No announcement yet.

1st Contact

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • 1st Contact

    "Personal Log: It's been two days since we lost all contact with command. All attempts to re-establish communications have failed. We are effectively blind and on our own out here. In the absence of other orders, I am taking a patrol out in the hopes of linking up with other groups. Our first priority is re-establishing contact with Command Post Delta 1 and figuring out what the Hell is going on out here. Hopefully it's nothing serious..." - Lieutenant-General Clark, Commander GCPS Command Outpost-Delta-NW29

    "Contact!" Yelled out trooper Enixx as he hugged his rifle tight to his chest and ran for cover. Lieutenant-General Clark cursed inwardly at the inexperienced troopers lack of discipline, even as he slid into cover himself, having spotted movement at the far end of the tangle of industrial machinery that made up this part of the conspicuously deserted port control authority.

    That alone should have been a red flag that something was amiss. This control-hub should have been bustling with personnel manning comms relays and control towers or loading and unloading goods for the orbital shuttles. Instead it was seemingly abandoned, with no sign of staff or guards. Even the roar of the engines of the overhead shuttles were conspicuous by their absence.

    He slid his energy pistol out of its holster and checked the charge. The gauge read full. With a quick flick, he thumbed off the safety, risking another glance out of cover. There was definitely something moving up there. Graceful shapes moved through the darkened trench networks and among the maintenance sheds, lit only by the dull orange light of the pale evening sun overhead.

    With a gesture, Clark ordered the modified recon-walker in his force forward, trusting in its thick armour to weather the fire it would inevitable draw. With a second gesture, he sent trooper Gordon and his flamethrower back, ordering him to perform a flanking maneuver.

    The whooshing-roar of a missile being fired marked the beginning of hostilities as the walker pilot got a clear line of sight on one of the contacts as it dashed over one of the raised walkway bridges that crossed the trenches that criss-crossed this section of the control-hub, and identifying it as non-GCPS, opened fire. The rocket struck the bridge dead on, almost in the centre, detonating in a burst of plasma and sending high-velocity fragments spinning in all directions. The contact was hurled from its feet, face first and lay sprawled on the bridge, inured, dead or stunned it was impossible to tell. A second whoosh followed the first as the pilot sighted in on another target. The rocket impacted a small corrugated metal maintenance shack and blew it, and the two creatures hiding in it, to pieces in a fiery explosion. Even as it did, the contact on the Bridge got up, getting to its feet and ran for the far end. Fire from three of Clarks troopers pursued it, rattling off the Bridge's superstructure but failing to find their mark as the creature, whatever it was, hurled itself into cover behind the reinforced sides of the end of the bridge.

    The GCPS troopers had draw first blood. 'But against who?' The question in Clarks mind was cut short by the high-pitched whistle of an incoming bombardment.

    "Scatter!" Yelled Clark, diving to the side as a high energy bombardment fell between him and the closest group of troopers. Metal decking and clumps of earth were thrown high into the air and send scattering across the compound, raining down on Clark, but fortunately no-one was injured. A second bombardment landed near Ranger second class Scoggins, who was near the top of one of the control towers, sending her sprawling precariously near the edge. Another round impacted the tower, blowing out several sheets of metal in billows of flame, but causing no other damage.

    Even as the barrage died down, an alien missile flew from between the tangle of walkways and buildings and struck the scout walker, blowing off its missile arm in a torrent of sparks and sending the now useless weapon scattering back a dozen meters from the walker. Clark risked a glance back at the walker, seeing the pilot was stunned, he frantically tried to get his attention to order him into cover. With only a back-up, short ranged micro Gatling-laser, the Walker was now next to defenceless, and the enemy clearly had weapons that could destroy it and make a mockery of even its formidable armour.

    Nearby, two troopers and a veteran moved up to occupy a small raised walkway and gantry, that he'd designated OB-Beta-1 and would give them an improved vantage point and lines of fire against the enemy.

    'But What enemy?' Clark thought as he crouched down in cover, his pistol held ready...

  • #2
    Ranger Second Class Claudia Scoggins rolled further back onto the platform as she shook her head to clear the ringing in her ears as she groggily pushed herself to her feet. The impact had been too close. Checking herself over, she found she was uninjured and her equipment was undamaged, which was a small relief. Hurriedly she darted into cover behind a raised terminal and computer console, not wishing to make herself anymore of an exposed target then she already was. Risking a glance around the console and over the edge of the tower, she could see the enemy moving about carefully and stealthily below her.

