Log Title: Liberia Landing
Location: Liberia, West Africa
Date: 27 February 2012
As logged by Major Bludd
Western Area National Park - Sierra Leone
Once a mountainous park, this area has become the main refugee camp for people fleeing the rising waters in Freetown and the surrounding areas. Hundreds of thousands of people now survive here in sprawling tent cities.
The sky is overcast but calm above Cobra's camp. A space has been made for five Anaconda transport helicopters to land. Soldiers are loading the last few dozen crates of supplies. "Mount up!" Bludd calls, stalking over to Anaconda 564. What small amounts of personal effects he brought with him from Cobra Unity were stowed aboard the helicopter yesterday, and his pounding headache has mercifully diminished to the point where he can think straight.
Interrogator has been waiting outside of Anaconda 564 for the signal to enter. He responds to the Major, "Yes, Sir." and enters the helicopter.
This helicopter is enormous, over 110 feet in length. With an eight-bladed main rotor powered by two powerful turbine engines, it can easily carry a fully equipped platoon of troops within its monstrous belly. A small nose rests in front of the elevated cockpit, which has been modified to function with only one pilot if necessary. The body sweeps out to both sides, the rear loading ramp curving upward into the tail. The tail tapers down behind the body, ending in a five-bladed stabilizing rotor. Three landing gear support the massive helicopter. The entire body is painted a deep shade of green, almost black. The only interruption to this scheme is the large Cobra insignia painted on the rear cargo door and the nose, and #564 stenciled on either side.
With the last of the equipment loaded and stowed, the troopers vacate the helicopters and the cargo doors close. Bludd takes a seat near the cockpit and secures his safety harness.
The Anacondas' pilots are chatting quietly about the weather as they finish their final checks. "Looks like some sign of storms in Liberia," one says, "but it's nothing we can't handle."
Interrogator takes a seat close to Major Bludd and fastens his safety harness. He says, "That is good, maybe the flight will be uneventful."
"Hope so," Bludd says quietly. The flight of Anacondas lifts off from Sierra Leone, heading southeast. Bludd leans forward a bit to look out the windscreen. Once the copters clear the camp, all there is to see is water. Bludd shakes his head. "Oughtn't t'look like that," he mutters. "Damn Decepticons."
Interrogator rests a hand on his stomach as the helicopter takes off, saying, "At least we stopped them while there was still some land left dry."
Major Bludd nods, sitting back in his seat and automatically rechecking his harness. "True."
As the helicopters move southeast toward Liberia, the wind begins to pick up. Rain lashes the vehicles' windscreens and forces the pilots to concentrate more carefully to maintain their formation.
Interrogator takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, still holding his stomach with one hand. He braces himself further in his seat as the winds pick up.
The pilots' quiet chatter drifts back to the soldiers seated behind them. "Man, this is not right," one says. "Robertsport is not supposed to be an island."
Bludd frowns at the man's words. He glances to Interrogator. "Y'alright?"
"Just fly by instruments, dummy," retorts the other pilot. "Monrovia is only sixty miles east-southeast of Robertsport. We're fine."
Interrogator says, "I had a little too much to drink last night and my stomach is paying for it. I took something for it before we left, so I should be fine."
Major Bludd chuckles. He leans over to speak in a conspiratorial whisper to Interrogator. "I remember enough to know I was right there with you." He smiles. "Mind over matter," he adds, sitting back.
Interrogator whispers back, "I also do not like riding in helicopters when someone else is flying."
Major Bludd laughs. "Backseat driver, eh?"
Interrogator chuckles a little and says, "Something like that. I do fine as a passenger in a car or airplane, it is only in helicopters I get like this."
Outside, A mild storm lashes Liberia's northeastern coast with rain and wind. A flight of five Cobra Anaconda transport helicopters flies in fron the northwest, on a course for Monrovia.
"What're you pansies worryin' about?" comes the crackly voice of one of the other copters' pilots. "If you can't fly in this drizzle, ya shouldn't be flyin' at all!" As soon as the pilot finishes his sentence, a flash of lightning illuminates the entire southern sky.
Interrogator says, "At least helicopters are more stable in storms than airplanes."
"Hope yer right," Bludd mutters.
Interrogator leans forward a bit to try and see exactly how bad the sky ahead looks. He quickly rebraces himself in his seat.
So, how exactly does a Decepticon with a very obvious paint scheme manage to blend in with his surroundings? Well, in the case of a certain Decepticon engineer and scientist by the name of Nemesis, it's usually a nigh-impossible task. After all, royal purple and black with hints of teal tend to stand out. However, an abandoned warehouse with a small air strip is serving as cover for his temporary base of operations, and within, the Optimus Prime look-alike is making the final checks on a new item he's testing.
