For several years, Lachlan Bailey, Jianjun Wang, and Bernard Cork have laid low at the hydroponic farm in the fertile lands just south of what was once known as the Ethiopian city of Addis Abba. They’ve raided the strongholds in the various settlements around the region known in the local dialect as the Jeweled Crucifix, controlled (to no one’s surprise) by a satrapy unflinchingly loyal to the Chinese Republic of Socialist States and its leader, the ever-reaching android despot known only by the moniker Blake. The trio, representing the last remnants of the Snatch Bandicoots, have decidedly felt the loss of their own android companion, Abigail Dresner, carried off into the stormy night some time ago by a gaggle of succubi from the rocky, oceanic spire that was once the undisputed lair of Azazel. The three intrepidly had stepped through the formerly angelic creature’s cool time portal and walked out into a past which, presumably, had set them six years previous, to the point at which their collective memory gap had begun.
So, wait, that means all of those events actually haven’t happened yet. Wow, that’s confusing.
Throughout their raids, the Snatch Bandicoots have yet to undertake the task of knocking over a secure facility within the capital of the Jeweled Crucifix itself. But a caravan just outside its gates was their most recent target, and the dangerous and, admittedly, quite spontaneous raid on it a fortnight ago bore some unexpected fruit, namely in the form of the defected CRSS analyst Sheila Cunningham. Also in the form of some literal fruit (oranges just don’t grow so well in the tainted soil of the world anymore). Though her scheduled execution was not something which was broadcast on any local comms channels, it would seem that fate was on the side of the demon-fighting cadre once more, for this analyst, Sheila, just happens to possess a wealth of information regarding troop movements, supply drops, patrol patterns, and guard changes, as well as quite the collection of recipes favored by the leaders of the satrapy.
(At first, this last piece of data seemed extremely irrelevant, but it ended up confirming that essentially every last religious leader in the city was, too, in the pocket of the CRSS.)
Naturally, Bernard found himself falling for their female quarry once more, but in a stunning plot twist, it would seem like she has reciprocated his feelings toward her, as was made evident, much to the surprise of everyone (Bernard included) when she proposed to him a week after her capture-rescue. While Sheila spurs the Snatch Bandicoots to infiltrate the city tomorrow evening, her actions have earned the wary distrust from Lachlan and Wang; these engagements, both regarding the pending nuptials and the impending attack on the satrapy, seem to be moving pretty fast, and Bernard can’t seem to be dissuaded from either. What’s more, Sheila has apparently been recruiting backup via remote signal in the form of several dissidents both with whom the trio is already familiar and yet also have yet to technically meet: the gambling, drug-peddling swindler, Erik Krause; the Sunni storekeeper informant from one of the local settlements, Muhipi Imbarra; the somehow-unironically named drifter, Motherfucker Jones; the two-bit assassin simply known as Vince; and, last-but-not-least, the bounty-hunter-turned-government-agent (but still a bounty hunter and not yet a CRSS government agent), the man who sports literal metal hands, Raz Kilcoon.
These familiar faces mostly arrived yesterday via the first, yet-to-be-sunk incarnation of the Ocean’s Blunder, with the exception of the local storekeeper, but thankfully none of them are capable of remembering their future, unfortunate exploits with the Snatch Bandicoot troupe. But something is bound to go south, as each of these people regard them a little less-than-warmly in the future. But the professor, Adrian Dresner, who’s been running the farm with the help of its future proprietor, seems to hold the plan to infiltrate the city’s defenses in high esteem, and Bernard has been stricken blind by love. And, admittedly, Lachlan and Wang are itching for a fight, themselves; after all, they’re running out of time to locate the next hellgate, not to mention the fact that they have to track down the leader of the Grigorian Watchers, find (and technically meet) the Lady Robot, and get back to the CRSS to boot before that can even happen. Without the firepower Sheila has called in, as untrustworthy as any and all of them may be, stealing a troop transport and, in doing so, securing for themselves a mobile base of operations, is certainly a fool’s errand.
It might just be just as foolhardy with the help, though, especially since a communique sent out from the camp that Lachlan and Wang intercepted mere moments ago proves that at least one of their party is conspiring to betray them all.