Date: April 27, 3066.
World: Kennard, at the border of the Federated Suns and the Outworlds Alliance.
Mission Briefing: Adept Julius Vespasian, ComStar
Good morning Ms. Ferox. It seems that by defeating the pirate Julian Corpuz, you have only aggravated the local band of outlaws. Instead of demoralizing the unwashed masses, you have given them a martyr to rally around. Worse still, they have gathered a ragtag band of battlemechs and are making plans to lay siege to several of the local population centers to send a message to you, specifically.
Now, I cannot conscience violence against civilians, and though this is certainly your fault and therefore your responsibility to deal with, I am, on behalf of ComStar, authorized to extend a contract to you to pay you to clean up your own mess. The terms, I believe, are more than generous. Three million C-Bills, which should cover all of your damages and put your warband back in good standing with any creditors you might have accrued in the past month. There will, of course, be no salvage rights, no support, and no repair coverage. Pay will only be issued if all of the pirate units are destroyed, so ensure, for your own sake, that none escape.
Mission Report, Commander Ellen Ferox
When the contract offer came in, I almost rejected it without reading it. When I read it, I found myself wanting to give Adept Vespasian the finger in a vid call just to show him what I thought of him.
Then I cooled down, had a shot of scotch and decided that giving him the finger was probably a bad idea. There aren't ever any happy endings to stories that start with giving ComStar the finger.
Besides, how bad could a "ragtag band" of mechs be? Gotta be just a mop-up, I figured, and Adept Vespasian was offering a lot of real ComStar cash to see it done. With literally months of silence from Colonel Lindon and Representative Nazir, there was nothing else to go on and no one else hiring in this backwater back end of nowhere. I didn't even bother trying to negotiate with the Adept. I just gave the contract a thumb-press and took another shot of scotch. In that moment, I told myself we'd either break even this run, or we'd go out in a hail of fire. Either way, I'd have a hell of a story to tell.
The instant we got into the operational zone, though, I started having second thoughts again.
Sensors lit up, ID'd the enemy units as soon as they came in range. Instead of a rag-tag band of pirates, my HUD was showing clean mechs, well maintained machines, and most of them running Lyran IFF signatures. I tried to reach out over comms, but the static came again. A complete white-out, with no way to reach out to this blundering horde coming right at us.
I did what I could to coordinate my people, but it was very clear, very quickly that we were outnumbered two to one, with no choice but to face the Lyrans head on. Everything about this mission screamed that it was a set-up, but we were already in the thick of it and I wasn't about to back down. Even when Dantor's sensors ID'd an Atlas and an Orion, I knew I couldn't back down. We were going to get torn up, but there was no way we could withdraw. Even if we turned away, the fast units leading the horde would be on us in minutes and we'd die all the same.
Concentrating fire on the slowest, closest target came naturally. Working together, we fired relentlessly on one of the LCAF Stingers as it closed, tearing the arm off. The thunder of weapons fire, of lasers and cannons was deafening. I swear that every mech in the field brought its weapons to bear, though only a handful of them connected. Maynard took the brunt of most of the initial salvo of attacks from the enemy, but none of it was heavy enough to break through. A blessing, and hopefully a sign of good luck to come.
And then my HUD beeped with a new contact. Three new contacts, and one of them an assault mech. My palms started to sweat as IDs came in. Long range support, a lot of it, and half of it carried by the unmistakable bulk of a Turkina.
My thoughts raced. A clan mech coming in from behind the LCAF mechs? Was the Turkina about to unleash hell on us while the other heavy assets closed, or were the Lyran mechs running from it?
As if in answer, the Turkina and the two LRM carriers flanking it closed with the Atlas and the Orion, peppering them both with fire as they turned. That was when I recognized the colors of the Turkina, the distinct paint job I'd seen several times before. Lindon's Battalion, specifically Sarah Lindon, riding high in the Turkina her mercenary group had salvaged from raiding the Jade Falcons at some point during the past ten years.
If I'd have had comms, I would have shouted a rallying cry. Instead, I turned my lasers on the advancing Commando and cored it in one go while Osprey chewed away at the Stinger's backside. More rounds came in, and Maynard soaked them, Rage wrestling through the impacts, one after another.
