Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Professor Elevator and the Terror on the Thirteenth Floor!

Steen Prigo, widower, restauranteur, and middle aged, ducked behind the brick wall as chips flew and the assassins' guns chuffed again. Silencers were creepy.

"Steen, help me up," XIbalboa growled trying to get his feet under him. The tall offworlder's face was masked with a surgical scarf shielding him from stray germs of the ill bred.

"Don't worry 'Bo. I'll let you know when I need help," Prigo said snapping off a shot from his revolver that was answered by a stream of bullets. "How many bullets do those guns hold?"

"Lots more than your six. Help me up!"

"Stay down."

"The Hell with that. This pavement is filthy!" The Inerzan got to his knees gasping and held out his laser pistol for the local.

"Oh yeah. I forgot you pack a ray gun. Thanks!" Prigo handed the Inerzan his revolver and a box of shells from his coat pocket. Then he snapped a shot with the laser. The beam went through the side of the car the killers were hiding behind and judging from their yells exited the far side as well.

"Let's see how you like doing the dying, rats!" Prigo yelled hoping his voice didn't shake.

***

The Inerzan Restaurant (Fine Erzali Cuisine!) was lit up. Strains of the local Jazzao music wafted out into the street. The squad of mercenaries jumped out of the open topped ATV. Their squad leader made several sharp gestures and they got into a skirmish formation, one fire team going to ground to provide cover fire. Then several were promptly shot in the back gunfire exploded behind them. they turned shocked to find a gaggle of delivery men shooting at them and pulling submachine guns from bouquets of flowers. 

Professor Elevator laughed maniacally and managed to tag an offworlder with his laser pistol. The man went down screaming. "This time ... tonight , we're on the side of the  angels. What can you do, eh?" Lobby nodded and face planted as a stream of bullets took off his cap.

"I'd like to point out two things, sir, if I may? Okay -look out #4! they got armor and we don't and they got assault rifles and we got short ranged guns won't poke holes in 'em very good. On the other hand we got numbers -look out! Okay not sure about the numbers being telling. Short bursts you apes. Maybe you should toss the super weapon? Now?!"

The Professor nodded and worked at the device then flung it from behind a mailbox with all his might. It hit the street by the mercenaries squirted a small amount of blue goo and lay still. 

Professor Elevator shrugged and laughed. "It's just one of those nights, eh?" he said.

Lobby nodded and shot again.

***

Several shots from the street shattered a window in the restaurant. People screamed. Officer Twoomey, dressed as a busboy dropped the tray laden with glasses of ice water, most of which cascaded down Rondella Cox Swinton's bare back. There were screams and curses, mostly from Rondella. Twoomey drew his revolver and pulled a badge on a lanyard from his pocket. 

"Steigen, Metzer, Gao Du, get the civilians to the kitchen and out the back the rest a you flank me and stay low!"

At their section the Tech Knights upended their tables to provide cover. Ranna drew her auto pistol and waved at an armored squire to aid the police men. The squire saluted and crept forward. Ranna Caught a glimpse of a mercenary and fired with no effect she could see. Sir Bert had drawn his ancient and enormous service revolver and was carefully picking his shot. A grim smile played across his face.

"Where did he get all these guys?"

"Them ain't his guys," a squire said pulling his visor back.

"Mort! Seize this man!" Sir Bert yelled snapping another shot off.

"Seriously? It looks like you need every man you can get. Them's offworlder muscle Sir Bert. It's a hit, looks like! ... they mean to whack ya? Do you speak the language? Them's my gang behind them raising holy hell!"

"Your boss is trying to save us?"

"Looks that way. He must be mad as hell. They're trying t' muscle in," Mort answered. A bullet sent wood splinters flying and he put the helmet back on.

"That's my dad," Ranna said nodding. She snapped a shot off and was rewarded with an offworlder going down. .

***

"Brother I knew these times were hard ... but look 'a all these cops moonlighting by bussing tables," Basement said from the floor. 

" ... did your mom smoke much or eat paint when she was having you?" Mezzanine asked hitting the floor. She pulled a gun from her purse and then another which she handed to Basement. A bullet whipped through her hair and her look turned to one promising death.

"Dunno, I was kinda young to remember. Anyway this ain't the time for my biography! What's the plan?"

"We shoot at the offworlders. We're throwing in with the flatfoots like the boss. Follow me!" 

Basement crawled behind  her as people trampled them slightly making for the exits. He had a nice view at least.

***

Nuzon's chief administrator was called Governor. Not that it mattered to Leogain.  The mercenary pointed to the space port landing area where a full blown cruiser had touched down. Soldiers were pilling out of it and the two freighters that had followed it.

