Campaign of the Month: June 2014

Battletech : The Farscape Campaign

Episode 12 - Business Before Pleasure
"Heroditus was everything they said it was; vices of every sort, hot and cold running entertainment, and a nice break from eating military rations in zero-G and staring at walls... provided we could dump some salvage and find a contract..."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)————————-Spider
Dana (Voice)——————————Hunchback
Bruce (Glamour)———————-Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) —————————-Black Knight
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Firestarter

Upon reaching the zenith jump-point aboard the Vagabond, the Iron Dingoes and their companions began final preparations for a several day burn to Heroditus and its capital, New Hedon. Wraith finally hunted down the battered old neurohelmet taken from the Crab back on Claybrooke, in a pile of uniforms taken from the Eden’s Promise cache. Battered and old, it had the look of an advanced neurohelmet popular among elite warriors of the Star League, though bearing many years of use; it still had dried blood all along the rim.

The unit agreed to protocols of allowing everyone a 96-hour leave and then asking for 48-hour check-ins for all personnel with their supervisors, to ensure everyone stayed safe. As final preparations began for the convoy, the Dingoes command staff gathered and discussed their options; Mech load-outs, DropShip acquisition and unit assets were discussed.

The trip in-system was without incident, until docking wanted confirmation on positioning for Drop-Pads. The “Star Mistress” requested a warehouse location off to the east, away from the Dingoes, while the two DropShips and the DropShuttle were granted pads clustered together. Arlana and her crew taking leave were given a spot among the visiting AeroShuttles.

Soon after landing, the crew was paid-out its two-months of wages (in cold hard C-Bills) from the unit reserves, though after docking fees, there was not much left. Registering as a formal unit and getting a contract seemed very much a priority. As many of the crew scattered into the city, the unit “certified” a handful of vehicles for transit passage (“Nerf”, “Football” and “Chuckwagon”), placing the former and latter at the use of the techs and support staff. Tick-Tock, the captured pilot from Pilpala, was given 1000 Cs and escorted off the landing pad to find his own way…

All of the unit gathered in “The Football”, and headed off to Myrmos, where the bulk of the mercenary services were purported to lie. The area was a collection of sub-urban middle-class housing projects amidst fields, lush forests, and old estates. The towns center was dominated by “the Arcade”, a ruined and somewhat abandoned MechWarrior academy dating to the take-over of the planet by the New Hedonist Movement. The facility, now run by a department of the New Hedon government, was dominated by the holotanks that allowed up to a pair of company’s to engage in simulated combat. A series of offices lay along the west, most noteworthy among them being the offices of the Mercenary Bonding Commission, run by ComStar. The east wing was a collection of fast-food restaurants and small novelty shops.

Paladin, Advocate, Glamour and Voice headed to the MRB offices to register the unit, Pitbull wandered off to drool over the holotanks, while Wraith and Fixer went in search of an antique store they’d read about in the neighborhood.

The unit was officially registered as “The Iron Dingoes”, led by Major Ruxbundy and listed the unit “mercenary resume” as being a reinforced mixed company, with infantry, armor, artillery and Aero support, DropShip and JumpShip assets. They paid for the opportunity to be notified of the official registration at Galatea. Pitbull drooled for over an hour, watching the local youth compete with a local mercenary group, “The Huntsmen”. He was positively captivated by the place. Wratih and Fixer wandered over to the location of the antique store, and stood in amazement at “Barnard’s Emporium and Antiques”; a facility of several acres of land strewn with scrap, and a large Mech repair facility. Wraith questioned the local expert of Star League “collectibles”, though he didn’t learn much about the “Fisher King” that he didn’t already know. They accessed the local database of parts and vehicles, and down-loaded a hardcopy for the unit to look at, before returning to the Arcade.

When the others had completed their work in the registration office, Pitbull tried to get them to join him in a fight against the Huntsmen, but they didn’t have the class of Mechs available that he needed to compete, so he paid some local kids to join him, and fought against the Huntsmen’s lead lance of assault/heavy Mechs. Given 3/1 odds, his companions bet on him to win, and while many of his “hired children mercs” lost, Pitbull was able to squeek out a simulated victory with his Black Knight defeating the Huntsman’s Highlander. Their leader, a Captain Matthew Alder, congratulated Pitbull on his “luck”, and the Huntsmen left the facility in a huff. Pitbull’s fellow Dingoes raked in the cash.

Over the next week, the crew of the DropShips and the Iron Dingoes staff and troops scattered across the city and satiated a variety of vices. Glamour spent a full day at a spa and several more at salons. Advocate gambled and lost; nothing big, but still… Voice attempted to find a “Geek Squad” to discuss the Predator’s Eye and ways to modify the unit, but was unsuccessful. Paladin spent some “quality time” with Fionna in organizing their official absorption. Wraith spent time at a dojo practicing and finding his “Inner Chi”. His discussions about “Mech-Fu” seemed to fall on unknown ears. Fixer spent time in his quarters and in the Mech bays, trying to unlock the damaged neurohelmet. Pitbull spent all his spare time (and money) at the holotanks.

Eventually the unit was officially notified that they had been registered as the Iron Dingoes, however, they were also notified that House Marik had placed a Bloodmark (TP -1 : 10,000 Cs) on their heads, while Major Ruxbundy, as leader of the Dingoes was Bloodmarked at a higher level (TP -2 : 25,000 Cs). The good news, the unit was official.

The following week, the Dingoes rebuilt several of their salvaged units (the Thorn Mech, Eagle, Sabre and Stingray Aeros), and sold-off some parts and units (The Locust and Stinger Mechs, and Sabre and Stingray Aeros) for some hard cash and spare parts. At Advocates suggestion (and based on his research), the unit bought a pair of battered old Pike Support Vehicle hulls, and installed their Long Toms in place of the turrets to give the artillery mobility. Although not especially pretty, they seemed to do the job. Pitbull researched a location ofr a munitions plant, and found “Harvester Munitions Plant” in Myrmos, a location famed for making custom munitions, though they proved expensive and busy. The rest of his spare time was spent in the holotanks, and he was joined by Paladin, Wraith and others, seeking to improve their skills with the downtime and opportunity.

The Dingoes spent their remaining time putting-out notices of hire, looking for a few vehicle crews and some infantry to fill-out their line roster. Extra technical personnel were considered, but of lesser importance to their agenda. In the meantime, they would often rendezvous at the holotanks for practice, taking the opportunity to improve their skills without danger of dying.

About a week later, having played a successful round at the holotanks, the group were approached by an odd pair. Identifying themselves as Talker Lotte’s Girl Muriel and Sharpshooter Saul’s Boy Ernesto, they invited the group to a feast at the nearby “Arcade Bar and Grill” (known as a location both civilians and mercenaries freely mingle). After a series of drinks, entrees and deserts, Muriel broached the subject of why they’d wanted to speak with the PCs.

“We are from the colony of Little Heaven, and need your help. We are being attacked by raiders and you seem to know about space ships, giant walking robots, and seem like you can fight.”

Following a barrage of questions, the Dingoes learned that the colonists were being attacked once a month by a force of “…a dozen handfuls of soldiers, and a double-handful of giant walking robots…”. The raiders had never been captured alive, though a few corpses had been recovered that were “…heavily painted and had a strange symbol on their arms…”. The colonists were also attacked every few weeks, by a “…large flying ship of some sort…”, which after further questions, was identified as a Fury-Class DropShip.

The community, a mining colony of 700 citizens, held “…an end-users certificate for their land from the New Hedonist government…”, for which they were held responsible to make re-payments on from their resources. They mined bauxite and farmed sufficient to export a little surplus, but it didn’t explain why the raiders were attacking. Muriel offered 1,000,000 Cs to “eliminate the threat”, and had no concern for salvage, supplies or other demands. Getting units from the starport was the difficult matter, however, since the colony did not have a landing site for DropShips and it was located deep in the jungles of southern Heroditus. Muriel said she could provide sufficient passes to get “…a couple handfuls…” of vehicles or Mechs out of the city, but other than the DrpopShuttle, couldn’t support any Aeros. Using these parameters, the Dingoes agreed to take the contract, and would meet Muriel and Ernesto the following morning at the starport.

The group met back at the Dingoes Den, and agreed to bring the eight line Mechs, two of its Meadowlands transports loaded down with the two Skycranes, their couple of mobile field repair gantries, some Loadlifter exoskeletons, and a variety of miscellaneous parts and supplies. The Crimson Sands would shuttle over the Beta Scout Group of their infantry, along with four squads of techs from the Field Salvage Group, and a handful of squads of their recently hired infantry troops as a “shake-down” to test them. Since the trip would take a couple days, the Dead Man’s Hand was left responsible for the DropShips, and the remaining infantry were to be put on alert, though leave was granted for the remainder of the crews and techs while the Dingoes went for a “walk”.

During preparations for their trip in the morning, Advocate pondered on where the Raider’s Fury-Class ship might be based, and on a whim, climbed up onto the top of the “Dingoes Den” with some binoculars and scanned the landing fields of the starport. Located among a handful of other aerodynes, he spotted a Fury-Class DropShip sporting the flat black paintjob with red, orange and white flames curling around its prow and various airlocks and landing gear positions. Along one side was the ship’s name, the “Hot Rod”. Informing the group of his discovery, several gathered under an umbrella and began a “watch” on the ship, complete with a cooler of drinks and a radio. Major Ruxbundy began a search of the public listings at the starport, and found the ship to be owned by “Sunburst Enterprises”, a local trade company that also owned an aerodyne Buccaneer-Class DropShip, the “Hot Booty”. The Hot Booty was not presently listed as being “at port”, though the vessels traveled in-system every few weeks.

As the group concentrated on the Hot Rod, Glamour noticed a “black ops” landrover along the edge of the starport boundry, with a couple individuals in heavy trenchcoats and sunglasses watching them. As Glamour made plans to investigate closer, “the Watchers” were spooked, and they quickly left the area. It seems someone had taken an interest in the Dingoes contract…

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Episode 11 - Shipboard Life
"We'd done it! Tweaked Janos' beard, and managed to regain our surviving members of the company. Who knew the following weeks of quiet travel would be so eventful..."

Roll Call———————————-—Mechs

Dale (Paladin)————————-Spider
Dana (Voice)——————————Hunchback
Bruce (Glamour)———————-Phoenix Hawk
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Firestarter

Andarmax :

We jumped from Pilpala into the Andarmax system, and were immediately hailed by the Liao customs station at the Zenith. Commodore Southland explained that the Vagabond was hauling “…refugees and medical supplies to Heroditus for resettlement…”, and since its beacons were correct and she still had a commercial (if Davion) licence, they let us drop our sails and recharge. We noticed the JumpShip hailed a couple other vessels, and some limited contact was done shuttle-to-shuttle, mostly trade in luxuries and news from different crews. The rest of us spent the week playing cards, and in discussion meetings trying to nail down some matters that had been building over the past few months.

It was decided that we would offer the techs and support staff we had hired of late proper contracts, so a series of interviews with all the Techs, AsTechs and other dependents of the Dingoes was conducted. Advocate compiled files on each person, including a picture, rough personal information, and areas of expertise. That task kept the crews aboard the Dingoes’ Den busy all week, and with this information in hand, we decided to pay all our registered members two months standard wages upon landfall on Heroditus, in raw gold bullion from our reserves. The news was well received, and a “bonus” of a year’s wages to our oldest friends, the Gibbons. We also contracted with “Sunset” and her LAM to a full year’s service in the Dead Mans’s Hand Reserves, after which we could re-negotiate her situation. It was also decided to drop “Tick-Tock” on Heroditus with 1000-Cs and let him find his own way, keeping his Stinger LAM and repairing it for our use (since it had been captured under rights of salvage, unlike Sunset’s surrender).

Paladin and the command staff entered into a discussion with Arlana Jericho and her corporation, “JeriCorp Trading”, regarding contracts and serving the Dingoes as full-time transport. It became apparent, however, that the financial needs of her company, JeriCorp, were very high (millions of C-Bills would likely be required, with payment every month). They inquired as to what she normally did as a Corp, and exactly how big she really was, to which she explained that it was only her JumpShip, the Vagabond, and that they usually hauled as an “Interface Line” along the Periphery borders. She further explained she had gotten a “sweet deal” to haul diplomatic cargoes to the Marik Capital at Atreus, and was hauling mining equipment and “incidentals” through Claybrooke on her way back to Davion space, when she was contacted by Milo Carsebloom to take a trip out-system as a “diversion”. JeriCorp Trading presently had no plans beyond Heroditus, however, she hoped to get a few DropShips to return to Davion space once again. She agreed to a contract in principle, that upon arrival at Herditus, she would need to stay a month or more (shore leave for the crew, trade of the corporation’s goods, and some active maintenance at the recharge station), and so she would grant the unit “right of first refusal”, before leaving the system. The unit felt that they could determine things at a later date, as they got closer to Heroditus.

