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"Do not get separated, because nobody will be coming to help you. Our lives are secondary to the mission...even mine. If we fail, we're all dead anyway." - Loch, on route to the Retribution.


The following is an account of the events of an operation occurring within the Neon Divide universe (formerly known as Callous Row) Season 1.

During this mission, Loch, along with several members of the Row, boarded a derelict flagship called the Retribution in an attempt to stop it from crashing into Corvanis-3, in the hopes of preventing the deaths of everyone on the planet. This account primarily focuses on Loch himself, and his experiences during the mission.

Synopsis

With the drop-ship's preparations complete, and the team's armour and weapons ready, Loch took his team up and out of orbit, headed for the derelict Retribution. Their mission clear, the minutes leading up to their arrival were tense, their shared uneasiness quite palpable. To keep themselves focused, they discussed strategy. R.G would take point as much as possible, due to his immunity to infection, while Warren would hold the rear with his shield. Desmond would assist with his sword where necessary. Faye and Dagu were to be protected at all costs; the mission hinged on their survival.

The boarding team discusses their responsibilities prior to arriving on the Retribution.

The Retribution's point-defense system was down, making their entry far easier than predicted. The team noticed peculiarities as they made their way through the derelict. Blast doors ripped from their hinges, heavy cracks in the walls and floor, signifying a strong entity had infested the ship. On high alert, the team began looking for a console with access to the ship’s schematics. Their first order of business was reaching the engineering dock to boot up the ship's secondary subsystems, activating the lights and enabling the deck-to-deck elevators. Faye hacked a console in the nearby science wing, identifying a ventilation shaft that Dagu and Alex could use to get there. At the same time, R.G identified a constant temperature fluctuation in the whole of the ship, reminiscent of a heartbeat. Whatever this entity was that had infested the ship, it seemed aware of their presence, and harried them at nearly every turn with infected creatures.

R.G torches the infected with Dagu's flamethrower in the narrow walkways of the ship.

After Dagu and Alex had successfully reached engineering and re-activated the ship's subsystems, they opened the blast door to the room, allowing the rest of the team to make their way there, sealing it up and preventing the horde from reaching them. There, they got to work assessing the viability of redirecting the ship, as well as determine how they might reach the bridge. In the meantime, R.G discovered that in the days leading up to the Retribution's exfiltration, all of the ship's synthetic crew had been deactivated. Though Loch had suspected damage sustained in the chase must have been the culprit, this discovery led him to believe that the ship may have been sabotaged. Once Faye and Alex had determined the best route to the bridge through the nearby console's schematics, the team began moving again.

R.G discovers the truth of the Retribution's failing subsystems, and shows the data to Loch.

Once they'd reached the elevator leading to the bridge, Loch discovered that his old command codes had been invalidated. Prior to the ship's exfiltration, his executive officer, Richardson, had been promoted to commander without his knowledge, and they'd need to find his codes and reset the system. As the team fought their way to the officer's quarters, R.G sustained severe damage, and was thereafter carried by Warren. Once in the officer quarters, Loch and the others found Richardson's body. Phil's psionic powers resonated with the dead officer, and the eldritch alien saw visions of Richardson's last days: the officer had been singularly responsible for betraying the entire crew, selling them out to the corporations and sabotaging the ship.

Phil and Loch discover the remains of Captain Richardson, Loch's former Executive Officer

Once Dagu had finished repairing R.G, the team set out with Richardson's command module for the elevator. Loch needed a few minutes to reset the subsystem before inputting the new codes, so the others set spread out to protect him. Within moments, they found themselves assaulted by a horde of infected. One in particular barreled toward them, knocking the other infected aside. It seemed possessed of immense physical strength, and was even clever enough to effectively use a shotgun. Loch briefly recalled the damage they’d seen upon their arrival, and realized the threat this variant posed, yelling to the others to be careful. During the fight, Loch took a point-blank blast from the shotgun, his armour barely holding up. The creature pulled a grenade next to him, forcing the team to duck behind cover. Warren’s shield was able to hold up against the blast, and the creature was incinerated. Once it and the rest of the horde was defeated, the team was able to safely make their way up to the command deck. There, Loch was finally introduced to BR-15, the A.I in control of the corporation’s satellite-based defense matrix. Loch's distrust of the matrix did not wane, but he came to understand that the infestation could very well survive the ship's destruction. It needed to be removed, and thus Loch relented.

Loch desperately tries to rescue R.G from being sucked into a biomass, while calling for Desmond to free him.

