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Dark Business

A few words first…

This After Action Report (AAR) is going to be a bit different than my previous ones. It’s written in a more narrative format, and to preserve the flow of the story, I don’t have any screenshots embedded in it. There are, however, screenshots at the end of the AAR for those who would like them. There’s even a video, courtesy of Ballystix, that shows off the ending of the mission.

The mission featured in this AAR was created by ShackTac member Awoihjaweohr, and the 10th was our first night playing it. It was a smashing success, and showcased some of the fantastic possibilities that Flashpoint multiplayer can bring. For those of you that weren’t there, or may end up wondering after-the-fact, this is not an embellished story. This is exactly what happened. Hopefully my storytelling ability is sufficient to give a taste of how intense the experience was.

This is the kind of stuff that makes Flashpoint my favorite game of all time.

Moving on to the mission

When it came to mission objectives, it broke down as follows. The Russians (REDFOR) had an ammunition truck with them, which the Resistance wanted. The Resistance (RES) had captured a US helo pilot, which the Russians wanted. The US force (BLUFOR) wanted to get their pilot back by whatever means necessary.

The great part of the mission was that it was completely up to the players to decide on how to approach it. Each commander ultimately had to decide for themselves how best to accomplish their goals, and whether or not they could trust any other team that might attempt to deal with them. The possibility for backstabs, ambushes, sell-outs, and all kinds of crazy diplomatic solutions were present and would prove to play a huge part in the mission.

For this attempt, I went with the Resistance team. The full roster for our team was as follows. If I remember correctly, it was 8v8v9 or something close to that.

Resistance Roster
Syixxs (Commanding)
Dslyecxi
Andrew Stine
Awoihjaweohr
Frenchie
Happycat
Kaider
Manik

When the mission started, I headed over to the Ural truck we had to get myself some flares for the GP-30 grenade launcher attached to my AK-74. Since we were lacking in the nightvision department (and by “lacking” I mean we had none), we would need the “star parachute” flares if we hoped to actually see anything. I packed my HE grenades into my rucksack and loaded up on the flares while the rest of the team got ready to load up and move out. We had decided to head to a small unnamed military facility to our southeast, where hopefully we would be able to use the terrain to our advantage for whatever was next to come.

Before setting out, someone had the bright idea of asking where our captured pilot was. In an attempt to be sneaky and get left behind, Sadi, the enemy pilot, had snuck into a bush. I jumped into the Ural, flipped on the headlights, and drove in a slow circle to help my teammates track him down. Someone else jumped into the UAZ jeep and promptly ran over Frenchie. Whoops. Fortunately, we found Sadi in his bush and manhandled him into the back of the Ural.

With the pilot aboard, our little group set out towards the designated rally point. We had the UAZ, Ural, and a civilian car “acquired” in a town to our north-east.

After reaching the compound, our forces dispersed out into the surrounding forest and set up a perimeter. Kaider went around hiding the vehicles we had used to get there in the forest, hoping that the American helo wouldn’t see them if it passed over. I ended up volunteering to be the one to guard our prisoner, Sadi. I led him into the compound and directed him to stand on the helo landing pad, facing to the north, so that he’d be looking at a wall and unable to observe the position of those of us within the compound. After situating him, I headed behind him a short distance until I was crouched between the exterior wall and a building. This would make me a difficult target for the helicopter gunner while also allowing me a good view of the captive. Another Resistance soldier was at the sole exit to the compound, to the south-west, acting as a failsafe “just in case”.

Meanwhile, Syixxs was busy talking to the Russian commander, trying to arrange an exchange of goods. If they would bring us the ammo truck, we’d give them the US pilot and call it even. The only real condition was that they would have to come to us. We weren’t willing to leave the vicinity of the compound. After a bit of haggling, they agreed.

Unfortunately for the Russians, they ended up getting spotted by the US Blackhawk on the way to our rendezvous. We couldn’t see what was happening, but we could hear the occasional rifle shot and the bam-bam-bam from the Blackhawk’s .50cal machinegun. At one point we heard something explode in the distance, but it wasn’t clear what it was – a grenade, anti-tank rocket, or a vehicle getting destroyed. Whatever the case, things were obviously hot where the Russians were. This became even more clear when the person Syixxs had been talking with was killed in exchange of fire. The radio went silent, but not before Syixxs learned that they had been engaged by the Americans and were taking casualties. After a short delay Syixxs was able to raise another Russian, but by that point it seemed clear that the Russians weren’t going to be able to come through on their end of the deal.

