When we left off a whopping four months ago, the 16th were in the process of storming Conner Industries’ research center 13 on the asteroid DH-3. The operation was going swell right up until the moment the squad realised they’d walked right into a trap. The forces of the Outer colonies had decided to crush one of the vaunted UTOPIA squads in a display of force and cunning.
The 16th was unfazed, though, and did their best to set up defenses. A search of the station armory (with the help of some defected security guards) revealed three brand new, unused automated sentry guns, which were quickly placed at critical locations. In addition the troopers hauled a few small shipping containers into the corridors to provide cover, and prepared to receive the attackers.
First to enter the installation was Pvt. Johnson of the Outer colonies 3rd Heavy infantry. He barely had time to step into the first corridor, when the sentry turret opened up and quite literally tore him apart. The demoralising start stalled the assault completely as the Heavy infantry leader Sgt. Mancala ordered a more cautious approach.
The new approach proved more successful, aided by the sentry gun misfiring. Having sat in their crate for years, they simply hadn’t been field tested and the squad could only curse as the gunfire suddenly died down. The troopers pitched in with their own firepower, with Lt. Fender and Pvts. Lau and Abdul pouring pulse rifle fire and grenades down the corridor.
It was tough going for the attackers, with trooper after trooper falling. However, the Outer colonies had committed to the mission, and a steady stream of reserves kept pouring in. Metre by metre, the attackers were pushing forward and taking the corridors. The grenades fired by the defenders served the attackers as well, with drifting smoke obscuring the advancing Heavy infantry. When another of the sentry guns died to the sound of electric fizzing and popping, things were starting to look worse. The 16th had something to look forward to, though: a hail from their dropship, the Apache Owl let them know that help was on the way. Would it reach them in time?
Four security guards had joined the 16th after it became apparent that they were not about to be rescued. However, it was quickly becoming clear that they were ill-equipped for the situation. While they did their best to guard the corridors with their few semi-automatic rifles, they were completely failing to do damage to the attackers, much to the frustration of the sixteenth. The Heavy infantry was getting closer and closer and were already at a distance where they could lob grenades at the defenders.
Disaster struck the attackers just as they were about to break through the defenses. The last sentry gun had malfunctioned, and Sgt. Mancala pulled the pin from a grenade and turned to throw it at the defenders, when the gun suddenly came back to life thanks to Pvt. DiGlaeser’s technical aptitude. Mancala hurriedly pulled back but fumbled with the grenade which fell at his feet, blowing up the sergeant and knocking nearby trooper Kaneda down. On the brink of breaking the defenders, the attack collapsed and the attackers pulled back, leaderless. With the Union of Terra fleet approaching, the defenders were suddenly close to winning.
A heavy clanking announced a new turn of events. To the shock of the UTOPIA troopers, Pvt. Jane, MIA after the cyborg attack on Ryukyu Epsilon, had been brought back as a monstrous hybrid of man and machine. Apparently the Cyberdyne-Sendai corporation had managed to salvage more from the disaster than they’d let the Union know. The cyborg marched in, smashing Heavy infantry aside and stepping into the corridor. Lt. Fender and Pvts. Lau, Abdul and Dastevan stared eyes wide as the monster activated the minigun mounted on its right arm. The howl of the barrels was followed by a storm of bullets that tore up the corridor. Lau was hit twice and fell to the floor, while the rest ducked behind corners to avoid the onslaught. Miraculously, “Dog” Lau was still alive and unharmed, although scared out of his wits by yet another close brush with death. The troopers returned fire, but their shots ricocheted harmlessly off Jane. Lt. Fender could immediately see where this was going. It was time to abandon their positions and fall back to wait for extraction. Abdul fired another grenade down the corridor to slow Jane down and to provide them with some smoke for cover.
There was one man who didn’t want to retreat without a fight. Pvt. Krayten Dastevan was itching for combat and stood his ground in a branching side corridor, looking to not only engage Jane, but to engage him/it in hand to hand combat! Lieutenant Fender would have none of this. “Quit messing around, Dastevan, and haul ass out of there on the double!” he ordered. Grudingly Dastevan obeyed, but he did it too late. As he sprinted down the corridor, Jane spotted him and turned the minigun on Dastevan. Halfway through his escape, Pvt. Dastevan was cut in half by the hail of shots, spraying a nearby security guard with blood. The bullets tore through the last of the sentry guns as well. Jane spotted some more guards at the end of the corridor and stomped off after them. This enabled several of the 16th to sneak off towards safety.
The security guards fled, leaving Jane with no visible targets. The cyborg lumbered on and came face to face with one of the Heavy infantry troopers, who had been more than happy to hang back and let Jane clear the corridors for them. The minigun barrels whirred up again, but luckily rudimentary recognition protocols had been installed and Heavy infantry Pvt. Julian only suffered a case of soiled underwear.
Most of the 16th were fairly safely tucked away in a remote part of the research centre. Most, apart from Pvt. Lau. Lau had been too scared to stand up, and was slowly crawling down the corridor, hidden from sight by the shipping crate the squad had dragged up. There were two Heavy infantry troopers walking down the corridor, however, and it would only be a moment before Lau was spotted. Determined not to leave any more men behind, Lt. Fender ordered covering fire, and whether it was because of Lau’s uncanny luck or the troopers’ skill, the Heavy infantry was gunned down before they noticed the scruffy trooper.
Fear spurred the three remaining security guards on, and they fled from Jane as fast as they could, barricading themselves in a room to wait for retrieval. True enough, a moment later the Apache Owl landed on the roof of the installation with a pressurised dome and started cutting an escape hatch. The Outer colonies forces were retreating, and the day was won. Only one decision remained: “Wait for us!” cried the security guards. Jane’s minigun had just shredded the door to the room and death loomed. Eyes turned to Lt. Fender for the decision. To wait for the security guards would endanger the squad, but this was the call Fender made. The guards had helped out, and it would have been inhumane to leave them behind – besides, with Dastevan gone there was always room for new recruits. The guards escaped, but the delay meant Jane had one more chance to open up on the Apache Owl. Bullets punched through into the crew compartment, and one of the security guards lost his leg at the knee. The sixteenth had made it, but had suffered yet another casualty, bringing the tally up to 15.
Man oh man, am I happy. After four months of inactivity, I had my doubts about the survival of this campaign. A much shorter delay has killed games before, and Utopia is my beloved pet. I was super happy to see that my fears were for nothing, as we quickly got into the groove again despite one of my three players dropping out at the last minute due to illness. After the first few rounds the players again remembered their characters and their personalities, and we once again got to grips with the rules. The game was as cinematic as before, and after the game we heaped praise on Flying Lead by Ganesha Games. The simple mechanics allow for quick and easy modification, and we came up with a lot of special rules on the spot, such as grenade explosions clouding the corridors with smoke, sentry guns and their malfunctions and Jane’s programming glitches – there was a very real chance of Jane actually firing on the the hapless Heavy infantry trooper, and when he was swatting aside the Outer colonies troopers, sheer luck stopped them from being injured.
That’s pretty much exactly one year of Utopia behind us. The next scenario will once again be something completely different. This one was a great opportunity for me to field my lovely new Pig Iron Heavy infantry and my cyborg Jane conversion. Now, what should I paint next…