    They were tall and lithe, graceful looking aliens in yellow-black armour. Many appeared to be Bio-mechanical, or at the very least, constructed drones that looked uncannily organic, though no few were definitely biological organics in nature.

    'Asterians' she though with some distaste and revulsion as she raised her rifle and took aim. Squeezing the trigger, she sent a hail of high velocity shells down into the unsuspecting aliens. The rounds caught one in the chest and sent them flying back in a spray of arterial blood. Taking aim again she fired another burst, but the alien dodged with preternatural speed and agility, causing her to curse and duck back as the aliens returned fire with a burst of energy bolts that scorched the air and left blackened burn scars on the console she hid behind.

    In the distance she heard the distinctive thump and high-pitched whine of the medium mortar they brought with them as its crew fired off a trio of shells that arced high overhead o come down among the alienís lines. The first fell short and exploded harmlessly, briefly obscuring her view. The second fell through an open sky-light evacuation hatch of a transit tube that several of the aliens were using for cover. The explosion bloomed out of the hatch and bulged the walls of the hardened and reinforced tube, stunning the Asterians inside. The third round scattered slightly and landed beside the tube, blackening and damaging the outside but little else.

    Below her, the damaged Scout Walker staggered for the cover of a large warehouse with reinforced walls. Energy fire from the alienís guns sprang off it harmlessly, followed by more heavy impact as something with AP ammo opened up on it. The Walker was struck several times, its armour blackened and scorched but otherwise undamaged as the bolts deflected and bounced off it, expending their energy harmlessly.

    The barking rattle of high-velocity shells and caseless rounds and the curses that came over her comm-bead told her that the rest of the force was now engaged with the Asterians. She heard Private Drake, one of the veterans of their force, curse particularly loudly as an Alien dodged his shot.

    She caught a bitter, acid scent on the wind and quickly scrambled to affix her re-breather mask as the aliens began to pop toxic smoke screens to cover their advance. Sure enough, she soon found herself surrounded on either side of the tower by palls of thick red, toxic smoke. She realised that the Aliens were attempting a pincer maneuver of the tower and her position would soon become untenable. Unfortunately, she had no way to retreat or otherwise withdraw without jumping down into the middle of them. Definitely not a plan. Instead, she hugged her rifle tight, checking the ammo counter and loosened her service pistol in its holster, just in case things came to close range. Then she swung out from behind cover again and began firing...

    Clark dove into cover behind a small, abandoned recon vehicle and fired off several long-range, high energy shots from his energy pistol, the bright flashes of the burning energy bolts disappearing into the clouds of red smoke the aliens were using to cover their advance. He wasnít sure he had hit anything, but that wasn't the point, he just wanted to keep their heads down and help cover his menís advance.

    He'd heard someone shout the name 'Asterians' over the gunfire and not for the first time today, he cursed silently to himself. This was a headache he didn't need. But it at least gave a name to what he was fighting, and their likely tactics. It looked like they were advancing on both flanks, using smoke to keep him guessing as to their disposition and where the strike would ultimately fall and more importantly, when. Timing would be everything.

    With a hand gesture he ordered troopers on his left flank to advance and fire. One of his veterans, Ramirez he thought, moved up and, spotting an alien darting through the smoke, opened fire with a short, controlled burst, gunning down the alien with a trio of lethal gut shots. Trooper Enixx also opened up with a longer burst, but his target evaded his fire in the smoke.

    To his right, Private first-class Drake took a long-range shot with his rifle as a female Alien climbed out of the bombed-out transport tube. There was a brief flare of an energy field around her and then, in a welter of what appeared to be purple blood and an inhuman scream of pain, blew her arm off at the shoulder. The alien slipped and fell off the far side of the transport tube, falling behind it and out of sight as Drake let out an exclamation of triumph.

    Up ahead a little bit, the Scout-Walker had move dup into the cover of a point classified as OB-Alpha-1 and Clark watched as it turned and, as a black clad alien ran across its field of view, opened fire with the Gatling-laser. The alien was almost bisected by the massed beams of lethal laser energy, dropping into a fetal ball, its waist and abdomen steaming as it was gunned down.

