Ferox Rangers #3 (Battletech Campaign)

Date: March 1, 3066.

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


Mission Briefing: Davion Representative Nazir

You're going to want in on this one, Commander.

We've been tracking pirate movements more closely as of late, and we think we may have located the LosTech Cache that Corpuz got his Cicadas from. Probe flybys have found evidence of a significant underground factory complex under the Nissinen Plains, about a hundred klicks from Sigma Garrison, and there's enough disturbed soil in the area to suggest not only excavation, but also at least one lance of battlemechs. We're sending three of our mechs to the area, which is all we can spare at the moment, and they're going to need backup. The FedComm is willing to cover your damages in this mission up to 400,000 C-Bills, with half salvage on enemy units and 200,000 c-bills in pay, with an additional 200,000 for every one of the Davion mechs you are supporting which survives the fray, if you're willing to go. We can't really afford to lose any mechs while most of Lindon's Batallion is working elsewhere, so try to keep everyone out there alive, if you can. The civil war has us stretched thin, and I don't have to remind you that Kennard isn't all that important as far as planets in the Inner Sphere go, so we're mostly on our own with this pirate problem. Wipe out any resistance, then wait for salvage teams to arrive to check out and clean out the area. 


Mission Report, Commander Ellen Ferox

LosTech. Star League caches of top-of-the-line experimental military technology. Man, in all her years as a merc, my mother never had the opportunity to be involved in something like this. Yeah, she was in the first wave of mercs to face off against the Clans when they started taking worlds, and that must have been equal parts terrifying and exhilirating, but this-- this is really exciting. If the Cicadas we faced a couple of weeks ago are any indication, we might be looking at a research facility with technology far beyond anything else on the planet. This could be a huge boon for Davion, and probably for us too, if we can move in and take the place.


We hit the field at dawn, hoping to hit the pirates before they could get organized, but instead we found them waiting for us, which in itself was already a bad sign. I had a stale sandwich and about half a pot of burnt coffee in me, so I was already pissed off when initial scans turned up about what I expected-- ruins, lots of them, and seven targets. Five mechs with heavy vehicle support. 


Our Davion support moved in quick, taking the lead. I watched as the Orion lumbered up to take a position on a nearby hill, with the Raven and the Victor heading west along the road. Almost immediately, the enemy closed ranks, and I saw the Raven take a hit from a Cicada that came rushing in at us.


The heavy tanks led the enemy charge, and as I cleared the hill between me and them, I realized why. Demolishers, two of them, and the sight of their gaping autocannon barrels put me on edge immediately. These things were heavy-duty military units, and they looked new, not like something from a Star League bunker. Not like something that pirates would have access to.


Moving quickly, we picked out our targets carefully, trying to prioritize and make a plan. MacKay stumped after me in Maynard, ready to get his first shot in and prove himself in the business. Our tactic was a basic pincher move, focusing on the tanks and slower, heavier assets.


I winced when the Demolishers started firing. Autocannon rounds ripped around the Raven, narrowly missing, but the Victor wasn't so lucky. A volley of rounds ripped into the mech's leg, flaying all of the armor from it in one burst. The Victor and Raven responded in turn, building heat, but most of their rounds went wide. The one laser that hit fused the turret on the lead Demolisher, limiting how much destruction it could cause by a little bit, at least.


Maynard and I charged in and drew beads on the closest of two Rifleman mechs, tearing it up and quickly penetrating to its core. Maynard even managed to score a solid hit on the head of the mech with a trio of missiles, and that was enough to kick a grin out of me. Other shots were fired, lasers, missile volleys and autocannon rounds, but most of them ended up missing or doing minimal damage. For a moment, it was utter chaos.


The Demolishers stopped, facing the Victor head on, while the Raven crossed toward the back of the two tanks, trying to draw their attention away.


There was a flash, the shimmer as a tank turret tracked the Raven, and then the demolisher fired, obliterating the mech with a pair of shots to the mech's center of mass. I saw the ejection flare, the seat shooting into the air, and bared my teeth. One Davion mech was down, and the pirates had just cost us a two-hundred grand bonus.


Klaxons blared as one of the Rifleman mechs flanked me, but my attention was entirely on the burning Raven and the forces that had taken it down. Lasers lashed out, tearing through the Rifleman in front of me-- and then I felt the shock and shudder of lasers and autocannon rounds ripping into the back of my own mech, cutting into internal structure, ripping into Dantor's engine. MacKay lined up his own shots, peppering the mech behind me with autocannon fire, but most of the shots were only shrugged off by the Rifleman's armor.


Meanwhile, the Davion Orion and the Cicada were dancing around each other, rarely hitting anything but dirt and rock.


Poseidon stomped a course around the lake, exchanging fire with one of the missle Cicadas, staying just inside minimum range for the mech's LRMs and lining up to get the Rifleman in his sights.


For the space of a breath, it felt like an utter deadlock. The Cicada broke away from the Orion and started rushing in to hit the Victor from behind.


But the Victor had taken so much damage that the next volley from the Demolisher with the stuck turret cored him, obliterating the mech and leaving it for scrap. Another 200k lost, and I was getting thoroughly pissed. In another instant, the Orion struck out at the tank and stunned the crew, leaving it immobile.


I started firing on the closest Rifleman, trying to shoot it until I could shoot through it and start slagging the demolishers, but the hits did little more than tear away armor. More warnings flared into my display, more components in my mech going critical as the mech behind me pulled an alpha strike and spiked its heat, pouring as much damage into my rear-facing armor as it could manage. I wrestled against the shake as a gyro exploded, and there was a horrible screech as a large laser cut through the linkages for my targeting computer, silencing it utterly. In my cockpit, I started to sweat-- not so much from the heat, but because all guns were turning on me. The pirates recognized my mech, and they were lining up to take it.