Sadi restlessly stirred on the helo pad, prompting me to walk over to him at one point to see just what exactly he was doing.

“I picked up some smoke grenades and can’t use them, so I’m putting them down.”

Hmn. Smoke grenades. For some reason it didn’t seem odd that he had taken them. The fact that he was putting them down seemed like an act of honest good faith, too. I walked back to my post and resumed listening to the quiet night, trying to pinpoint the distant sounds of the US helicopter.

By this point Syixxs had started talking to the US commander, in the hopes that we could arrange a deal with them. If they would bring us the ammo truck from the Russians they had just seemingly slaughtered, we’d give them the pilot. Again, it would be on our terms, on our turf. Some of our teammates thought that the distant explosion we’d heard earlier had been the BLUFOR team destroying the ammo truck. They were discussing potentially killing the pilot if that were the case, as we’d have no use for him if there was nothing to trade for.

I glanced away from Sadi for a moment and looked up at the clear starry sky. The helo didn’t seem to be getting any closer, which was good. They probably had no idea where we…

KABOOM.

What the fuck? Something exploded near me, but I wasn’t hit. I spun back towards Sadi, only to see him up and about to throw a second grenade my way. My rifle came up, the sights settled on his chest in an instant. I pressed the trigger and held it down as the AK spat lead death at the tricky captive, cutting him down where he stood.

Teamspeak was alive with chatter. Nobody knew what had just happened.

“He’s dead, the pilot’s wasted, he tried to frag me.”

Well, that certainly wasn’t the plan. Our bargaining chip was sprawled out dead right in the middle of the compound, in plain view of the US helo if it happened to make a pass.

Fortunately, the BLUFOR team had no idea what had just transpired. If we could keep them thinking the pilot was alive, there was a good chance we could scam them into bringing us the ammo truck.

Wanting to hide the evidence of the kill, Kaider ran off to grab the Ural that he had hidden in the forest. In the meantime, I went prone over the dead body, hoping that the enemy would see me and not realize that I was lying on the corpse of their comrade. Kaider soon solved the problem more elegantly, bringing back the Ural and and parking it over the dead pilot. As long as the enemy didn’t walk right up to it, they wouldn’t see the corpse underneath.

Syixxs continued talking to the US commander as if nothing had happened. Our demands were simple. They would have to take one of their soldiers, have him board the ammo truck, and drive it to our compound. The helo would either have to land on our helo pad or stay far away from our compound. Once the soldier had brought the ammo truck to us, we would give him the pilot and let him take our Ural truck back to his comrades. Or at least, that’s what we were telling them.

For a moment Kaider considered ditching his weapons and pretending to be the US pilot, in the hopes that we’d be able to trick them like that. Fortunately, the rest of our team convinced him not to try that. He picked up his rifle and headed back out into the woods with everyone else while I stood guard in the compound and Andrew Stine protected the southern and only entrance with his RPG.

The helo hovering far to our north was starting to get under my skin. There was a good chance that there were enemy infantry, outfitted with nightvision goggles, trying to move up on our position in the darkness, and it seemed like they might be coming from the north. I had five flares to work with. The question was, was it worth using one without a definite enemy contact?

Was it worth spending that flare if it meant I might expose the enemy in the middle of them trying to sneak up on us?

“Syixxs, I think they’re sneaking up on us from the north. I’m going to put a flare up. Get ready.”

Everyone shifted around to look toward the north, trying to get angles so that they could engage any enemies exposed by the brilliant flare light.

FWOOMPH. The flare shot up, popped, and began drifting slowly down. Eyes strained to make out any movement or familiar shapes in the sudden light. I could see nothing of this, due to being restricted by the compound walls, but the tension was palpable.

“I don’t see anything out there.”

Well, it was worth a shot. I decided at that point that it would be best to conserve those last few flares for once contact was initiated with the enemy. They were taking so long, and the negotiations were so difficult, that it seemed inevitable that we would fight.

Frustrated with the US commander, we tried to brainstorm something that would light a fire under his ass. We ended up deciding that we would tell them that we were going to shoot the pilot, wound him, so that he’d start to bleed out. Hopefully that would speed them along. Syixxs, who was talking to the enemy commander privately just a few moments earlier, spoke up.

“Dslyecxi, stand by. When I say so, fire one shot.”