The command group also spoke briefly with Captain Adam Kristophe, gaining a better understanding of what his DropShip, the “Star Mistress” was about, and whether they might hire her. Costs were examined, and since he was travelling to Heroditus with the Dingoes, they felt they didn;t need to hire him at the moment, though the free cargo space his ship had was looking very valuable as a potential asset. They also learned that his ship was very much a family affair, and the two would not likely part company.

When we had charged our jump core, we bounced into the next system.

Repulse :

Jumping into Repulse, we encountered a single Merchant-Class JumpShip, its sails deployed. The ship, “The Exostar”, was hauling a pair of Mule-Class DropShips, and its command crew was unusually curt and unresponsive, refusing to exchange crews. About a day later, she furled her sails, and jumped out-bound without any hails. The “Star Mistress” aboard the Vagabond, undocked and made a run in-system to pick-up some cargo bound for Heroditus.

A couple days later, a Scout-Class JumpShip bounced into the jump position, and immediately hailed the Vagabond. Voice, who had taken to monitoring all local communications as something to do, caught a part of it, as did Glamour and Lt. Dajus-Marik who were on the bridge at the time. Boasting a Davion ID Beacon, the vessel was identified as the civilian corporate JumpShip “The Nebula”. It detached a small escort ship of some type, and quickly burned towards the Vagabond, hailing itself as carrying a representative of “..a private Corporate entity, seeking re-fueling and discourse with the head of JeriCorp…”. Panic set in among the lead elements of the Dingoes, as Voice informed everyone in the Line Unit of the situation, and Wraith verified “…I’ve got a bad feeling about this…”. Paladin quickly gave out unit orders, and contacted Captain Lord and the Snow Dusters, asking them to ready some infantry in case things went south. She activated her “ready force” (a pair of squads) to gather at the JumpShip locks, while the rest of her squads, techs and dependents suited-up and armed themselves. Our techs also readied weapons and came to some semblance of order.

Paladin, Wraith, Fixer and Advocate gathered at the airlock, waiting just down the corridor to “keep an eye on things”, while Voice continued to monitor comms and Glamour and Dajus-Marik waited on the bridge. Commodore Southland and Arlana Jericho arrived and they were soon joined by several techs in engineers vacc-suits. A squad of marines in grey, unmarked armor and a grizzled man in a perfect business suit, appeared at the airlock, and he identified himself as Ship’s Master Brinton Young of Excalibur Corporation. Arlana offered the boarding party the freedom of the ship, and Young dispatched most of the squad to take their time in the mess, while he “conferred” (said with a smirk) with the JeriCorp executives. Paladin split the group, with himself following the five troopers headed to the lounge, while Wraith followed silently (in his sneak suit) to Arlana’s offices in the forward cargo bay, and Fixer and Advocate kept an eye on the airlock.

Paladin noted that the group had brought “boarding packs”, and once they were in the lounge, began offering tobacco, liquor and a few other incidentals in trade for hard cash from them. Over the next hour, the five troopers seemed to get most of the JumpShip crew to travel through the lounge and engage in a bit of trade. The crew seemed to give quiet respect to the troopers and seemed to welcome the opportunity, though they spoke little and quickly moved away from the sqaud to their own places. Paladin also noticed a velcro-attached symbol on their suits of a sword rammed through a planet in black outline. Wraith was unable to slip into the offices, but waited outside, wishing he’d brought his ram-mike system to gain some insight into what was happening in JeriCorp’s offices. The airlock remained quiet. Glamour noted that the “escort” ship that had docked was a Vampire-Class Dropship, (http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Vampire), an infantry assault DropShip known for speed, and its unusually small size. monitoring the local channels, Voice was able to overhear the common conversations between the technical crews as they refueled the shuttle on the hull. He overheard the techs commenting on the odd, flat black color of the ship’s hull, which made it seem warm and capable of melding into the Void around it.

After an hour of closed discussions, the call came to the marines to ready themselves and rendezvous back at the airlock. The lounge crew packed-up and made haste back to meet their patron, pocketing their rolls of newly traded currency. The boarding group together once more, pleasantries were exchanged, and the unit boarded their ship, making quickly to undock. As soon as the docking hatches were sealed and the ship began to pull away, Fixer noticed Arlana scowled, swore like a marine, and overheard her mutter to the Commodore, “…I really don’t know how they tracked us, but at least we’ve got some goods to cover our losses. At least, for now…” She returned to her offices, while the Commodore headed for the bridge. The escort made quickly for their JumpShip, the “Nebula” across the way, docked and the JumpShip deployed its sails and began a recharge cycle. Glamour, on the bridge, noted that there were numerous signatures on the “Nebula”, and careful study of the sensors revealed there were three Vampires attached to the hull of the Scout-Class ship… obviously the vessel was modified beyond standard practice…

Over the next day, Arlana put a lock on all system communications, and numerous conversations took place, back and forth, between the JumpShip and the Repulse HPG. Voice identified the comms channels being used, and identified the conversations regarded Arlana, as Executive Secretary of JeriCorp, making regular contact with the “New Avalon Central Bank” regarding interest payments of a rather high amount. Later in the day, a tech from the Dingoes crew reported to Voice that his supervisor, one Eduardo Sadeh, was missing. He explained that his team was salted to do repair work this morning on the foot assemblies of the “ready” Mechs, but Tech Sadeh didn’t show-up for work. The team did their tasks anyways, and afterwards attempted to contact him, but he was nowhere to be found. Voice informed Paladin, and soon a ship-wide alert was processed, and tech teams fanned throughout the Dingoes Den, looking for Tech Sadeh. The airlocks were investigated, as were the escape pods and Aero hangar-bays. They turned-up nothing.

The search was quickly expanded, alerting the other ships, the Vagabond especially, that one of the Dingoes’ crew was missing. Advocate began to rummage through his newly made files, and quickly identified who Sadeh was; a former lead tech in the Outback Irregulars, he had taken service when the Dingoes sacked the “Eden’s Promise Cache” on Claybrooke. Copies of his picture were made (thank goddess for all that office equipment in the cache), and quickly spread to search crews. Advocate began “interviewing” Sadeh’s crew, asking questions about “if he’d had anything happen to him lately”, to which his crew agreed that the only thing of note, was back a system (in Andramax) he had gotten some sort of message via the HPG. The two with him when he read it, claimed he had seemed very alarmed, turned deathly pale, and had to use a ventilator he carried with him in his pocket. He soon recovered, and as the days proceeded, he treated his crew to a special stash of his private stock of alcohol (rum as it turned-out), and seemed to regain his jovial manner. A search of his quarters revealed nothing at first, but Fixer eventually pointed-out that a Tech would never be without his tools, and they were not found amongst the things in his room.

As the search spread across the fleet, members of the Vagabond’s crew were attached to tech crews from the Dingoes’ Den, and they fanned throughout the JumpShip. Paladin, leading one crew team, headed down to the lifeboats, and his crew literally tripped over Tech Sadeh, as he staggered into them in a corridor near a lifeboat access. In horrible shape, he collapsed and muttered in Paladin’s ear, “…I had to try and get off-ship… they want it… they want it bad…”. The strain proved too much for Sadeh, and he finally collapsed, uttering “Tequila…. the Shining Beach…” with his dying gasp. Paladin alerted the ships that they had “…found their missing crewman, and that he was off his meds and had suffered some sort of break-down”, and then carted his corpse to the Seeker’s medbay. He dispatched some of his techs with Sadeh’s remains, and investigated the nearby lifeboat access, finding a pair of shoulderbags, taking them back to the ship with another announcement to the Vagabond’s engineers to check-out the lifeboat’s systems.

Gathering the senior unit members in his offices, Paladin and the group began to investigate the bag’s contents. In the larger, they found a collection of fine tools, and in the other a wide collection of items. The second, smaller shoulder bag was stuffed with military rations, a bundle of seven ComStar bank drafts in 2000 C-Bill increments, a collection of currency (3058 C-Bills in cash and coin), a few personal papers (of no consequence, including Sadeh’s Guild membership ID), a tourist brochure of the planet of Claybrooke, and two other items of note. The first was a very old gold pocket watch, on a chain with a small telescope fob. Looking into the telescope revealed a pornographic hologram of a red-headed Mech pilot. The watch was heavily chased and engraved, in a “stag” motiff; Glamour identified the item as being rare and from Old Terra, and worth forty to fifty thousand C-Bills to a wealthy collector. The other item was a small, spiral-bound notebook, filled with handwritten notations (mostly in code), tables, and strange diagrams which might be maps.

Paladin took the notebook, promising to try his hand at Cryptography, a hobby of his, and break the code over the next few weeks. Glamour took possession of the watch and tossed it and the money into the unit cash reserves. Luckily, the conscripted medical team included several skilled bio-scientists, so Voice requested they perform an autopsy on Sadeh. Within hours, Doctor Sutherland and his team determined that Sadeh had died of some sort of slow-acting poison… Suspecting the ventilators he had used, the handful of used dispensers found in his quarters were also examined and they were identified to contain some sort of slow-acting poison, in particular, a rare form of powerful opiates. Voice suggested the source of all this trouble might lay in the HPG message Sadeh had been received, and accessing the Vagabond’s computers, copied across the now-garbled file, and cracked it to discover a few phrases and words. Noteworthy among them was the comment, “…give me the object, but whether you do or not, I will get it, and you will die…”. The files were somewhat corrupted, and the bulk of the transmission was lost.

The next day, Paladin decided to ask Arlana a few questions, and visiting her offices, encountered a grumpy Executive Seretary, but she willingly took some time to talk with him. He commented about if there were any problems, and if there was some means by which he and the Dingoes might help. She was about to say something, then changed her mind and commented, “No, not really. I just have obligations to meet is all.” They talked about a few other matters, and he then excused himself, feeling she had wanted to ask for something, but was unable to…

The crews of all the ships were sullen and somber over the next few days regarding the recent death, and the eventual return of the “Star Mistress” was a pleasant change. The fleet warily watched the nearby “Nebula” and its DropShips. When the Star Mistress was declared secure, and all other DropShips reported their status, the Vagabond called for all-quarters, and jumped out-system, hoping to put the incident behind them.

Renown :

The Renown system had little of note occur, making its name seem false. Arlana co-opted the comms channels again upon arrival for a a few hours. A military Union-Class DropShip on a Scout-Class JumpShip with a company of Kincade’s Rangers travelled through bound for Repulse, and a shipment of ore on a Merchant-Class JumpShip came through from the uncharted Periphery. With the “lull”, the DropShips and JumpShips held an intra-ship “Olympics” in the Vagabond’s cargo bay, involving various zero-G activities, though none of the PCs participated.

Cavalor :

An industrialized arctic planet producing a few export products (mostly electronic components and civilian ICE engines), the system had fair traffic, despite its location near the Periphery, and the fact that it would take three week’s travel via DropShip to get to its primary planet’s rocky surface. Arlana once more took command of all local communications for a couple hours. A couple of merchants bounced through, deploying sails or retrieving their DropShips for transport elsewhere.

In a stream of several parties held to break the boredom, one particularly eventful bash stood-out. Paladin was noted as getting very deeply into his cups, and disappeared for several hours… in the morning, he discovered a large portion of his cash-on-hand was missing, and numerous origami cranes made out of C-Bills in his bed. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he might have spent the night making origami cranes out of his cash and then “set them free” out an airlock. From the same party, Glamour and Wraith got into an argument with a Dingo Tech and a civilian dependent, over some religious point; the exact details having been lost in the fog of the party.

Ward :

A garrison system and noted for its large mercenary groups of construction crews, Ward’s population of 1.5 billion provided little beyond foodstuffs. Visitors included a frontier fleet of an Invader-Class JumpShip hauling some assault DropShips, a Scout-Class military courier, and a civilian Starlord-Class JumpShip from Hellespont Industrial with a full cluster of merchant Buccaneers, Mules, and a single Mammoth, all bound for the heart of the Sian Commonality. Arlana took control of the comms for a couple hours, making her usual communications with the Ward HPG.

Among the group, Fixer found his and nearby rooms aboard the Dingoes’ Den had suffered some sort of accident, with venting spewing toxins into all the affected chambers. Also Voice had a temporary glitch, as his new systems on the Hunchback suffered failures. It took most of the downtime while waiting for their sails to charge their drives before the problems with both systems tracked and fixed. Fixer spent most of the week in his BattleMech cockpit, rather than his quarters, while they worked on the entire life support system. He also began to feel “stuffy”, as the weeks aboard a closed system were starting to affect his allergies.