And who better to test it upon than those pesky serpents, led by a megalomaniac that sounds suspiciously like Starscream?
Said device looks, for all intents and purposes, like a MQ-1 Predator drone, used most recently by the US Air Force and the CIA in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But inside, it has the Cybertronian derivative of the Weather Dominator technology. Finally satisfied with the visual inspection, Nemesis moves to the command deck console in what was originally his trailer -- when we say Optimus Prime look-alike, we mean it -- and confirms the diagnostic pre-flight checks. This particular drone is unarmed, but that's of little concern to our intrepid Decepticon engineer. Right now, it's a test to see how much localized control he can get with the technology.
A beep signals the approach of the Cobra Anaconda convoy on sensors, and Nemesis nods. Taking the controls, the drone powers up and begins to move, taxiing out to the air strip before taking off and ascending to an altitude that will let him spy on the convoy from above.
"Mind over matter," Bludd mutters as turbulence starts to affect the Anaconda's flight.
Interrogator nods and leans back further in his seat, hand still on his stomach. "Yes, Sir." He says.
Tele-Viper 911 is resting, her eyes closed. You think an Anaconda in turbulence is bad, try riding in an Old Soviet-Era Hind, when the Afghani's are shooting RPG's at you. That is a fun ride! She could even be sleeping, having learned long ago, to sleep when you get the chance.
Gusts of wind push against the helicopters, throwing them off-course. The radio is alive with the chatter of the pilots, calling heading corrections or warnings, as some copters veer too close to others.
Interrogator listens to the radio chatter of the pilots and shakes his head once.
"Can't a gal get her beauty sleep without pilots screaming about something?" the Tele-Viper asks, to no one in particular. "It is just some wind and turbulence. This is nothing like..." A stronger gust brings her out of it, as the chopper dances, "Chto za huy?!?" (Russian for WTF). She sits up, and glances around, "Just how I wanted to awaken from *that* dream...." She sighs softly.
Outside, Monitoring the onboard visual display -- some might jokingly comment that he's well on his way to becoming one of those "Nintendo pilots" with his set-up and all -- Nemesis begins powering up the 'main weapon'. That little storm, so tiny and weak... wonder what would happen when it does... this? Pressing a button, he activates the miniaturized Weather Dominator within the mocked-up Predator drone body he's fabricated, and then sits back to watch it go to work.
The winds increase and begin to swirl, causing dangerous crosswinds. Heavy rain lashes down at the Anacondas, limiting the pilots' vision. Lightning flashes, lancing down between Anacondas 564 and 710. A moment after the brilliant light flares, the helicopters' occupants can hear the tearing sound it made as it parted the air.
Interrogator asks, "Anyone know about how long it will be until we land?"
"Land?" one of the troopers seated near the Tele-Viper replies. "We're not gonna land -- we're gonna crash!"
"That one nearly hit us!" comes a pilot's voice over the radio.
"I'm losing my bearings!" The pilot of Anaconda 564 sounds near to panic, as his copter slews several feet to the left. "My instruments are --"
"Just aim for the L-shaped island," suggests another, calmer, pilot over the radio.
Tele-Viper 911 shakes her head, "Oh, grow up, you baby." She shakes her head, and plugs herself into the pilot's radio transmissions, "Hey, guys. I know things suck right now, but act like the professionals you are. Take a deep breath, and either get ABOVE the storm, or get us on the ground."
Major Bludd sits stock still, his gaze on the copter's windscreen. He allows himself a small smile at the Tele-Viper's words.
Interrogator takes another deep breath and lets it out slowly, saying, "If they do not figure it out soon, I may go up there myself."
Outside, My, look at that! Well, it's a start, but let's see what happens when we turn up the proverbial heat. Adjusting the controls, Nemesis powers up the Weather Dominator to further empower the storm. No idea just how powerful he can make it with the technology this localized, but one never knows until they try -- and that's what he's doing right now.
Outside, The severe storm intensifies further, the winds increasing past gale force. The air becomes like an invisible club, striking down at the helicopters.
Amid the shrieks of terror the other Vipers let out, Tele-Viper 911, just looks at Interrogator, "Might want to see if you can go get the pilot talked into calm and competence... And see if he can get us set down...." Over the radio she comments, "I am activating my Beacon... Use it as a guide to remain on course. Our pilot will be the lead...." She just *looks* at Interrogator, her face a question.