Drawing a bead on the locust, painted, oddly enough, in what looked like ComStar colors, Wilsie threw everything Poseidon had at it. Almost all of it went wide, but one of the medium lasers that hit vaporized the foot actuator of the smaller mech, and that was enough to trip the thing up. I'm sure Wilsie cheered when the thing went down- I know it brought a grin to my face.
And then the Crusader and the Griffin opened up. Everything that the Griffin fired went wide, but the Crusader's LRMs had a clear lock on Dantor and I caught two full volleys across the front of my mech.
Pulling back into a stand of trees, Lindon's Turkina and her flanking LRM carriers concentrated their fire on the Atlas, hitting it with enough force that it's pilot lost control and dropped like a rock. Lucky hits penetrated armor and kicked off some engine damage, but the Atlas still kept churning in the dirt. Shots flew from the Atlas and the Orion, but nothing connected. Lindon's mech had downed an Atlas and didn't even have a scratch on it.
Nearer to me, I watched as the Lyran Stinger and the, as yet undamaged Javelin concentrated fire on Maynard. Most of the shots went wide, and the Javelin was starting to glow with too much heat when Osprey blasted the back out of the Stinger. Nearby, the Locust tried to stand up, fell again, then finally found its feet and limped its way backward, probably preparing to withdraw. Poseidon tracked it as it went, lining up a shot while the rest of us started to focus on the incoming heavier mechs.
Seeing Rage's Centurian as the most vulnerable target, both the Griffin and the Crusader turned their fire on it and started tearing the armor off with volley after volley of missiles. One strike from an ER PPC nearly slagged all of the armor from Maynard's right leg, but Rage braced himself and fired back as I started to carve the Griffin up with Dantor's lasers.
And then the lucky shot came. Wilsie threw everything Poseidon had at the Locust, but it was only the autocannon rounds that found their mark. It was just bad luck that the Locust had already cracked its cockpit from falling over. The autocannon was just enough to completely core the mech's head and leave a nearly pristine prize for salvage.
Would have been nice, if only we'd had salvage rights on this mission.
Belching smoke from its damaged reactor, the Atlas managed to lever itself upright and tried to take shots at Lindon's Turkina, but the shots all went wide. Returning fire, the Turkina struck at the Atlas with gauss rifles and missiles, shearing armor until the reactor was completely exposed. In the end, it was a volley of missiles that ended the Atlas, though-- a pair of shots, one from each of the Turkina's LRM racks. A single missile sent straight into the Atlas's cockpit, turning it into pristine salvage.
Enraged at seeing the Atlas fall for the final time, the pilot of the Orion lashed out with pulse lasers, carving up the closest of the LRM carriers and detonating its fuel tank. The explosion lit up my screens, and I saw Lindon's Turkina brace against it, rising out of the flames like a great and terrifying giant.
Dantor's sensors caught the Javelin as it jumped again, landed behind Poseidon, and opened fire. Only one of the Javelin's lasers hit, but it tore into the armor and scored a couple of lucky engine hits. Osprey and I concentrated fire on the Griffin, tearing it up and piercing the gyro. The mech was already wobbling, took one step toward us, then tripped and fell hard, collapsing parts of the armor on its arm as it tried to brace itself against the fall. In return, the Griffin and the Crusader turned their weapons on Old Bullet and started to carve it up like a roast.
Another exchange of fire blossomed between the Turkina and the last of the heavies. Pulse laser fire tore apart the last of the LRM carriers, but just as the Orion was turning its weapons on Lindon's Turkina, it fell, slamming chest-first into the dirt.
Levering itself back upright, the Griffin turned and took aim at me. I soaked the hits, but when the Crusader turned its guns fully on Old Bullet, the impacts were enough to knock the Rifleman sideways and send it spinning. Despite going down, Osprey scored some impressive hits on the Javelin that had been behind him, but it was the combined fire from Poseidon, Rage and Old Bullet together that finally brought the tenacious little bugger down.