Also, a couple days after arrival, “Tinman” Captain Balmer awoke from his coma, and after a day of observation, was spoken to about his “situation”. It became apparent that he was in a bad position with few options, and readily accepted taking a year’s contract with the Dingoes in their Reserve Unit, flying a repaired Stinger LAM as the Recon Lance’s senior officer. He was also expected to act as a trainer for any future “students” as part of his duties, a task for which he seemed well qualified. While it meant taking a drop in rank, he recognized that it was a good offer.

The group was getting anxious, and with Heroditus so close, they discussed what they knew about the “Repulse Incident”. Paladin revealed his discoveries in translating the notebook found on Tech Sadeh, and it was a hit like a ten-ton hammer. The notebook contained the coded records of Sadeh’s actions in the service of his prior patron, Brigadier Magdan Zane.

Tech Sadeh was more than the simple leader of a tech squad, he had been Brigadier Magdan Zane’s personal lead tech for several years. His memoirs detailed a series of repeating events; the Outback Irregulars were privately funded, and would jump from system to system as salvagers and treasure hunters. The Outback Irregulars would bounce from boring garrison contract to boring garrison contract, always for corporations or small planetary militas, and always for specific planets. While on-planet they used the cover of their “LowTech” Mechs and pair of Galleon lances as their garrison forces, while their “elite” pair of Thorns, Sentinel and Black Knight would comb the backwater stretches of their chosen planets on treasure hunts. Mostly fueled by speculation and rumor, his hunts always found something; a few lost parts here, a battered Mech there, but always turned a profit while the “line” unit’s contracts paid the unit salaries and covered their activities.

Sadeh commented that he didn’t know who funded their operations, but that it was obviously someone with good finances, and a great deal of trust in the Brigadier. The unit maintained a high tech ratio, but tended to go through pilots quickly; mostly through attrition, as the “hidden” unit would often be suspected as bandits and had to fight planetary militia while on their hunts, on a regular basis. Often, he would move the DropShip and its garrison forces to a suspected site of “bandit activity” as a cover to get his techs and vehicles to uncover the cache and provide footage as proof of eliminating “bandit” Mechs. His activities had been very profitable of late, with better and better information coming from his patron. The way the Brigadier had spoken of regarding the “Eden’s Promise Cache” it was likely an answer to all his plans and dreams. His death at the hands of the Dingoes made all that moot, however.

Following the raid on the cache site by the Dingoes, Tech Sadeh writes, things began to unravel. As the Brigadier’s personal tech, he knew about a few things, like where Zane kept a couple very valuable personal artifacts he had collected during his travels. He knew that something in Zane’s possession was worth a lot, since lately he was given such good information from his patron. It was obvious that the patron was giving Zane a reward in return for whatever it was. During the confusion of the Dingoes’ raid on the cache, Tech Sadeh looted the one spot where Zane kept his most valuable items, and found the watch and some smaller pieces he had since gambled away. He was hired by the Dingoes, and just kept quiet while he figured-out what to do.

About a month after the Dingoes returned with their loot to Fort Anton, Tech Sadeh started to get messages. At first, they were typed hardcopy messages, telling him to “…turn over the Sangreal, before something bad happened…” kind of demands, but as Spring arrived and it was becoming obvious that the Dingoes were panning to leave planet, they became adamant that he turn over the object NOW. The Dingoes raid on Deadwood and prompt abandonment of the planet must have taken whomever it was by complete surprise, because all communication ceased. Until the HPG message in Andarmax, and the events that followed. From his writings, it is obvious that Sadeh was becoming unstable, and paranoid. His final few comments in the book show he was suffering from advanced stages of paranoia, and combined with the appearance of the mysterious Excalibur Corp and the last use of his ventilators (which teh PCs now know were poisoned by someone), pushed him over the edge and he wrote a need to leave the ship and flee somewhere they could not track him…

An intensive study of the pocket watch ensued, with the science team of Doctor Sutherland examining it for any “microscopic items that might have been missed”. Nothing seemed extraordinary; it was a very ancient watch with a high value to collectors. Seemingly having hit a dead-end, the PCs noted the incident, and recalled his final words regarding “…Tequila… the Shining Beach…”. They consulted the Encyclopedia Galacticana holograms (Episode 0 – Escape from the Ice Hook), but it said nothing. Commodore Sutherland and his navigator knew nothing, either. The group remembered, however, that Captain Adam Kristophe, was a noted veteran of the Periphery, and might know more. Visiting him on-board the Star Mistress, he shared some rum and while smoking his pipe, answered their questions.

“Have ye ev’r heard of a Shadowport, laddies?” When they acknowledged they had not, he elaborated. “A Shadowport, is a place where bandits, outcasts and renegades go when they need supplies or repairs. A hidden port, usually along the borders of any given realm, and always unknown to the authorities, Tequila Beach is one such place. Built in a Nebular cloud Rimward and Trailing of the Davion regions of Islamabad and Kearny, it is a massive armed and armored asteroid, ruled by the old pirate, Cardinal Benjamin Taft. You can get anything there; slaves, food, repairs, even second-hand and newer Mechs and DropShips… if you can pay the tariff…” He gave vague directions, claiming to have never been there himself, but the Dingoes now understood a little more of the situation. Paladin commented “…is an old pocket watch was worth the value of a man’s life?”; everyone, including Paladin, knew unspoken the answer to that simple question… They agreed there was little to do about it for now, but if they should ever be near the Reaver’s Rift or the Davion Outback, it was worth looking into…

With the jump to Heroditus a day away, the Dingo command staff gathered once more, and discussed their final approach to contracting the Vagabond. Its value in storing salvage, and the independence it gave the unit might be worth the cost, they decided. Discussing the financial difficulties that JeriCorp might be undergoing, they realized that there was a powerful fact the unit had forgotten. They inquired of the Commodore, what the exact problems the company was facing, and while he did not feel it proper to talk about specifics, he claimed all the independents have been under pressure from the various mega-corps in the Periphery, but they had recently lost a cargo, and they’d had to spend nearly a year trying to solve the financial morass that had ensued. When asked for clarification, he admitted it had involved “The Ice Hook Incident”, and that he was unwilling to discuss more without Arlana’s approval…

The Ice Hook! Fixer suddenly remembered back when they managed to flee the Ice Hook, before it hit the atmosphere, he had caught a fleeting glimpse of the ship that had attacked their transport; it had looked sleek, and black and small… like a Vampire-Class DropShip, he now realized. He shared this information, and the Dingoes were stunned. They all agreed that the Ice Hook had somehow been “hit by raiders” and destroyed, and possibly by the same mega-corp they had met a month ago at Andarmax; Excalibur Corporation. They remembered Arlana saying the Vagabond had been hauling mining equipment and “incidentals” through Claybrooke, and were picking-up a shipment of food for Pilpala before having to spend that year at the Claybrooke Nadir. The Dingoes (then 13th Provisional Company) had been the “incidentals” on the Ice Hook.

Taking this bit of information with them, the command staff quickly met with Arlana at her offices, and asked to speak with her. They sat down and began to lay out their suspicions and the facts as they saw them; She had lost a cargo of mining equipment and “incidentals” in Claybrooke to raiders, and the Dingoes had been the incidentals. Voice explained the group had been prisoners on the losing end of the recent Civil War, and that the Ice Hook had not simply fallen prey to mechanical difficulties, but rather had been hit by slavers as it approached the atmosphere. They described the ship that had sent the raiders aboard, and described the uniforms and armor… similiar to the armor worn by the boarding party from the “Nebula”. They remembered that Pockets and Pitbull both had suits of the stuff in their quarters, and fetched them as further evidence. They admitted they did not understand exactly why Excalibur had wanted the DropShip “Ice Hook” destroyed, but that its loss had obviously made JeriCorp Trading more unstable, and they had done it for a reason. The arrival of the armored vacc-suits proved their point beyond question in her mind, and Arlana filled in the missing information that remained.

“The History of JeriCorp Trading” : JeriCorp Trading came into existence twelve years ago when Arlana’s father, a successful merchant, had cobbled together the finances to purchase “The Vaga”. He had brought the ship into the border worlds of the Davion Outback, hoping to exploit the growing demand of the Davion war machine for raw materiel from the region, and similar to a dozen other small, independent operations was somewhat successful. Arlana had been working the business end of matters for about five years, when her father had died in a shuttle accident the year prior to arriving at Claybrooke (3015).

She admitted many of the independents had, of late, been under pressure from the mega-corps operating in the Davion Outback, organizations such as Sternmetal Horizons and Excalibur Corporation. This, by itself wouldn’t have been too bad, as the Periphery was vast, and a JumpShip could never occupy more than a single system and deal with only a handful of DropShips at any given time. However, the mega-corps had begun to target the smaller independents, since most were on shoe-string budgets and the acquisition of their ships and crews would make expansion easier than waiting for new ships or trying to outfit new crews. About the time of her father’s death, JeriCorp had been reduced to accepting questionable contracts on the fringes of the “Reaver’s Rift”.

Following his death, JeriCorp’s bitterest enemy had proven to be Excalibur Corporation; the company is a large, diversified holding spreading along the Davion Outback’s Periphery edge, with many of its holdings in the Periphery of Anterior Space. Excalibur’s competitors are often fond of reminding its traders that the corporation was founded under dubious circumstances centuries ago, and that its initial investment capital was very shady in origins. Excalibur Corporation has been singling out certain independent organizations for persecution and outright piracy, and has taken a particular interest in JeriCorp Trading, due probably to the skill of its crew and the value of its ship. Over the past year, there have been a dozen attempts to discredit the Corp, frighten off its employees, and sabotage its contracts.

The destruction of JeriCorp’s leased DropShip, the “Ice Hook”, might have been the final blow. Only large mega-corps can afford to buy or build the DropShips needed for trading; other corps have to “lease” the vessels, with little hope of ever actually owning their own. Even with financing, there are few available, however, and the waiting lists are long. JeriCorp had been leasing the Ice Hook for a trip to Pilpala, hauling foodstuffs, ice, mining equipment and “incidentals” (now identified as the PCs) to Pilpala, but its destruction under questionable circumstances had forced the company to use almost all of its reserve capital in meeting their lease contract. They had been forced to wait at the Claybrooke Nadir for almost a year, while they renegotiated their contract for payment on the Vagabond. The interest payments were about to drive the final nail in their coffin, when Milo Carsebloom had contacted them and offered a large sum of hard currency in exchange for a trip away from Marik space as a “diversion” for him to leave the system. Unable to miss more payments, they had accepted a bank draft from “Carse Technologies Corp (CTC)”, as an assurance to their bankers that they were trying to meet their financial obligations. It was all that was keeping them from having JeriCorp Trading go bankrupt and Arlana lose everything she and her father had tried to build…

Arlana could now see the truth of what the Dingoes had shown her, and admitted Excalibur Corp was likely the culprit behind destroying their DropShip, taking its crew as conscripts and incidentally slaying the PCs, all in an effort to get their hands on JeriCorp Trading’s single asset, their JumpShip the “Vagabond”. That they would disatch a Scout-Class JumpShip and several elite DropShips to “shadow” the ship for most of a year, hinted at how far they were willing to reach for what they wanted… What they hadn’t counted on, however, was the luck and determination of the 13th Provisional Company, soon to officially be known as “The Iron Dingoes”.

The Dingo command staff checked their maps, noting, for future reference, where the Davion Outback was, and hoping an opportunity might present itself for them to take the fight back to Excalibur Corp in the future… Arlana thanked the PCs for their offers, and admitted she felt much better about working with them in the future. For now, they had a few more plans to make before Heroditus.

The group began various last minute projects, such as conducting research on Excalibur Corp, making a list of salvage the unit could potentially sell in the limited Heroditus markets, as well as plans to spend some hard-earned downtime for a few weeks. Glamour asked for a list of all the smaller corps that might also be in the same position as JeriCorp, though Arlana admitted she wasn’t sure she could provide much or even all of them, just those she knew about. Glamour seemed to have plans to create some sort of “Trader’s Decree” and forge a force against their attackers. Plans set, and their drive coils finally charged, they jumped into Heroditus…

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Episode 10 - The Orion Gambit
"It was official, this time we were going in to get our people (or whoever might remain) out of the Orion Prison Complex. We had a good plan, and we had the means. If fate would only keep to herself for a few hours..."

