Campaign of the Month: June 2014

Battletech : The Farscape Campaign

Episode 26 - Depot 519
"The fortress had fallen, and we'd captured a Lion-Class DropShip to boot. But the real secret was what was inside the bunker. If I'd known what we'd find, I never would have agreed to go in..."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Ostsol
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Griffin
Dana (Voice) -—————————-Hunchback

The fort had fallen, but things were a little disjointed. The Snow Dusters Force Recon swarmed through the “Periphery Ranger” making sure we had all of their techs and crew accounted for. The Snow Duster armor assets were keeping an eye on things while our salvage crews proceeded to load-up the Stalker we had captured, and the remaining crews were eyeing the three Long Toms built into the bunker on the west side.

With our line infantry personnel busy, it was suggested we look if any of the * “The Werewolves” were present, but only Tech Ginney McRiven was available in one of the salvage teams, on loan for her specialty as a demolitions engineer. Placing her with a couple guards in the “Assault” team for the bunker seemed obvious, since her demolitions skills would likely prove valuable. The rest of the “Assault” team included most of the mobile command staff; Pitbull, Glamour, Wraith, Advocate, even Fixer and Paladin. The group dismounted their Mechs, and readied their personal combat gear stowed in their BattleMechs, and headed towards the entrance.

The facility proved to be a typical underground military bunker, with its approaches protected by large gun bays, all quiet and seemingly stripped. The main bunker door, a massive 6m-thick monstrosity had been blown off its hinges, and pushed out of the way, to reveal a powered-down complex, lit only by red emergency lighting. The tunnel, over 8m across was large enough to allow vehicles to enter, but not big enough for BattleMechs. Upon approaching, a scream of static broke the silence, followed by a woman’s level voice;

“Attention, unauthorized personnel. You are trespassing on Star League Defense Force military property. Automated defense systems are tracking you now, and appropriate authorities have been alerted to your intrusion. Remain where you are, and await the arrival of proper military authorities.”

The group approached, ignoring the broadcast, and looked beyond the entrance to see a catwalk rising 4m above the floor passing from wall to wall, and another catwalk traveling along the right wall of the corridor at the same height. Their contents were lost in the shadows. From off down the corridor came an ominous, loud “clicking” sound. Everyone activated their IR pickups, while Wraith turned-on his climbing gear and made ready to clamber up onto the catwalk. While everyone hesitated a bit, Pitbull boldly strode from beneath the catwalk, and into a hail of automatic weapons fire from above.

The burst of suppressive fire chewed into the unaware Assault team, mowing several down in the first burst of fire. Paladin, Fixer and Advocate took the bulk of the fire, while Ginney and one of the guards went down. Ginney was in a very bad way, and nearly slain outright. Pitbull responded by laying down a burst from his S&W MA37 ICWS Assault Rifle hitting the ambusher squarely and knocking him from the catwalk, dead. Wraith quickly climbed onto the catwalk, and took an overwatch position, identifying a door on either side of the crossing, leading east and west into the complex, and calling “All Clear!” to everyone below. Glamour hustled over to Ginney, but failed to stop her bleeding immeadiately. Advocate tried to stop his own bleeding, but succeeded only in knocking himself unconscious, with a failed MedTech check.

The next few minutes were spent cleaning up the mess, and saving Ginney’s life. When everyone injured was stabalized, and the unit was assured by “Stargun” that Doctor Carolyn Lamb was incoming via the “Crimson Sands”, they dragged the injured to the entrance and after ensuring they were under cover, took stock of the situation. Only Glamour, Pitbull and Wraith were mobile. Leaving the two Snow Duster guards to keep watch on the unit, the three headed off down the main corridor; Pitbull and Glamour on the ground, with Wraith on the catwalk above them.

Approaching the vault doors at the end, they discovered they had been propped open sufficient for a single person to slip through. Above, Wraith found a door leading from the catwalk to the east. Pitbull and Glamour slipped inside, and discovered a cavernous chamber, split north-south at the half-way point to their right (east) by a chain-link fence. Against the far side were a number of small crates piled against the wall, next to a pair of Exoskeleton Cradles, hosting Loadmaster Exoskeletons. The eastern chamber was a mass of crates and boxes. To the right, just before the fence was a 5-ton utility truck, loaded with equipment. Before them were a pair of floor hatches that seemed to be personnel elevators leading down, and along the left wall was a massive freight elevator, from beneath which came the ominous “clacking” sound. Above the elevator on the left wall, was a large bank of windows overlooking the bay, like a command room. Wraith found a stairwell leading down, to a pair of doors; one leading out into the bay, and the other leading into the eastern half of the complex.

Their reverie was broken when a pair of armed pirates burst from their cover among the northern “crate fort” next to the exoskeletons, firing wildly. Glamour and Pitbull ran for the personnel elevator, firing as they came, with Pitbull hitting one and taking him down. Wraith slipped down the stairwell and into the bay, dropping to one knee and sniping the head of the second with his laser rifle. The group noticed movement in the command bay above them, identifying about a squad of troops and one fellow who seemed in charge. Pitbull let loose a barrage of fire at the glass, but it proved to be armored canopy glass similar to that on a BattleMech (BAR 9), and impenetrable to their small arms. It became apparent, the leader-type sent several of the troops out of the chamber, and the Assault team realized they were running on time now.

Pitbull and Glamour investigated the truck, identifying a collection of rare sensor equipment, and a large number of heavy alloyed tools (5 tons worth 100,000 Cs per ton). The freight elevator seemed locked-down, but the personnel ones were accessible. Wraith tossed the others his electronics bypass kit, and Pitbull tossed him some grenades ( “….but I hate grenades, they’re always so loud….” ). Wraith said he was going to secure the command bay, while the other two searched the chamber for information or anything else of value. Searching the truck a little better, Pitbull and Glamour looted a crate packed with “Scanalyzers”, a rare diagnostic tool of great value to Techs. Wraith headed back down the corridor, and pausing to snag Fixer’s own electronics bypass kit, just in case, headed into the western half of the complex via the catwalk access. He promptly got lost.

Glamour and Pitbull, using the personnel elevators, dropped into the lower area, a correspondingly large chamber seemingly “cruder”, but just as heavily reinforced as the one above. They immediately noticed the two dozen or so corpses scattered around the freight elevator base, one even wearing a shot-up exoskeleton.To the right (east) lay another pile of crates and boxes, obscuring vision beyond. Against the far left (west) wall was a large SLDF emblazoned vault door leading deeper into the complex, while an open corridor only 6m wide headed back south below the matching one above. Using the advanced sensors from their helmets, they identified a large EM signature just beyond the crates, and both Pitbull and Glamour ran towards it, quickly crossing the open area, to within 5m of the stacks. A large, menacing vehicle rose from behind, its turret swiveling and seeming to focus in on them alone… They had tripped over a Secuirty Robot “Watchdog”. In a panic, Pitbull charged the machine and clambered up onto its hull (barely), while Glamour deftly leaped onto the hull, both managing to avoid its tracking turret… for now…

Wraith heard the cries of panic from his companions, and began to backtrack, identifying essentially where the command bay should be, but not exactly where he needed to be. The corridors and chambers were a virtual maze. He carefully drew out a map in his mind, and realized he needed to back-track to the initial chamber where the stairs led down from the catwalk, and take the other door from the room. Approaching the door, he realized it had a series of instructions next to it, identifying the chambers beyond as a series of decontamination booths for anti-radiation treatment. He also realized this meant that fissionable materials were likely stored on-site at some point in the past… Buckling his courage about him once more, Wraith opened the first door to find a pair of pirates hunkered at the next entrance, their automatic rifles in a ready position. They opened fire, slightly grazing Wraith, but giving him the time he needed to activate his stealth suit, pull out his katana and get close and personal with them. Up close, he noticed they had massive dilated eyes, hinting of extreme combat drug use. They screamed at him incoherently and shot again, hitting him once more, but his armor deflected much of the bullets’ force. He took apart one pirate with a successful strike, but the other, and at point-blank range opened fire with a burst, and Wraith was knocked unconscious…

In the underground part of the bunker, the security robot was going wild, trying to scrape its unwanted passengers off using crates and boxes. Glamour and Pitbull came up with a hasty plan. Glamour pulled out her mini cutting-torch from her bag and started carving into the hull of the tank, eventually opening a large enough access panel to do something with. While she scampered over to the far side of the machine, Pitbull dropped three grenades into the hole and scrambled after her. The first blasts damaged the robot’s sensors, forcing it to fire its lasers wildly everywhere. Returning to the hole, Pitbull tossed another three live grenades into the hole and this time the central robotic controls and AI took a direct couple hits, forcing the machine to end it “bucking ride” <<yay>>, and the pair had survived their encounter with a dangerous AI.

Realizing Wraith was no longer responding on his coms, the pair took a few minutes to discuss options. Pitbull agreed that searching the rest of the lower area was important, but that Wraith’s safety came first, after-all, he was family now… The pair slipped back up the personnel elevator, and back along the corridor to the main entrance chamber. Glamour identified the “decon” doors and the blood smears and bullet holes all around it, marking a recent firefight. Heading in, they encountered nothing at the first, but the decon chambers behind, leading off to the main command door.