    Small energy bolts impacted the RV Clark was taking cover behind as the aliens sought to lay down ineffectual suppressive fire of their own. Clark flicked through the comm channels on his micro-bead, trying to raise Trooper Gordon and find out where he was. No response.

    Risking a glance out from behind cover, Clark saw the alien Drake wounded, the one with no arm, limping out from behind the transport tube and towards the cover provided by a small power generator. Catching sight of her too, two of his troopers, Bronson and Clegg opened fire at her through the clouds of lazily drifting red smoke. Though several rounds from each were on target, her energy field flared brightly, a hazy, distorted blue that shielded her from the high velocity ammunition.

    Nearby, Private Martinez opened fire from behind the cover of some, hopefully empty, barrels. Her rounds struck a heavily armoured and well armoured alien construct but failed to cause any appreciable or even noticeable damage. In response a rocket flared from the Alien constructs weapon, soaring over Martinez head and forcing her to duck down.

    The smoke on his right flank was beginning to clear and Clark suspected it had been a diversion all along. Acting accordingly, he got on the comm bead and began ordering up the mortar crew to shift their fire. Nearby Private Drake too an energy bolt to the throat and went down, gurgling, his windpipe burnt and fused. He writhed on the ground for several seconds, clutching at his throat and then lay still. Behind him another bolt narrowly missed Private Bolton as he dove into cover behind the terminal Clark had earlier vacated.

    Martinez continued to trade fire with the alien construct bearing the missile launcher, several of his rounds striking it, but again to no obvious effect. The walker ahead swung out from cover and added its Gatling-laser to the weight of fire, whipping up a firestorm of caseless rounds and laser bolts around the enemy warrior, who strode calmly through it, unharmed and calmly and casually raised its missile launcher, taking aim at the walker. At the last second, a laser bolt clipped it, staggering it and causing its aim to deviate just slightly as it fired, the missile streaking past the walker and causing the pilot to wisely duck back behind cover. Unperturbed, the alien calmly reloaded its launcher for another shot.

    Nearby, the results of Clark's call came to fruition as a round from the medium mortar fell into the smoke-filled trench with an earth shaking and bone rattling boom. One alien construct was obliterated outright, shredded in the explosion. A second suffered multiple lacerations from shrapnel as well as auditory concussion, and was hurled bodily across the trench, throwing her back first into a wall with a sickening crunch of breaking bones as her back snapped and broke against the wall.

    For now, the attack had been blunted and stalled, but Clark knew the fight was far from over...


    • #3
      Ranger Scoggins dropped down a level, landing in a crouch and after briefly checking her surroundings, scooted forward to cover, finding an intact command terminal. The mortar barrage had bought her some time, and when it became apparent the Aliens had no interest in her position and were instead concentrating on the main force, she decided it was time to move. The platform she had now dropped on had been designated OB-Alpha-2 according to the Lt. Generals mission brief.

      Running a quick bypass, she hacked the terminal and began downloading the data on it to her portable padd. No doubt the Lieutenant-General would want to see it. Checking her rile, she cursed that she only had a quarter of a clip left. Ducking out from behind cover she let loose a burst at an alien warrior two level below her, but her aim was off, and she missed. She cursed herself as she ducked back behind cover. She couldn't afford sloppy shooting like that. Her ammo counter now only read ten percent ammo. Risking it, she swung out again and took another shot, another short burst of shells rattling from the rifle followed by the ominous dry click as it ran out. The alien warrior gracefully and effortlessly dodged the shots and swung round, firing a powerful energy blast at her, that fortunately was no more accurate than her first shot had been and incinerated part of the railing around this level, blasting it apart and obliterating it in a spray of blue-green energy discharge. Claudia ducked back behind cover and cursed herself again. She had learnt a valuable lesson: You needed to put them down with your first shot, once you lost the element of surprise, you had no chance of hitting them.

      That would be a valuable thing to pass on and teach others someday...if she survived to teach them anything. Grabbing her spare clip from her ammo belt, her only spare clip, she hurriedly reloaded her rifle. Checking the status of the download it was only 33% complete. She sighed inwardly as she hefted the rifle and braced it on the edge of the console. This was going to be a long fight...

      Private Bolton ran forward and skidded into cover beside some boxes and crates, kicking one over as he did so. Several cases of ammunition fell out of it, as did several loose shells. He said a silent prayer of thanks for his lucky discovery as he began stuffing his ammo pouches full of spare clips.