Roll Call———————————Mechs

Dale (Paladin)————————Commanding Infantry Squads (Spider)
Lee (Pockets) ————————-Ostscout
Dana (Voice)—————————-Jenner
Bruce (Glamour)———————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) —————————-Black Knight
Greg (Fixer)——————————Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Commanding Infantry Squads (Wolverine)
Jay (Advocate)———————————Wolverine (Firestarter)

An emergency meeting was called at the site of the “Crimson Sands”, with most of the senior officers present, to discuss matters. It was proposed by Wraith, that the Dingoes use the “Crimson Sands” as a means to smuggle an assault force into the Orion Prison Complex. Further, Pockets elaborated on the idea, by suggesting the Dingoes use Lt. Gideon’s familiarity with the base, to claim having seen BattleMechs nearby moving towards the facility, and thus lure off the four Hunchbacks garrisoned at the prison. Wraith and Pitbull had a “war of words”, that resulted in a filing of grievances, but formal resolution was held off until after the matter at hand was resolved…

With the Dingoes technical crews busy sacking the facility and engaged in repair work on their damaged Mechs, Captain Lord dispatched her tech crews to modify the “Crimson Sands”, using acceleration couches and lockers from the base barracks to equip the DropShuttle with dedicated space for two platoons of infantry, taking only a few hours to do so. With the extra time allowed, some last minute repair work was conducted on the remaining Mechs (namely Fixer’s lack of head armor), and last minute salvage operations from the main hangar bay.

Under cover of the continuing storm, the DropShips lifted-off from the base and re-located into the Mining Expansion area south-east of the facility. The “Dingoes Den” suffered a failure in landing, literally bouncing off an unseen hardened fuel bunker, taking some hull damage and heat, but managed to secure its position. The “Pandora’s Box” managed to land without incident. The Crimson Sands hopped over the central mountains, and landed at the drop-pads next to the prison complex without incident, its holds hiding five infantry, three technical squads, and both Paladin and Wraith, armed as infantry and heading in on foot. Wraith was intent on finding his sister, and Paladin felt it was necessary to be present on the ground if Lord’s troops were being put in danger, as well as have someone from the Dingoes be present to find their people.

While the Aero assets performed their sub-orbital jumps, the Dingoes broke into two units. One, the “Diversionary Group” made their way along the hills west of the complex, consisting of the Reserve “Dead Man’s Hand”, Pockets and Glamour. The other group, the “Assault Group” consisting of Advocate (using Wraith’s Wolverine), Fixer, Pitbull and Voice, headed directly across the mountains for a couple hours to slip into the tailings piles just east of the complex, intent on destroying the guard towers around the facility.

Upon landing, Lt. Gideon reported her arrival as a “How are you doing during the big blow” visit, and mentioned she passed over a small formation of medium Mechs moving towards the base from the west. The base immediately scrambled its Hunchback lance, who trudged off into the storm to investigate. Phase One was a success.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gideon requested refueling, and the complex dispatched a tech crew on a tractor to drag out a hose and perform a refueling op while the shuttle waited. Wraith gathered his squads to the main hatch near the refueling crews, and after popping the door, requested their surrender. When they didn’t immediately do so, the squads swarmed and subdued them. Dressing in their technical coveralls, Wraith organized a squad and using the tractor as their transport, slipped back across the open area to reach the foot of the closest laser tower where the fuel dump was located. They discovered that there was a locking mechanism… a standard low-tech lock, that Wraith and his high-tech training was unable to access. Phase Two had just hit a snag…

Wraith requested help, and Paladin dispatched a squad of the Duster’s Techs with tools to assist in getting the door open. They slunk across the open field, and it was quickly determined that every squad would forth-with carry a set of basic tools and include a set of Tech-One bolt-cutters; that man was to be designated “Security One” and his life to be protected above that of the paramedic. =) When the techs managed to open the door, Wraith’s troops stormed into the tower, up the stairs and engaged in a short fight with the gunner squad in the tower’s turret. The tower was captured with light casualties, and Paladin gathered his troops to storm across the field to the complex, the “Assault Unit” moved into position on the map, and began to get ready to assault the gun tower. Phase Two had just hit another snag…

Wraith called across to the Crimson Sands, informing her that the tower was captured, and that the Assault Unit needed to call off their attack and move to the second tower. Lt. Gideon called across “Assault Group, Primary is Clear! Repeat : Primary is Clear!”, hoping the obscure call wouldn’t alert the prison facility. Wraith managed to access the turret controls, and noticed that there were cameras mounted at each entrance and the “Warden’s Compound” on the surface, visible through CCTV in the turret, but controls and other access was unavailable above ground. Communications were by hard-line phones. The Assault Group talked amongst themselves, and designated “Tower D” as their new Primary, and maneuvered over and around the tailings piles to start sniping. With the appearance of the Assault Lance, alarms began to sound, and Paladin moved his platoon of recon infantry out into the landing field. Off to the west, the “Diversionary Unit” engaged the approaching Hunchbacks, kept pace with them and lured them into the hills, tying them up and succeeding at keeping them away from the complex.

As combat began to spool up, two lances of tracked APCs began to move out from the maintenance bays of the complex. One lance moved past the barracks and towards Tower D, while the other headed straight north and towards the DropShuttle… and its recently dispatched platoon of infantry. As Pitbull and Fixer engaged Tower D, Advocate closed and began to assault it, while Voice moved off towards the northern lance of APCs. Tower D blew apart quickly, and as Voice sniped apart one APC, the other APC lance moved out from the complex and closed with Advocate, spraying lead everywhere. Wraith’s crew opened fire on the northern lance, doing some damage and aiding to the confusion, before turning their attention to the western tower.

The northern APCs tried to maneuver around Voice, but one was quickly eliminated by him with a swift kick, and another took the full frontal attack of a frightened infantry platoon armed with Butterfly SRMs, and blew apart as well. The remaining APC began to move off, past the DropShuttle and made for the open plains. The other APCs took a damaging volley from both Fixer and Advocate, but managed to slip around the ruined tower and head off towards the southern hills. Within minutes, the APCs had slipped away to the south, and Fixer, Pitbull and Advocate began to attack Tower C on the south-eastern corner.

Voice chased-off the remaining lone APC along the north and circled around to snipe at Tower A, while the rest of the Assault Group finished off Tower C. With Tower B surrounded, and taking shots from its own allied tower (Tower A, manned by Wraith’s crew), the tower powered-down and its crew evacuated the turret, to hide in the lower area. As the upper defenses secured, Paladin and his infantry made it across the landing fields and hunkered behind the safety of the blast shield at the base of Tower A. The outer defenses of the prison complex were secure. The “Diversionary Group” was informed of the situation, and they prepared to move off from their activities as soon as the prisoners had been secured.

Wraith abandoned the tower, met up with Paladin’s forces and split their squads between them. Wraith took the laundry/mess facilites, while Paladin took the decontamination facilities. As they moved into the compound, Voice took position walking the perimeter, while Fixer moved to cover the damaged Tower B, and its powered-down status. Advocate went into over-watch, keeping an eye on the possible appearance of the Hunchbacks or the return of the APCs, while Pitbull walked through the complex identifying how many units remained unaccounted for with his Beagle Active Probe, before he smashed into the Warden’s complex, and demanded the surrender of the warden; he got no response.

Paladin uncovered an elevator (Elavator 2) and typical decon facilities, but nothing else of note. Wraith found a handful of prisoners and a single guard in the laundry, the latter of which tried to take a prisoner hostage, before he took a blazer shot to the head. He was interrogated, during which he seemed to think the Dingoes were here to free someone named “Colonel Hoenig”, which Paladin identified as a fellow rebel who had fought against Janos during the Civil War, though not exactly on the same side as Anton and the 3rd Marik Militia. The prisoners began to share their knowledge of the facility, and directed Wraith’s crew to another elevator (Elevator 3), and the guards kitchens, mostly empty save for some prisoners on mess duty. In both cases, they discovered the elavators were securely operated from below. Moving on, they passed through the maintenance bay, finding another cluster of prisoners (conscripted techs), various tools and parts, and Voices’ 50-ton “dependent”, his HBK-4G Hunchback. Moving on, the infantry swarmed the warden’s compound, and assaulted the warden’s residence, finding it empty, though somewhat decayed and appearing unused for some time. The other building, an armory, was accessed with another group of techs, to reveal a collection of equipment, various small arms and guards uniforms, and a hardened bunker with Mech amunition and weapons components.

The unit, now combined in force, moved to the remaining tower (Tower B), and opening its secured door, stormed it, demanding the surrender of the gunnery squad as they did so. Paladin took time to secure the gunnery crew of the tower, posting guards and keeping watch. Returning to the maintenance sheds, Wraith continued to flash his picture of his sister, Mitsuko, and one of the prison conscripts identified her as “…that girl they keep over in the Privileged Quarters…”. Wraith ran towards the barracks, his squad in close tow. They stormed the barracks identified as the Privileged Quarters, finding a handful of prison guards, and a couple of “special prisoners”, including Mitsuko and her friend Brandy, wearing “maids” outfits. She hugged him in glee and he promptly demanded she put some clothes on…

Securing the guards with his squads, Wraith began trying to get information from Mitsuko. She informed the group that there were three elevators, two already found, and another located to the south for ore transfers. She said that the mining complex below was huge, consisting of many levels, including an Admin level directly below the buildings. She said that all controls for cameras, phones and elevator access were held there. The units not guarding prisoners gathered back at Elevator 3 by the laundry, and attempted communications with the Admin level. While the techs tried to access the elevators, they managed to reach "Assistant Warden Carrigan, who demanded to know who the invaders were.

At first, Wraith tried to play it dumb, but when the As. Warden reminded he can see Mechs swarming the surface, and infantry stormed the warden’s compound over the CCTVs, Paladin admitted they were here “…for their people”. The As. Warden wanted to know if they were here to rescue “Colonel Hoenig”, but they assured him they were not, rather they wanted their people from the 13th Provisional Company of the 3rd Marik Milita. They offered a prisoner exchange, of the Wardens troops for the two dozen techs and troopers on their list. After a short negotiation through Advocate, he agreed to the trade, saying he could get some of them immediately, but others on the list might take a couple hours. The PCs took the initial half-hour to call in their DropShips, and get them to move to the landing field.

Soon, the first of the prisoners were sent up, and the first group of guards captrued from the towers were sent down, in exchange. A few hours later, as the DropShips began their approach, the second group were traded through the elevator, though this group suffered from various injuries, illnesses and (in a few cases) radiation-poisoning from working in the “Danger Zone” of the prison. The remaining guards and techs were sent down, and once the DropShips had safely landed, the unit’s techs fanned across the complex, salvaging anything they could. Guards were kept on the elevators to ensure peaceful looting, and the injured were transferred to the medical bay aboard the “Dingoes Den”.

With two hours to activate Voice’s mothballed Hunchback, the unit took their time. They stripped the armory of its SMGs, pistols, several piles of guards uniforms and the AC/20 (4 tons) & MG (2 tons) ammo and the weaponry components kept in the bunker. Next, they salvaged all the tools, spare parts and pair of portable repair gantries in the maintenance shed, along with three more MT-1B Light Troop Carriers, and a couple tons of desert survival gear and survey equipment. Finally, the units searched the large storage building, finding a collection of packaged consumables (30 tons) and a collection of ore containers. The tons of lead ore were ignored, but four tons of weapon’s grade radioactives were found (Uranium-238), noted as having a “street” value of 500,000 Cs per ton; the reason for this mining complexes existence suddenly became obvious. The goods were loaded aboard the Crimson Sands, the vehicles onto the “Dingoes Den”, and the “Diversionary Group” was contacted to retreat and to travel to the DropShips for exit from the system. All the DropShips were “topped-off” with fuel from the facility bunker, and about 30 minutes later, with the “Diversionary Group” having waved goodbye to the Hunchbacks, the last Mechs boarded the “Dingoes Den”, were packed aboard and the ships began their burn for the Nadir Jump-Point.

Having encountered no forces against them, they reached the “Vagabond” without incident, and promptly jumped over into Liao Space… story-arc complete. \o/

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Episode 9 - The Stumble Raid
"We'd made the jump for Pilpala, and other than a quick skirmish as we approached the upper atmosphere, it went without incident. We landed into the teeth of a full dust storm and our quiet was shattered by the unexpected..."

Roll Call———————————Mechs

Dale (Paladin)————————Spider
Lee (Pockets) ————————-Ostscout
Dana (Voice)—————————-Jenner (Mod)
Bruce (Glamour)———————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) —————————-Black Knight
Greg (Fixer)——————————Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (-)———————————Firestarter

The jump into Pilpala was without incident, and the Jump-point remained open and clear, without even a military JumpShip present. We gathered into our ships, many of Lord’s dependents taking temporary quarters on the “Vagabond”, and began the five-day burn to Pilpala’s dusty surface.

A couple days later, we drew attention, and the planet’s starport tried to get us to identify ourselves. After a brief discussion, we tried to claim we were “experiencing technical difficulties”, but the garrison wouldn’t hear it. They warned us that continued transit along our present course would declare us hostile and we were warned to back away. We tried the “silence card”, and communications stopped.