The chamber beyond had a long line of glass to the right, overlooking the bay to the north, a bank of video monitors and computer terminals to the west, and a small niche around the corner to the left, holding a single, armored personnel door. Opening into the chamber, they got the drop on the inhabitants. A single trooper stood overlooking the bay from the nearest corner. The leader-type stood at the terminals, typing something and looking at camera feeds. The third person in the room was turned away, slapping around Wraith who had his stealth suit mask pulled off his head. Initially, they shot at the closest pirate from the protection of the doorway. The pirate went down quickly under combined fire. The leader took a savage series of shots from the two as well, but a lucky burst blew through Pitbull’s armor and he went down, though he took the leader with him. Glamour and the remaining pirate exchanged fire, until he too went down under a burst of fire, just as a pretending-to-be-unconscious Wraith managed to slip his bonds and prepare to strike his captives down. Too late. The armored door in the corner revealed a small armory with a collection of Mauser Assault Rifles, though they lacked the normal power packs and grenades for its launchers.

Checking the camera feeds, they found a handful of pirates remained in the “Living Quadrant” in the north-west section. The south-west section seemed to be some sort of engineering area, while the south-east section was a technical area with work labs and a few other unknown chambers. Each area had an auxiliary generator. One platoon of Snow Dusters was ordered to meet in the bunker, and plans were made to search the place as completely as possible. They started by establishing a security checkpoint at the catwalk entrance to the west, and dropped a squad of troops there. The remaining pair of squads were ordered to clear the living quarters of pirates, and they did so quickly, taking limited casualties. A large number of medkits were salvaged from the medical bay, apparently left there by the pirates.

The south-east section turned-out to be a small loading/processing area, and along with a handful of medkits tossed into its own small medbay. There was only one important chamber in this section; the “Cargo Loadmaster’s Office”. Among the large number of filed reports and journal entries for important days, was a strange collection of disc ROMs and hard-copy reports that gave a number of important pieces of information about the site;

SLDF Depot 519 SAS (Strategic Arms Storage) was a nuclear arms storage facility; known in technical jargon as a Q-Site. Apparently designed by Black and Veactch of Terra, the site was employed to store (long-term) munitions potentially slated for the increasing difficulties the SLDF were having in the Periphery. It seemed to have held over 2280 warheads at its prime, but the hastily constructed 81 exterior munitions bunkers were also the first to be emptied during the Amaris Crisis, in 2772. By the end of the Crisis, only a small number of warheads remained; 38 Davy Crockett-M (Artillery – 0.5 Kilotons), 59 Alamo (Air-to-Air – 5 Kilotons), 45 Santa Ana (Ship-to-Ship or Ship-to-Surface – 50 Kilotons), and 12 Peacemaker (Surface-to-Surface or Surface-to-Space – 500 Kilotons). Enough remained to act as a regional strategic reserve, and were scattered throughout the facilities 41 interior magazines. When the Exodus occurred, the facility was sealed, locked-down and its defenses activated. According to the looted paperwork, the facility was officially closed in 2782 by elements of the 42nd Engineering Brigade.

Information in hand, the unit slipped back down into the lower chambers, and discovered the unopened main vault led to a large fusion reactor chamber, with a massive Alamo (5 ton) warhead rigged to a series of cables and control circuits to the fusion reactor… Pitbull immediately contacted TF 29s command circuit, but had difficulties connecting with anyone in command. A cursory check of the fusion reactor and its “baby” revealed that the whole establishment was rigged to blow, though it was unclear what might set it off; time, tinkering or whatever. Despite Glamour and Fixer’s desire to play with it, they realized that they were now under the time gun, and made plans to loot what they could and get out.

The troops and command staff quickly checked the remaining facilities, revealing a “Watchdog” maintenance area (for 8 units, with one taken apart for maintenance and abandoned); a series of 41 magazines in a long line, all empty and looted; a munitions bay for storage of AC/5 ammunition, used once by the automated defenses; and a pair of large vehicle-capable tunnels leading west (to the Artillery Bunker) and east (to the ruins of the Mosquito Tower).

Salvaging the ready 5-ton utility truck and its cargo, they also took the three surviving exoskeletons, all sixteen Mauser Assault Rifles and whatever arms and equipment could be taken from the fallen pirates (equal to four squads of “Militia” equipment Pods). Lastly, unable to activate the freight elevator, the group techs spent their remaining time pulling the robotic CPU
from the “Watchdog” that had been undergoing maintenance, resulting in a large blocky AI system weighing 300 kgs (0.3 tons).

With the arrival of the DropShuttle, the unit halted Doctor Lamb’s plans to evac the wounded for treatment, and loaded up everyone and everything aboard the “Crimson Sands”, and had the remaining salvage crews work double-time on hasty repairs to the DropShip “Periphery Ranger’s” doors, to allow them to get the vehicle and its cargo into orbit.

With the unit BattleMechs moving under pilot or tech control, the wounded aboard the “Crimson Sands”, and a platoon of the Snow Dusters aboard the “Periphery Ranger” to ensure the skeleton crew made orbit and rendezvous with TF 29, the unit abandoned the facility site. With the unit 10kms away, outside the pass, they gave the all-clear for both DropShip and DropShuttle to lift-off, and once they were orbit bound, the facility fusion reactor and its bomb exploded… Depot 519 was no more…

Episode 25c - Legends of the Fall : End Game
"The horrors of the pass were behind us, and we approached the defenses of the main fortress with violence on our agenda... White was going to pay for his actions against the Dingoes..."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————-Chameleon
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Ostsol
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Griffin
Craig (NKB)——————————-Wolverine

With the bunkers at the pass entrance secured, the Dingoes called in their Snow Dusters to search the ruins and ensure there were no other surviving threats. Taking the better part of an hour, the infantry bunkers were searched and cleared, the rubble around the smoking “Backstab Bunker” identified as riddled with minefields and Mech traps, while Advocate sought medical help to alleviate his injuries from the earlier fight. The area declared clear, the salvage crews and their Meadowlands were moved forward, and the Snow Duster armor assets left as guards, while the infantry moved into reserve with several badly-damaged Mechs (Baroness, Boom-Boom, and Pockets). The plan was to have them follow along and provide back-up, while the infantry would be available to storm aboard a DropShip if the opportunity presented itself.

As the units approached, one of the Lion-Class DropShips lifted off and clawed for orbit while fighting off TF29s AeroFighters. The Dingoes entered the valley after a 2 km stretch of narrow pass, to see a roughly 1km wide clearing, with numerous lakes, a narrow river along the north side, and two tall mountains. A paved stretch of road connected the two mountains, with an obvious flat area lying before the northern one, and a loop of road with a flat VTOL-landing area on top of the other. Several buildings lay among the western section, a large 60m fortified structure with numerous LRM-20 racks on turrets (known as a Primary Missile Hell), another tall, thin one sprouting a massive collection of a dozen AC/2s and an extensive sensor array (known as a Mosquito Tower), and another built with three Long-Tom cannons (an Artillery Array Bunker). In the center of the field lay the crater marking one DropShip’s recent departure, while another Lion-Class DropShip lay beyond it on the bare earth in its own crater.

Standing around the remaining DropShip were two pairs of Mechs; a Stalker, and a Catapult, both bone-white and marking them as White’s elite troops; the other two were “standard” appearing Javelins. The Dead Man’s Hand deployed along the northern edge, on the far side of the narrow river. The Ground-Pounders Lance arrayed along the center, and the Harasser Lance along the south, with the Command Lance between them. The unit intended on first taking apart the LRM bunker, and moving steadily forward.

As the units moved forward, the Stalker and Catapult opened up and hammered Voice in his Hunchback, along with one of the LRM Towers. Pitbull took a hard hit from an LRM Tower and lost an arm. The Mosquito Tower savaged Fixer in his Crab, with two head hits, although he managed to get off a lucky large laser shot that took the Stalker in the head as well. The Dingoes got off few other initial hits. A few remote missile bunkers began to appear and take sudden snap shots with their volleyed SRM-2s at the closest targets. Pitbull calls in the Mosquito Tower as unit “Primary”.

Crossing into the open area along the central northern section, Shredder tripped over a hidden, undeployed remote missile bunker, with it exploding around him, before making the safety of the treeline again. Gunman tripped crossing the river, and fell into it, flooding his left torso and powering-down its attached arm. He stumbled trying to get up again, but eventually crawled out of the river to the trees. Pitbull activated a hidden remote bunker, before charging through the mechanism that remained, passing near the first crater. Slayer following in the trees behind Pitbull, managed to snipe a lucky PPC shot that took off the rest of the Stalker’s head, the assault Mech falling over, conquered. From the open paved area, a lance of familiar Firebees appeared, and quickly moved into the back entrance of the DropShip, laden with nets filled with supplies. The Force Recon infantry of the Snow Dusters entered the field on their Jackrabbit Hover Cycles accompanied by the reserve Mechs keeping an eye open fro loose infantry units.

The DropShip took scattered fire, and opened up its volleys on available targets, knocking over Shredder in his Sentinel. The Mosquito Tower opened a volley on Voice’s Hunchback, striking him twice in the head, along with another hit from the LRM Bunker, and is knocked over, before watching the closest quarter of the LRM Bunker explode, along with the Mosquito Tower, which had taken concentrated fire.

