The team gets about 6 weeks of down time after their trip to Antigua. The news is still full of the ongoing struggle between CINO and OTEC. By early December, CINO holds about 36% of IHAG stock and OTEC owns about 27%.
There is no question now that a full blown corporate war is on. CINO oil platforms are destroyed and OTEC submarines are sunk. IHAG shareholders meet mysterious fates. CINO and OTEC’s contracted security providers, Arasaka and Militech respectively are becoming more and more involved with each incident, although so far there has been no direct confrontation between the two firms that have long hated each other.
January 5th, 2041
Riptide gets a call from his Militech contact, Colin Fisk. He offers $50,000 for a quick one day job. OTEC needs to recover some critical cargo from one of its sabotaged submarines. Collin wants Riptide and his team to meet him out at the Midway Freehold. Riptide calls the rest of the team.
January 6th, 2041
The team flies out to the Midway Freehold, arriving in the late afternoon. Collin meets them and gives them the run down. An OTEC submarine was sunk by saboteurs a couple hundred miles from here. It contains a new powered armor suit called the Demi-Gorgan. The suit is basically a weaponized version of OTEC’s Gorgan underwater work suit. The team is being tasked to retrieve it. Collin gives Helios the pilot chip that is needed to operate it.
Collin tells them that OTEC and CINO ships are currently parked in the water several hundred meters above the wreckage in a stand-off. No one goes into the water without being challenged. That is why the team is being sent in via a stealth submarine. Nobody up top should even know what is happening.
The team is issued dive gear that is designed for the depths they will need to go to. The suits are armored, but Collin warns that any breach in the suit can lead to severe injury do to the pressure of the water that will try to push its way in. They are not going deep enough where it would be instant death, but it could very easily be life threatening.
They are also issued semi-automatic spear guns and an emergency beacon. He also offers SCUBA memory chips for anyone who is not naturally proficient.
January 7th, 2041
In the early morning hours, they are loaded aboard a submarine just big enough for them and their pilot. They then spend the next 12 hours aboard as the small sub shoots through the water towards their destination.
In the early afternoon, the pilot reports that they are closing in on the wreckage site. The team seals their helmets and drop through the access port on the bottom of the sub. The first thing they do is turn on the lights on their suits, as it is very dark due to the only small amount of light that makes it down this far.
They swim toward the sunken cargo sub and soon it looms large in front of them. It appears that is suffered a catastrophic internal explosion. All of the escape pods have been jettisoned.
The team enters through the hole in the hull and look for the cargo hold. They find the hold, but upon entering, they discover a second hole ripped in the hull, likely from the impact with the rocks the sub landed on. They search the hold, and find some more weapons, gear and some explosives, which they grab. However, the power armor suit does not appear to be on board. Zen spots drag marks on the ocean floor outside the sub, indicating that something was dragged away to the north.
They team begins to head in the direction of the quickly fading drag marks when they notice seven large sharks swimming nearby. At first they are not worried as Collin assured them that the armored suits are shark proof, and there was no real reason for the sharks attack them.
But as the sharks get close enough to see clearly, they realize that these are cyber-form sharks. The sharks have exo-frames built around them with mechanical fins replacing their real ones. Their mouths flash titanium teeth and the top of their heads are covered with sensors and neuralware.
The sharks attack. The team’s armor holds against the bite attacks, but the deep scars the sharks’ teeth leave in the armor tell them that it’s only a matter of time before a bite gets through. Worse yet, the sharks are in their natural environment and easily maneuver around the team. The situation would have likely been hopeless, but the team’s zero-g combat training that they received almost exactly one year ago pays off. While being underwater is not the same as floating in orbit, its close enough that they can use what they learned to stay oriented and shoot straight.
The sharks are tough, but appear to be programmed to head home if injured enough. A few solid hits with a spear gun, or in Zen’s case, a few good stabs with a knife while cling to the back of a shark, prove enough to send the sharks packing. They consider following the sharks but realize that there is no way they could keep up.
The tracks in the ocean floor are now all rubbed away by the water, but they assume that whoever has taken the power armor suit likely headed directly in the direction of their destination. So the team begins to swim in the direction that the tracks have been leading.