About a day later, four heavy AeroFighters intercepted our course, and tried to strafe us, while identifying our numbers and mass. The strafing caused considerable damage to their lead fighters, a pair of Stingrays, and the Aeros pulled away and fled back to the planet, following a heavy barrage from the Pandora’s Box. Both DropShips took superficial damage, but we had gained superiority enough to hit the upper atmoshpere and begin our planned drop on the abandoned survey sites south of the Orion Prison Complex.

Dust storms obscured the site, but our sensors could see enough to identify the location on-planet, and both Beka and Captain Thane set-down perfectly. The Survey base still had several drop-pads, and a large concrete pad intended for aerodynes, the latter strewn with rubble and the ruined hangars of whatever craft had been stationed here once. Off to one side was a large hill.

Since our bays were crowded with supplies, vehicles and spare parts, we could only deploy the “ready lances” of the main Dingo force, and even that with difficulty. We broke into our component pair-teams, and scattered across the area around the DropShips. Pockets, hoping to use his superior sensors on the Ostscout, headed for the hill and nearly tripped over a small radar dome retracted into the surface of the hill… He and Paladin proceeded to attack it and destroyed the thing in short order. Immediately, a distant wail of an air-raid siren warbled over the blowing sands of the storm, and the units closer to the concrete pad noticed a pair of towers rise out of the ground and begin opening fire. Also, the ground in several of the ruined hangars opened and a pair of Sabre lances popped out of the ground, turning and opening fire on Glamour and Voice. Fixer and Pitbull moved forward a little, though Pitbull held off approaching until he was sure of the situation. Wraith and Trooper De Luca moved up and supported Glamour and Voice in attacking the light Sabre AeroFighters that milled about on the ground firing at anything they could.

In the far SE corner, another pair of hangar floors opened to disgorge a Stinger and a Phoenix Hawk, both oddly shaped; Pockets guessed they might be LAMs, and Glamour managed not to drool on her consoles enough to verify they were likely LAMs. This pair jumped around towards the center of the south side, near the larger ruined hangars, each big enough to once hold small craft, warily keeping an eye on things.

Soon, a pair of bays opened to disgorge a pair of 75-ton Eagles, while Paladin and Pockets lept to the attack, with Pockets wielding the ruined Kintaro arm he’d taken from the battlefield in Deadwood, screaming “Eat Kintaro!” over his coms. Pitbull and Fixer advanced and attacked the Eagles, as well. Thus freed, Pockets and Paladin destroyed the closest tower in short order with many well-placed weapons and melee attacks. The LAMs slowly began moving across the concrete pad, speeding directly to assist the Sabres, as two of the Aeros were quickly destroyed.

Again, another pair of bays opened to disgorge a Stingray lance, between the Sabres and Eagles. Voice and Glamour moved to attack the LAMs, as Wraith and Trooper De Luca took their position around the Sabres. Paladin and Pockets skipped in the trail of the LAMs, flanking them and getting into a brief scuffle around their LAM targets. Voice took a couple serious blows from the closest tower and a PPC shot from one of the Stingrays, before he started to pull away from the fight, back to the DropShips. Glamour took the leg off the Stinger LAM with a swift kick, and its pilot quickly powered-down and surrendered.

The last of the Sabres destroyed, Wraith and Trooper De Luca began chipping away on the Stingrays, quickly turning one into scrap. Meanwhile, Fixer and Pitbull began using their relative mobility to stray away from the main arc of the Eagle’s powerful weapons, chipping away and destroying one of the fighters. The last Eagle put up a serious fight, taking multiple shots off its nose, but eventually Fixer and Pitbull bludgeoned the pilot into unconcsiousness and tore off one of its wings. Paladin and Pockets pulled away from the remaining LAM, as Glamour and its pilot exchanged blows, with the LAM piot getting in some good shots, but taking few in return. When coms went down, and only the LAM remained intact, its pilot surrendered to “…superior forces of House Liao, requesting for the Honors of War”… The Stumble Raid was over.

The surviving bits of AeroFighters were quickly salvaged, with tech crews slipping from the Dingoes Den, and wearing their Light Horse Infantry Field Dress, which possessed filter masks and allowed them to accomplish the task within the hour (assisted by several of the Mechs). Due to lack of space, the salvaged AeroFighters were strapped down all over the place, and the techs then tried to access the Reserve Lance and its pilots pulled their Mechs out onto the tarmac to assist after another 30 minutes. Pockets investigated a subdued EM signature he’d detected earlier near the small craft hanagars, and found it to be a retracted control tower. He destroyed it quickly, while Pitbull moved over to the remaining tower and blew it to pieces with his PPCs from a safe distance.

The pilot of the last Eagle to go down was quickly brought into the Dingoes Den, and strapped into a medical bay under guard, since he was badly wounded and unconscious. The pilot of the LAM, identified as Captain Barbara James, was questioned closely by Pitbull, while the Stinger LAM pilot was pulled from his wreck and placed under interrogation in the Den by Trooper De Luca. Pitbull found Captain James (Callsign : “Sunset”) to be friendly (considering the circumstances) and willingly told basic information about the base that lay under the concrete pad. She confirmed that the Captain in the Den’s med bay was leader of the Marik 405th AeroFighter Wing, assigned to this planet as a garrison from the Marik Periphery Aero Fleet.

The former Stinger LAM pilot was more amenable to interrogation, begging for his life. He verified the facility was home to the Marik 405th AeroFighter Wing (the “Shahir Lions”), under Major Pavel Altukhov. The base was reported to have “several squads” of infantry, and included a pair of MP squads, assigned to keep an eye on “…all the new conscripts we picked-up from the recent war…”. Further inquiries identified them to be technical personnel from the 3rd Marik Milita; no one important, but mostly AsTechs and a few minor specialists from that disbanded unit. When Wraith learned about them being Techs, he started trying to find if his missing sister was among them, but Sunset couldn’t remember meeting her; especially since they’d only been there a few months and other than her assigned crew, they were kept from becoming friendly with the regulars and the pilots. Wraith started asking everyone if they knew his sister.

Several of the damaged Mechs (Paladin, Voice, Wraith and De Luca) were assigned to emergency repairs in the DropShip Mech bays, while access remained open, and the Reserve Lance was called on to lead a “commando” excursion into the lower base facility. At first, preps were made for Wraith, Paladin, Voice and De Luca to accompany the Reserves into the lower facility, however everyone realized that Captain Lord had still not deployed her troops… When Paladin contacted her to accompany their Mechs into the base, it became obvious protocol had been forgotten; no one had included Captain Lord in any discussions (as previously promised), and her troops remained locked-out of the command channels and unaware of what exactly was going on…

Captain Lord was requested to send some squads to help “take the base”, and after a little tense thought, she agreed, dispatching four of her recon squads to assist the group in raiding the base. Verification from the Stinger LAM pilot seemed to agree that a little over 300 personnel were present; mostly technical crews, support infantry personnel and pilots for the AeroFighter Wing. Pitbull tried to blow open one of the hangar doors, but all it revealed was a pit 120m deep leading into some sort of heavy airlock. Conferring with the Stinger LAM pilot, the group learned that near each door should be a command panel to operate the equipment, so long as you didn’t blow it apart first.

Several of the tech crews were called out of the Den to try and hack the systems, and following that success, Pitbull, Gunman, Shredder and Baroness dropped down hangar access points in all four corners of the concrete landing pad. Each pit proved to be an airlock chamber meant to keep the poisonous atmosphere of Pilpala from the base interior. Each Mech was accompanied by a squad of the recon troops and a member of the Dingoes dismounted from their Mechs acting as leaders. The tech squads operated the elevators, and lowered the impromtu units into the lower bay under the concrete pad.

The elevators opened to reveal a massive 500m launch bay, scattered with clusters of techs guarded by a handful of MPs, and with Aerospace cubicles lining both north and south walls, broken only by a pair of small craft bays in the south center. The central portion of the bay was watched over by a raised Flight Deck Control platform, with a few techs monitoring consoles and staring in horror as four Mechs and several squads of armed men entered their domain. Demands for the members of the Marik 405th AeroFighter Wing to surrender and hit the ground, resulted in small clusters of guards breaking for a tunnel in the far north-west corner, while the techs on the Control Platform and any others on the bay floor, clumped together and surrendered. Taking control of the bay, the Dingoes noticed another pair of tunnels in the west end leading somewhere.

The unit identified who was in charge of the Flight Deck, a Captain Stratford, and asked a few questions about the base. They learned that the northwest corridor led to “The Armory”, where the tools were kept locked-up and the MPs had a small cache of weapons and ammo stored. To the direct west were the crew barracks, and to the southwest lay the command control room. He also warned that Captain “Red Hand” Hack was responsible for the MPs, and that he was not to be trifled with. Contact over the limited coms channels available, led to a conversation with Captain “Red Hand”, and ended… poorly… The Dingoes agreed that assaulting the place wouldn’t net much, and so they began rounding up all the techs (not yet identifying themselves as members of the 13th Provisional). It was decided to assault the defenses around the Crew Barracks and find any other techs who might be in their rooms.

The recon squads rounded the techs into a single group, watching over them around the Flight Control platform with a pair of Mechs (Pitbull and Baroness), while Shredder and Gunman watched over the entrance to the Armory, ensuring the MPs didn’t try something. The four recon squads along with their Dingo leaders, finally made a direct assault into the crew barracks, encountering two pockets of resistance. The first was near the entrance, where a squad of infantry had barricaded the “Ready Room” against assault, but the Snow Dusters quickly took the site, revealing a small holotank with plans for the entire system under display. Voice quickly seized the data core and tucked it into his pack. The second difficult site was just past the main common room, where a medical suite was located. Taking the site with limited casualties, the Dingoes managed to find a Medtech squad preforming triage, including a full surgeon, a pair of general medtechs, and a pair of lab technicians. The facility was well-equipped with supplies, including three full medical theatres. Once the injured infantry were treated, the medtechs were captured and taken to assist in aiding the Snow Dusters wounded, eventually declaring them conscripts and hustling them to join the support techs in the hangar.

With the majority of the techs under Dingo guns, they were hustled into several MT-1B Light Crawlers, NBC-sealed troop transports found on the base, and driven up to the Dingoes Den under guard. The single Class-113 Coolant Truck (known as “The Crash Wagon”) was seized, as were a pair of mothballed Eagle AeroFighters located near the Recon bays. Lastly, a single K1-Dropshuttle and a pair of UR Karnovs were located in the small craft bays; the Dropshuttle was identified as the “Crimson Sands” and its pilot, Lt. Dara Gideon was standing nearby. Pitbull began negotiations to add her and the ship to the unit roster, and after a quarter-hour of discussions, she agreed. Wraith approached Gideon (as he had most everyone at the base), and showed her a picture of his sister, and she recognized her! Gideon said she had met the girl in the laundry at the Orion Prison, since she often ran supplies from Circle City and to the prison… Wraith immediately hit upon a cunning plan…

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Episode 8b - Duel at Deadwood
"With the assault on Old Town in full swing, it never dawned on us we might have finally attracted the worst possible attention, until we all heard the command 'Razorstrike' come over the general coms..."

Roll Call————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)———————Spider
Dana (Voice)————————-Jenner (Mod)
Lee (Pockets) ————————-Ostscout
Bruce (Glamour)——————-Phoenix Hawk
Greg (Fixer)—————————Crab
JP (Pitbull) —————————Black Knight
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (XXX)————————Copper (SecurityMech)
Andrew (Baroness)————Copper (SecurityMech)

The call came from Paladin to close ranks and take out the towers guarding the gate to Old Town. Paladin and Wraith bounced back off the wall, their opportunity lost, and dropped next to the east tower, while Pitbull, Fixer, Pockets and Glamour closed on the west one. Voice tried to get into a good position away from the autocannon bunkers on the military tower that had popped-up, and started opening fire on anyone who presented themselves. Shredder and Gunman entered the central park in New Town, keeping over-watch, while Valentine disengaged, her Mech nearly trashed. The Sheriff and his deputies began to pull back, leaving the Shadow Hawk and Hermes to try and get out on their own, though they positioned themselves to provide long-range covering fire. The Shadow Hawk stood at the wall’s base, and positioned itself behind a tall building, while the Hermes failed an attempt to stand, and fell back over again, and just sniped at Glamour until she slipped out of its LOS.

