Anwyn noting a number of cop out legal clauses for the GCC.

Dr. Henry asked each of the Agents to sign a number of forms, and then they were split up and led off by different lab assistants.

“Why are we here again?” thought Moe. He was in for a short sharp shock.

“Take your cloths off please Miss” said the spotty lab assistant to Clarissa.

“Come again …ah David” said Clarissa, reading his name badge.

“Oh sorry- you need to take all your cloths off and put on that body stocking” said David.

“It’s transparent” said Clarissa flatly.

“Oh yes, better readings that way.” said David. “Don’t worry, I’m a scientist.”

Somewhat annoyed, Clarissa stripped off, noting that she was now being watched by at least six or seven male scientists, and one female scientist with a crop top haircut. Most of them seemed to be sweating profusely.

“All my clothes?” asked Clarissa.

“Yes. The ..err.. undergarments too. Please.” responded David. Clarissa languidly complied, and pulled on the transparent body stocking. A technician moved across, trying not to stare downwards, and led her over to a sort of frame, to which she was secured and a number of sensors fixed to her temples and body. Seven or eight pairs of beady eyes stared at her.

A lab technician stepped forward thirty metres in front of her; he seemed to be carrying an assault rifle.

“Ok” called David, “A full burst at belly level. Then we’ll move on to the lasers.”

“Whattt!!” cried Clarissa. “Now wait a…….” but her protests were drowned out by the sound of automatic fire.

“Gerrafuckinmoveon” said Moe. The lab tech looked at him dispassionately.

“Look Dumbo” said the Tech, “Just point the pretty gun at the pretty target”

The testing area was similar to a standard firing range with stark white walls; a large humanoid mannequin wearing powered armour hung at the end of the corridor.

“Take your place on that mark Brains” the assistant said sarcastically as he loaded a clip full of ammunition, “and begin firing two-pull bursts at the target. Increase to three-pulls after five impacts, then continue until the magazine is empty. Got that?”

“Caarn I just punch the fuckin’ thing?” complained Moe. The Tech rolled his eyes: this wasn’t going to be easy.

’Enery was led to a small white room with a single chair bolted to the middle of the floor. Next to the chair was a tray full of medical instruments.

“Please,” the nurse gestured, “take off your shirt and have a seat.” ’Enery complied.

The nurse injected him with a long syringe, which pierced through even ’Enery’s thick hide. A set of restraints clipped out pinning his wrists and ankles, and after ten minutes an aching pain started to gather in ’Enery’s veins.

It was then that the lab tech. appeared with a cattle prod, and jabbed at ’Enery, who howled with pain. This was followed up with a laser scalpel, a stiletto and a good pounding with a baseball bat. Another tech with a short skirt and cute freckles, calmly took notes.

’Enery glanced down and noted with surprise that the cuts and puncture wounds had healed.

Anwyn was led into an oval shaped chamber containing several piles of different materials, from ingots of metal to sacks of sawdust. At the centre, floating above a small pedestal, was a glowing crystalline cube. “Place your fingers into the corresponding sockets on the cube,” the assistant said, “then try and focus on your aggressive qualities. If you cannot get it to trigger, I have this prod to help you get, how should I say it, upset?”

“What ’ave I let myself in for?” thought Anwyn, placing her fingers into one of the holes. Nothing. She pulled a face, and then one of the techs stepped forward and jabbed her with a cattle prod.

“Arrrrrgggh!” she screamed, “You little B…………!”

“Again!”, called a voice from the back of the room.

Chick tossed the heavy bladed weapon he had been given to test. The testing room was a small white box dominated by a trio of mannequins wearing different styles of armour.

“Here,” the assistant pointed, “Try to stab as deeply as you can before trying to cut laterally but make sure you do cut laterally. No thrusts, please.”

“I need a drink.” he thought.

The blade test was short, and Chick was next shuffled into a testing area consisting of a long white room with lighting apparatus hanging from the ceiling and a distant eye-exam chart at the far end. An ergonomic stool sat at the opposite end from the chart, next to a lab-coated assistant.

“Please sit,” he nodded, producing a dropper of a yellowish fluid, “This will only sting for a few hours”

Three drops of the fluid were dropped into each eye. At first there was no effect, but then both eyes started to itch horribly. Chick noted that restraints had appeared from the arms of the chair. The light went down.

“Look at the chart please. We will now conduct a few eye tests. Don’t worry- this shouldn’t take more than seven or eight hours.”