Interrogator lets go of his stomach and says to the pilots, "Make room up there, I am coming up to assist." He grabs onto the seat with one hand and releases the safety harness with the other.
There's an explosion aboard one of the helicopters as a stroke of lightning ignites its main rotor. The copter begins to spiral out of control, falling rapidly toward the ground. "Spread out!" comes the panicked command of the lead pilot. "We should set down!" another pilot calls over the radio. "We'll wreck in this storm!"
Outside, Wow, would you just look at that? Lightning bolt ripped that main rotor assembly apart and down it goes! One down, four remaining. Not too shabby. But... /surely/ we can push the envelope a bit, can't we? A hand moves over to boost the power further on the Weather Dominator tech, though he has to pause for a moment when the power flickers on the drone. Hmm, the powerplant needs to be boosted to get more output from the Weather Dominator technology while still maintaining flight operations. Noted for future modification. Taking control of the drone, he descends slowly, trying to maintain visual on the Anaconda convoy while pushing the envelope to see just how far things can go.
"Just remain calm, and prepare to follow my signal to the ground..." Tele-Viper 911 calmly says over the Radio. She shakes her head, and glances about, hoping no one heard the radio screams as one of the Anacondas went down.
Outside, Forks of lightning flicker all around the choppers as they descend toward a peculiarly L-shaped island, the site of the remains of Liberia's capital, Monrovia.
Interrogator manages to keep his feet and tries moving forward towards the cockpit by grabbing seats and making sure he has his footing before grabbing another seat.
Tele-Viper 911 mutters, "I hope this thing is grounded... In a Hind, it takes a Lightining strike, and the passengers get a nice shock....."
Major Bludd lets Interrogator and the Tele-Viper handle the situation. "Helicopter's no place fer a ground pounder," he mutters, his voice nearly lost in the din and chaos of wind and panic. "REP or no REP, I'll be happy when me boots are on the'ground."
Interrogator reaches the cockpit and grabs the back of the pilot's chair with both hands. He says, "If you have the Anaconda under control, you may stay. If not, please move so I can take over."
Tele-Viper 911 listens to the pilot chatter, and sense that they might just be calming down, "It's a bout time...." SHe calls out to her pilot, and Interrogator, "Faster would be better, to be on the ground... Before the other pilots start to loose their nerves again!"
The pilot starts at the sound of Interrogator's electronically modified voice right behind him. "I -- I think I've got it, sir..." he says shakily. The copter is heading down more-or-less steadily now, though it still slews violently from time to time.
Interrogator continues to hang on to the back of the chair and asks, "Do you have it or not. This is no time to be thinking about it."
Outside, So far, so good. The power level is still nominal overall, despite a few seconds of concern with the Weather Dominator technology coupled to the drone's powerplant from earlier. But since that's happening... well, best to see just how far it can be pushed at present levels before really sacrificing performance. Nemesis turns the power up further still on the weather generator, then frowns as the controls of the mock-Predator go sluggish. Even knowing to expect it, it's still more than he estimated. Guess the power trade-off between the UAV propulsion systems and the Weather Dominator is approaching exponential, rather than geometric. Still, though, one has to wonder if it'll be enough to take out another Anaconda in the convoy or not...
Outside, The choppers separate, breaking formation but following the lead Anaconda down. As they descend, they're pelted with debris from the ground. Large amounts of mud, small boulders, uprooted trees, and what is clearly a shattered and bent piece of the downed Anaconda's rotor blades clatter off the hull.
The pilot shouts in alarm as the helicopter is blasted with rocks and trees.
"Govna! (Sh*t! in Russian) Something hit us!" snaps out Iryna, than calming herself, she radios to the other pilots, "The wind is picking up a lot of crap... be careful of F.O.D...."
Outside, Anaconda #564 sets down heavily and narrowly avoids slamming belly-first into a multi-story hotel. It slides into the surrounding trees, causing thunderous thumps within the cabin as it shears them down. It comes to rest at the edge of a rise overlooking the mostly-flooded city of Monrovia.
Interrogator manages to stay on his feet as the helicopter comes to a skidding halt. Once he is sure the helicopter is not going to move any more, he releases his hold on the pilot's seat, telling the pilot, "Good job." He then places one hand back on his stomach.
Major Bludd is hurled first back into his seat, then forward, his safety harness doing its job of keeping him from becoming a human projectile within the helicopter. Once the Anaconda stops moving, he looks around, gazing forward toward the cockpit. "Is it safe?" he asks, not wanting to spend another moment in the accursed vehicle than is really necessary.
Interrogator says, "We have come to a complete stop. I do not know how badly damaged the Anaconda is yet."