As we concentrated on the towers, Valentine called-out there were several heat plumes moving through the forests east of town; BattleMechs were incoming. Pockets tried to get a reading, though all he could identify was that four heavy Mechs were moving quickly in-bound. First the west tower fell followed quickly by the east, after about ten seconds of withering fire from the Dingoes. Pitbull started pulling back into New Town, and ran into two SecurityMechs moving ahead of a large mob of people from the Low Town riots. The two MEchs were local foundry units splashed with red Xs; a usual symbol of revolution. He contacted them and demanded to know their intentions; they responded they were here to join the Dingoes in looting the town… He informed them to get out of his way, follow him out or meet his little PPCs; they closed ranks with him and slipped away to the west part of town. Voice reported the local Coms had apparently called-out one single phrase RAZORSTRIKE, and called out the base might be planning something.

Meanwhile, the Shadow Hawk managed to make the Old Town wall, but was surrounded by Fixer, Glamour, Pockets, Wraith and Paladin, while Voice stepped next to the Hermes. The gang rape on the Shadow Hawk failed, and he bounced across into a main street, covered by the Wyvern and Griffin. The smaller Mechs moved into the bulk of the military base; Voice tore apart the Hermes, critically damaging its engine shielding again, and trashing its Gyro, removing it from the fight. Voice then slipped back down into New Town along with the rest of the Dingoes, in an effort to escape the town before the heavies arrived.

The Dingoes quickly ran off towards the western side of Deadwood, skirting Low Town and making for the landing site, 2 kms southwest. Their own Dropship, the Dingoes Den hot-dropped on the rendezvous site, while the rioting mobs swarmed into the upper areas of Old Town. Several Cobra VTOLs from the Dingoes and Snow Dusters swooped low along the streets, moving towards the foundries, to attempt a rescue of the Snow Dusters dependents in the confusion. By the time the Dingoes had all left Deadwood, their VTOLs were at the foundries loading people, and the lance of Mechs, identified as a Rifleman, Archer, Crusader and Warhammer began to try and disperse the rioting mobs in Old Town. The Duel was over.

The pair of Dropships were joined by an LR shuttle, which was quickly boarded by Milo Carsebloom, his lawyers and a ton of machine dies for his precious Long Tom cannons and LMGs. The shuttle quickly left the landing site, while the Dropships awaited the return of the VTOLs from Deadwood. Precious minutes later, the VTOLs appeared and landed near the Dropships, releasing their cargoes of people from the foundries. A sudden reunion of people separated by war and slavery ensued, with everyone sorting themselves into family groups and friendships once more. Due to time constrictions, the group quickly sorted themselves out, several units scattering into the forests with fond farewells to Fionna and her people. Captain Lords remaining Snow Dusters quickly boarded “Pandora’s Box” with its armor and hover transports. Several tech crews were organized and dispatched to the Dingoes Den, to assist in repair work on the Dingoes Mechs. The two SecurityMechs were given over to Captain Lord, due to lack of space on the Dingoes Den. Also, Recruit John H Morgan, the conscripted Locust pilot from the Consolidated Foods raid, was released and left to flee back to Deadwood and find his own way in the world once more. With the VTOLs finally stowed and all the Mechs boarded and secured, the Dingoes lifted from Claybrooke, looking forward to a long trip to the Nadir Point ahead of them.

Twenty-One days of burn-time awaited the PCs, to rendezvous with their Jumpship, a commercial Tramp called the Iron Vagabond ( * Jumpship – “The Iron Vagabond” ), that had been paid for by Milo Carsebloom to take them out-system. The group of Dropships were joined by the “Star Mistress”, Milo Carsebloom’s hired Dropship, which had also “rescued” Voice’s Coms satellite “Predator’s Eye” from orbit. During the long burn to the Nadir jumppoint, the unit effected repairs in the Dingoes Den; a difficult proposition in its crowded status, but time was on their side. The two new pilots, “Baroness” and Massimo were introduced to the group, and it was discovered Baroness was an heir from the Lyran Commonwealth, while Massimo was a bureaucrat on the run from the Marik military. Both had been prisoners in the foundries, but had seized the SecurityMechs when the mobs rioted, and were willing to take service with the Dingoes for the time being. Baroness hinted she might need a hand gaining access to her orbital manufacturing plant in Lyran Space, and this was left as a possible action in the future.

After a couple weeks of gambling, carousing and watching the techs work hard to bring the Mechs back up to specs, Baroness was assigned the spare Hermes (formerly piloted by Fixer) and Massimo was assigned the spare Firestarter (formerly piloted by Wraith). Dale finally had her beloved Commando “Hank” secretly repaired, and she was seen spending several nights alone with her beloved companion after hugging both Glamour and Fixer for their work.

Voice, Paladin and Fixer made contact with their “ride”, the Vagabond, talking to Arlana Jericho, the Executive Secretary of “JeriCorp”, the company that controlled the Vagabond. It was clear that the Dingoes trip to Pilpala was paid for by Carsebloom, but that the Dingoes needed to go somewhere after that. They discussed possibly heading to Galatea, the Mercenary Star in Lyran Space, but they knew they didnt have the cash for that far. Astrokazy and Herotitus in the Periphery were closer, and known as lesser hiring halls for mercenaries, but Herotitus was the best choice; only six (6) jumps away, and positioned in the Capellan Marches, a region of unclaimed Periphery between five Houses (Free World’s League, Capellan Confederation, Federated Sun, Magistracy of Canopus and Taurian Concordat space). It seemed perfect. They offered Arlana’s company 10 tons of medical supplies (valued at around 500,000 Cs), for transport to Herotitus following their actions in Pilpala, which she readily agreed to. Trasnfer of the goods would occur once everyone was docked at the jump-point.

A further discussion reminded the group that the captain of the “Outback Irregulars” had once been a treasure hunter… Pitbull talked to Valentine at some length, while Voice, Fixer and Wraith sacked his former quarters. They found a collection of antiques and cash in a secured wall safe, but nothing else of note. Pitbull was reminded that while it was said Brigadier Magdan Zane had all the information regarding his treasure hunting in his head, it seemed impossible that he could have known everything… Valentine expanded by saying when she was hired-on, that he had the Dropship and the Mechs already, and that he simply hired a couple of new warriors and techs, some crew for the tanks, as well as some crew for the Dropship…

A week later, the Iron Vagabond appeared, positioned by itself away from the two other JumpShips at the Nadir point. An aging commercial hauler, it was well-armed with laser weaponry(?), which was odd, but had also been modified to carry four DropShips as well as a substantial amount of cargo. The three DropShips docked with the vessel, and the units spent a day sorting things out once more, as well as transferring their goods to JeriCorp’s cargo holds. Milo bid his farewells, taking his shuttle over to one of the other JumpShips, separating himself from the Dingoes, but being reminded that there might come a day when their paths might cross once more.

With everything sorted-out, the Vagabond gave the all clear and jumped out-system to Pilpala…

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Episode 8a - Duel at Deadwood
"Deadwood was a major mining and trade town, and the center of Colonel Chestine's power in the Northern Territories. It's factories, however, were horrific slave complexes, and Captain Lord wanted the place freed in a bad way..."

Roll Call————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)———Spider
Dana (Voice)————-Jenner (Mod)
Lee (Pockets) ——————-Ostscout
Bruce (Glamour)———Phoenix Hawk
Greg (Fixer)—————Crab
JP (Pitbull) ——————-Black Knight
Ralph (Wraith)———————Wolverine

We returned to Fort Anton without incident, our convoy of Mechs, vehicles and squads of technicans arrived amid the blank stares of Zeddy and his team. Later that night, in a blaze of exhaust plasma, our new Dropship landed in the ruins of Antonopolis nearby. Zeddy and Fionna Lord began long talks that ran until late into the next morning.

Over the next few weeks, we began to assemble our newest salvaged Mechs, and removing many of the existing units autocannons with lasers, extra armor and heat sinks. We rebuilt the Black Knight and Sentinel, and then moved units around to accomodate our pilots better. In the end, we actually had a couple functioning reserve Mechs with no pilots, and still had plenty of stores for future operations.

While our tech crews were kept busy, Ruxbundy met with both Zeddy and Fionna Lord. Zeddy informed the unit that the word was out about the Dingoes working with the Snow Dusters, and that they were searching the area near Deadwood and the Black Hills for our base with all of their reserves. He had been talking with his crew, and they wanted off this rock, before Chestine and her hounds sacked the place. Given his loyalty over the past months, we didn’t hesitate to accept their services. He revealed his ties to the Andurien resistance, who had been using his facility as a supply dump, and opened his stock of light arms and ammunition, as well as a small supply of medical goods to the unit.

Captain Lord spoke at length with Captain Ruxbundy, and admitted that the base was likely dated in its existence. He offered the supplies Zeddy had revealed to arm whatever resistance groups she might have contact with, which she quickly did. She slao admitted her intentions to leave the system as quickly as possible following the raid on Deadwood. She said she “…had a way to get off-planet…”, though she remained vague as to its origins, and asked if she could accompany the Dingoes on their transport out-system. She offered several squads of techs that she knew would likely be rescued from the foundries who might be willing to work for the Dingoes, as well as the services of her numerous dependents as AsTechs when they sacked the town. Ruxbundy asked if the group agreed in the Snow Dusters working with the Dingoes, and they agreed it would be helpful.

It was also agreed that the attack on Deadwood should commence about a month from now, and the contact Milo had with his waiting Dropship was activated, with the group rendezvous to be at the railhead 2kms from Deadwood. Fionna’s troop began to become very busy, and a week later, most of them left along with several other groups to “…secure their transport…”. A single group was left to keep contact with us and provide recon services on the trip into Deadwood.

When the time came, we began the trip across the wilderness, and several days later, arrived near the valley that held Deadwood. Coming from the south, we approached through tree-cover to about a kilometer away from the edge of town. There was some sort of riot in progress along the western side of town, in Low Town. Gunfire and blazing firestorms hinted that Captain Lord’s “diversion” was well underway. We slipped from the woods and approached across the open fields to the main gate of Deadwood and its guard towers.

Immeadiately upon entering the open, the two garrisoned Mech lances began to move; one from New Town and the other from the upper section of Old Town. The massive spire built against the far cliffs of Deadwood Canyon known as “Star Wolf Command”, gleamed and hinted at its origins as a Star League marvel. It was doubtless riddled with numerous caverns and vaults, but we had no intention of looting the place or even getting too close.

The Mech lances skirted among the buildings and shops of New Town, presenting few targets of opportunity, and within a minute, we began to concentrate fire on the guard towers taking limited harassing fire from their LRMs. The units stayed close to the edge of town, and we split into two groups; the heavies of Valentine, Solitaire, Pitbull, Pockets, Glamour and Voice sweeping west and straight to the towers, while the lighter half of Gunman, Shredder, Paladin, Wraith and Fixer swept east to flank the defenders. The first tower fell quickly, but twin booms from Starwolf identified Sniper artillery pieces taking shots into pre-plotted locations in the open fields south of town.

The Dingoes finished-off the second tower quickly and swept into the suburbs of New Town, with the bulk of the defenders sniping and pulling back slowly. When we had entered the town about 30 secs later, the Snipers went silent, and we faced only the remaining two towers guarding Old Town and the Mechs themselves. The Kintaro tried to slip away out of New Town, but its lack of jumpjets forced it into isolation from its companions, and the heavy half of the Dingoes swarmed it with their pack tactics and tore into it with heavy weapons fire. Glamour got the “kill” shot of an ammunition explosion, destroying the Mech, though she took heavy missile fire in return. The Shadow Hawk slowly jumped back through New Town, dogged by the eastern half of the Dingoes, though it finally made the relative safety of the Old Town walls.

Turning from the ruins of the Kintaro, Pitbull sniped at the lead Mech, the Wyvern of Sheriff Harrison Wilson, a noted “ace” pilot. In response, he took a full barrage of missile fire and a large laser, knocking him back onto the pavement and temporarily out of commission. Glamour spent precious time cooling her Mech from her massive assault on the Kintaro. Valentine also approached the gate, but took a withering series of shots from the Griffin, Wyvern and towers when she exposed herself. Voice slipped along the western edge of town, and managed to reach the base of the wall relatively intact. Paladin, Fixer and Wraith flanked the towers along the east, also managing to reach the base of the Old Town wall fairly undamaged. Everyone took sniping attacks on the inner towers, but they remained fairly active and laid-down damaging shots with their LMGs and heavy LRMs.

With the Dingoes finally in position, the lighter units leapt onto the walls with their jumpjets; Voice slipped behind the Hermes and blew it over, nearly knocking it from the wall, and making it take critical gyro and engine damage. The Locust and Stinger tried to assist their fallen comrade, but the Hermes took even more fire from Glamour below the walls, while Pitbull and Valentine moved down the center of the suburbs sniping and positioning themselves for an assault on the towers and Sheriff Wilson’s Wyvern. The Locust skidded in the town center, tripping and falling into the decorative pool, but managing to right itself with a little damage. Wraith leapt next to the Shadow Hawk with his Wolverine and knocked it over the wall’s edge with a solid body blow, betraying his skill in personal hand-to-hand combat. Paladin jumped next to the Valkyrie, doing some damage with his lasers. Shredder, Gunman and Fixer sniped and moved into position to assist the heavies on their attack up the ramp and wall.

