Bullet At The Mirror

Long March

Season 3, Episode 2

The episode begins with the interior of a Chinese Thunderbird vehicle, red tactical lighting illuminating the faces of 9 nervous Chinese soldiers. Gum is passed around, but even the soldiers intent masticating does nothing to break the stress. One of the soldier peers at a video on his wrist display, the Popeye (aka Something new) is on it. Both of them comment that this is not a regular mission, as they glance over at the shaman,, wearing both fatigues and several animal bone necklaces.

Phoenix 1, 2, and 3 close in, three Chinese Military Thunderbirds assigned to anti-piracy missions. They are outside of their jurisdiction, in international waters, yet still closing in on this strange vessel. Upon RADAR signal, the three Thunderbirds pull out to maximum weapon’s range and their crews, squads of 6 soldiers, tumble out of each vehicle. Their Sparrow hover-packs allow them to approach with more stealth.

The squadron’s data flashes across Nairts readouts and he relays this information to the team. Ay and Callie take up good sniping positions as Connor heads towards the Black Betty, asking Nairt’s permission along the way. Salo casually dons sunglasses and pulls a deckchair underneath the cover of a steel staircase. He logs onto the Matrix. Mal hops into a secure closet and leaps into the Astral plane.

Ay and Callie take pot shots, downing almost half of the approaching squad. Salo starts hacking the closed nodes on each of the Chinese Thunderbirds. Mal assenses and sees a hawk-like spirit circling her and the vessel. Connor, in control of The Betty also takes out a couple of the approaching soldiers. Some of them are skimming the surface of the water, apparently laden with explosives. The other are flying at deck level.

Mal senses another stronger magical power out by the Chinese Thunderbirds and she throws up a mana barrier. She sees that this force is sending a spirit towards her, full of flames. The hawk spirit still watches, circling.

Ay and Callie take out most of the approaching team, however 4 of them make it onto deck and 3 make it onto the side of the hull near the water. Ay kills one of the soldiers on the hull before he switches to his pistols. The soldier dangles lifeless, held aloft by his mag-clamp.

Callie peppers two of the soldiers with bullets, killing one, as the other (obviously equipped with cyber reflexes) escapes and climbs up by the bridge.

Salo, after several seconds of effort, hacks into the node of Phoenix 1. He shuts down the Thunderbird’s controls, sending the vehicle into the drink.

One of the invading soldiers heads into the bowels of the ship, Ay follow, pistols out.

The two Chinese demolitions experts, magnetically clinging to the side of the ship, place their plastic explosive charges, attempting to shape them to damage such a well-armored ship. Connor in Better and Nairt, using Bam-A-Lam take up threatening positions, buffeting the soldiers with exhaust and light.

Just as the soldiers believe they have an advantage to leverage, Salo explodes their detonator charges in their packs, leaving the last demolitions crew without effective measures. Connor begins hailing the Chinese ships, telling them to stand down.

Ay bursts in on the one soldier that made it into the belly of the vessel. He badly wounds his leg and the soldier was planning to set up a charge of grenades. The situation quickly develops into a standoff, with Ay armed and the soldier having his explosive pack, although his leg is badly wounded.

Callie takes out the soldier facing her and then turns to the one behind her. The lieutenant with the cyber reflexes has disappeared as Callie stares down the soldier behind her.

The shaman on Phoenix 2 tries to breach the mana barrier that Mal put up. He cannot get through it and briefly stuns himself in the process.

The Chinese team is badly decimated, and ineffective at this point, except for the lieutenant, who has stationed himself just outside the pilot cocoon. Negotiations ensue. The Shaman on Phoenix 2 attempts to bargain to allow the ships to leave. The demolitions soldiers drop off and begin jetting back to the Thunderbirds. The soldier that Callie is facing down also jumps overboard. Ay convinces the soldier in the cafeteria to abandon his grenade bomb and captures him. Ay takes him down to the Doc-Bay for treatment.

After negotiating, all of the Chinese are willing to pull out except for the lieutenant, who is flanked by a stealthy Callie and Ay. It becomes clear that the party has the upper-hand and the Chinese reveal that they were searching for a vessel with a dragon in the cargo hold. This vessel is actually much further North, almost to the Arctic Circle, and most likely containing the Blue Dragon. Video is shown of a similarly, if not more spectacularly, dismal performance of the Chinese Military against that vessel, flying Australian lags and with Wheatgerm Corp ownership papers..

Mal’s mana barrier successfully resisted the Chinese military shaman and she stunbolts the Hawk watcher spirit out of the plane. The hawk disappears when hit. Convinces everything is safe, she reverts back into the real world.

Salo begins recruiting the Chinese soldier in the med-bay to join into a game-world wedding which Salo has code-named Wang-narok. The Chinese soldier is to be part of the wedding party. The end result sounds both messy and bloody, in virtual game terms.

Salo also has control of Phoenix 2, and is scaring the Hell out of its crew by flipping it and nearly crashing it.

Tense negotiations ensue. Finally the Chinese cut their silence and ask for retreat. The group allows them to pick up.

Finally a call comes in from Connor’s mother. Mentioning that she and Bruno are in a panic room. Bruno is injured and they are surrounded by heavily-armed Chinese gangs, who have explosives and apparently know how to use them. Time is running out and Bruno and Connor’s mom are in a bad place. Callie tells Bruno to never give the mother over.

Fatback calls Salo via several hops and take responsibility for the gangs around Connor’s Mom. He and Salo get into a huge battle of wits, Fatback records some of Salo’s less-sympathetic quotes and sends them to Connor. The end situation is that Connor’s mom is still being held captive by Fatback and his gang members. Bruno says they can hold out a week.

The team decides to send a contingent to save Connor’s mom. End of episode.

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