Aching with pain after being shot, stabbed, prodded and ogled Clarissa hobbled over to the desk. Miraculously the body stocking had saved her from serious injury.

“Can I take this off now?” she asked.

“That will not be necessary” said David. “We would prefer it if you kept it on while we observed you in the next tests. In the interests of Science you understand.”

Clarissa was led into the next room, and handed a strange looking pistol. Adjustable targets made of various materials hung along the corridor.

“Stand over on the mark,” said David. She was conscious of several pairs of eyes scrutinising her naked body bestockinged butt from behind.

“Limit the blaster shots to one per six seconds to let the instruments do their job. Try to hit each target as they cross the centre line. You may begin with the red target whenever you are ready.’

Clarissa stood on the mark and took single shots at the targets, just as instructed. Her aim was good, and she noted with satisfaction that the targets were completely disintegrated.

“That’s very good” said David. “Would you like to field test this weapon for a while? I can get the appropriate forms.”

“Can I take this body stocking off now?”asked Clarissa.

“After you’ve filled in the appropriate forms.” said David. “Bend over and sign here.”

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Git Home Little Dawgies (27th February 2181)
27th February 2181

Anwyn put down her soldering iron, and examined the electronic chaos in front of her. They had arrived back at the Doghouse several days ago, and flush with cash for once she had hired the relative luxury of a single room for herself: Cr 50 a night was fairly expensive, but she could now afford it.

Always interested in electronics, Anywyn had booked in for some additional computer training: she was secretly something of a circuit board geek, but she had been at it for a few days now and she needed to give her eyes a rest.

She looked down at the notice she had palmed again, and walked off to the Jar Bar, where she saw Clarissa and the others sitting down for a rest. Some of them, she knew, had also been training since they got back. Anwyn sat down.

“Look, I know none of us are ready to go off again just yet, but I found a way for us to make a few easy creds for no more than a day or so of work. Nice and easy, no danger, and a change of scenery.” Heads were raised in interest, except for Moe who had aquired a whole satchel full of new friends for Bill Danger, Action Ranger, who he was currently putting them through their paces in eight inch high plastic triumph.

“Look see, I been doin’ some computer workshops with Norman Pilkington, one of the computer techs. He’s also responsible for updating parts of the warrant database.”

“So?” asked Chick.

“’Ee’s tipped me off to an easy job: the GCC Test Labs want some volunteers to spend a day or so testing some prototype equipment. It’s an easy day for a Cr 3500: it’ll get us off the Doghouse for a day too. I fancy doing it for a bit of a break.” explained Anwyn.

“New equipment?” asked ’Enery slowly.

“Yup: GCC test labs developing who knows what? New weapons, combat drugs, gadgets, gizmos. All sorts. We might even get to field test some of the stuff.” she continued. “Either way it’ll be first come first served. It’s not been posted yet and I convinced Norman to leave it till tomorrow morning. If we apply today it’s a dead cert. we’ll get the job.”

“WHile we’re talking about jobs a couple of suggestions while we have access to the shop onboard the Doghouse,” Clarissa said in her usual clipped tones which made her sound bossy, even when she was not trying to be. Superior breeding I suppose.

But this time, she was being bossy.

“I would strongly suggest that everyone invests in at least one trauma pack which they keep on their person. Yes, they are expensive, but if we did not have them when we were fighting the bugs, we would have had to have abandoned the mission, which would have cost us an awful lot more.”

“Also, perhaps one of you strong, muscle-bound boys would consider adding some kind of longer-range weapon to your personal arsenals. At short-range we have very impressive firepower, but those mercs with their ACRs totally outclassed us when we were fighting at a distance.”

“I already carry a few”, shrugged Anwyn. “While we’re talking weapons your Multibeam Blaster is a good weapon, but why not invest in a VCB now you have a bit of cash? Gives a lot of versitility and I’m sure you can handle one if you can use a Multibeam?”.

As the conversation and booze flowed around Moe, he listened on and off whilst gauging the worthiness of his “Collectible Figurines” and re-creating historic fight scenes from the ‘Bill Danger Power Hour Video Broadcast’ (Brought to you by the good people of PUFF-ies!! Cereal R ) Just as Anwyn was yabbering about some new job or other Bill had just been corralled into a no-win situation by a devious Phlegm Shark and it’s buxom controller, Madame Tart.