We'd started with four against eight, a single lance of mercenary units facing down two lances of Steiner forces, one heavy lance and one scout lance. Now, divided between two ends of the operational area, we were five against three, and two of my machines were starting to soak critical hits. The Griffin was barely standing, making this horrible whining and wheezing noise as it swayed at the edge of the river, but the Crusader was practically undamaged. I didn't have a clear read on the stats for the Orion, but I had to trust that Sarah Lindon could finish it off by herself, and maybe, just maybe, we'd pull through this.
And then the Griffin turned and punched a hole in Old Bullet the instant Osprey got the thing back on its feet. Lucky shot too. Unlucky for us. The PPC touched off the autocannon ammo in Old Bullet's belly and Osprey had to punch out to keep from being roasted alive.
Rage and Wilsie returned fire, but the Griffin soaked almost every one of the few rounds that hit. A lucky blast of autocannon fire cut into the Griffin's armor at the last instant, blowing loose the arm with the PPC mounted in it, but it was too little, too late.
Meanwhile, Lindon's Turkina was still slugging it out with the Orion, slagging armor off the lighter mech by the ton.
That was when the Griffin jumped, rushing at me. The move came sudden, the mech pilot desperate to use his beaten machine to do as much damage as possible. He must have identified me as the leader of the group, because he came right at me, firing this jets, his mech's legs pivoting, aiming right for Dantor's face in a classic Death From Above move. I dodged, shifted out of the way, then turned all of my weapons on him as his mech planted face-first into the dirt.
Knocked down, the Griffin was close enough and prone enough to make for an easy target. I unloaded everything my Marauder had on him, and in the end he punched out, left the cooling carcass of his war machine to languish silently at my feet.
At the other end of the operational area, I saw an explosion as Lindon's Turkina finally dropped the Orion. Hope blossomed in my chest. We were in the home stretch. Only one more Lyran unit to face down.
Coordinated attacks made short work of the Crusader, cored his mech and dropped him in the dirt. As the dust cleared and Lindon's Turkina lumbered over to join us, I followed her mech's vague gestures until the recovery team came. Only once we were out of the communications whiteout did I start get answers about what was really going on.
From: Colonel Sarah Lindon, Lindon's Battalion
Commander Ferox, Colonel Lindon here. I wish I had some good news to give you, but this operation was a mess. Those mechs we took down? They weren't pirates, but I guess you probably already knew that. They were soldiers, Lyran loyalists just trying to get home. The locust leading them was a Word of Blake sympathizer pretending to be a ComStar unit, but beyond that, I don't know a whole lot more. The Lyran pilots have been cooperative and (mostly) reasonable, but the Wobbie in the Locust? Well, you can't get a lot of information out of a grease stain, unfortunately.
What we do know from the recovered Lyran pilots is that the Wobbie that stirred this up was called Initiate Marius, and he serves directly under Adept Vespasian. Unfortunately, Vespasian has gone silent. My sources are telling me that he's not really ComStar. He's with the Wobbies, and that they're here on Kennard because of a Star League cache of experimental tech left behind when Kerensky pulled out of the Sphere. It looks like this battle was an attempt to put down the Ferox Rangers and seriously hurt the LCAF forces during their withdrawal so that no one is left to come looking into Wobbie affairs here. I can confirm that it's been the Word of Blake who has been blocking comms locally, and the orders have come directly from Vespasian's HQ.
I think it's safe to say that you were never meant to survive this battle, Commander. Your contract was never really with ComStar, so I'd say it's null and void, but I don't want you to have to go away empty handed. Don't worry, the Allied Mercenary Command will back you on this and it won't effect your rating. We've been dealing with the Wobbies, and this is just more of the same underhanded tactics from them.
I'll make you a deal-- I want 50% of the salvage and all of the pilot bounties. Agree, and I'll give you free tech labor, free use of my battalion's repair bays, and any other logistical support you need. Even better, since Lindon's Battalion typically prefers fast, light units over the heavies and assault mechs, I propose that you take the Atlas and the Orion while I take everything else to cover my losses. It's a fair trade, I think. I know you Feroxes like the heavies, so hopefully you'll agree.