Tele-Viper 911 is just able to duck out of the way as a radio headset comes flying at her head. She frowns as the headset bounces off her seat, and clips the next Viper in the row. She shakes her head, and mutters into her radio, "Lead Chopper is down. Be careful as you set down... It is dangerous down here, but it is better than in the air."
Major Bludd unbuckles his safety harness and stands up. "Open the cargo doors," he orders. "I'm going out."
Interrogator says, "Be careful, Sir." He watches as the other helicopters come in for their landings.
Outside, Controls are still sluggish, and Nemesis is frowning thoughtfully in his nice, dry, warm abandoned warehouse in Liberia -- miles and miles away from those poor Cobra souls caught in that freak weather mishap. Such a shame. But it does come with a silver lining: the lead Anaconda of the convoy was hit. Perhaps he should have had Nightshade on station-- no, even Nightshade would have been in the way. Best to handle this alone. After all, it's not like they'll automatically believe the Decepticons are doing this; certainly not with the drone's body looking for all the world like a Predator UAV. But even so, perhaps it's time to pull back and bring the drone back to base before moving out. However, the controls aren't responding well -- perhaps the power drain from the weather generator was enough to hamper the controls? Or maybe it's the drone falling into the storm system it created that's messing with things.
Tele-Viper 911 stands up, after removing her harness, and moves to the cargo door release handle. She pulls the lever, and the Cargo Doors begin to open. Hopefully the frame isn't bent, or everyone will have to pile out the side doors....
Liberia - West Africa
Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Cote d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open to a plateau of drier grasslands. The country possesses 40% of the remaining Upper Guinean rainforest. Liberia has a hot equatorial climate, with significant rainfall during the May to October rainy season and harsh harmattan winds the remainder of the year. Liberia covers an area of 111,369 km2 (43,000 sq mi) and is home to about 3.7 million people. English is the official language, while over 30 indigenous languages are spoken within the country.
The rain and wind lash at Bludd's face as he jumps down from the cargo copter. The Anaconda has come to rest at a slight angle, leaving five or so feet of space between the bottom of the cargo ramp and the ground.
One by one, the other Anacondas make similar landings in the vicinity, managing to keep from damaging any buildings in the process. Bludd raises a hand to shield his face from the weather as he watches the other helicopters come in.
Anaconda #564> Interrogator breathes a sigh of relief as the last Anaconda sets down. He begins to make his way out of the helicopter to inspect the damage.
Anaconda #564> Tele-Viper 911 slips out of the helicopter, glad that her helmet has a built in face shield. She glances around, and calls out over the 'All Hands' radio signal, "Everyone clear out of the Anacondas, ORDERLY, mind you, but quickly. We need to lash them down, so they don't sustain anymore damage... Too strong of wind, and they could be moved, or even turned over!"
Anaconda #564's pilot leans back in his chair. "We made it," he mutters. "I didn't think -- hey, wait a second." There's a bleeping sound coming from the instrument panel. The pilot stares at it. "Sirs," he says over the radio channel, "we have a radar contact."
Anaconda #564> Tele-Viper 911 has left.
Tele-Viper 911 has arrived.
Anaconda #564> Interrogator continues to walk out of the helicopter, asking, "Can you tell what it is?" Over his radio.
Anaconda #564> Interrogator has left.
Interrogator has arrived.
"It's small, sirs," the pilot replies. "We don't have any Trouble Bubbles out here, do we?"
Tele-Viper 911 laughs at the sheer idiocy of the pilot, "In this weather? That'd be suicidal!"
Major Bludd takes out a military satellite phone. "I'd better let the president know we're here." He frowns at the local radio chatter. "Find out what it is. Now."
Interrogator joins the Major and the Tele-Viper, saying, "I am glad we made it here safely."
Tele-Viper 911 glances at Interrogator, and notes, "Miracles happen." She calls out over the radio, "Localize whatever it is, and get an Identification.... And stop asking stupid questions!"
Meanwhile the rain and wind continue, though their intensity seems to have lessened somewhat compared to when the Anacondas were in the air. The troops piling out of the downed choppers need not worry they'll be impaled on a palm tree trunk or crushed beneath a boulder, but the rain is coming down more-or-less sideways, its direction shifting violently every so often.
"Yes, ma'am!" replies the pilot over the radio.
Major Bludd looks around briefly for a less rain-lashed place to make his call, but quickly realises no such place exists. Shrugging, he dials the number he's been given and waits for the other party to answer. The phone is waterproof, after all.
Tele-Viper 911 mutters, "If they can localize, and if it is hostile, I'm not sure a sonic burst at it would bring it down...."
