Ferox Rangers #1 (Battletech Campaign)

Date: February 10, 3066.

World: Kennard, at the border of the Federated Suns and the Outworlds Alliance.

Mission Briefing: Davion Representative Nazir

We have a job that looks like it would be a good fit for a merc unit of your size out at Sigma Garrison. There's a little outpost there that pirates have been raiding off and on lately, and we need someone to put an end to their thievery. So far, they've mostly been operating with minimal ground units, and our response has mostly been to chase them off with aerospace patrols, so they won't be expecting you. They've gotten lazy, driving up in APCs, loading up grain stores and then driving off, so this mission should be a cakewalk.

All of your basic unit upkeep, room and board for your pilots, and the like will be handled at the local facility maintained by elements of Lindon's Company for as long as you work with us. Pay is 100,000 if you complete this mission. I know it's not what you're used to after running with the Irregulars, but you will get to keep whatever you kill. We aren't expecting any battlemech resistance, and neither the FedComm or Lindon's Company have any interest in any of the crap the pirates out there might be scraping together to use against us. Good hunting, Commander.

Mission Report, Commander Ellen Ferox

First mission with the new unit. Feels strange, leading instead of following. The 'Sphere is changing, and while there's a lot of potential money for even a small merc unit like ours to make, it sometimes feels like everything in the whole of the Inner Sphere is right at the edge of utterly falling apart.

I've been in mech cockpits since I was a kid. Maybe it was that which keeps me coming back, keeps me in the cockpit. Familiarity. Maybe it was all the stories mom told me about her years with Lindon's Company or The Red Wolves that got me fired up. Maybe it was the pirate broadcasts from that whiskey-soaked mercenary outfit out of Van Zandt that made me glamorize the mercenary life. Whatever it was, I'm here now, on Kennard, working with Davion and Lindon's Company. I've never met any of these people in person before last week, but it still feels a little like we're among friends. And yeah, it might just be me and Captain Dornentanz now, but there's a certain simplicity in having only half a lance to start with. Whether we really carve out a name for ourselves, or we end up bankrupt, only time will tell. It certainly helps having a couple of battle-tested and tricked out mechs like Dantor and Poseidon to make our name with.

The FedComm is still locked in civil war, meaning that most of Davion's heavier assets are busy elsewhere. Yeah, the war seems to be grinding down, and though part of me hopes they figure out their differences, more war also means more potential work for us, though I'm not in any place to feel safe picking any sides just yet. If we have to pick sides, well, my family has more friends and connections on this side of the 'Sphere, so it might be a long time before we do any work for the Lyrans again.

For this mission, though, it was mostly just a week of waiting followed by a few brief moments of sheer terror. Captain Dornentanz and I sat around trading stories, trading ideas about the future and getting caught up on any news we could pick up from the network for most of the week, but when the call came in to move, it was all business again. 

All I can figure is that the pirates got wind of what we were planning and hiked out on foot to scout us while we were chatting. Seeing nothing more than a beatup old Marauder and an equally antiquated-looking Zeus, they probably figured they could still hit the outpost and load up if they brought an escort of tanks and a ragged old heavy mech to push us out. What they didn't know about were the upgrades we've had installed. When they found out, well, there wasn't much left of any of them to be surprised about it.

Scopes lit up with a swarm of signals. APCs closed fast, but it was the battlemech that had my full attention. I guess the idea was a pincher attack-- Tanks to the left of us and a mech to the right. Either way, we'd have our backs to someone.

The pirate mech, IFFing as Sledgehammer, was a wore-out franken-mech that looked like it might once have been a Warhammer at one point. Sensors identified a pair of Grade 10 Autocannons on the arms and a pair of torso-mounted medium lasers that must have been older than the Star League. Looking at it directly, it almost looked like it had chunks of a Battlemaster or an Awesome patched into its frame, but I quickly realized that trying to identify every chunk of scrap holding the mech together was probably going to get me killed. Better to try to pick it apart by hand if we could put it down first.

Lasers heated up, searing through the groves of trees between me and The Sledgehammer. We both waded into woods, constantly moving as we exchanged fire. Autocannon rounds thumped against my mech's center torso, but the trusty Valiant Lamellor armor held as well as it has every time this machine has seen battle in the last two hundred years.

Then Captain Dornentanz turned Poseidon around and helped me put the franken-mech down for good.

There was a flash of light as The Poseidon put a volley of long range missiles and autocannon rounds into The Sledgehammer's engines. I think the pilot tried to eject, but the cockpit was so stripped down and jerry-rigged that the ejection system must not have gone off. We pulled the pilot out later, and handed him off to the FedComm authorities for the bounty on his head. As the pirate mech dropped and lay suddenly still, we turned our mechs to meet the swarm of vehicles moving in to hit us from behind.