"You and your people are not our target. We are beginning an operation against Zaonia and will end their oppression of your people. You will be reimbursed for fuel, services and supplies. My personnel will not harm any of you if you allow us to proceed with this operation. Be aware any  attacks on us or our property will be met with deadly force. If there are any Zaonians here I suggest you turn them over now. Do you understand?"

The Governor looked at the Colonel and nodded once slowly. Then she spat at his feet. The Colonel's aide knocked her to the ground while a squad covered the other locals watching.

"Barbarians ... " The Colonel muttered.

***

"Can't help but notice three of ours are down and the other guys lost but one," Lobby said. 

The Professor nodded and smiled a little, giving the minion a wink.

"What are you ... oh. Oh! I love ya, Professor!"

The Professor smiled and worked a dial on a small control box. 

***

Sandoval the navigator yipped and started clutching at the Captain's sleeve. The Vulgar Argot was making a low pass around Nuzon to discharge some static charge she'd picked up. She was just coming into sunlight and the space port was coming into view on the horizon when the bridge crew caught sight of the flashes signaling ships transitioning to normal space. Lots of flashes.

"The Hell ... " He began and turned on the comm speakers. He was rewarded with the growl and hiss of radio jammers.

"Sandoval ... how quick can you plot us  a course out of here to Zaonia?"

"Doing it sir!"

"Good woman. As soon as we clear the jamming effect and are out of weapons range radio Z-Port and tell them this whole system is about to get screwed over."

***

The Blue Spire, the major government building of Zao City was nearly deserted at this time of night but a light still burned in the Mayor's office, where hizzoner was being poked and prodded into finishing the yearly budget by Sissy Bobeck. Mayor Louie was beginning to suspect Sissy Bobeck was the one who really was in charge. 

The two regarded a lifter full of Inerzans, their faces masked by their ubiquitous surgical scarves. Their long orange hair was whipped in the wind as they came around to the Mayor's terrace when one man's wig blew off revealing a head of dark hair. The man grabbed for his wig but was too late.

"Cheezit!" the Mayor yelled. He and Sissy ran for the door. He knew the building was tough, built with old tech but was it bulletproof? Bullets began cratering the window which barely held. Cracks between the craters began to form as the fire continued. Louie decided he wasn't staying to see how long the window stayed up and ran for the door as a bullet hit his desk scattering his budget sheets.

"Sonuva ... I gotta go back!"

"I got the carbon copies yer honor!" Sissy yelled from the elevator.

"Bless you my lamb! I'm sending you a muffin basket in the morning!"

"How about that raise you promised?"

"Later later! Let's see the sunrise first!" The doors to the elevator opened and revealed four figures in uniforms wielding rifles. The Mayor looked back at the office as the window exploded inward. The lifter was coming down on the terrace. This was the last time he'd work this late he promised. Then he realized these newcomers wore the uniforms of Professor Elevator's Operators. 

"Hey yer honor, ya don't mind we're gonna rescue ya!" the lead goon said pitching a grenade into the office.There was a bang and a flurry of bullets and cursing.

Hands grabbed them and they were hauled into the elevator. The Mayor and Sissy by force of habit looked at the ceiling and the Mayor was uncomfortably reminded of the time Professor Elevator had installed his so called hypnogogic projectors on elevators. They still heard gunshots but they were getting fainter.

"We don't like this no more than you Mayor Burns," the lead goon said. "But honest we're on the side 'a the angels tonight. The Professor radioed us ta get ya out of there. It's a mass fly by whacking. There's goons hitting the Tech Knight gala and the Professor is hitting the goons!"

"Damn. I gotta get to the Central Precinct fast. The flyvver is on the roof ..."

"We got it handled sir. Getting off!"

The Mayor was going to protest that they hadn't spent nearly enough time to get to the ground floor. he looked at the floor meter and saw they had stopped between the 12th and 14th floors. 

"You gotta be kidding me! You guys holed up ... on our thirteenth floor? Ten floors under my office? And the Police Commissioner's?!

The gangsters all shrugged a little. "It pays to keep yer enemies close. What can I say? The Professor was a civil engineer for years before he went rogue. Ya think he didn't plan stuff?" the leader asked.

"Makes sense. The man pays with exact change, the tip, and tax already figured in before the check arrives. But we gotta get to ..."

"Right the copper's security phone system ... already been  done. We hacked into it years ago. Come this way."

"D'oh! If you guys wasn't saving our lives I'd ..." Sissy threw her hand over his mouth.

"Hizzoner thanks you for your service in this time of global crisis!"

"Hey, we're crooks, not traitors. Right boys? Besides ... most of us voted for him. Some more than once!"

"Oh constituents! Next time lead with that."

***

"We got them now. They're pinned down," the task force leader said from behind the ATV. Okay take your teams and rush that restaurant before our clips run out. use your grenades going in." His two subordinates nodded as they all became aware of an thumping more felt through their feet than heard over the gunfire. Over to his left a hole spewing flame appeared in one man's chest and he went down. "Tell the covering team to focus on the mad genius!"