Tele-Viper 911 adds, "Not in this weather, anyways...."
Interrogator stays standing where he is, looking over the Anaconda for damage and saying, "We will have a hard time making camp in this weather."
Shaking his head, Nemesis continues to fight with the controls -- maybe something failed in the system, who knows? He's not getting any warnings, but that doesn't mean anything. It'll take the telemetry data to ascertain what's happening to the UAV right now. And after a few moments, the sensors will make out the profile: MQ-1 Predator UAV. But what's that doing here in Africa? Are the Joes or the US spying on Cobra? And why is it caught up in that freak storm suddenly?
"Sirs!" the pilot's excited voice comes over the radio. "It's an American drone!"
"It's a Predator drone, and it's looking shaky," continues the pilot. "It's on a heading of about 90 degrees, sirs."
Tele-Viper 911 frowns, "A Drone?? A Drone I can handle!" She reaches into her pack, and flips a switch, than reaches for her Radio-Transmission-Rifle-Like thing. She calls for the exact coordinates, than when they are given, she kneels down, aiming the rifle-thing at the sky, in a certain position, and fires a long burst of high-intensity jamming at the section of the sky the drone is in, leading it a bit.
GAME: Tele-Viper 911 PASSES a TECHNICAL roll of Above Average difficulty.
GAME: Tele-Viper 911 FAILS a DEXTERITY roll of Above Average difficulty.
Major Bludd blinks in surprise as his phone signal unexpectedly drops. "What the hell?" He takes the phone away from his head and stares at it accusingly.
Interrogator turns his attention from the helicopter to the Tele-Viper as she fires and watches the sky.
"It's still moving, ma'am," reports the pilot.
Tele-Viper 911 grumbles as her shot falls short of hitting the target. She failed to allow enough lead time for the speed of the drone. "Major, we have an unmanned drone... It is either too fast, or too high for my Jamming signal to reach in time... Recommend we see about getting a H.I.S.S. out, and we blast it out of the sky..."
"Jamming signal," Bludd says flatly, holding the satellite phone out demonstratively. He slips the phone into an ammo pouch and calls for a tank to be brought out. "Six-seventeen landed more-or-less level," he mentions, pointing in a southerly direction toward where another of the Anacondas came down. "They've got a HISS rolling out right now."
Interrogator says, "I hope you are able to bring it down."
Tele-Viper 911 blushes at the sat-phone, "Sorry sir... Didn't realize you were using the phone..." She shrugs, "But an unmanned drone could be armed with Stingers or Hellfires... If that thing is armed, it could fire on us, I thought bringing it down was more important than asking permission...." Too bad it failed, right Iryna?
Major Bludd nods slowly to the Tele-Viper, then stalks over to where the tank is coming up the hill toward them. He directs the tank crew to bring down the drone, whatever it is.
GAME: Major Bludd PASSES a DEXTERITY roll of Above Average difficulty.
Interrogator watches the tank as it goes about it's business.
The HISS' cannons turn, tracking the movements of the drone. After a moment's adjusting, they stop and fire. The report of the 90mm cannons echoes dully through the pouring rain.
Tele-Viper 911 frowns, to herself, and goes back to monitoring the Radio chatter, and trying to lock down the drone.
One moment, Nemesis is fighting the controls to try and bring it back up and out of the storm. The next, a warning klaxon. Incoming fire--!
--and the screen goes to white snow.
In Monrovia, the UAV explodes as a HISS shell nails it dead to rights, rupturing the powerplant and creating a bigger fireball as a result. Parts of it drop down to the ground, but it's all twisted and gnarled, electronics fused to a lump and scorched. Oops.
Back in Liberia, Nemesis stares silently at the screen for a moment, then stands up, beginning to shut down the command deck and prepare to transform and head back to base. And mentally, he adds another note for future reference to go along with the need for a more efficient powerplant; add a weapons load to the drone payout. And with that in mind, he transforms, gathering steam as he rolls outside and down the air strip before transforming again and taking off, heading back to Trypticon.
Major Bludd watches the fireball, reduced to a bright glare through the thick storm clouds. "Nice shot," he mutters. Over the radio, he calls, "Find the wreckage. I want whatever's left of that thing."
The troops begin unloading the gear from the Anaconda choppers and start setting up camp. It's not a fun task even when the weather's good, but before nightfall the Cobras will have someplace to keep dry.
Tele-Viper 911 orders a few techno-Vipers out to locate the wreckage. She mutters, "We will likely have to send rescue parties out after them... but if I didn't send them.... The wreckage would come back in even more damaged...."