“Easy Credits…” Moe said and waved absently just as Bill shot the control box (represented as a half eaten martini olive) out of madam Tarts plastic hands. The Phlegm Shark then went berserk as represented by Moe’s snarls and guttural howls.

Clarissa said something about a Trauma Pack he dimly noted,and Moe knew for a fact that he had needed the healing help of a Trauma Pack many, many times. To agree with her that we all need the help of a Trauma pack every once in a while he piped up and says “Yeah, good one there me hottie bird!” then sets the dolls…er…action figures to higher ground on a loaf of bread.

Clarissa also said something about ““Strong, muscle-bound boys blaa blaa blaa.” At short-range we have very impressive firepower!!!” Moe thought this over. Yes. He decided to invest a sizable chunk of his pay into Melee Combat and become very Impressive indeed!Surely that would impress her?

Anwyn’s voice cut through the mist with her board scratching welsh accent.

“Anyway,” Anwyn sighed, "The GCC Labs: each of yew- In or Out?

Moe did a quick glance up from Bill Danger about to tame three sexy Space Sirens into submission with his Meat Club (sold separately). Yes, he is in the bar, not out of it floating in space.

“I’m in.” he said with confidence.

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Good Riddance to Little Sister (6th February 2181)
6th February 2181

As she stowed her gear in the tiny stateroom she would be sharing with Clarissa, Anwyn breathed a sigh of relief: they were leaving this dust bowl shit hole at last.

Elvis fortunately had survived thanks to Clarissa’s ministrations, and a couple of days later his new 12 strong Security Team had arrived on the ‘William Shatner’. By a unanimous vote all of the Strontium Dogs (excluding Moe, who didn’t count) had voted to throw over the pitifully inadequate warrants for Nicky the Greek and Wreckless Eric,and get the hell out of Dodge. Nobody wanted to spend another week on Little Sister, and ’Enery had been moaning about resupplying at the Doghouse.

“Oy! O’im supposed to blast all the wankers, then stand in front o’da lads and ladies, and then shill out to these bleedin’ cutthroat merchants for overpriced reloads am I?” he complained.

She turned around to see Clarissa furiously rummaging through her gear: apparently several items of underwear had gone missing.

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Battle of the Giants? (3rd February 2181: late morning)
3rd February 2181: late morning

As they finally exited the mines Chick caught a glimpse of movement atop one of the administration buildings, and a quick impression of desert camo and a rifle. His battle honed reflexes kicked immediately into play as he dived for a nearby group of rocks.

“Take cover!” he yelled, as another head appeared and several bursts of automatic weapon fire caught ‘Enery directly in the chest- amazingly leaving him still standing. Moments later and a pair of well aimed HEAP RAM grenades almost didn’t, leaving the green giant blinking in surprise.

“Blimey!” said ‘Enery, "Oi’m, ’urt!"

As the others rushed forward for cover behind the railway trucks and wagons, two more mercenaries popped up, and a firefight developed.

From the back of the Chuck Wagon Elvis, remembering his old army training and several lifetimes of shooting tin cans with his buddies, decided that enough was enough: he was a hero after all, and he wanted a piece of the action. Piling out of the Chuck Wagon he ran towards the railway trucks with his pet ACR. Looking out from the cab Brother Scotty did a double take.

“No Elvis! Nooooooo!” he screamed, jumping out of the cab and drawing his laser pistol to hopefully protect the Church’s investment. This certainly wasn’t in his contract.

Chick and Clarissa both took a couple of bursts from one of the mercenaries, who were well armed, well armoured and good shots. Seeing Elvis pop up from behind the truck one of them caught him with a burst, his tailored protective bell bottom suit fortunately taking some of the impact.

Elvis and Scotty were physically separated from the Strontium Dogs by some distance however, and from the cover of the mining buildings to their rear a new threat emerged in the form of a burst of needler fire from behind at Scotty, which fortunately missed.

“Ah ok, ah Punk” stammered a well modulated plummy British voice, which seemed unfamiliar with the words.

“Jesus Christ its the Webbies!” cried Scotty, taking one down with his laser, but remembering with a tingle of alarm that there were four of the Webb brothers on planet.

“Blasphemer!” called another Webb, as three more charged forward at Scotty, this time wounded him with a spray of automatic fire. “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain, slave of the False King!”

“The Hell with You, you sad act freaks!” yelled Elvis, taking down one of the Webb’s with a burst. “Richards was a loser and all his singles were crap!” The faces of the remaining Webb twins contorted with rage.