The remaining Catapult and Javelins began to withdraw to the Lion’s drop-ramps, the Catapult taking a concentrated fire from everyone in front of the DropShip. Numerous lucky shots rattled the Catapult, including its gyro and engine shielding, before a shot blew through the torso and triggered its ammo in a spectacular explosion just in front of the drop-ramp. Its pilot escaped the conflagration, making its way quickly to the DropShip’s relative safety. Pitbull, savaged by the remaining LRM Bunker, fire from the DropShip, and suddenly reveals a “Death Gulch Command Bunker” hidden in a nearby hill facing, which also savaged his Mech, with several AC/20s and AC/10s.

Severely over-heating, Glamour tried to completely immerse her Phoenix Hawk in the nearby lake, but the heat powered-down her steam-enshrouded Mech, and she fell into the deep mud of the lake’s center. Wraith in his Wolverine got close and personal with the LRM Bunker, and suffered a savage blast from its point-defense missile racks, including a hit to the head. Combined fire from Wraith and everyone else, took apart the rest of the LRM Bunker, blowing it into pieces.

Pitbull charged through the ruins of the fallen Catapult, and threw himself against the side of the entrance ramp, damaging the hangar bay door, and forcing the DropShip crews to abandon any hope of entering the upper atmosphere. He immediately demanded the DropShip crews in the bays surrender. The techs, all busily trying to secure their Mechs for transport, surrendered, though the command staff on the bridge refused.

Using their handful of PPCs available, the unit began firing on the Death Gulch Bunker from outside its range, and the bunker quickly went silent as its crews abandoned their position to retreat. The Mechs of the unit swarmed the DropShip site, protecting the infantry for the half-minute before they swarmed into the DropShip and took everyone into custody. Sorting the crews, they had about a dozen bay personnel, another half-dozen techs and another half-dozen pilots from the boarded Mechs. One of the Mech pilots turned-out to be the Catapult pilot, and she identified herself as Captain Portia White “Deva”. She promised that if the Dingoes guaranteed the DropShip, her people (pilots and techs) be turned over to Baron Kenton Sarne, she would guarantee their submission. The Dingoes agreed. She mentioned however, that they’ll need to take the command bridge by storm, since there was no way the captain would surrender to mercenaries without a fight. When queried about the contents of the bunker behind the Mech-sized door to the north, “Deva” was reluctant to say more than “…you will see, if you enter…”. She did admit that most everything had already been cleared-out, but “…not all of the toys…”.

Gathering all the pilots, techs and bay personnel into the main hangar bay under the guns of a couple Mechs and one of the infantry platoons, the other platoon moved on the bridge under Wraith’s direction. The attack was sudden and brutal but never in doubt. With the DropShip under their control, and the field mostly explored, the armor lances and thier salvage crew charges were called-in and began full salvage operations. The MASH Cobra Transport VTOL was called-in to attend those many pilots who had taken severe trauma, along with the medical squad from the “Brush Wolf”, led by Doctor Carolyn Lamb. Although she couldn’t do much without her MASH unit, she could at least provide excellent immediate treatment for their injuries.

That only left whatever was behind the large, vault-like door…

Episode 25b - Legends of the Fall : Over the Mountains
"White's raid on the starport had cost us some of our techs, security personnel and even damaged the "Brush Wolf" itself; morale was low. We needed to end this contract sooner, rather than later, and pushed forward with more conviction..."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Ostsol
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Griffin
Dana (Voice)——————————Hunchback
Craig (NKB)——————————-Wolverine

While the Iron Dingoes mercenary allies and the bulk of TF 29 were busy trying to clear the mess that had become of the capital, Goldberg, the Iron Dingoes continued to move towards their target; the last remaining stronghold of White Death’s forces on-planet. A day out from the starport, word had reached them of the “Surprise Party” raid on the starport’s mercenary DropShips by unknown BattleMechs and Jump APCs (later identified as FRB-2E Firebees and “Freefall” Jump APCs). The units deployed in an orbital drop from a Warship (believed to be the “The Black Star”), that promptly moved to join White’s remaining DropShip assets in close orbit. The surviving raiders then blew through the north gate of the starport and moved quickly north, shadowing the Iron Dingoes as they approached their target.

Situated high in the Sorrow Mountains, the target base stood guard over a prominent pass into te icefields where only one approach was possible. The site, is noted as being protected by numerous static deenses, and consistes of a fortified structure built directly into the mountians overlooking the pass itself. It is believed the site has been improved upon even further over the last couple years under White’s control, including artillery, anti-air and other valuable assets.

Intent on maintaining the campaign’s schedule and bringing it to a close, the Dingoes were still ordered to fight their way past the base’s defenses and seize the facility. Only a few hours away from the site, the shadowing Mechs and armor began to close and White’s paired Lion-Class DropShips broke from orbit and blew their way through the air cordon to land at the site. It is assumed they are loading the last assets on-planet in a final bid to evacuate the planet.

Talk among the unit was of assets they might be able to acquire for their efforts in the campaign. Rumors included the Dingoes having a claim to “The Unforgiving Fury” and possibly a Union-Class DropShip the “Sterling Swiftblade” for their share of “strategic salvage”. Some infantry assets and other supplies might also be possible with the work they had done over the past few months. It all came down to how well they did in the coming assault.

Arriving at the entrance to the pass leading north-west, the eighteen (18) Mechs of the combined Iron Dingoes/Dead Man’s Hand forces moved to quickly cross to enter the pass. Their Line Armor and Infantry forces remained a safe distance away from the pass, guarding the unit’s three salvage units with their Meadowlands and other transports. After about half a minute of tense movement across the hills, the Mech and armor force that had been shadowing the Dingoes moved to follow the Dingoes into the pass. It quickly became obvious that they intended to try and get past us to the site, likely for pick-up and extraction. Counting four Firebees (the same ones that had raided the starport only a day ago), two surviving Jump APCs and a lance of hover armor; a Maxim, a Pegasus and two Saracens, the same ones that had been busy raiding us for months!

The initial units ran into Long Tom artillery, striking the pass entrance and did scattered damage to the numerous units that first approached the pass. Voice led the first units along the southern ridgeline bordering the pass, and spotted at least two artillery communications bunkers, that were positioned in overlooking sites of the pass entrance, and a narrow defile crossed by a fortified bridge and guarded by a pair of low bunkers sporting close defenses. Baroness, Ravenheart and Priest took withering fire from the artillery, making them almost decide to pull out of the fight.

As the units moved into the pass, the artillery adjusted to a series of pre-plotted points, and continued to do scattered damage as the Dingoes progressed. Slayer took a brutal hit and was knocked over, falling unconscious and slowing the lagging “Ground-Pounder” Mechs to protect her from the approaching armor and Mechs. The first real casualty was NKB, as he moved over a “Mech Hole” trap, that collapsed and trapped his Wolverine, doing serious damage. A pair of SRM infantry in a hidden bunker next to the Mech Hole revealed themselves, and fired round after round into the fallen Mech. Voice and several other members began to fire rounds into the closest artillery spotter bunker, as it sniped back with a pair of AC/5s.

The trailing armor assets began to take increasing fire from the lagging heavier Mechs, and within a minute had moved in an attempt to run past them and enter the pass. First one Saracen had its turret blown clear off, and the other took a critical ammo hit that blew it apart. The Pegasus took severe damage to its propulsion and slowed enough to become immobilized and abandoned. The Maxim, moving nearly to the pass entrance was also knocked immobile and abandoned by its crews. The Saracen managed to get (despite having no turret or weapons) along the path into the pass itself, but took sustained fire from NKBs Wolverine and exploded. Both Jump APCs managed to get near the entrance, too, but were destroyed by Wraith and Pitbull. The Firebbes managed to slip along the far northern ridge and began following it, avoiding anyone unless they tried to tangle with them. They managed to escape along the ridge opposite the Dingoes, and fled ahaed of the Dingoes down the pass.

TOwards the front of the unit, Voice led the faster elements in an exchange of fire with the bunkers, avoiding the artillery as best they could. As they progressed, they took apart both spotter bunkers with ranged fire. When the lead elements managed to enter the pass off the ridgeline, they suddenly activated something called a “Backstab Bunker”, a hidden emplacement with AC/20s, LRM-20s and massive SRM-6 racks. The facility overlooked the bridge and the northern artillery bunker, and controlled entry to the base beyond. As the light units avoided it, the heavier assets moved past the hidden infantry bunker around the Mech Hole, and tore it to shreds, dispersing the infantry. These five units then moved on and spent half a minute reducing the Backstab Bunker to rubble, though they took several damaging shots from its defensive weaponry. Pitbull was also able to identify the area around the Infantry Bunkers and the Backstab Bunker were heavily mined, though a clear passage could be gained through careful plotting by the unit’s infantry and armor.

