21/12/3049. Day 28, 23:35 (Ares Time))
A distress call was received by the Strata military on Daedalus continent, sent by an Eisen Mining expedition north of Argyre in the lowlands. The information was relayed to Strata Military Command on Ares continent. The distress call seemed to indicate an attack, but was cut-off. The automatic distress beacon of the vehicle remained active.
Hpt. General Lucius Morgan and Lt. General Elisa Hayes had been waiting just such an opportunity to justify deploying military personnel into Eisen Mining territory. To gain information on events in Eisen Mining territory, and in particular the events behind the distres call, they cited their military authority to deploy investigators.
22/12/3049. Day 29, 00:30 (Ares Time))
Hellstrom’s Hellions were hastily deployed, without their battlemechs, to Waystation 86 which was the closest outpost to the distress call and maintained a helipad. The flight left at 00:30 and was 11 hour flight by Ferret VTOL.
The Hellion’s battlemechs, and Lt. Sarah Richter’s lance, were to be deployed to Argyre to collect the Hellion’s support personnel still stationed there and then to rendezvous at Waystation 86. The total time to deployment was estimated at 120 hours, 5 full days.
Hellstrom’s Hellions flight landed at Eisen Mining Waystation 86 in the lowlands. They received a gruff welcome by Dr Gregory Thompson, second in command of the outpost and head of the medical staff. Waystation 86 was used to service and repair landtrains and other convoys to and from Argyre, and contained a medical facility used to treat any injuries from nearby mining camps.
Lt. Samara Hellstrom and Ruin Dmitar then met with the outpost chief, Madyson Cartwright, and her communications officer Imogen Swan. They reluctantly acknowledged military juristiction, and established some secure frequencies for Layne-Lars Kinnesson to contact Waystation 86 on.
They gained some information about the survey mission that had come to distress. It had been composed of Five Iveco Burro II trucks (three standard, two modified with two foot infantry bays each) and one smaller Iveco Burro I truck.
While in the control tower Lt. Samara Hellstrom also discovered a second convoy of Eisen Mining vehicles and personnel was en route, to investigate, and were due at Waystation 86 in approximately 10 hours.
22/12/3049. Day 29, 06:15
Lt. Samara Hellstrom requisitioned an Iveco Burro I truck (a small four person truck) and Hellstrom’s Hellions set out to find the distress beacon and aid any survivors, and investigate what happened.
At this time only Ruin Dmitar was well rested. The other three slept during the trip while he drove.
22/12/3049. Day 29, 08:00
The expedition reached the Iveco Burro II truck sending the distress beacon. Communications officer Quin Tyler was found dead at the door to the truck, which had been left open. Quin Tyler had had his throat slit, but the attacker had not cancelled the distress beacon. At this time it had been 14.5 hours since the distress call was initiated.
The group continued to investigate and found the first Burro II had been used as a communications relay on the higher ground, the other four had proceeded down approximately two kilometres. There the mechwarriors discovered four more slain vehicle crew, one had been strangled, one bludgeoned with a wrench, the other two killed with vibrodaggers.
Tracks led forward, foot traffic as well as two smaller wheeled vehicles. One matched the expected Burro I truck, the other was a different model of small wheeled vehicle and had not been in the provided information.
Following the trail the mechwarriors encountered a crazed individual with a vibrodagger who appeared to be terrified of something up ahead. Jacques Dubois subdued the man, who was a technician from the expedition. He did not appear to be the one who had killed the five victims found thus far.
Looking ahead using the scope on his rifle Ruin Dmitar made out a crashed ship ahead. The ship was much larger than a dropship, so it had to be some type of jumpship. He made out two docking collars for dropships, and the solar collection sail of the ship appeared to have been destroyed during reentry. The ship was the DCS HI NO KAZE (Fire Wind), a Draconis Combine ship. Due to the conditions in the lowlands, vision enhancement gear was required to make out the vessel which was less than 1km away.
22/12/3049. Day 29, 09:00
Lt. Samara Hellstrom and Layne-Lars Kinnesson returned to the Burro II convoy to use the communications gear. This was several kilometres, through the harsh conditions of the lowlands. They informed their relief team from Argyre to rendezvous at the distress beacon not at Waystation 86. During this communication, Layne-Lars Kinnesson detected and foiled attempts to intercept and decrypt the transmission. Following this they drove the truck to rendezvous with the others at the ship.
While the others went back to make contact, Ruin Dmitar led Jacques Dubois forward to the ship. They approached a crack in the hull of the ship, rent open in the crash, where they saw another survivor of the expedition cutting his own eyes out with a vibroblade. They snuck up quietly and knocked him unconscious before entering the vessel.
Inside the ship was without power, but the investigators had rigged up portable lights. Sounds of crazed people could be heard echoing through the ship. Ruin Dmitar headed towards the bridge, where they discovered the ship’s captain had activated a ‘final countermeasure’. They hurried back to the entrance but by this time Ruin Dmitar was beginning to hallucinate, and realised he was under the influence of the same chemical that had affected the expedition.
22/12/3049. Day 29, 10:15
Fearing that the interference Layne-Lars Kinnesson had detected was a enemy battlemech in the area, Lt. Samara Hellstrom chose to take the Burro II near the engineering section of the ship for the cover it might provide.
While Layne-Lars Kinnesson and Jacques Dubois tried to treat Ruin Dmitar, Lt. Samara Hellstrom kept watch. As she did, she made out a small vehicle moving in the fog. She fixed the Burro II’s light on it, and in response it charged. Lt. Samara Hellstrom fired on it with her laser rifle but didn’t stop the driver. When he got out of the car he did so brazenly in ballistic plate armour and readied a vibrosword. But Lt. Samara Hellstrom was faster, and sliced through his sword-arm. This incapacitated the man, who was captured and restrained. Layne-Lars Kinnesson treated his wounds as best she could.
The vehicle was a Swift Wind Scout Cat, equipped with powerful communications gear and with sensor equipment equal to a battlemech. The scout car still bore Draconis Combine markings dating back to the Invasion of Strata and it had recordings of the crash landing of the DCS HI NO KAZE.
Commandeering this unit allowed the option of communicating securely further afield. Since a jumpship was of incalculable value, Lt. Samara Hellstrom decided to risk the communication being intercepted to report it to headquarters. Layne-Lars Kinnesson established secure communications and once the situation was reported, this allowed Hpt. General Lucius Morgan and Lt. General Elisa Hayes to act unilaterally.
22/12/3049. Day 29, 11:00
Lt. Samara Hellstrom and Jacques Dubois began collecting the other Burro II trucks and their original Burro I and bringing them to the base camp set up near the engineering section of the DCS HI NO KAZE. The Burro I assigned to the expedition was not be located.
Other chemical effected survivors of the Eisen Mining expedition haunted the salvage trips and base camp. A security officer had to be subdued also, and another person leapt to their death from the top of the ship. Others were wandering the fog, trapped in their hallucinations.
During this time, the chemical affected man who had cut out his eyes made his way to the camp by feeling his way along the hull. He seemed unaffected now, despite still containing the compound in his system. He couldn’t clearly describe the time he was under the influence of the drug, but identified himself as Technician David Curran, confirmed the composition of the expedition, and that they had opened the doors fore and aft in the ship, which had released the hallucinogen. By the time the expedition realised something was wrong, they had all been affected. One side-effect was that affected persons would resort to more instinctive methods of defence, which is why unarmed attacks, blades and clubs were used not firearms.
22/12/3049. Day 29, 14:30
The relief forces arrived. The VTOLs could not land but the troops were able to rappel down and to secure the cargo. The circle of armoured trucks was to be used as a base camp.