After about 20 minutes, they come upon an underwater oil drilling operation. It is a grouping of domes connected by tubes. The center appears to be the main drilling operation, while habitats, offices, and storage domes are positioned around it.
They scope around the perimeter, eventually coming across an emergency hatch under one of the storage domes. Helios is able to bypass the electronic controls and open the hatch. Team climbs inside and find themselves surrounded by crates full of machine parts.
They move down a tunnel that goes to the main shipping/receiving dome as it’s the only dome with an airlock big enough for the power armor to be moved through. They arrive to find the suit standing on the dock with its pilot’s hatch open. Numerous cables and wires run from the suit to a computer console. A young man is apparently listening to music via implant as he types away at the computer terminal. Saito walks up behind him, and sees that he is trying to bypass the suit’s security protocols. He taps the man on the shoulder. As the tech turns around to see who it is, Saito decks him, causing him to collapse to the ground unconscious.
Zen is watching the tunnel from which they had come and hears security men mention the hatch alarm in the warehouse.
Riptide and Saito disconnect the cables and Helios climbs inside. He uses the suit’s vehicle link to connect with its controls. His own vision is replaced with that of the suit’s. A HUD appears in his vision, indicating the suit’s condition as well as its armaments which includes a laser, a mini-torpedo launcher, and a micro-torpedo launcher.
Down the tunnel, Zen can here the sound of the security men approaching, apparently now conducting a security sweep of the entire facility.
Helios takes a few awkward steps in the suit as the pilot chip in his processor begins to feed him information on how to pilot the suit. The team makes their way to the airlock and close the door just as the security team enters the loading dock. The men move to try and open the door, but Saito quickly starts up the lock cycle causing the airlock to flood with water. The security men would doom the facility if they tried opening the door now.
After about a minute, the chamber is completely flooded and the outer door opens. The team begins to swim their way out and are only a hundred feet or so from the airlock when the Demi-Gorgan’s sensors pick up seven incoming targets. Five are normal humans in scuba gear, the 6th is a full conversion cyborg, and the last is an attack mini-sub.
The team contacts their own sub for a pick up, but the pilot tells them he is not coming near their position until the attack sub is neutralized. The attack sub would make quick work of their stealth sub, leaving them with an awfully long swim home.
Helios really wants to use his torpedoes, but at such a short range, he would likely hurt his own team members as well. Showing a rare moment of restraint, he opts to stick with the laser.
The sub concentrates its efforts on the Demi-Gorgan, while the others engage the team. The cyborg’s body is designed specifically for underwater action, so despite its bulk, its surprisingly very quick and agile. Saito breaks away from the group and swims off on his own.
Riptide and Zen are fighting the other five attackers on their own and are clearly outgunned. First Zen’s armor is penetrated by a spear gun, and then Riptide’s is as well. As they were warned, although the wounds themselves were not life-threatening, the water was burrowing like a drill into their flesh. Zen soon passes out from the pain.
Helios attacks the borg in hand to hand in order t draw him off from the others. This allows the attack sub to swing around and draw a bead on the power armor suit. As it closes in for the kill, the pilot fails to notice Saito, who plants an explosive he borrowed from the downed cargo sub on the underside of the attack sub. He hits the detonator and a shock wave blasts through the water, momentarily stunning everyone.
With the attack sub destroyed and the others stunned, Saito calls in the stealth sub. He then makes his way to Zen and Riptide, who is now also unconscious, and drags them toward the incoming stealth sub.
Helios gets the full conversion borg in a death grip and begins crushing the cyborg. The cyborg is able to escape, but is critically damaged. With the attack sub destroyed, and the borg no longer combat effective, their adversaries decide to retreat.
Riptide and Zen are loaded into the stealth sub. Saito, despite having only basic first aid training, is able to patch up their wounds and keep them from bleeding out.
After several hours, the sub meets up with a larger cargo sub where the power armor suit is dropped off and the team is taken the rest of the way back to the Midway Freehold. The pay for these corporate jobs has been good, but the team is already growing weary of submarines. Continuing to work for OTEC though, means there are probably more in their future.