Five minutes after the Dingoes had entered the pass, they had reduced its outer defenses at the cost of some damage, but were ready to travel the remaining kilometer down the pass to assault the defensive works of the base itself…

Episode 25a - Legends of the Fall : Surprise Party
"White Death's coalition was in tatters, his fleet captured, and his capital nearly taken. When word of his private retreat came to Intel, we were ordered to immediately perform a raid on the site... The campaign was nearing its end game.."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————-Chameleon
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Ostsol
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Craig (TNKB)—————————-Wolverine

Granted 48 hours to refit and repair, the unit’s Techs began working overtime to bring the line Mechs up to operational status. Stripping apart much of the salvage taken from the JumpShip’s hull (namely all the UrbanMechs), the unit mothballed the remaining units for future consideration. They also used most of the remaining armor reserves to bring the unit’s to operational status.

Meanwhile, the assault on Goldberg continued. About 24 hours into the repair time, word came that the remaining mercenary units; “Bane’s Badgers” and “The Black Band” were engaged in mopping-up the bulk of the surviving forces of White Death. By the end of those first 24 hours, the airfield where his DropShips were stationed had been over-run, and both Union-Class DropShips, the “Dawn’s Stalker” and the “Sterling Swiftblade” were captured. The remaining DropShips, the Lion-Class “Periphery Ranger” and “Periphery Pillager” and the Dictator-Class “Insatiable Hunger” managed to escape into low-orbit. They had been noted as loading a number of defensive armor and infantry units, no more than a pair of companies in each, and no Mechs.

At the end of the second 24-hour period, the capital was noted as a smoking ruin, and resistance was fairly non-existent. Reports were that both mercenary forces had taken losses, but remained intact. There was no active resistance to Baron Sarne’s 1st Taurian Rangers, and that they had captured the capital buildings and had what little remained of the government under their control.

The Iron Dingoes were finally able to plan for their own assault on the reputed stronghold in the northern mountains. Following a minor spur of the rail line north, the trip would take two days of travel before reaching the narrow pass that led into the deep mountains and a day later, the Dingoes would assault the fortress. Noted as a bunker built into one side of a mountain, little was known about the site, beyond it having a small “courtyard” and numerous “blisters” that intel assumed were gun turrets. It was believed whatever Mech forces remained on-planet were likely at the site, but couldn’t number more than a company in strength, though these were likely from White Death’s elite Battalion…

The command staff chose to being every free Mech they possessed, including all the * “The Dead Man’s Hand” as well as all their line armor and infantry resources. They chose to keep the unit’s Karnovs in storage, and the infantry would use their own integral hover bikes for transport. Attached, were the full salvage crews of six squads plus all three Meadowlands filled with spare armor reserves and a scattering of parts, since the unit didn’t expect to have direct access to their DropShips for several days. They also chose to take their Stargaards, or defensive marines, since they expected to assault a tunnel complex, though this left their DropShips vulnerable to boarding operations. Armed and ready, the unit had a good ight’s sleep and headed off north at first light.

They travelled through a wasteland. The abandoned farms and villages of the countryside, the fire swamps and other inhospitable terrain of the northern areas were haunting. They encountered nothing and no one. By the end of their first day of travel, they were convinced the planet was fast becoming another victim of war. Then Voice caught a tight-beam message from “Echo” ( Senior Tech Melinda Clarke “Echo” ), saying there was an issue back at the starport…

Apparently at around 21:00 hours, long-range sensors noted a massing jump-point signature in direct orbit above the starport site. When it appeared, the JumpShip was noted as massing roughly 100,000 tons (about a Merchant-Class JumpShip in mass) and of an unknown configuration. The vessel mounted no DropShip docking bays, but began combat evasive maneuvers that brought a flight of AeroFighters to protect its flanks, and then it proceeded to drop nearly 30 objects onto the starport; a company of light Mechs and a numerous light jump vehicles of an unknown configuration, though painted bone white; the universal color of White Death’s elite troops. Specifically targetting the DropShip transports of the mercenary forces, they quickly closed with their targets and began to engage defensive troops in each mercenary camp.

Defending the DropShips of the Iron Dingoes, were their * “Cerberus Command” Security Forces; the “Hellhounds” (four infantry platoons), the “Overlord Jannisary Group” (three Militia platoons), and the “Glory Hounds” (a pair of armor lances – four Galleons and a mixed lance of Manticores and Scorpions). Initially, the Dingoes were hesitant to bring their DropShips as defensive fire, and did not engage the raiders with their weapons bays.

Some sniping occured, though it was long-range and not very effective from the defenders. The vehicles proved to be 35-ton Jump APCs of some sort, and some deployed infantry platoons when they were close to the Dingoes’ DropShips. The decision was made to employ the DropShip weapons in defense, since the Mechs, armor and infantry (proven to be Jump troops) were quick to move towards their target DropShips; namely the unit’s Union-Class “Brush Wolf”, which seemed to be the center of their attentions. The defensive Galleons closed first, and came under multiple Inferno fire from both the Mechs and the armor. Both sides lost a couple of units in the first salvoes.

When the raiding Mechs managed to get past the loading docks to the west, the first lept onto the laoding bays and took a full broadside of fire from the “Brush Wolf”, blowing through its right torso and taking its arm off. The remainder lept among the Galleons and fired numerous rounds of Inferno missiles at the tanks and closest infantry, while directing laser fire into the sides of the “Brush Wolf”. The raiding Jump APCs deployed more infantry platoons (though one was blown apart and failed to get its troops deployed). One unit took a critical shot to its central jump jets and collapsed onto the ground, its crews abandoning the vehicle.

The Scorpions came under close assault and the remaining Galleons were eliminated, while the raiding Mechs knocked a hole in one of the Union’s loading bay doors. The remaining Mechs took scattered fire and damage, but they destroyed both Scorpions and the infantry protecting the “Brush Wolf’s” bay doors. Though a couple of the raiding infantry platoons were virtually torn apart, nearly four squads managed to enter through the bay door, and began attacking any target of opportunity that presented itself in the DropShip interior. They seemed to not concentrate on people if they stayed low and didn’t fire back, but casualties and damage to the DropShip’s critical systems were quick to amass.

Their task complete, both surviving Jump APCs and all four of the raider Mechs began to move away from the DropShips, and though fired at from range, succeeded to slip away into a cluster of fuel bays and warehouses on the edge of the field. The surviving defensive infantry forces moved quickly to assist in the defense of the “Brush Wolf”, and along with the pair of surviving Manticores, tried to shield the DropShip from any other assault.

During the minute or so of time it took to storm the “Brush Wolf”, the raiders managed to do heavy damage to the DropShip (making the vessel roughly 75% inoperable). When troops began to pour into the stricken vessel to defend it, the raiders began to disperse, slipping away, though a dozen raiders were captured. Only two of those managed to survive when it became obvious they were equipped with some sort of suicide devices to ensure they didn’t survive capture. In both cases, the soldiers were identified as elite “White Death Commandos” of the White Death’s personal guards. The two were placed under constant watch and moved into the Dingoe’s Den for the Internal Security forces to deal with…

In the other camps, things did not fair well. “Bane’s Badgers” Union-Class DropShip, the “Star Digger” and the wounded Overlord-Class DropShip “Star of Glory” used by the Black Band were incapacitated. The Overlord’s repair gantries and all the work done to repair its landing gear was eradicated in a single well-placed handful of shots from Inferno rounds by the Mechs assaulting that camp. It appeared that White Death had again struck a powerful blow against Sarne’s Coalition TF 29, using resources of an unknown nature… It also appeared a spy might be in the Iron Dingoes camp.

In the aftermath of the raid, the Dingoes dispatched their Karnovs to pick-up their Stargaard marines from the initial attack force en-route to the northern bunker, and bring them back to defend the DropShips. The remainder of the unit proceeded forward into the north, though they were now questioning what might lay ahead of them, if Colonel “White Death” could pull something like this raid so late in “the game”…

Episode 24 - In Space, no one can hear you drift...
"The fight at the ranch was brutal and dirty, but quickly resolved. With the DropShips under our control, we had a rapid turn-around of only a couple days before we were out-bound to some pirate point... White's JumpShip fleet had been located..."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————-Chameleon
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Ostsol
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Griffin
Dana (Voice)——————————Hunchback
Craig (TNKB)—————————-Wolverine

Following the Iron Dingoes’ return to the Citadel, and their immediate orders to prepare for a trip to one of the outer gas giant’s L5 points, where White Death’s JumpShip fleet had been located. Using information verified by Captain Frank Elgyn (of the “Betty”) and another, outside source, their location would allow TF 29 to seize the out-system assets and trap the bandits in-planet.

Affecting rapid repairs of the unit’s Mechs, they managed to reload and repair all twelve Mechs used in the recent raid aboard the “Brush Wolf”. Pulling both EGL-R6 Eagles from the line to act as escort to the DropShip for the assault. They also boarded all four squads of the Starguards (the unit’s star marines), hoping to use them to take their target JumpShip.

The Iron Dingoes rolled high number and chose targets first, deciding to assault “The Unforgiving Fury”. The Dingoes were accompanied by the “Rocky” a Union-Class DropShip hauling “Veruca’s Visigoths” bent on assaulting the Merchant-Class JumpShip, and another Union hauling a company of Sarne’s personal Mechs to seize the other Invader-Class. The unit was also accompanied by “Armagedon Starlines” own pair of Avenger-Class DropShips, and a Leopard-CV DropShip from Sarne’s forces, to ensure Aero-Control of the site. The two-and-a-half day trip to the L5 Point was uneventful.