Loch directed Faye to the bridge console to scan for Rook, and although they were too far to scan his life-signs directly, the IFF was able to display a video feed of the orc, collapsed in a heap on the ground in what appeared to be the Astral Legion HQ. Loch had her send his coordinates to Charles back on the Row, and the team moved on. The ship's navigation controls were in the next room over, and it would be no easy task getting in. After Phil identified voices coming from the room, the team discovered a large mass of infectious biomass in the room, functioning like a heart. This confirmed R.G's earlier theory. Loch spoke with them briefly, and was assaulted with accusations of his betrayal of the crew. Though he had no way of knowing if it truly was his crew speaking or the biomass using their memories to torment him, Loch felt pained regardless. His pent-up regrets quickly began to overwhelm him as he fervently apologized under his breath.

Loch is hit by a shotgun blast from the hyper-intelligent heavy variant of infected.

The mass of infection barred their way to the navigation controls, and they needed a way to remove it. At R.G's behest, Dagu removed his core, overclocked his body, and tossed it into the room. It exploded, severely damaging the heart and allowing the team to enter the room safely. Loch used the new command codes to activate the navigation system's manual override, and redirected the ship toward a nearby star. He lamented the closure that would not come to the families of the ship's crew. Only those in his team would know the truth of what happened, but the ship had certain ordinance on board he could not risk falling into corporate hands. He set the Retribution on its course, and BR-15 began exterminating the infestation. This caused the infestation to panic, and it flew into a dying rage. The ship rapidly began to overheat, forcing the team to flee as quickly as they could.

Faye sets Rook's armour codes into the ship's IFF, and the team learns of the orc's fate.

During the retreat, Loch was caught by the rampaging infected and was immediately overwhelmed. As they clawed away at his quickly-failing armour, he saw the others ahead of him, turning back. He screamed for them to flee. He'd failed his crew on the Retribution. He did not want to risk failing his team this time, as well. Fighting as hard as he could, with the horde yelling "traitor" over and over, the old commander watched the others leave the room, and he saw his life flash before his eyes. As his vision clouded over with writhing, pustulous infected, Loch realized he was going to die.

Loch looks up to see Warren fighting to save him from the infected horde, restoring his will to survive.

That was when he heard a low, loud roar as Warren charged back, with adrenaline pumping from his mask. The weapon-smith tore through the horde, smashing heads in with his fist, and tossing others aside with his shield, before grabbing Loch and pulling him free. Loch looked up at his friend, his eyes welling up with tears, and felt his will to live rapidly returning, as he fought with newfound strength. The two of them, supported by Desmond and Phil, managed to break away, and reached the dock shortly thereafter. Once the drop-ship was up and running, they took off and fled the Retribution, tossing several infected aside. One of the heavy variants had managed to get on board, and the team desperately fought it back, shoving it against the hull. Loch opened fire on it, puncturing the hull, as the sudden vacuum ripped the creature out into open space, crushing it as it went. Warren blocked the hole with his shield, and Dagu welded it into place.

[[File:12.9.png|left|thumb|245x245px|Exhausted, Loch removes his visor as the drop-ship returns to Salvation City. He laments all that has happened, and promises to never make the same mistakes again. Loch took the helm as the rest of the team assessed their injuries. For the most part, they'd come out unscathed, Loch even feeling as though his body may have become more resilient to future infection as a result. Everyone seemed to be healthy, everyone except for Warren. In his attempt to save Loch, he'd been injured, and the infection had already begun to manifest, a purple growth appearing on his arm. Despite his weak immune system, Loch held on to hope that they could get Warren to the Row’s clinic, and that Doctor Universe would be able to treat him. Until then, there was little that could be done. The team looked to one another, exhaustion writ upon each of their faces. Battered but alive, they looked to the sun as it peeked over the horizon of Corvanis-3. The mission was a success.

Noteworthy Non-Loch Events During the Mission

  • Warren used over half of his helmet's adrenal injections during the mission to fight stronger infected variants
  • When examining the ship's engines, Dagu described their condition as being akin to "basically a bomb waiting to happen"
  • Attempting to unlock a medkit, Dagu was nearly eaten by a biomass within it
  • R.G had brought a flamethrower to the mission, which was exceptionally effective. When the infected got a hold of it, the team was forced to destroy it by shooting its gas canister
  • The armoured infected variants using weapons appeared to be infected Shadowbats operatives
  • At one point, R.G was grabbed by a moving biomass and nearly dragged away. Loch grabbed him to hold him back, while Desmond cut him free
  • Desmond was psionically assaulted by the biomass during the mission, making it difficult for him to fight at times

References

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