"Uh ... we might want to hold positions ... "

"What the hell is that?"

"It's a 'bot. Holding a car in its arms," Beta-team Leader said.

"Son of a bitch!"

"No ... it's a 'bot ... look out!!"

A slightly drawn out crash followed.

The Elevated Man was having the time of his life.

***

"Those poor bastards ... stuck between E-M and Two Gun Twoomey," Basement said. He managed to clip a merc in the arm with his automatic pistol, but then he was out of bullets.

"Shut up and keep shooting Basement. You're still on the clock," Mort said lying beside on the floor. Mort fired a burst from the rifle he'd acquired about the time he'd snatched the armor. He noted the police had gotten the civilians clear.

"Yes ma'am."

"Who are you calling ma'am?"

"Sorry, I thought I was talking to Mezzanine for a second there," Basement answered. He ejected the clip from his gun, caught an extra clip Mezzanine tossed at him and loaded it in a single motion.

"If we get outta here, you want some advice?" Mort asked between shots. 

"Sure."

"Ask her out if you want to live to see tomorrow," Mort growled.

"Yes ma'am!"

"You're a very sick young man."

Sirens could now be heard in the distance.

"Cheezit! The cops! Ohhhhh man," Basement moaned.

"It's okay ... they're coming to help us," Mezzanine called to Basement. She absentmindedly adjusted a strap on her gown, pushed the hair out of her face and wondered where her designer pumps had got to.

"The cops ... helping us ... and you guys call me the stupid one!"

***

Outside in the street the mercenaries finally broke ranks and made a run for it. It was probably the third car thrown at them that did it. Professor Elevator was thrilled to pieces. He beamed another mercenary as the Tech Knights and their squires began moving out of the shattered facade of the restaurant firing as they went. When you had a personal combat test as well as military service to qualify for a position in the higher levels of government it made assassination attempts dicier than normal.

"Hold the Elevator!" Sir Bert said stepping forward. 

Elevated Man reached for another car.

"You'll never jail me Cuthbert!"

"Jail you ... I want to reinstate you, you moron," Sir Bert said. 

"... "

"Will you just accept and mail me your witty reply?"

"..."

"Boss? Boss? I think you broke him, Sir Bert. Yo, EM, hold off with that car a tick. Boss?"

"What about my minions?" Professor Elevator asked.

"Well I'm not promising anything. But I swear by my honor I'm not looking to lock them up right now! Amnesty for lesser crimes. Murder, and rape still get you the death penalty."

"What about a guy who murdered a rapist?" Lobby asked.

"At the very least  a healthy head start ... We'll talk!! What about it?"

"We can give it a whirl. I'm only doing this for our planet ... and my boys and girls. Understand?"

"Of course. Look on it as a truce if that's better."

"Dad!"

"Ranna!"

Ranna grabbed Elevator in a she-bear hug. "Mom would have been proud of you, you're a hero!"

"Don't rub it in. I know I caved."

***

"Bo?

"Yes Steen."

"I think them dime store killers took off ... yeah. I think they did. Let's get you to a doctor. It's all over." Steen Prigo was dead wrong of course.

***

So you want to invade a planet. That requires control of space around the planet. If you control the space around the planet that implies you have ships out there. Why not simply blast the defenders to bits until they surrender? The answers are much the same for why am I trying to board yon vessel rather than letting the beams and missiles fly and picking through the debris? 

Tactics
First controlling space around a planet is a often a far cry from 'no one is shooting at me'. Starship missiles are fairly cheap even if bought offworld. Launch systems could be built as early as TL 7 and possibly at lower TLs as prototypes or at least maintained. Ships orbiting to provide ground fire are easy targets. It might pay for a low tech planet with a large stockpile of missiles to attack with a large number of low value targets (drop capsules) to knock out defenses.

Some bases or defenses might be impossible to effectively attack from orbit and require troops to destroy. They may be hidden or so far below ground or the waves that you can't scratch them with available weapons.

Ideology
Prove your way is better by not just winning but occupying the enemy's world. Then make them follow your way. This includes finding the opposition leaders and wacking them so they don't start the whole business up again or flee offworld to begin anew.

Strategy
You need that planet as a base for ... reasons. It has a strategic material or is positioned to protect your interests or has useful construction facilities. Blasting everything from space is fine but you need boots on the ground at some point. 

Humane Concerns
If your goal is to liberate people or target a specific group (smugglers, pirates, drug lords) making trouble among innocents then a trooper is more discriminating than a missile (this may vary by trooper and TL.)

Bear in mind that invasions lead directly into occupations in most cases and occupations are a fresh form of hell.