Taking the direct approach, the Dingoes launched from the Union while in flight, using jump packs intended for re-entry for its “Ground-Pounders”, while the rest employed their Jump Jets for the quick trip to land on the JumpShip. Only Ruxbundy’s Chameleon had difficulty launching and landing, damaging the bay door it launched from, and landing roughly and off-target by 120m. Pitbull also seemed to have difficulties, but managed to auto-correct himself and landed hard, but intact. Facing them were a lance of UrbanMechs, and a second lance launched from the Merchant-Class “Sable Countess”, intent on landing on the “Unforgiving Fury” in the next 15-20 seconds. Other Mechs were launching towards the “Total Eclipse” (the JumpShip targetted Sarne’s troops), and a very rough firefight seemed to shaping-up around the Merchant-Class and “Veruca’s Visigoths”.

In the first few seconds, the unit pushed themselves a little, allowing the low gravity vacuum of the LaGrange Point to allow them to get closer to their targets, the shuttle bays and the bridge as quickly as possible. The Stargaarrds also managed to use their jump packs to propel themselves faster than normal. Only Advocate in his Griffin managed to get off a handful of shots with his PPC and LRM, but it was sufficient to tear into one of the UrbanMechs and damage it.

While the Command Lance and Harrasser Lance moved in a flank around the edges of the JumpShip, out of sight from each other, the Ground-Pounder Lance moved steadily along the central section, and began to assault the lead UrbanMechs, tearing one of them apart, knocking it into one of the docking collars, with a center torso breach, where it collapsed.

Across the way, things were deteriorating rapidly. The “Rocky” exploded in a burst of torpedoe fire from the “Sable Countess”, and “Veruca’s Visigoths” looked to be in over their heads, facing down a heavy-reinforced pair of Mech lances, numerous XCT troops and a large number of AC and MG pop-turrets. Sarne’s troops were holding their own, while a massive free-for-all was opening-up in the air around the Jump-Point with Aero forces scrambling for superiority.

The new enemy lance landed, jettisoning their packs and revealed themselves to be a pair of Ostrocs, a Crusader and a Battlemeaster. Pitbull confirmed the Battlemaster was running exceptionally cool… Seeing the trouble they were facing, Voice made the sudden decision to launch and charge the far Ostroc in an impressive single bound across the entire length of the JumpShip’s core. Pitbull saw it as an attack of opportunity, and also charged the Ostroc next to it. NKB also took the opportunity, and emboldened by his leader’s actions lept in a charge against the Battlemaster. The remaining UrbanMechs ranged against the fast-approaching Jenner and Chameloen from Command Lance, breaching both the Jenner’s torsos and knocking it from the fight as nearly weaponless. The Battlemeaster and Ostrocs ravaged their opposing Mechs with open weapon’s fire, but did little more than standard armor damage, causing few breaches. The resulting charges by NKB and Pitbull practically destroyed their targets, though Voice failed to connect with his target and did limited damage to himself. Both Battlemaster (identified as another Elite pilot from White Death’s troops) and Pitbull’s targeted Ostroc were breached in multiple locations, and were removed from the fight (killing the Ostroc pilot). One of the UrbanMechs also took multiple breach hits from the rest of the lances and was removed.

The remaining four defending Mechs clustered near the bridge, and a brawl opened up with melee attacks and point-blank “Dingo Pack Tactics” taking place across the board. The remaining UrbanMechs were promptly knocked out of the fight, and the other Ostroc took two head breaches, killing the pilot and knocking it down onto the hull of the JumpShip itself, where it stayed. The Crussader, seeing things were not going well, launched itself off of the JumpShip’s hull towards the Merchant-Class JumpShip and the raging firefight occurring there. The Iron Dingoes StarGaards managed to reach the shuttle bays and began a boarding action, that within a few minutes was over. The “Unforgiving Fury” had fallen and the Dingoes, through bold action, held their target.

Across the way, the firefight on the “Sable Countess” was winding down, as the defending Mechs retreated into their ship through unique exterior Mech bays, while “Veruca’s Visigoths” held back and prepared for an assault on the bridge of the JumpShip, fighting through the field of AC and MG turrets and other close defenses. As they approached the bridge, the unthinkable occurred; the “Sable Countess” JUMPED. Veruca’s Visigoths were vaporized on the ship’s hull with the WarShip’s exodus… Aboard the “Total Eclipse”, Sarne’s forces took a little longer, but safely stormed the bridge and seized the ship.

Glamour took a minute to note the passing of one of her friends (Veruca Salt), and the Dingoes went about securing the “Brush Wolf” into a docking collar for salvage retrieval. Four UrbanMechs (most relatively intact), two Ostrocs and the Battelmaster were a lot of salvage. The Battlemaster proved to be an advanced “Royal Command” unit with ER PPCs, a Large Pulse Laser and an EndoSteel skeleton, along with double-heat sinks and a command cockpit; all LosTech. Its pilot, one Casandra “Shiloh” Vaas, was taken prisoner, but proved highly resistant to interrogation. The other surviving enemy pilots, however, proved more pliable, and revealed that the “Sable Countess” was actually a “Tracker-Class” Warship, one of two such ships in White Death’s possession, a rare surveillance JumpShip built to resemble the more common Merchant-Class, but had the potential to act as a Q-Ship against rival shipping and transport assets. It was armed with numerous AC and MG defensive turrets, an aft pair of Barracuda Launchers and a single large Naval Laser Cannon in its nose. They admitted it had been refit to deploy a company of Mechs for defensive operations, as well as a flight of AerSpace Fighters, and had been the “Command” for the fleet at the LaGrange Point.

Once salvage was secure, and Sarne had transferred troops to hold the “Unforgiving Fury”, the Dingoes boarded the “Brush Wolf” and began the two-to-three day trip back to Dunkelheim. Arriving among much self-congratulation, though with the somber memory of how suddenly a fellow mercenary command had ceased to exist, they reported their success to TF 29 command. They were given 48 hours to refit and repair, but informed that TF 29 had not been idle in the interim, and had been raiding and pushing into Goldheim for the last week. White Death’s forces were in retreat, and his DropShip’s imperiled. They had intel he and his elite company had retreated to a fortress to the north, where he seemed ready to make a last stand. The Dingoes were going in to make sure White Death didn’t manage to escape Dunkelheim…

Episode 23b - Warhorse
"Recent reversals had shattered White Death's allies and their resolve. He had been planning his retreat, and various supplies and loot were already on their way off-planet... except for one or two little things we intended to stop from going..."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————-Chameleon
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Ostsol
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Griffin
Dana (Voice)——————————Hunchback
Craig (TNKB)—————————-Wolverine

In the hours of prep time before the mission to “Northwinds”, the unit moved Slayer and Solitaire into heavier Mechs during their absense, and got a feel for their two VTOL pilots, Tinman and Sunset. After a “sounding session” Advocate got the sense Sunset might be leaving them with the end of this contract, and that Tinman was on the fence. It was becoming obvious that some of the non-line pilots were getting a little concerned about something.

The plans for the Northwinds assault included pulling three squads of Stargaards and mixing them with all six squads of the Line Recon infantry, to form three assault platoons, assigning one to capture the DropShuttle and the other two to seize “The Betty”. Since the Snow Dusters used their Jackrabbit hover cycles, the Pegasus Hover Tanks were assigned to carry the Stargaards as close to the DropShips as possible, before they would have to rely on their jump-packs. Taking the Line Mechs, with Cornet Ravenheart assigned into the companion slot with Paladin, the unit would take three days to reach the site, and they assigned a single Meadowlands and salvage crews to accompany them with a “standard salvage pack” present for field repairs, along with an additional repair crew from the line techs to bring the salvage crews to three squads.

The trip went off without many distractions, and reports of the heated air battle over the ranch site came back constantly,. Whatever was going on there, White Deat didn’t want any intrusions. Three days later, the unit approached the ranch, and sent their infantry ahead to scout the site. The Recon retruned to report they had found a large ranch complex of stables, tracks and other agricultural buildings, though portions of it had apparently been on the receiving end of a fight sometime in the past week. Rubble and ruined buildings were scattered across the complex. The DropShuttle and “The Betty” lay on the far side of the complex, with utility trucks parked nearby each, and a pair of Swiftwind Scout Cars parked next to “The Betty”. In the middle of the complex, parked around a central armored bunker were ten Mechs; two Rifleman, two Phoenix Hawks, a Shadow Hawk, a WOlverine, a Hunchback, a Thunderbolt, and a pair of rarer Mechs; a Thug and a Bombardier. The eight common Mechs bore the bloody marks of recent combat and were painted in a bright scarlet; the two central Mechs bore the markings of White’s elite Assault Battalion, and marked them as dangerous pilots.

Abandoning any thought about sneaking the infantry closer, the unit quickly deployed along the east edge of the fields, and moved west across the open area towards the complex. The infantry moved along behind them as fast as they dared, trying to avoid attention and ignoring opportunities to engage targets, fixated on boarding the DropShips they had targeted. The two “scarlet” lances immeadiately warmed-up and moved to engage the unit, while the two Star League Mechs remained quiet. Advocate took a couple long-ranged shots with his LRM and hit the Bombardier with a glancing shot at long range.