      From here, he had a clean line of sight to a battery of the alien artillery. Three standard pattern pulse bombard drone platforms, their weapons already aimed upwards and charged for another barrage. Rising from behind his cover he let loose a long burst, playing his rifle back and forth and using up over half his ammo in a single long blast, riddling them with fire. One by one, the platforms exploded as their anti-gravity motors failed, or the weapon charge packs overloaded, leaving three smoking wrecks where they had once been.

      Satisfied with his handy work, Pierce Bolton knelt down and began picking up handfuls of the loose shells and feeding them into his weapons clip, replacing some of the ammo he'd just expended. He looked up as he heard the servos of the walker ahead of him and to his right whine as it swung out from behind cover again, letting loose a blast from its Gatling-laser at the missile totting Alien that had damaged it earlier. Several energy bolts struck the heavily armoured Alien, staggering it. As the barrage of laser energy ended, Bolton was shocked to see that the Alien was otherwise unharmed, and it righted itself, swinging its missile launcher to bear on the walker again as several smaller energy bolts burst harmlessly against the walkerís thick armour.

      More intense energy bolts began to shoot from the Trench as the aliens closed the distance. One narrowly missed Trooper Clegg, and another went over the shoulder of Bolton, hitting the metal wall behind him in a shower of sparks. A trio of bolts went wildly over the head of Lieutenant-General Clark as he crouched and ran for cover, moving towards the flank to try and re-establish contact with Private Gordon as well as make sure Privates' Falks' and Murphey manning the autocannon were alright, for they had been quite and out of contact for the entire engagement so far.

      On the walkway, Private 1st class Martinez began rooting through the crates in front of him, finding more spare ammo clips that he divided among himself and the two junior privates with him. They made excellent use of this new ammo as both began to blast away with abandon at the Alien Construct with the missile launcher. Bronsonís fire went wide and high, well over the head of the construct. However, Clegg's was on target and round after round hammered into its bio-mechanical torso. One must have hit something vital as after about a dozen rounds or so, the construct toppled over backwards and did not rise, finally putting an end to the threat posed by its rocket launcher. A loud cheer went up from the two troopers on the walkway as they finally put down the bio-mechanical monster that had so threatened their lines, and even the icy veteran Martinez couldn't help but smile. Bolton couldn't blame them, he could already feel the tide shifting in their favour. The enemyís numbers were thinning rapidly and the return fire lessening. They might just win this after all.

      Even as he thought it, his thoughts were interrupted by a loud whistle that quickly changed pitch as a large energy shell landed a short distance in front of him, lifting him off his feet and throwing him back several feet. He blacked out momentarily as he hit the ground and as he came too, staring up at the nearly dark-orange sky, he couldn't help but wonder if he'd jinxed them all...


      • #4
        Clark slipped around a wall cautiously, his pistol held ready as he moved cautiously across the battlefield. He heard the distant whine of a falling energy shell followed by two or three distinct explosions and he cursed under his breath. An enemy artillery unit was still active somewhere.

        Spotting movement up ahead he carefully rounded another corner and slid into position to flank whatever was there, before spotting that it was the squads comm officer, Benson Loix.

        Loix was both a long-range empath and a short-range telepath and it should have been his job to warn them of the enemiesí presence. Quickly crossing the distance between himself and the cowering communications officer, he slid into cover beside him.

        "What the hell is going on?" Clark demanded, his tone full of anger at the lack of warning.

        "I'm sorry Sir..." the stammering telepath began "There was nothing...most of them are machines, I can get nothing from them, I'm sorry.

        "Most of them are machines. What about the biological ones? Why didn't you sense them?" Clark demanded, his tone still angry.

        "I don't know sir. I'm sorry sir..." The officer looked like he was close to tears and about to cry.

        "You useless coward, I should have you shot for dereliction of duty!" Clark snarled. It was an empty threat. For all of Loix's short comings, Clark needed the Telepath, both for his telepathic and empathic abilities, as well as his technical expertise with the communications equipment.

        Clark let out another snarl and looked around the battlefield, getting his bearings. Behind him, the smoke was beginning to dissipate. Either the attack had been blunted and they'd won, or it was imminent. Either way, he was out of position now to help much with it. Leaving the cowering Loix, he pushed on to link up with the Autocannon crew of Falks and Murphey.