APCs aren't built to take on battlemechs, especially stripped-down, rusty pirate versions like these. Each one was fitted with a trio of machineguns, but they were little more than hungry tractors, churning up the mud as they made their desperate rush to try to drive us away with chattering guns. They'd come to empty out the depot, not wage war, but they also weren't going to go down without a fight.

Scorpion tanks and tracked APCs rushed in like a tide as we pulled back, sweeping the battlefield with lasers and shot. I heard Captain Dornentanz cry out as an autocannon round clipped Poseidon's cockpit, and before we finished clearing out the last of the pirates, even I caught a spray of machinegun fire across Dantor's scarred face.

The tanks were the toughest nuts to crack, but in the end, we put even these century-old relics down.

The last of the Scorpion tanks was late to the show, and that's probably all that saved it. I remember the way the Scorpion stopped suddenly as it rolled into the middle of the field of smoking craters that had been its allies, and then, instead of sighting its autocannon on us, it turned suddenly and gunned hard for the woods. Grinning, we chased it for probably half a mile, watching it rumble away at maximum speed before we finally broke and turned back to the outpost. Always good to let one survive if you can, I figure. I'm sure the crew of that tank will be telling their buddies about the bad asses that have shown up to watch over Sigma Garrison. Maybe we'll get lucky and that will be the last we'll see of the pirates in the area. Maybe.

We checked back into the Lindon's Battalion hangar at the end of the day and I talked to the tech to get an estimate on the cost of repairs. All told, the pirates did about 45,000 C-bills worth of damage to our armor (that cost actually includes labor and the ammunition we expended as well) and I was able to make up that difference by selling the wrecked ruins of the APC tractor things as spare parts to the local agricultural collective. The scrapped tanks were a harder sell, but I was able to strike a deal with the FedComm to turn them around as spare parts for an extra 200,000 C-Bills and a decent steak dinner for Captain Dornentanz and I. Add to that the 100,000 agreed on at the beginning, and the 10,000 C-Bill bounty on the head of the pilot of the Sledgehammer, and our total take out the door was an even 310k. It's not much, but it was enough to get me dreaming.

The damage to The Sledgehammer looked minimal enough that I decided to see if we could save it. There's armor damage, the internal structure in the Center Torso is pretty shot up, and the engine needs a lot of work, so the technicians at the Lindon's Battalion hangar gave me an estimate of about 815,000 C-Bills to get The Sledgehammer patched up and working again. I told him I'd think about it, and so the beast sits in the hangar, leaking coolant until I decide to sell it for parts or try to fix it. The mech is solidly a warhammer at its core, and warhammers are known for their rugged reliability, so it might be worth it to pump enough cash into it to get it moving again.

As for ourselves, the pirates did get in a couple of head hits on Dantor and Poseidon, so Fox and I are spending the next week recovering. The FedComm is going to cruise the area with aerospace assets in the meantime, but they're not expecting any more raids after the massacre we left there.

Liquid Assets Obtained: 
+310,000 C-Bills

Salvage Obtained:
AC/5 Ammo (38 rounds)
AC/5 (x2)
Machineguns (x12)
Machinegun Ammo (785 rounds)
Mech: "The Sledgehammer"

As a quick aside, I wanted to add some history about these mech miniatures. The Dantor is the first Battletech miniature I ever bought, long before I even knew what Battletech was. I picked her up at a tailgate sale at Viking Hobby in Sacramento when I was no more than about 9 years old. I remember listening in rapt attention as the guy who painted and gamed with this miniature before me told me of its history. Apparently, this mech was used in mercenary work by the younger (and less favored) of two noble brothers. It was damaged in battle, losing a fin and its cannon, and the pilot was just saving up enough to maybe replace those parts someday. In the decades since, this Marauder has been the chief among my own mechs, always taking a place of honor. She has been the ride of the leader in every mercenary campaign I've ever run, and she was always in my forces during the many, many battles I played with my buddy Randy (sadly passed in 2018) all through elementary and high school. Recently, I replaced her missing cannon, gave her a proper hex base, and touched up her paint job in preparation for all the battles, chaos campaigns and mercenary shenanigans yet to come. 

Poseidon was one of the first Battletech miniatures I ever bought on Ebay, and I haven't done more than touchups on the paint job since I bought it in about 2002. It was one of the ones that Randy favored in my college years, if I remember correctly.

Sledgehammer was a thoroughly beat-up Warhammer that I picked up through Ebay in 2012. When I bought it with a matching Rifleman, both were absolutely beat to hell. They were literally missing every piece that sticks up or out, and I bought them figuring I'd fix them. Plus, it was like 5 bucks, free shipping, for two miniatures. Well, I certainly tried to fix them with my limited kitbashing skills at the time, and quickly got discouraged. Only recently did I fix both up with various 3D printed parts and pieces from my bits box, making them into fearsome, chunky, franken-mechs.


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