The Mechs very quickly began to engage just east of the complex, and the lead (northern) Rifleman took withering, concentrated fire, including Voice’s Blazer that blew apart the center torso armor, allowing Pitbull to get a critical shot into its ammo bays, blowing it apart. Units converged around the wreckage on both sides, and the northern lance quickly ignited into a physical brawl, with fire shifting to the Hunchback and its fearsome AC/20. The call came to keep the Stargaards on their Pegasus transport, and ram the vehicles straight up into their targeted DropShips directly, since it would save precious seconds and keep them moving.

Pitbull and Voice took the initiative, and pushed the southern lance back, pressuring them into the woods along the edge of the ranch, while the Command Lance and Ground-Pounders swept the northern defenders back south into a clump. As Voice and Pitbull drove the southern lance hard, the Bombardier and Thug moved into a point position, holding their ground and sending lethal fire all across the front. The Hunchback took a point-blank shot from Wraith’s “Hatpin”, destroying a medium laser in its arm. Soon thereafter, the Thunderbolt took one in its leg , blowing apart its foot and leg assemblies. The Hatpin strikes again. The Thunderbolt fell over, and became isolated as its companions tried to consolidate with their allies at the edge of the complex.

All hell broke loose, when in quick succession things began to spiral out of control. “Plowed” back into the complex, the southern lance fell back into the complex itself. The Wolverine moved south to help them out, as the lead southern Rifleman took concentrated fire and a “bone” carried by Pitbull took its head clean off in one stroke. Glamour and Valentine tried to get into the complex with their Phoenix Hawks, for hard shots on the Hunchback and any other targets of opportunity, but the bunker erupted in scattered small arms and rocket fire, reminding them of the pair of infantry platoons waiting inside. Both Glamour and Valentine were knocked over by concentrated fire, stumbling into buildings in the complex. The Hunchback took a critical shot to its AC/20, silencing the machine’s main weapon and practically neutering it. The Thunderbolt struggled up, but hampered by its position and barely able to move, slowly tried to walk off to the north away from the fight. Elias and Paladin, trying to nail-down the elusive Phoenix Hawk that had been sniping at them along the north, tripped on a kick and fell over.

A coded comms squelch went up from the northern lance, and they seemed to be trying to move north away from the main fight, possibly to retreat. Glamour stood and charged east out of the complex, straight against the Thunderbolt, and was cornered by the Hunchback and the returning Phoenix Hawk. Valentine slipped out of the complex to the south, but was chased out by the Wolverine and other Phoenix Hawk. The Thug and Bombardier pulled back somewhat and fired on targets of opportunity. It was falling apart, and the Dingoes were still in for a tough fight.

Then Pitbull heard something over his comms. Not his Ostsol’s superior sensors, but his comms. It sounded like a woman crying… possibly several women screaming… a strange mix of agony and psychotic laughter… Yup. Things were definitely falling apart…

Recognizing that there might be trouble, both groups of boarding parties prepared to ramp into their designated DropShips at full speed. Valentine slipped around behind the “Betty”, trying to get some range, while Voice and Pitbull both continued to push the rallied defenders back away from the entrance, allowing their infantry to board. The Thug and Bombardier opened fire on Pitbull, but only did scattered damage. The command lance continued to skirmish with the Thunderbolt/Hunchback/P-Hawk along the northern edge, forcing them to support the severely damaged T-Bolt. In desperation, Fixer charged his Crab into point-blank range and tore the Thug’s head off with a large laser strike.

The Hunchback took severe fire, and was knocked over, suffering critical engine and gyro damage. The T-Bolt suffered several critical engine strikes from Pitbull, but also took a freak head shot from Advocate’s PPC, and promptly tipped over and went dead. The Hunchback began to call for immediate surrenders, as his supporting P-Hawk fled north off the field. The pilots of the remaining Mechs tried to back north across the field, and when Ruxbundy called to accept their resignation from the field, they pulled away north leaving their T-Bolt, Thug, and two Rifleman behind to be salvaged. Giving the pirates ten minutes to collect their dependents and handful of techs, the unit fled away into the distance. The Dingoes held the field.

The Dingoes immediately broke into support groups; Pitbull and Fixer dropped out of their Mechs to examine the Betty, while the remaining members of the GP Lance and the Harrasser Lance (Voice, Glamour, Wraith, NKB, Valentine, and Boom-Boom) all kept watch in the Mechs. Ruxbundy took his lance, demounted from their Mechs and escorted by a squad from the Snow Dusters met with the handful of local ranchers who approached from the main barracks.

The locals spoke to the command lance as though they had been sent by White Death to relieve the seige of the complex by “…these pirates…”. They vaguely related a tale of having been finished loading the “Pinnochio” and “The Betty”, when the “pirates” had attacked and seized the complex. The Mechs just defeated by the Dingoes had eliminated a force of White Death Commandoes from 2nd Battalion, and their infantry had taken the skeleton crews from the DropShips and brought them to private quarters in the lower levels of the main bunker. The pirates then spent a couple days taking an inventory of the ships, and had been in negotiations with the crews when the Dingoes had attacked. The local ranch crews demanded to know when they were going to be evacuated and get off this “gods-forsaken rock”. Ruxbundy ordered them to be placed under guard for the time being, until a quick inventory of the DropShips cargoes could be assertained.

Pitbull and Fixer found no manifest listed on-board the Betty, but quickly determined it to consist of a rare Hover Limo “Elite”, several mining robots and various related equipment, a pair of Type-S “Seeker” Mining Shuttles, large amounts of armor plate, AC/5s, MGs and ammo, a small collection of rare goods, and a large quantity of feed-grade material, water in trailers, packaged soil and mulch. These latter items were obviously from off-planet, and brought more questions to the plate than answers. Aboard the “Pinnochio”, they found more feed-grade vegetation, tanks of water, twenty-four fine Arabian horses and a 5-ton portable passenger module (very similar to the one that the Dingoes had been imprisoned in onboard the Dropship – The Ice Hook, prior to freeing themselves over Claybrooke. Major Ruxbundy ordered the ranchers be held in that module for “transit off-planet”…

While Fixer and Pitbull helped themselves to various fine bits (120+ Irish bonded whisky, crated gold coins of Star League mint, and tons of packaged text books), Paladin and his troops headed into the lower level of the simple concrete bunker, now vacated by the infantry from the “pirates”, identified as “The Scarlet Guards”; formerly a loyal force directly serving White Death, now apparently gone rogue. In the lowest levels, they found several sets of private quarters, holding the pilot and his tech from the “Pinnochio”, the medcial team assigned to look after the horses aboard the same shuttle, and the crew of “The Betty”. NKB joined them.

Initially, the crew of “The Betty” were incredulous at how long it was taking to allow them back aboard their ships, so that they could leave planet and meet at the rendezvous point. Ruxbundy proceeded to explain that they were now prisoners of TF 29, and that their ship had been confiscated and its cargo seized. A series of increasingly hostile conversations began, and at the height of tension, Advocate recognized something no one else had; these guys were dangerous. The entire crew of “The Betty” had been silently communicating with each other, and had been carefully maneuvered into positions of control, and that they were heavily armed. Ruxbundy took his advice, and telling them to drop their weapons evacuated his troops from their positions. Standing alone at the entrance to the chamber, he noticed they relaxed their guards somewhat, and began to talk with Voice about protocols to proceed. Eventually, when this seemed to go nowhere, Pitbull was called in (as unit S-5 “Civilian Liaison”) to talk to them.

Pitbull sat down, pulled-out a bottle of his confiscated whisky, and began “negotiations” with their leader, Captain Frank Elgyn. Negotiations went quickly, and they crew agreed to provide information, in exchange for their eventual freedom, though they understood they would have to spend some time under arrest while the matter was resolved. They were further offered an option to find employment with the Iron Dingoes following the present campaign, to which they remained positive, but did not commit. The crew of “The Betty” agreed they knew where the JumpShip fleet was located, and that they would share that information, since “…it’s about time we got off this broken horse anyways…”. They agreed to a cut of whatever the PCs might want to take from the cargo, since there was no formal description or manifest anywhere. The boarding parties were assigned to look after the ship until it returned to the starport.

The negotiations with its pilot Paul Adams and his tech Dominic Coventry went quickly. Both were fairly mercenary in their attitude and it was readily apparent they knew very little of value. The MedTech team in another quarters was led by Jack Wilson and consisted of his wife, daughter and son-in-law along with a couple young children. Their primary responsibility had been for the care and feeding of the valuable Arabian horses aboard the “Pinnochio” and were civilians hired for their care. Both teams were allowed to go back to their charges, though the boarding parties were left aboard to ensure the shuttle rendezvoused with the fleet.

The final set of quarters held the officer’s barracks for the “Scarlet Guards”,a nd among them they found a plasteel chest filled with loot, and a number of notes regarding strengths and names of units in White Death’s employ. Though much of this latter information was subjective, the Dingoes took it in case it proved important. The chest was filled with loot; 60,000 Cs in cash, an odd medical auto-injector, a sack of 300 unused platinum ROM-Discs, a jewelled sabre and scabbard (Topaz pommel – 2500 Cs), a brown “court” suit and hooded velvet cloak (Ermine Trim – 2000 Cs), a large pouch w/ shulder strap (50 fine pearls – 100 Cs each, and 5000 Cs in 100C bills). The leader of the unit had been the pilot of the first Rifleman to take a head shot from Pitbull’s “Bone”, and was not alive to claim any of them.