        He found them diligently manning their gun. They'd set up with a commanding field of fire on an open section of the command-post, completely covering one flank.

        "Report!" He snapped as he jogged over to them.

        "Sir!" Murphey, the loader snapped to attention and threw a salute at Clark. "All clear here, sir!" he said formally and then added "It's been quiet. Not a sight of the enemy here."

        Clark could well believe it. It would have been suicide for the Asterians to make a push down this flank in the open, covered as it was by the Autocannon. They'd have been shredded en-masse.

        "Why weren't you answering your comm-links?" Clark questioned irritably.

        "Acoustics, sir." Said Falks as he continued sighting down the autocannon, watching for movement or targets of opportunity. "Playing havoc with the signal and equipment, sir." he said matter of factly and hawked, spitting flemishly to one side as he kept the autocannon tracking back and forth.

        Clark felt some of the anger and irritation drain out of him. Though only some. This whole situation irritated him, and he desperately wanted to know what was going on.

        "Have either of you seen Gordon?" He asked.

        Both privates shook their heads negatively, and were about to answer vocally when they were interrupted by the roaring whoosh of a flamethrower from somewhere up ahead, just out of sight.

        "Never mind, looks like I have my answer" Clark said and watched as the tanned form of the short, tiny little private came trotting around the corner, a huge smile on his face.

        "Sorry I'm late sir" He said, throwing a less than perfect salute to the Lieutenant General. "Got held up on the way. Just roasted two hostiles sneaking up on OB-Alpha-2. They're toast, sir."

        Clark nodded and returned the salute "Report, Private. See anything else while you were meandering about while the rest of us fought a battle?" Clark said his tone almost sardonic, but with just enough humour to take the sting out of it.

        "Sir, yes sir." Gordon responded. "Enemy artillery piece at co-ordinates 47-70N, near OB Beta-2. Couldn't get close enough to engage. Also, scratch three other hostiles on the way here, sir."

        "Right. Good job Private." Clark said, grudging admiration for the trooperís skill and dedication to his job in his voice. "Hold here and support Falks and Murphey. I'll take care of the artillery."

        "Sir!" Gordon sketched him another half-hearted salute and jogged off to take up an enfilade position just ahead of the autocannon team.

        Suddenly, a scream cut over the comm-link before cutting off abruptly, followed by a burst of gunfire and then another scream.

        The enemy had attacked.

        Bursting from the Trench line, one of the enemy warriors hurled itself at Private 2nd Class Ibenez of the Mortar team. The Aliens glaive slashed out, opening up her abdomen and disembowelling her in a single slice. Even as the young woman screamed in pain, the glaive shot out and opened her up in a perpendicular slash, from stomach to trachea, before the opposite end of the glaive was rammed into her face, shattering her eye socket and bursting the orb of her eye, sending her flying backwards in a welter of blood. She was dead before she hit the ground.

        Private 1st class Nyhuto, her partner on the mortar acted quickly, managing to draw his pistol and get a single shot off before the glaive whipped out and took his arm off just above the wrist, sending hand and the pistol it held spinning away. The alien fighter spun the glaive above her head and the brought it down low, lopping off Nyhuto's leg just above the knee and sending him crashing down in a wail of agony. She was about to finish him off, when Private 1st class Ramirez appeared on the platform above her and let loose with a burst of his rifle. The shots went wide, tracing a path in the ground beside her. Before he could adjust his aim, the agile alien warrior bounded up the gantry in two small leaps, landing beside him. Faster than he could see, her Glaive lashed out and lopped off his head, beheading him in a single stroke. His headless body fell to its knees even as Ramirez' head bounced down to land in front of the critically wounded Private Nyhuto.

        Before the Alien could react and move on to attack any more troopers or finish off the wounded Nyhuto, the scout walker returned, its Gatling-laser firing a sustained volley. For all her grace and agility, she wasnít able to dodge the staccato volley of laser blasts and she was hit four, five, six times in quick succession. The sheer weight of fire tore her to pieces, blasting her apart in a welter of alien gore.

