Oh for crying out loud, they just won’t leave Drassen alone.
It’s been a quiet couple of days since the cataclysmic battle for the Drassen mine. C-Dave is halfway through healing the wounded invalids that comprise my current mercenary team when two enemy squads show up and bypass the heavily-defended mine completely to hit the airport instead. Fortunately there’s still only one gate, and it’s still got the reassuringly solid copse of trees sitting right next to it, so the ensuing skirmishes are a one-sided massacre. Cate’s rifle still hasn’t been repaired and kind of sucks right now, so I’m kind of thankful one of the soldiers brought her this Star Wars blaster, which I have difficulty believing is a real gun.
David is packed off up north to recruit another non-combat support specialist from the rebels, while the combat team starts combing the sectors surrounding Drassen for a helicopter pilot that, I am reliably informed, lives nearby. They do a lot of combing, spending two days slogging their way through the stinking swamps and running into a couple of enemy patrols on the way with nothing to show for it. Then, in the early hours of Day 8, they discover this bijou little modern art installation.
Oh no wait, that’s a SAM site. We should probably take that out while we’re here. The presence of blackshirts makes this fight inordinately tricky; everyone gets wounded again and Cate is reduced to bleeding out on the ground by the time the last enemy soldier is exploded by a frangible round. I start training up some militia to hold the site from the inevitable counterattack, but just as I sign off on the expenditure this happens.
Yet another enemy squad attacks the airport and wipes out the militia force stationed there. They’ve made sustained attacks on the mine several times but the militia dealt with them quite handily, causing me to overestimate their ability somewhat. So it’s time to drop everything and head back to Drassen to retake the airport, and while I’m doing that the Queen’s forces retake the SAM site. I’m starting to feel like I’m not getting anywhere here, and to make matters worse my finances are starting to become a serious issue. Every time the enemy takes a sector of Drassen my income from the mine gets cut by a third, and at this rate I’m not going to have enough money to pay all my mercenaries, especially at the inflated rate that gouging bastard Janek is asking for his services. I need a second source of income, and I’m in no shape to take on the defences at Alma or Cambria so my viable options are reduced to one: a trek across the desert to Chitzena. This is risky since I’ll be fighting a very long way from my base of supply, and if I run out of medical supplies there’s bugger all chance of getting any more before somebody bleeds to death. But it has to be done.
It doesn’t start well. Despite coming in from a map edge the team manages to get surrounded almost immediately and starts taking fire from all directions at once. Everyone gets wounded; it’s almost becoming a rite of passage that this happen in every single battle. Hand-to-hand specialist Jim suffers an embarrassing episode during the fight for the northern half of Chitzena when he engages an enemy recruit in the purity of unarmed combat and somehow manages to lose, forcing Janek to pull him out of the frying pan. I’m going to have to find something else for him to do; at the rate that the baddies are arming up (these guys had assault rifles against my SMGs) it’s just too risky to send him haring in with nothing more than a knife and some happy thoughts.
After the mine is secured, it’s time to heal up (David is sent over from Drassen bearing yet more medical supplies; Bobby Ray’s is now sold out so I really hope nobody else gets hurt) and prepare for the inevitable counterattack. This, when it comes, is an absolute doozy, consisting of a small squad of nine elite troops that make short work of the militia and come damn close to killing everyone else. If I didn’t have a copious amount of stun grenades on hand I’d have been completely screwed; as it is the potentially dangerous cluster of the four remaining elites is knocked to the ground by a grenade from Jim so that everyone else who isn’t crippled can run in and beat the shit out of them with whatever is available. They take an absolutely astonishing amount of punishment; I’m going to have to invest in the higher-calibre weapons which have just become available on Bobby Ray’s. First, though, it’s time to pay off the last remaining mercenary contra-
Oh you traitorous bastard. You clothe them, you feed them, you arm them with automatic weapons, and where does it get you? Leave, then! See if I care! YOU ARE DEAD TO ME.