Among the papers was an odd list of… something:

- Whitey’s Forces -
Unforgiving Fury (3)
Total Eclipse (3)
Sable Countess (2)
x Dawn’s Stalker (U)
x Sterling Swiftblade (U)
x Insatiable Hunger (D)
Periphery Ranger (L)
Periphery Pillager (L)
Still has 2nd Battalion as guards. Not able to assault JumpShips from the Betty… Right? Talk to that smuggler Captain about deployment on Betty. Otherwise, we’ll have to use the Old Man. Not good.
“The Betty” – DroST
“Pinocchio” – DS
…where did these two DropShip’s come from… not part of original strike force…?
Whitey… didn’t know he was into horses…
Brotherhood of The Void?
What to do with the medics from the Pinocchio
Hover Limo – Where did White get that relic?
…so many toys. Why all the dirt and crap in the Betty?

Unsure of what the list might be, Voice suggested the first bit was a list of White Death’s JumpShip and DropShip fleets. The rest, he felt was really just asking the same questions they all ahd regarding the situation. Taking it into unit possession, Glamour tucked it under lock&key with the plasteel chest, and the unit talked a little about what they should do next.

With their primary situation under control, the unit established salvage teams and using the equipment they brought with them aboard the Meadowlands, they began salvage operations on the Thug, T-Bolt and pair of Rifleman on the field, as well as basic field repairs to patch severely damaged Mechs and seal breaches in armor. Eight hours later, the unit broke-down their salvage camp and prepared for evac from the site. The salvage crews then began pulling supplies from the complex and “The Betty”, including the following:

The Hover Limo : (1,200,000 Cs) Armored 40-ton hover limousine.
2 Swift Wind Scout Cars
4 Light Utility Transports
20 tons of ProTech Light Armor Plate : (8000 Cs per ton) High-Grade Industrial armor plate manufactured in Goldheim.
5 tons of Gold Coins : (50,000 Cs per ton) 1000 coins per ton, packed and insulated for transit. Each bears the standard SL crest and is in near-mint condition.
10 Crates (120 Bottles) Liquor : (2500 Cs per bottle) Rare 120+ year-old Bonded Irish (Terran) Whisky.
4 tons of Books : (50,000 Cs per ton) A collection of rare works, technical manuals and other valuable written works. Wide variety of subjects.
1 ton of Medical Supplies : (50,000 Cs) Assorted styrettes and broad-scale antibiotics.
2 Fusion-Powered Waste Treatment Plants : Consisting of a pair of one-ton laods, each combined unit can process the wastes of up to 500 peaople per day, by thermally reducing it to a grey-white powder. Waste can then be used as a fertilizer supplement.
6 Water Treatment Units : (1 ton each) Built onto standard trailer chassis, each unit can process about a ton of water per day, provided access to another power source is available.

Calling in the air cover and declaring they had control of the DropShips, Baron Sarne’s TF 29 focused all their efforts in seizing air control of the region around the complex. In a stunning sudden move, the Avenger DropShips from “Armageddon Airlines” led a series of raids and seized air control of the site… barely. Although losses occurred, the DropShips were able to reach orbit and relocate to the starport intact. The PCs began a long three-day trip overland with no encounters and also reached the starport.

Immediately upon gaining the safety of the starport, the unit was informed they had 24 hours to ready themselves for lift-off and a mission; the location of White Death’s JumpShip fleet had been found, and verified by Captain Elgyn’s testimony and outside sources, the Dingoes were to be enroute to a pirate jump-point that they already knew about. They were going to storm one of the three JumpShips present and seize his interface assets.

The end of the campaign could be smelled on the breeze.

Episode 23a - Warhorse
"Following the loss of the Hebron refinery, we needed to examine our tactics and organization. We spent the better part of a month doing repairs, tweeking our load-outs, and spending some much-needed personal time..."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————-Chameleon
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Ostsol
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Griffin
Craig (TNKB)——————————Wolverine

Returning to the Citadel, our battered forces began an extensive refit. Armor stocks were nearly exhausted, and hoped for modifications were set aside until we had acquired better supplies of munitions and even basics like armor and spare laser weaponry.

After a day of repairs, Paladin was contacted by TF29s C&C, and “requested” the Iron Dingoes artillery assets. The task force was collecting all its assets into a single force, and intended to use the massed strength of these squads to reduce all the border outposts protecting Goldheim. Although there were assigned guards from regimental, we were encouraged to send along any force we chose to protect our interests. We chose Solitaire, Pockets and Slayer, since they were fully operable, and wouldn’t be involved in the initial reorganization.

With the day’s grace, Massimo and Pitbull met with Arlana Jericho and her Commodore, to finalize their contract for the use of their JumpShip, “The Iron Vagabond”. Knowing she needed serious cash to keep her creditors at bay, she was offered all “Standard Fees” for transport from any contract, with a “Retaining Fees” of 200,000 Cs per month, and a bonus of 200,000 Cs per month paid at the conclusion of every contract as a lump sum. Jericorp Trading reserved 20% of its JumpShip cargo space for its own speculative trading, and reserved the rights to be supplied by the Iron Dingoes for all its base salaries and consummables. They also agreed to take goods in lieu of cash in need, though they could refuse if the goods didn;t have a good resale potential (though Mechs and parts were likely acceptable).

Fixer met with his contact in TF29s regimental supply, and along with Advocate and Glamour, began sorting out their supply issues. They managed to acquire eight (8) tons of plate armor, and four (4) tons of engine shielding, in exchange for a collection of salvaged weapons, ammunition and assorted engines. During discussions, Fixer was privately approached and offered a chance to invest in a local regimental auction. Someone whom the supply sergeant knew, was trying to establish a local transport company, and needed cash… immediately. Fixer took the risk and invested 5000Cs, while he offered Advocate the opportunity to join him, who also invested 5000Cs in the venture…

With downtime, we examined our organization, and decided to permanently promote some of the better “Dead Man’s Hand” troopers to positions in the Line Mechs. Our intentions were to bleed combat experience into some of them, and reserving one slot for a rotating position for the other members of the reserves would hopefully do this better. Also, tasking permanent lances based on movement speeds and load-outs helped solidify task-oriented unit organization. The Iron Dingoes traditional pairing of companion Mechs was re-introduced, to ensure Dingo Pack Tactics were easier to implement and harder to pull on our units.

Lances were organized as : Command Lance – Paladin (with Stargun as his pilot) in the Chameleon, Priest in his Valkyrie, Advocate in his Griffin, and an open rotating spot for the Dead Man’s Hand. Harassment Lance – Glamour in her Phoenix Hawk, Valentine in Paladin’s Phoenix Hawk, Wraith in his Wolverine, and Boom-Boom in his Jenner. Ground-Pounders – Voice in his Hunchback, Fixer in his Crab, Pitbull in a new Ostsol, and NKB in his Wolverine. This left two short-lances in the DMH with Pockets as the unit leader, supported by Solitaire and her steadying hand, leading Shredder, Slayer, Gunman and Baroness. Each regular pilot in the DMH received better Mechs, and improved their striking power.

Two days later, Paladin was again contacted by C&C, and requested to attend a meeting with all officers from TF29. He was advised to bring a “companion”. Paladin and VOice attended the meeting in a special conference room aboard the Excalibur-Class DropShip “Right of Conquest”, Flagship of the DropShip fleet. All the senior members were present; Captain (Sir) Maynard Robinson of Bane’s Badgers; Captain Veruca Salt of Veruca’s Visigoths; Captain Alicia Ling of the Black Band; and several senior lead officers of Sarne’s own 1st Rangers and local rebel leaders. The general state of affairs was discussed:

Bane’s Badgers : Doing remarkably well, recently salvaging a pair of Planetlifter VTOLs, a pair of Warrior VTOLs, an Ostsol and a Clint, though they lack crews or pilots for any of them.

The Black Band : During the assault on Goldheim, pushed through infantry pickets easily, and then took a surprise raid by numerous Aeros; shot-down a large number and salvaged a Transit and a Transgressor Aero, along with some infantry equipment. Lost three Mechs, but no pilots.

Veruca’s Visigoths : Recently took serious damage, meeting both White Death’s Assault Mechs, numerous anti-Mech commandos among the usual infantry pickets. Managed to drag several Mechs off the field for repairs, but lost their Rifleman and nearly their prize Assassin, though all pilots remain alive. Scattered damage to remainder of unit.

Iron Dingoes : Paladin stood and gave an update. Despite the loss of most of the small arms manufacturing and refinery, the town of Hebron remains held, and inviolate. Losses have been scattered damage among the Mechs, but is being repaired and salvage has been good.