Voice suddenly heard the report of autocannon fire come from the massive bulk of the Star Wolf Military Base, when over the coms chatter came word of the Snow Duster’s ride; Vivaldi’s “Winter” began playing over all standard channels. The rusted hull of an ancient Intruder-Class Dropship appeared, hot-dropping and firing madly into the landing zone 2 kms away, to clear it of security troops. Fionna Lord’s recon troops gave the “all-clear” signal, and began to move from the Low Town riots, preparing for an assault up the ramp into the Old Town foundries. The Duel at Deadwood had just begun…

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Episode 7b - Dude, Where's my Dropship?
"The fight was progressing well enough, until the appearance of the second lance. A Black Knight and a Sentinel were something to fear... but we never expected what Eden's Promise *really* was..."

Roll Call————————-Mechs

Dale(Capt. Ruxbundy)———Spider
Dana(Lt. Charles)————-Jenner (Mod)
Lee(Dominic) ——————-Ostscout
Bruce(Erica Hartman)———Phoenix Hawk
Greg(Michael Anderson)——Hermes A
JP—————————————-Wolverine
Ralph(Mitch)———————Firestarter

With Lord’s escorting hover recon storming into the hangar bay of the dropship, the remaining active Galleon moved out of its position in the woods, covered by Shredder and Lord’s two Pegasus Tanks. Gunfire could be heard coming over the coms, but it was light and quickly died-off. Shredder moved to cover the bay door, followed by the Galleon, and some of the infantry from the trenches around the ship. The two Pegasus pulled away somewhat, using their SRMs to destroy the Galleon, while Shredder evaporated the infantry on one side, and his brother Gunman tore into the others, scattering all resistance near the Dropship itself.

Glamour and Voice continued their sweep into the western hills, herding the Stingers, with Glamour destroying one Stinger on a hilltop and forcing the other to bounce back into the northern woods as they followed. They encountered a Thorn coming out of the woods, and Voice cut it to pieces, knocking it to the ground. For the next minute or so, he slipped around it and after several quick shots, kicked it into destruction, blowing its CASE and ammo stores.

Skirting the woods behind the quarry and next to the river, Paladin, Fixer and Wraith sniped across the river to strike against the Panther, finally ravaging it enough to knock it down. The Assassin continued to leap around, joining the retreating Stinger in the woods, and eventually making it to the eastern hills, where they made a few small shots, but eventually fled from the battlefield into the woods on the eastern edge of the valley.

With the fall of the Panther, all forces concentrated on the Sentinel, getting several good hits in, until the Black Knight made it to the edge of the woods and opened up on Paladin. Pockets and Pitbull combined their attacks to tear apart the damaged Sentinel, while Voice closed across the ruined Thorn, and Glamour tried to cool down. The Black Knight opened up another round against Paladin, missing with several of its shots, while it closed walking into the river. All the units of the Dingoes closed and opened up on the Black Knight, while Shredder and Gunman ensured the Dropship was captured and no loose infantry tried to enter up its ramps. The Black Knight took serious withering fire, and was knocked into the river, its breached torsoes flooding and in a cloud of steam, shut down. The commnander of the Mech, refusing to surrender, shot himself before being captured with a single statement before he died : “For their Honor!” BLAM. That single shot was followed by a chorus of howls and cheers from the Dropship, as Lord’s crew declared victory with the lead pilot’s surrender to the Dingoes command.

The Dingoes quickly tried to get control of the site, as techs from the camp began to flee the area. One group tried to rally and capture the remaining inactive lance of Galleons, but were quickly chased away by the arrival of Shredder. Some light jeeps evacuated into the eastern woods, but the majority were kept in the camp by the arrival of Gunman and Lord’s tanks. Pockets and Voice went on over-watch, sweeping the area for any other signals, while Wraith, Glamour and Voice headed to the Dropship to see about its disposition. Pitbull and Paladin tried to sweep the camp, while Lord’s reserve transport crews arrived, using their tech teams to evaluate the camp and its contents. Pitbull captured the Sentinel pilot, one Valentina Masterson, who was a little beligerent, but submitted to the boys with guns.

Pitbull negotiated a truce with the tech teams, discovering they were mostly local AsTechs hired to facilitate the excavation of the minehead. They were allowed to keep their personal transports, excavation vehicles, and complete their hired tasks, where-upon they were promised the freedom to leave. The Dropship, the “Velvet Glove” (a Seeker-Class) was surrendered to the unit formally, and they met its lead pilot, Captain Thane, who explained much of the reasons for the mercenary “Outback Irregulars” being here, as their secretly being treasure hunters. It further became obvious, much of the mining equipment they had accumulated was captured materiel stolen from the several mining camps recently hit in the Northern Territories…

Using Lord’s tech crews, Fixer and Pockets began salvaging all the Galleons and the ruined BattleMechs. It was determined the Black Knight was mostly intact, the Sentinel and one of the Thorns were fairly repairable, while the other Thorn, Panther and Stinger were in pieces. The pair of Skycranes were easily salvaged, and moved into the Dropship. About twelve hours of anxious salvaging later, the site was under control, with the unit’s captured materiel moved into the “Glove”.

Wraith and Voice went in search of an EM field identified by Pockets about 2 kms off on a hill to the north. They discovered an ancient microwave transceiver, and salvaged the site using Fixer’s skills, and traced its connection back to the quarry/mine site. It was determined that the site would take about 2-3 days of work, so the unit settled in for a wait, using the Dropship as a repair facility, and taking parts and supplies from the reserves they’d brought along on the Meadowlands carriers.

After a few days of anxious waiting, the site was excavated and the AsTech crews were dismissed, taking their tools and equipment along with them. Pitbull spoke at length with a handful of mercenary tech crews formerly serving with the “Irregulars”, who seemed willing to be hired, providing a half-dozen Green tech crews to the unit support crews.

The Dingoes investigated the site to find a large Mech-sized entrance, dropping in a reinforced tunnel to a large alloyed door bearing a Cameron star of the Star League and the words, “51st Light Horse” below and “Eden’s Promise” above. An active hard-wired electronics lock along one side was investigated by Fixer, and after several hours, he was able to break its codes, determining it required a “Class 3 – SL Support ID Card”, though where someone might find such an item remained unknown. The door opened with a horrible screeching and the sound of ancient servos in movement. It revealed a series of activating lights, marching off into a vast and pristine vault of containers, canisters, and large bulky objects and vehicles. Eden’s Promise was a Star League Strategic Vault for the 51st Light Horse and its attendant RCT

Following the oddly dust-free passages between the supplies and equipment, they came to a central lit area where a computer console rigged with power cables led off into the roof, and was over-looked by a single olive-drab CRB-27 Crab. Accessing the computer, it became obvious it was a simple inventory data core, detailing the entire contents of the cache, which gave a print-out as follows:

- Class I Items for Storage -

Administrative Materials – 100 tons
Administrative Records – 72 tons
Construction Materials – 128 tons
Electronic Components – 14 tons
Medical Supplies – 15 tons
Soft Goods – 320 tons

- Class II Items for Storage -

BattleMechs – 50 tons
Combat Vehicles – 430 tons
Missile Ammunition Reserves – 110 tons
Portable Fusion Generators – 20 tons
PPC Loads – 210 tons
Repair Facility Equipment – 110 tons
Spare BattleMech Components – 125 tons
Spare Vehicle Components – 110 tons
Standard Foot Infantry Kits – 30 tons
Standard Jump Infantry Kits – 5 tons
Support Vehicles – 550 tons

- Class III Items for Storage -

Fibre-Optic Communication Lines – 10,000 tons
RCT Emergency Rations Reserves (20 Days) – 1200 tons
SL-V84 Fusion Engines – 2760 tons
Special Food Storage – 20 tons
Strategic Metals – 100 tons

Using the database, the unit was able to bring in their tech crews and identify the entire contents of the cache easily, though it took a good day to sort through its contents. They were able to salvage several vehicles, spare parts, infantry equipment, PPCs and ammunition, as well as a complete repair facility including its machine tools and a large supply of strategic metals for manufacturing essential high tech dies and tools. The Crab was easily salvaged, swapping-out its “black boxes” and using a spare neurohelmet from the unit’s dwindling stores, though it contained a minor mystery in the form of a bloody helmet despite its pristine appearance. They also salvaged a pair of “Patron” LoaderMechs. The cache finally included a vast stock of fibre-optic cabling (enough to equip a planet), stocks of combat survival rations, and a massive stock of Dropship fusion cores.

Every nook and cranny of the Dropship, and even the unit BattleMechs were laden down with salvaged supplies. The vehicle bays were crammed tight with support vehicles and stacks of other goods. With the tech crews secured aboard the Dropship, along with Lord’s recon troops to “keep an eye on things”, it began preparing for a quick sub-orbital hop to Fort Anton, while the PCs moved their large convoy of laden vehicles and Mechs back overland to rendezvous with the group in a week…

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Episode 7a - Dude, Where's my Dropship?
"Following the Agriplex raid, we investigated the isolated ravine our mystery satellite had been communicating with in the utter north... seemed the SLDF garrison had been doing something before they left the planet, and we were gonna find out what..."

Roll Call————————-Mechs

Dale(Capt. Ruxbundy)——-—Spider
Dana(Lt. Charles)—————-Jenner (Mod)
Bruce(Erica Hartman)——-—Phoenix Hawk
Greg(Michael Anderson)——Hermes A
Lee (Hagustus)—————Ostscout
JP (Jokukad) ————————-Wolverine
Ralph(Mitch)————————-—Firestarter

We spent a couple weeks more, rebuilding our Mechs and actually managed to strip down two of the tanks for parts, while we traded the Pegasus to Captain Lord and her crew for about 10 tons of armor patches… it seemed she had tons of the stuff, which hinted how good her scavengers were, since a week later the thing was up and running perfectly. We had enough after that, to rebuild both the Stinger and Locust we had in the “Dead Man’s Hand” Revserve Unit, and prepped the Clooney Brothers to act as support pilots. The Commando remained unrepairable at this time, but we also got the Wolverine working again. There was a discussion as to who should pilot it, and the Lieutenant gave up his claim to keep the peace.

Recognizing we needed manpower if we were to salvage anything, we approached Captain Lord, and offered to “hire” some of her crews to pilot our captured Meadowlands Carriers; with their modular container tanks removed, they made very nice 40-ton flatbeds, and we could haul away even a battered medium Mech in need. She agreed, but demanded she send protection, since they were her crew and she was not going to put them in undue danger. We agreed.

With our equipment repaired and our team in fine condition, we set-out, the convoy consisting of our nine Mechs, the three Meadowlands Carriers, the Dusters’ two Pegasus tanks and two units of Lord’s scouts. We took about a week, and a warm spell actually melted the deepening snow enough to make good time. Lords’ troops talked to some of the locals, with whom they had good standings, and they told us the site we were headed to was an ancient mine known as “Eden’s Promise”. Noone knew much about it, other than it had been abandoned for hundreds of years.

As we approached, Pockets picked-up a seriously hot signal, hinting at a large fusion engine; it seemed there was a dropship ahead. Lords’ scouts slipped off to recon the site, and came back with good and bad news; someone had beaten us to the site. There was a Seeker-Class Dropship, dug-in with infantry along the east side of a series of low hills. Behind it, lay a pair of large VTOLs, with tech teams moving around them doing maintenance. To the west were numerous piles of rubble, with a pair of Stingers doing something, while an Assassin and a Panther looked on. In the middle of the rubble piles was a huge tent and a pair of Galleon Light Tank lances. In the center, a large rubble pile was undergoing excavation against the central hill, and next to it was a large, sprawling camp filled with various light and heavy civilian transports and about a hundred people moving around. The scouts reported another lance of Mechs off to the north, behind the hills and a couple minutes away.

Approaching through the woods and under cover of a ridge, we sent Lords’ units to sweep around to the side, allowing them to find a better path through the forests. We hopped over the ridge and watched the anthill turn-over. The techs working on the VTOLs scattered, half heading into the Dropship for cover. A lance of the Galleons began to move, and slowly crawled towards the Dropship. The remaining lance proved to be abandoned, and not operational. The Mechs began pulling back onto the hills, and seemed reluctant to engage our forces.