        The walker turned back towards the trench, striding forward, tracking for more targets. Its sights fell upon the injured Alien leader, still clutching the stump of her missing arm and breathing hard from the pain. Without hesitation or mercy, the walker opened up with its Gatling-laser again at point blank range. The sheer weight of fire overwhelmed the alien leaders shield and blasted her to pieces in a volley of close range laser fire.

        Out of the corner of his eye, the pilot caught some movement and spotted an alien, the one he'd opened fire at to begin the battle, breaking from the cover at the edge of the bridge it had spent the whole battle cowering behind. Striding forward, he let loose another burst from the walkers Gatling-laser. Bright blasts of laser energy traced towards the sprinting alien, glancing off metal work and the supports of the bridge, closing the gap. Then, it was upon the fleeing Asterian. Three ruby coloured laser bolts punched through the alienís torso while a forth blasted through one of the alienís thighs, tearing its leg off and blasting them to pieces, their corpse spinning away and toppling over the far side of the railing, disappearing out of sight.

        The pilot scanned for more hostiles, the barrel of the Gatling-laser still smoking form the multiple rapid discharges. Finding none, he powered down the weapon, letting it cool off and moved back to secure OB Alpha-1.


        • #5
          Meanwhile, Lieutenant-General Clark stalked through the warehouses and sheds on the far-left flank, keeping low so as to avoid being spotted. After a few short seconds, or it may have been minutes he came to the still burning trench where Gordon had fragged the two aliens. Their bodies were still burning at the bottom of it and he found it best not to look at them.

          Rounding a corner and sliding into cover between a wall and some barrels, Clark dropped into a low crouch. There, ahead of him, was the alien artillery piece Gordon had told him about. A Pulse Bombard Drone.

          Movement a bit closer caught his eye and drew his attention. A single Asterian Cypher, unnoticed until this point had been working its way forward, probably as an advanced guard for the Drone. Spotting him, it raised its Noh Rifle and fired, the shots going over Clarks head and impacting the wall directly behind him, before turning and running.

          Clark raised his energy pistol and squeezed the trigger, putting a pair of burning, high energy bolts into the fleeing automatons back, burning right through it and dropping it.

          Clark let a small, grim smile cross his lips. He'd at least got to shoot something this little outing. Carefully, he eyeballed the distance to the Drone and judged it to be outside the range of his pistol. No matter, he had an ace up his sleeve.

          Keying his micro-bead to a specific frequency, he tapped a few commands into his wrist mounted micro-comp and the interface on the back of his hand and waited with a smug, self-assured grin.

          High above, the drone that had waited the entire battle with the patience that only a machine can display came to life, finally receiving instructions and co-ordinates. Banking left, it began its attack run.

          Clark watched from behind cover as a single missile roared out of the heavens, soaring down out of the air and slamming into the alien artillery piece. The drone strike he had called was right on target and the warhead blossomed into a rapidly expanding fireball, blowing apart the alien drone and reducing it to nothing more than scattered, flaming debris and wreckage. With a grim smile Clark withdrew from the cover and fell back towards his own lines to check in. Seemed the Privates were right, this area did distort signals. It was fine to send, but he could get no reception. Not that it mattered, by the sounds of it, the fighting was winding down and the gunfire from both sides had all but stopped. He was confident his forces had prevailed.

          Now all they had to do was count the cost...


          A short while later, as Clark and his surviving forces re-grouped at the edge of the combat zone, Clark heard footsteps running towards him and looked up to see the young Ranger, Claudia Scoggins running towards him, her long, deep red hair tied in a single French braid whipping around behind her like a scorpionís tail. She skidded to a halt just in front of him, barely remembering to crack a salute.

          "Sir...General..." she panted "There's something you should see..." she finished breathlessly, offering a data-slate out to him, the same one she had downloaded the terminal files onto.

          Clark took it, frowning, thumbing the on button and bringing the padd to life. He read the words as they scrolled on the screen.

          +++MESSAGE BEGINS+++
          Due to unexpected alien invasion, the planet XH8-211 (Starfall) is now under quarantine. Any GCPS citizen currently on the planet should be considered dead/infected/eaten. The Council is sorry for the unavoidable loss of loved ones.

          Any GCPS Citizen that tries to break the quarantine will be terminated. This is your last and only Warning.

          This has been a public datacast on behalf of the Council of Seven.
          ++STAY SAFE CITIZENS++
          +++MESSAGE ENDS+++

          Well, that certainly complicated things...