Poseidon approached the Rifleman behind me as the one Demolisher still active lined up its sights on my mech. One hit was all it took-- heavy autocannon rounds hit Dantor's leg in just the right spot, blowing it clean from my mech. There was a moment of fumbling, of fighting the controls, but then I hit the dirt, stunned by the impact. I remember being terrified. I remember feeling like this was going to be it, like I was going to end up dead or worse. Being captured by pirates, watching their tech tear apart the mech I inherited from my mother-- death would be a far better fate than that.


The Rifleman behind me built up so much heat firing at me that it went into shutdown. Poseidon and Maynard fired on the pirate mech almost as soon as it started to sag, but it was MacKay who got the killing shot, obliterating the Rifleman's head with a clear blast of autocannon fire.


I collected enough of my wits to notice when the Demolisher with the stunned crew exploded, cored through the front by fire from the Orion. 


Weaponsfire tore across the battlefield. Fighting my mech's torn up internals, I tried to stand, to get my mech back into a position where I could bring my weapons to bear, but I only ended up rising up enough to give myself a concussion when my mech hit the dirt again. Maynard and Poseidon closed up behind me quickly, watching over me as they drew targets among the pirates.


Fox lashed out with Poseidon, hitting the last Demolisher with enough heat and force to obliterate it and turn the tide back in our favor. Maynard turned his sights on the Cicada closest to him, and in one burst, obliterated the last of the mech's medium lasers.


I felt helpless, paralyzed on the ground while the sounds of fighting rang out all around me. Too damaged to fight on, the Cicada broke and ran, dashing across the battlefield at top speed. Unwilling to let good salvage get away, Poseidon turned and unleashed everything Fox could throw at the Cicada, but the little mech was too far and moving too fast.


When the last remaining Rifleman started to retreat, it turned its guns on the Orion, but the attempt at escaping was short lived. Rounds cored through the pirate mech, dropping it just as it crossed the river.


Turning his attention on the missile Cicada that had been slinging warheads at him since the beginning of the engagement, Poseidon flung a volley of lasers, missiles and autocannon rounds at the smaller mech, scoring enough critial hits against the ancient, experimental engine that the whole thing shut down.


Low on ammo and alone, the last of the missile Cicadas broke then, running for the hills. We didn't dare try to chase the thing-- it was too fast, and we needed everything we still had to hold the field until salvage trucks could arrive and set up shop in the LosTech cache.


All told, we lost two mechs downing three, plus a couple of tanks. It took a while for Nazir to compose herself enough to meet with me, but when she did, she was as smooth and professional as I've come to expect from her. The cache itself had Star League markings, but the place was almost completely cleaned out by the time the salvage teams got inside. Nazir told me later that there was evidence a memory core had been stashed in the place, but it, and everything else, had been removed before we got there. Hurriedly, I think she said. Someone found out we were coming, snipped the wires, packed up all the good stuff, and bugged out. I think the fact that there's still hope for a big haul is the only reason I'm still on Nazir's good side. That, and how beat up I am. Dantor's core was almost completely destroyed, and if Davion's forces had pushed into that place without our support, they'd have lost everything to the pirates. What still bugs me though, is how they got the Demolishers, and how they knew we were coming. Something bigger is going on here, and that worries me.

Debriefing with Nazir, I negotiated the best trade deal I could with the headache I had, and ended up trading the damaged Missile Cicada for enough parts to make a single Rifleman out of the two we'd killed. The rest of the parts, and all the remains of the Demolisher tanks, (with the exception of a single heavy autocannon) went to Davion, and I think that's a fair trade. Our Rifleman is going to take about two weeks and a hundred thousand C-bills to fix, but once we get it online and get a pilot in it, we'll have a lance. Finally, we'll have our first full lance of mechs in the field.



All things being equal, we came out of this one with only minimal losses. Yeah, Dantor was trashed, and trashed so bad that when I handed the bill off to Nazir, she actually grimaced. I didn't even look at the C-Bill estimate, just knew it was less than the coverage ceiling in the contract. Dantor will get all the repairs she needs, it'll just take a couple of weeks to get all the parts needed to get her up and running again. Maynard was the least damaged, just taking some armor hits, but Poseidon had taken a missile to the engine and needed some work as well. Both Fox's mech and MacKay's mech will be ready to field in a few days, but I'll be out of commission until the Rifleman and Dantor are ready. Two weeks is a long time for a mechwarrior to spend in a hospital, but I need it if I'm going to be at my best when it comes time to find these pirates again, and maybe, just maybe, track down that LosTech they've run off with.


Liquid Assets Obtained: 
+300,000 C-Bills

Salvage Obtained:
Mech: RFL-3N Rifleman
Autocannon 20

Upkeep Paid:
-4,500 C-Bills

Notes:

Observant old-timers may notice that in the initial group shots of the task force going in, there's a Trebuchet in the back instead of a Victor. Basically what happened is that when I picked out the minis for Davion, I thought a Trebuchet would be fun to run, but somehow that got changed in my mind to a Victor during set up. I had the sheets and the BV calculation including the Victor, and when I went to move it on the table, I realized my mistake. After that, I swapped the miniature out for a more appropriate one.

Also, as an aside, I forgot how nasty Demolisher tanks can be. Now I remember why I painted them up in the first place. They're too formidable to one-shot with a mech, but they can hit hard enough to one-shot a mech if both cannons hit.

Also, also: standing in for the Cicada is one of my own creations, a VA-91 Viscacha.

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