Primary was called on the Panther, and though it took some withering fire, it managed to slip off to the eastern hill, guarded by the Assassin. Pit Bull and Pockets followed, pressing the advantage. The Stingers bounced off to the west, and began circling around the back side of the central hill, harried by Voice and Glamour. Wraith and Fixer tried to deal with the infantry dug-in around the Dropship, but their defensive works proved substantial. The armor moved to engage the Mechs near the Dropship, but were not very effective. The Clooney Brothers held back, sniping at the tanks, but when it became obvious the Dropship wasn’t going to fire on anyone, they closed and began providing supporting fire against the infantry and tanks. Eventually one of the tanks was destroyed to massed fire. Paladin bounced after the Panther, making one or two good hits, but it proved to have a capable pilot.

The Dusters finally entered the main battlefield, and held for about half-a-minute, until they understood the situation. The “Mystery Mechs” moved out of the forest to reveal themselves as a lance of unknown Star League vintage mecha; two Thorns, a Sentinel and a massive Black Knight! Captain Lord sent her two tanks in to assault the armor, quickly freeing Fixer and Wraith the join in the attack against the Panther and Assassin. The Thorns tried to assist in evacuating the Panther, but this allowed the Dingoes to get in behind one, knock it over and take it out of the fight. The Stingers began to slip further to the flanks, while the Black Knight and its “bodyguard” ran into the central forest behind the hill, keeping it out of the fight for a few seconds while it closed with the battle.

As the Dingoes gathered and began to mass fire, and the defenders formed up on the edge of the forest, Lord managed to take out two other tanks, and began concentrating on the last, while her swoop gang swarmed up the ramps and into the Dropship hangar bay. The Battle for Eden’s Promise had really begun…

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Episode 6 - Field Rations, Again?
"We were down for repairs and it took a couple more weeks for our wounded personnel to recover... by then, we were ready to eat our boots. When Captain Lord offered to take us on a raid of a nearby Consolidated Foods facility we jumped at the chance..."

Roll Call————————-Mechs

Dale(Capt. Ruxbundy)———Spider
Dana(Lt. Charles)————-Hermes 2
Bruce(Erica Hartman)———Phoenix Hawk
Greg(Michael Anderson)——Hermes A
JP (Jokukad) ——————-Jenner
Ralph(Mitch)———————Firestarter

It took a couple days, but the Dingoes managed to haul all our booty back to the Fort, despite a worsening weather and the staggering steps of the Stinger we’d captured. About a day later, the “Old Sawbones” showed-up in a battered hover jeep with a nurse (his daughter, I think). Captain Lord led him to the med-bay and he went straight to work. Several days of hard work later he had everyone in recovery mode, and gave them all passing bills of health. Captain Lord had some supplies loaded into his truck and he left just as suddenly, with hardly a word or two towards us. I know Erica spent some time watching him work and asking questions, but otherwise, they left just as suddenly as they arrived.

Over the next couple weeks, we did maintenance, stripping down both Stingers to repair our mainline units. The Lieutenant spent several days hacking the satellite he’d found, eventually getting control of the thing (called the “New Dawn”, though when he did, it sent a communication to several locations on the planet before he could command it to stop: one was to an unknown location somewhere in the north, while the other was to “Starwolf Base”… we suspected the military base in Deadwood. He and Hartman spent most of their remaining spare time trying to convert the coordinates to something we could understand. Eventually they had a location about a week away in the harshest mountain terrain on the planet. Whatever it was, someone had made sure it was isolated.

We were thinking about a trip to Deadwood for supplies, when Jokukad approached Captain Lord, asking about food. She suggested joining them on a raid of a nearby Agriplex. She admitted the location was well-protected, but the pay-off would more than make up for it, and having our BattleMechs take the facility would save lives. Detailing the location, we managed to identify a way to approach it quietly, and avoid the radar of the control tower until we were near the south entrance. The solar arrays were identified as a potential target, as was the communication tower. She warned us about a small garrison of corporate security, and that the silos and barracks were protected by MG turrets (which was why her group were loath to attack it in the past). She also warned us that patrols often took a few days rest at the facility for maintenance and some R&R; especially in the worsening weather hitting the Northern Territories.

Jokukad had a lengthy discussion with Milo Carsebloom, following the Captain’s revelation that he had mentioned Milo had some sort of plan to leave the planet with a Dropship and Jumpship waiting. He eventually agreed to give the contact information, in return for his BPOs of the LMG and Long Tom, and some of the gold to pay for transit off-planet.

Mitch and a couple others took “The Football” out for a spin to check the facility out on their own, finding it pretty much how Captain Lord described it. We spent a couple more weeks doing maintenance and managed to get some supplies from the Snow Dusters, while our crew recovered their injuries. Even though Captain Ruxbundy wasn’t completely healed, he wanted the raid to go forward sooner, rather than later, and we made final preparations to hit the complex.

The trip to the agriplex took most of a day, especially since the snow was at 6’-deep and rising, but we managed to get to the perimeter undetected. Erica noticed the control tower was displaying flags showing something had landed at the airstrip about a km away. We moved to surround the facility, noticing a lance of hover armor (typical patrol of a Pegasus, a Harrasser and a pair of Scimitars), along with two Locusts near the barracks. A pair of security squads were walking the perimeter, and three of the massive Meadowlands-Class Grain Carriers were in the compound, one being filled with grain from the silos.

Erica and Alder opened on the control tower, blowing off the communications array as a welcome. Erica and Anderson moved to the front gate, The Lieutenant flanked to the west, while Mitch and the Captain flanked east. Erica blocked the gate, and the hover tanks were forced to mass together , unable to leave the compound, while the one piloted Grain Carrier spun out of control and was abandoned. They fired heavy barrages of SRMs at Mitch and Anderson as he approached, trying to retreat around the hangar. The Captain bounced into the main compound, taking fire from the security squads that were pouring from the barracks, and one of the Locusts, while the Lieutenant ran into the compound and took a couple swings at the turrets on the grain silos, attracting the other Locust’s attention.

Erica and Mitch concentrated on the armor, taking out the Pegasus and the Harrasser, while Anderson retreated to recover, followed by one of the Scimitars. The Lieutenant started to work on the Locust and the security squads, while the Captain pulled out of the compound followed by the other Locust and one of the Scimitars. In a catastrophic fluke, one of the MG turrets hit the Lieutenant with a penetrating shot that struck his AC ammo bins, setting-off an explosion that destroyed his Mech, though he ejected safely. Erica closed and eliminated the Scimitar and the group began scattering the security forces. The Captain broke back into the compound, and took-out the MG turret over the barracks. Mitch closed and began removing the other turrets on the silos, while the remaining pilots destroyed the remaining tank in a fiery explosion. The group then rallied, as one Locust sprinted off into the distant snow fields, but the other was shot and surrounded, and forced to surrender.

With the destruction of the last turret and security forces, the Snow Dusters swarmed into the compound, securing the remaining vehicles and set about salvaging the three immobile hover tanks. The control tower sealed its doors, and refused contact, while the Grain Carriers were filled with grain, and the Snow Dusters set about repairing the skirts on all the tanks from the parts stores in the hangar. Jokukad began negotiations with the facility mechanic, one Grant Brown, who willingly signed-up for a promise of a bonus equal to a month’s wage, bringing his own tools and a couple “nephews” as AsTechs. In addition to hundreds of tons of meats, fruit and vegetables, the Snow Dusters found eight “Loadmaster Exoskeletons” in the warehouses, and after using them to assist in loading operations, gathered them together and loaded them on those Mechs that were able to. The captured pilot, Corporal John H Morgan, was interrogated, and he revealed that a LR shuttle was visiting the complex with people from the capital, though he knew nothing more.

Supplies gathered, the combined group moved off into the blowing snow, to return to Fort Anton, with a degree of fellowship not seen before between them all.

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Episode 5 - The Great Train Robbery
"The snows had gone from a light dusting to 4'-deep and growing when the call came that "The Torpedoe" was going to be in Profit Pass in eight hours. We broke camp and made haste; but, we'd never counted on Kate and Leopold being there ahead of us..."

Roll Call————————-Mechs

Dale(Capt. Ruxbundy)———Spider
Dana(Lt. Charles)————-Hermes 2
Lee(Dominic) ——————-Ostscout
Bruce(Erica Hartman)———Phoenix Hawk
Greg(Michael Anderson)——Hermes A
Dylan (Wiebe)—————Jenner
JP—————————————-Jenner
Ralph(Mitch)———————Firestarter
Lyle -—————- Firestarter

We had maybe a week of downtime to do maintenance work on our Mechs, and work on the fort’s power plant whenever we had a second. The lieutenant was still hacking the satellite he’d found in orbit, and Erika was just about ready to claw-out Captain Lord’s eyes (I really don’t get what’s going on between those two). Our newest “bondsman” “Wild” Bill died in his sleep suddenly; although several people pointed fingers, he was old and it wasn’t surprising to most. “The Lady” Simpson gave a fond farewell, kissing the Captain rather fondly, and left aboard several Karnov VTOLs that arrived one morning to haul her, her Mech and her salvage back to the starport. The Lieutenant finally cracked the outer codes on the satellite to reveal it was forgotten coms satellite, in tight stationary orbit… then he began to see if he could give it some orders…

Then the call came; the “Torpedoe” was leaving Deadwood and would be reaching Profit Pass in about 8 hours. Problem was, snow had begun to swirl, and it was getting treacherous out there even for a Mech. We sent off our lead four “fast” Mechs, to stage the ambush site, while the rest of us slowly made our way north to the rendezvous.

Profit Pass was the south end of a twisted canyon reaching north to mining country, and it opened into a valley that gently spread south into the main circuit of the rails. The twisty stretches, we’d hoped, would slow it enough to get the ambush in place. It worked. We laid a couple debris fields across the tracks just after the bridge with some well placed shots with out lasers, and powered-down to wait for the right moment.

Dominic’s passives told us about four light hover armor units moving towards the pass, long before the train.They made for the rails, and after crossing the bridge, slowed and stared at the rubble across the tracks. A short burst of coded info went up from the lead tank; a Pegasus flanked by its Harrasser “guard” and a pair of Scimitars. The Lieutenant squelched the signal with his Hermes IIs coms and we sprung the trap. 30 seconds later, the lead tanks were smoldering ruins and the Scimitar’s had slipped back to cover the approaching train.

The train was a marvel of engineering, fusion engines chromed and even the passenger cars were vintage pieces, gilt and wood polished. Behind these, were a series of boxcars, flatcars laden with bulk ores, and the smoldering turrets of some gun emplacements. They opened up on us as they approached, but with the final twist of track and the angles of the hills, they couldn’t get any clear shots on us. Flanking the train, were a pair of Stingers, and they scrambled on either side of the tracks to cover the slowing train.

Janto’s Jenner came under heavy SRM fire, taking a couple shots to the head, and then one of the Stingers popped him as well, and that knocked him unconscious and out of the rest of the fight. Our slower Mechs began to arrive and as they approached the train, detected a pair of new Mechs appear across the valley; a Firestarter and an Ostscout. They traded a couple shots with us, but when our other lance arrived from up the valley, they quickly took off with the surviving hover tanks and abandoned the train. One Stinger escaped with them, but another took critical damage to its gyro and engines, and the pilot shut-down and abandoned the Mech next to the train.

The Dingos surrounded the train, watching as it shed a few dozen infantry, that all fled from the train and scattered into the Pass. Several members dismounted their Mechs, while Dominic and a couple others started pulling doors from the boxcars and looting the contents. Among them were several tons of munitions (small arms and ammunition), some special ammo for the two Long Toms and a couple crates marked “Machine Parts”, that proved to be crates of gold bullion. Jackpot!
While Erika checked on Janto’s status, and Mitch and Slaine searched through the passenger cars for Mr. Carsebloom, but only found a dozen or so who were his employees, herding them out into the snow near the bridge and the engineer’s station. Evidence was found in one car that he had been there recently, but a thorough search reveled nothing.

We’re not too sure what happened, but the Captain went into the main engine to get a manifest, and shortly after a scuffle occurred between him and a body-pistol-armed Mr. Carsebloom, who had been hiding in the forward cabin. Both were injured and rendered unconscious in the struggle, and the engineer was utterly in fear for his life, so we never got anything out of him. Now down two Mech pilots with a third in need salvaging, we called on the Dead Man’s Hand to arrive in “The Football”, our hover truck, and have them get all the Mechs home. We distributed the arms and munitions we found, and when the reserve lance arrived, got them all into Mechs and fled the scene, taking Mr. Carsebloom and his two lawyers with us back to Fort Anton.

With our damage and all the loot we were hauling back (including an SRM Jeep found on one of the flatcars, the two Long Toms minus their flatcar carriages, the two AC5s taken from their turrets, and various other supplies taken from the train cars), it would take a couple days of slow travel through the deepening snows to get home, so we sent Mitch on ahead with our wounded to see if Captain Lord knew a surgeon or could get help for our patients. It was a successful raid, though, really, it didn’t quite feel like it…

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