After Action Report, Commander Ellen Ferox
I don't feel good about this mission. I feel good about the salvage, the deal I cut with Colonel Lindon, and I'm grateful for the revelations into Adept Vespasian's true nature, but this whole mess was one that didn't need to happen. Those pilots, those Lyran pilots who were just trying to get home, two lances of them bit the dust today. That's a significant loss to Steiner, and with the civil war going on, well, it just makes the whole Inner Sphere weaker. I don't like seeing the FedCom unravelling like this, even if it means more work, and I like it even less that the Wobbies are involved. I'd love to get a shot at Vespasian directly over this, but that might just be a pipe dream. Hell, I'd settle for finding whatever Star League cache is supposedly here somewhere on Kennard, but that might just be a pipe dream as well.
My pilots fought well. We had some reactor hits, a downed autocannon, and Old Bullet was completely cored, but with the Atlas and the Orion in decent shape, I feel like we're better off than we were before this battle. Thudmucker is going to need some time to recover, and I'm being told it's two weeks just to get a new Atlas cockpit shipped in and wired up, so we're going to be here for a while. Colonel Lindon is still hunting for Representative Nazir and Adept Vespasian, and she says that she'll send word as soon as she finds one of them. I just hope we're ready to move when word finally comes in.
It was hard to let Old Bullet and Maynard go, but I needed the funds to get our lance back in working order. About five million even was the return on sale, and just short of three mil of that went back into repairs, getting Poseidon's reactor re-shielded, Dantor re-armored, ammunition costs, and getting the Atlas and the Orion back to fighting shape. I have to say, there's a certain pride I feel saying that I'm the proud owner of a lance that contains an Atlas, but I'm not going to let it go to my head. We're fielding better stuff, heavier stuff, and that's what matters to me really. We're a single lance, but we're a respectable lance. I think I even managed to get a begrudging nod of approval out of the old Grand Marshall when I told her, and honestly, that's as good as gold to me.
I also caught up a little with Colonel Lindon. I think she's still hoping we'll ask to join up with Lindon's Battalion, but I like my freedom. I'm glad she respects that. There's also this new Allied Mercenary Command thing that the Dragoons are leading from Outreach. It's intriguing, and getting involved could get me a ticket straight to the Chaos March, for better or worse. Maybe fighting side-by-side with Lindon's Company down there would be worth the insanity of that place. I don't know. I haven't made up my mind yet.
When I thanked the Colonel for her support, she told me not to worry about it. The way she sees it, she traded a pair of aging LRM carriers and some scrap for a full scout lance. They'll be ready to field for her next big operation. What it is she's coordinating, she hasn't told me yet, but I'm hoping that if it's juicy enough, she'll ask us to come along with her. Maybe it'll be some Coreward op and we can finally start to rack up some good Clan salvage, like in the old days.
Liquid Assets Obtained:
Two Clan ER Large Lasers (stripped from Old Bullet before sale.)
Well, it's been a minute since I put up one of these posts, hasn't it? It's been almost a year since I've tucked into this campaign, and mostly, I think, because I picked up the HBS Battletech video game and got utterly lost in it. Also Mechwarrior 5. Whew, that is a great game.
Time is also a factor. Every turn of the tabletop game takes me about 45 minutes to play, so it literally took me an entire week to run this mission, as I only have about an hour or two to spend on fun stuff like this each night. By comparison, I can usually run an entire mission in 45 minutes on HBS Battletech, and it keeps track of all of the accounting for me. Then there's these writeups. I love doing them, but they're also a serious time sink.
All the same, I really do love the tabletop game so much more than the video game. It's the nostalgia, the tactile sensation, the roll of the dice, getting to use all of the supplies and tools and miniatures I have collected over a lifetime. I just can't stay away. I knew I had to get back to this campaign eventually.
Fortunately, one of the reasons why I post these battle reports is so that I have a clear record of where I left off. I plotted out and printed the sheets for this mission a year ago, and started painting the Lyran forces back then as well, but it was only in the past week that I finally forced myself to focus on the Atlas and the Crusader again, getting them finished, photographed and out on the table, ready to play.
Also, hey! It's been one year exactly since I started posting info about this campaign on here!
For those who are interested, I did a breakdown of the BV for this battle. Instead of the usual 75% calculation I tend to favor for progression's sake, I shaved things a little closer this time.
Ferox Rangers: 6,000 BV
Lindon's Company: 4,500 BV
Lyran Revolutionaries: 9,000 BV
Ferox Rangers Campaign Info
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