“Die Blasphemer! Die! Die! Dieeeee!!!!!!” cried one of the Webbs, and both sprayed Elvis with automatic fire. Simultaneously Scotty and ELvis fired killing one of them instantly, but Elvis too reeled backwards into the dust, the white armoured silkolene top of his jumpsuit spouting red blossoms.

“My God they killed Elvis!” screamed Scotty, “Nooooo!”

Anwyn was the first to reach the scene, and she rapidly gunned down the last of the Webbs. She sniffed and looked across the scene.

“’As Elvis left the building then Scotty?” she asked, doing a quick mental arithmatic with regard to how much money they might lose out on. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Clarissa race over to the prone Elvis, and reach for her medikit.

“What’s the story Clar?” she asked. Clarissa gritted her teeth and winced at Anwyn’s welsh vowels mangling her name. Clarissa looked over.

“There’s no time to lose. Anwyn, I need one of those pepperoni’s you carry for your regen. thing. One of the jumbo ones mind, and with the wrapper too.” Anwyn shrugged and tossed one over.

“Moe!” called Clarissa sharply. “I need my white satin suspender belt-the one that went missing. I’ve been meaning to have a quiet word: I saw it under your pillow the other day.”

“Worr?” protested Moe innocently. “I dunno wotya mean like….” Here he was interrupted by one of ’Enery’s massive paws placed heavily on his shoulder, while the other pinched the back of his neck. Sullenly he produced a (now rather crumpled) white satin suspender belt, and tossed it over to Clarissa, who had jabbed a syringe of something into Elvis’s chest.

“Right. Push off now Moe. I’m busy.” snapped Clarissa, and reached over Elvis to do her thing.

“So Scotty” asked Anwyn, “These Webbie’s really don’t like Elvis do they?”

“They sure don’t. We’re really lucky there were no Hank Marvin’s in the group.” he replied glumly. “They can be a lot worse”.

“’Ank Marvin?” puzzled Anwyn. “’Oo’s ’Ank….”

“Just trust me on this” interrupted Scotty. " Very dangerous. Bloody good guitarists too….." He paused as Clarissa stood up.

“Elvis will live,” Clarissa she said finally.“But he’s certainly All Shook Up, uh-huh-huh, yeah, yeah.”

“Those bloody Webb brothers came out of nowhere,” she continued. “It’s like they were Shadows. Well it certainly turned out to be no Summer Holiday for those Young Ones. So I guess Congratulations and Celebrations are in order. Power to All Our Friends.”

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Back to the Grindstone (3rd February 2181: 8 am)
3rd February 2181: 8 am

“This was a Big Mistake” thought Clarissa, as once again they sat outside the mine as she bound Chick’s wounds.

Negotiating a price with Mr. Burnes had been bad enough, but the Zorgs themselves were sheer murder. As they had re-entered the tunnels only ten minutes ago, they had been attacked by only two or three as far as she could gather, and yet most of them had ended up badly wounded. At least two of the Zorgs had been accounted for however.

They re-entered in a single group, carefully covering each intersection and corner until they came to a larger gallery, with a cavern leading off it to the north east.

“Ey! Ey!” called Moe, high as a kite on combat drugs. “Wot’s in ’ere ’den?”

As he looked inside the floor seemed to seeth, and a carpet of miniature Zorgs started to pour towards him. Firing both of his pistols he retreated back into the gallery, and not a moment too soon as a pair of Zorgs-fully grown and twice the size of any they had yet encountered, detached themselves from the shadows and shot towards him.

Behind him panic and blaster fire erupted as Anwyn and Chick were surprised by the lightning rushes of two more of the creatures from side galleries-these two of the normal (smaller) size they had encountered previously.

This time however the cavern layout favoured the Strontium Dogs. The creatures were hard to hit, but any hit with a blaster inevitably blew them to pieces, and the creatures were fewer in number now. Despite several of the agents receiving severe wounds from the claws and mandibles of the creatures, eventually they stood victorious.

In a side cavern were the corpses of numerous miners adjacent to clumps of egg sacs. One miner and a guard were still alive, immobilised in goo, and Moe vapourised the eggs nearest them with his laser pistol.

As Clarissa saw to the wounded, the others started to destroy the numerous egg clusters, in anticipation of the arrival of the mining demolition teams who would destroy the mine for good.

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