I gave the affirmative, popped the selector to single-shot, and waited.

“Now.”

BANG. A bullet smacked into the ground in front of me. Over Teamspeak, according to Syixxs, the enemy commander suddenly became very quiet. Were we bluffing, was the pilot even still alive, and would we kill it if they didn’t bring us the ammo truck post-haste? These thoughts occupied his mind as he mulled over what he could do.

On our side, it was clear that this could not be resolved peacefully. The dead pilot made that much certain. Still, the hope was that we could bluff them long enough to secure the ammo truck and get back to our home base.

Knowing that a storm was brewing, I started to transfer High-Explosive grenades for my grenade launcher from the Ural truck to some nearby buildings. If things hit the fan, I could pick up extra ammo from between the buildings without having to venture out to the relatively exposed truck. Negotiations continued in private between Syixxs and the enemy in the meantime. The helo could now be heard to be moving about in the distance, though where it was headed was anyone’s guess.

Fearing a trap, the enemy commander asked for us to put the pilot on the radio. We refused. We had the pilot, and if they wanted him, they were going to have to trust us. Oh, and if they didn’t hurry up, we were going to kill the pilot. This discussion went back and forth for the better part of five minutes. It seemed obvious that the US forces were approaching us with extreme caution. The helo was now flying lazy circles around our base.

I headed to the far north-west edge of the compound, listening intently for something over the loud Blackhawk rotors. A vehicle, perhaps. Something that they might be trying to mask the approach of with the helo flying so close to us.

There. I could hear it in the distance to our north. The BLUFOR commander assured us that the ammo truck was on the way.

“Syixxs, they’ve got some kind of vehicle to the north. I think they might be assaulting from the north”

Andrew Stine, the RPG gunner covering the south entrance, headed out of the compound and then north to cover that area. The vehicle sound faded away, grew louder, and then passed to the west.

Ok, perhaps it was legit. It sounded like a Ural, at least. I ran back to the southern entrance to the compound.

“There’s a second vehicle out there. A car. Also to the south.”

I didn’t know what to think of this. Were they going to roll straight up to the compound and assault it just like that? I hoped not, as I was the only one within the walls.

“Dslyecxi, go stand by the Ural. I told them you’re the only one in there, guarding the prisoner”

I ran back to the Ural at Syixxs’ request. To the south the enemy-controlled Ural could be heard getting closer. A sentry of ours down that way spotted it traveling up the road. There seemed to be only one person in it. I stood by our Ural, trying to position myself so that I’d block the view of the dead pilot legs dangling out from underneath the vehicle.

The enemy Ural drove up and stopped in the entryway of the compound.

“Syixxs, want me to waste this guy?”

“Not yet.”

I went prone, sighting in on the driver who was still sitting in the vehicle. Something didn’t look right, though… it wasn’t an ammo truck.

The BLUFOR commander demanded that we bring the pilot out. Our Teamspeak was full of chatter.

“Syixxs, it’s not an ammo truck. It’s a normal Ural.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, it’s just a truck. It’s a trick.

“Take him out.”

There was a pause. I took my time to tighten up my aim. Sights settled on the enemy soldier seated behind the wheel.

BANG.. BANG BANG BANG BANG.

“Got him!”

Another pause, longer this time. Syixxs shifted the defense around a bit as we waited for the hammer to fall. Then the shit hit the fan. Gunfire erupted as enemy infantry attacked our troops out in the darkness.

I popped a flare in the suspected direction of the enemy as I ran towards the Ural and the driver slumped over the wheel within. Pulling him out, I snatched the nightvision goggles from his corpse. The fog of war set in. I expended the rest of my flares and started rushing for my HE grenade cache. Halfway there, the north-west compound wall was blasted down. The enemy was trying to breach the compound, possibly to rescue their cold-and-getting-colder pilot.

Unfortunately for them, they were trying to breach a compound that contained the only Resistance soldier who had nightvision goggles. I picked up a few HE grenades and charged for the breach point. There didn’t seem to be anyone covering it, so I raced out, making a sharp left as I exited.

BOOM BOOM BOOM!

Shit! I ran right into an enemy soldier! Bullets threw me to the ground as my vision whited out, and I thought for sure that I was dead. When the screen went back to normal, much to my great surprise, I found myself still alive. I scrambled, prone, back into the compound. No further shots followed. Bleeding heavily, and able to hear my in-game heart pounding, I switched to my GP grenades and began sending them through the breach point. I expended them, returned to my ammo cache, loaded up more, and sent them to the same area. I couldn’t see if I was getting anyone, but if nothing else it was acting as a nice deterrent.

“Syixxs, I’m hit bad. I’m bleeding out. I’ve got a GP and grenades here, and nightvision goggles. Someone needs to get over here to take them when I die.”

Syixxs, in a stroke of good fortune, was carrying bandages. I told him where I was, and he came into the compound to help me out. I didn’t realize how badly we were getting mauled outside at that point. I dropped my nightvision goggles for him, picked up the bandages, and tried to apply one. At the same time, I checked my map.

Uh oh. The enemy had clearly attacked from the north-west. Three of our guys were dead on the NW corner of the compound, outside, and another one was dead on the western side. One remained in the southern forest, and then there was myself and Syixxs within the compound. At the very least they hadn’t actually made it into the compound yet.

We made contact with the sole survivor outside of the walls. It was Happycat, and he’d just picked up some enemy gear, including nightvision goggles. I asked if he saw any other bodies out there, as I was lacking in the nightvision department and could definitely use some for the inevitable coming fight. I started heading south towards his position, ready to rush out and scoop up some goggles off of a dead American if the opportunity arose.

“There’s nothing to the West… nothing to the South-West…”

He was calling the sectors clear as he scanned them.

BOOM BOOM BOOM!

Oh, shit. I glanced at the map and confirmed my suspicion.

“Happycat’s down. Syixxs, you want to take the southern entrance, I’ll cover the breach?”

“Yeah.”

We both headed off, the last survivors of our team, facing off against an unknown enemy force. The helo circled just out of sight, spraying .50cal bullets into the compound.

“They shooting at you, Syixxs?”

“Nope, just spraying the area”

Great. I went prone beneath a pine tree, weapon on automatic, ready to cut down anyone attempting to enter through the breach.

A minute passed. Nothing.

“Syixxs, you want to just stay here and fight or try to get out of here?”

“You have anything in mind, man?”

“Yeah. I think we can take this Ural, the one the pilot’s under, and drive right out of the breach point. It’s oriented right for it. I think we can blaze out of here and get away.”

“Alright, sounds like a plan.”

“Hold up, I’m going to head over to it, see if anyone shoots at me when I pass the breach”

I got up and rushed past the breach point, looking out into the darkness to my left as I ran towards the Ural. Nothing.

“It’s clear. Let’s go.”

Syixxs headed toward my position as I edged around the vehicle to get a look at the southern entrance. Shit! I could see an enemy infantryman prone, edging around the wall near where the fake-ammo-truck was. If Syixxs ran out, he’d get pegged.

“STOP! STOP! Get back!”

Syixxs bolted back into cover. A quick plan was hatched – he’d maneuver around on the western side of the compound, heading south, while I’d take the eastern side. One of us was bound to get an angle on the enemy. I crept forward, ever closer to the enemy. Syixxs could see him now from his vantage point. He was coming around the Ural, closer to me, crawling.

I switched to my grenade launcher, edging to where I’d have a shot at the Ural. If I could hit it, the explosion would likely take out the enemy without me ever having to expose myself to fire.

“He’s coming out of the truck now…”

I aimed in and let rip with an HE grenade, just as I heard Syixxs plug the guy in the head.

The explosion, due to the wounds I had incurred earlier, was just powerful enough to throw me lifelessly to the deck. Syixxs saw me drop.

“Fuck!”

Sole survivor on the Resistance team, Syixxs raced to the Ural and peeled out of the breach point. The captured pilot lay there on the helo pad, utterly lifeless, as Syixxs sped away into the night.

The ammo truck we had hoped to capture was destroyed in the initial Russian vs US conflict. The US forces had been hurting from their engagement with the Russians. The pilot was killed while trying to escape. The US was further mauled in their assault on us. We were mauled in our defense against the US. The Russians were obliterated.

When all was said and done, not even a Pyrrhic victory could be claimed by any side.

But oh, was it a hell of a time. 😀

Screens & Video

This video shows the last minutes of the mission, where Syixxs and I were trying to kill the enemy to our south, as well as Syixxs’ exfiltration.

 

Sadi tries to hide at the start, but our headlights expose him.

In position to the NW, covering the breach point

Waiting by the truck while Syixxs heads over, just before spotting the enemy to the south.

Syixxs drives back to base by himself, his teammates all killed in the fighting