As a surprise, Baron Kenton Sarne himself appeared and gave an update regarding his own forces. 1st Taurian Rangers : The Rangers have secured the flanks of both the Northern and South-Western Sectors, and the outposts located east of the starport. Damage has been light, but the unrest of wandering refugees and food riots has led the Rangers to deploy its infantry and armor as garrisons, and its Mechs were engaged in patrol work. This left the Iron Dingoes as the only reserves remaining in Sarne’s hands, and they were placed on reserve status for the next month or so. His mixed companies are often involved in scouting and raids, but salvage has been light and losses are mounting. Several independent mercs have taken service in Sarne’s forces, to replace his losses.

Sarne surrendered the postern to allow his assistant, the beautiful Brigadier Karolina Kross “Cover Girl” to give an update on Colonel Death’s troops. White Death’s Forces : Half his battalions are broken, while the core units remain intact and reinforced with allied troops. White Death’s pirate allies are in disarray. Continued pressure is seen as pivotal in disrupting his allies further, and it is believed in a couple months the capital will fall.

Following the updates, a number of questions were posited by various leaders, including the Dingoes, and Sarne promised to speak individually with each leader present. With remarks concluded, local delicacies were served to the assembled guests, and Sarne began making the rounds. When he met with Paladin and Voice, he had Cover Girl “distract” Voice, while Sarne and Paladin found a secluded corner to talk privately.

Sarne began by complimenting Paladin’s activities, and asked where the Iron Dingoes thought they might be with the conclusion of the present contract. Various topics were discussed in passing, but it quickly became evident (even to Paladin!) that he was being tested. Sarne discussed his good impressions of the unit, and expressed an interest in making a future contract offer to “…prove their loyalty..” to his House. Paladin quickly realized Sarne was trying to recruit the Dingoes into House Sarne, not the Concordat regular forces, something very unusual. Sarne offered Paladin the opportunity to take a Cadre contract at a Concordat colony upon conclusion of the existing contract, that was in need of training for a mixed battalion of troops. He felt that upon that contract’s 2-Year conclusion, the unit might be trusted enough to be granted a landhold and allow them to settle-down on a holding near Sarne’s own in the Hyades Rim.

At that time, the unit would be allowed to retain its “company” status, with Paladin granted a Captain’s rank in the Taurian Concordat, and all other unit officers were to retain their ranks. Their techs and transports would remain intact, but outside of the mixed battalion required for garrison of the Landhold, any excess troops would be absorbed into Sarne’s own forces. The exact location of the holding was not discussed, but it was mentioned as being “Spinward” of Concordat space, and “Rimward” of Davion Space. It was also mentioned he might be able to swing granting Mechwarrios knighthoods in the COncordat aristocracy (something Paladin recognized as being highly unusual under Concordat law, as noble titles are earned by service to the State and its people…).

Sarne suggested Paladin talk about the options with his unit, though he requested it be kept quiet, especially since none of the other mercenaries were getting the same opportunity. He even hinted Paladin might need to meet one of Sarne’s own daughters… Whatever their decision, he hoped the Dingoes great success, and continued work with Sarne in the future, and excused himself. Paladin staggered to the washroom to splash cold water on himself, and quickly hunted-down Voice. Voice had meanwhile managed to get away from “Cover Girl”, and had spoken with some of the mercenary leaders about their salvage.

Paladin returned to the Dingoes DropShips, and called an emergency session of the Line Officers. Relating what was offered, they held a short discussion and then voted. Most expressed a desire to take the contract, and then see what happened. Glamour reminded everyone that the events leading to the Marik Civil War had tasted similar, and that they should be cautious in accepting anything that put them in the middle of another coup attempt. Pitbull expressed a dislike of the potential dangers, but was willing to go with what the group wanted, since they were effectively his family now. Everyone was a little stunned at the admission, but the matter was settled; in a couple months they would sit-down and discuss a new two-year contract as a Cadre force for Baron Sarne, and after that they would wait and see.

The next day, Sarne’s combined artillery force began assaulting the outer defenses of Goldheim, hammering the harder defenses of White Death’s pirate allies and his militia. The Iron Dingoes were placed into “reserve status”, and remained in their DropShips at ready status, though select members were excused for “day-trips” to Hebron for shopping and visiting with their friends. The unit made contact with their mercenary allies, and through their techs discussed acquiring several assets they had mentioned as salvaging. Bane’s Badgers salvaged OTL-4D Ostsol was traded for the unit’s recently salvaged Shadow Hawk and their intact Thorn, while the pair of Planetlifter Air Transport Bane’s Badgers had taken were traded for a collection of spare fusion engines, assorted Mech pieces and control systems.

Over the next few weeks, small units of the Dingoes Line armor and infantry went on local patrols, though there were no events to report. Individuals engaged in personal endeavors and training, and some had notable events during this downtime.

Glamour : Met a local young woman she was impressed with that could serve in her fledgling “information network”, and hired her as a scout/infiltrator.

Voice : Received a marriage proposal. A young local woman offered to him by her family; a technician by trade, her dowry included a complete Deluxe Toolkit, Cutter/Joiner Kit, Electronics Kit, and Weapon Repair Kits. He had to think about this one…

NKB : Met and befreiended a local noblewoamn who rewarded him with 1000Cs cash, and offered a position as her personal bodyguard (for 3000Cs per month), but he declined.

Pitbull : Befriended a local merchant, who offered to sell Pitbull commercial aeros and vehicles and parts for a discount (25%).

Advocate : Invited to a party, he befriended a townsman who offered his young daughter as an apprentice to get her off-planet. He accepted the offer, and Junior Tech Sadiya Najeeb became his legal assistant.

Wraith : While shopping for various clothing, was offered a chance to purchase the merchant’s entire stock of textiles at a discount (20 tons : 6750 Cs per ton). They would only accept cash or easily traded items, such as relics or gems.

Priest : Offered by a local family to indenture their son as an “apprentice” to him. He asked to wait a couple weeks before making his decision…

As the next month neared closure, Paladin was informed of an emergency mission coming on-line. Cornet Katherine Podalla “Ravenheart” described the following:

_The Iron Dingoes are ordered to sack a suspected resource outpost in the northern wilderness. A noted ranch called “NorthWinds”, it seems to have been something of a cache for Colonel Death, and while they had suspected it was important, they knew it was when a pair of DropShips recently landed under heavy Aero cover. Scouts have retruned and identified one as a K-1 DropShuttle of unknown origins, but the second, was the mercenary smuggler’s DropShip, “The Betty”. Sarne’s intelligence has identified “The Betty” as being vitally important to Sarne’s operations, having served as his private courier, and is known to carry specialist personnel, valauble munitions and other items of value to White Death’s long-term plans. It’s appearnace on-planet and at this location, at this time, hints that Colonel Death is bugging-out, and using his personal reserves to keep it quiet. Whatever is stored at NorthWinds_, is worth sending Sarne’s reserve striker force to stop them and retrieve it.

The trip to the site must be conducted using the unit’s Mechs and any vehicles they choose to bring along, since Aero assets cannot be used; the site is under extreme cover by most of Sarne’s remaining Aeros, and an orbital drop of a DropShip or Mechs on-site would warn the crews and they would lift-off. Sneaking in, after three days of overland journey will leave the Dingoes isolated, so they should bring along whatever resources they might need in a convoy, to ensure they can repair and refit at the location. Furthermore, knowing the Dingoes ability to seize DropShip assets, they should bring salvage crews and assault personnel to seize the DropShips on-site, and once the site is secure and its cargo intact (whatever that might be), Aero reinforcements, including the Armageddon Airlines two Avengers, will be allocated to clear the site.

The group began discussing loads and potential personnel to bring with them, and began questioning exactly what might be aboard those DropShips…

Episode 22 - Reversal of Fortune
"The raid on Goldberg had accomplished all our objectives; but wrung-out and with battle-damage across the board, we weren't expecting as warm a welcome as we were about to receive in Hebron..."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

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

Returning to Hebron, the Iron Dingoes stumbled into the town barely ahead of their pursuers.

The two incoming Mech lances landed just about 1km to the south of the town, dropped their descent pods and moved onto the field. A pair of Saladins guarding a Maxim and a PEgasus all moved into range just south of the refinery, while a lance of four J. Edgar Light Tanks swiftly moved into position further south-west. The hover mechanized infantry started a raid into the north-west part of town, but quickly ran into the massed pickets of the Iron Dingoes Militia forces, and the company of local security militia, and were stopped cold.

Facing them were the hastily recovered troopers from the “Strike the Head” raid; Paladin leading Ravenheart, Stargun and Slayer; Pitbull in charge of Fixer, Advocate and Parish; and Voice leading Glamour, Boom-Boom, and Wraith. Having had time to call in reinforcements, the “Rabbit-Puncher” Armor Lance from Cerberus Command managed to make the trip from Citadel and arrayed themselves in the center of the town, just south-west of the refinery. All other support forces were left to the defense of their DropShips, lest this be only a feint to draw them away.

When the enemy Mechs entered the open plains south of the refinery, they began a series of ECM pulses that blinded communications outside the local area, cutting the Dingoes off from access to their Mobile Command Post, and also their Intelsat “Predator’s Eye”. The “Shrieking Reapers” had arrived, using their namesake ability to blind local comms to level the field. Their forces consisted of an “Assault Lance”; Battlemaster, Ostsol, Thunderbolt and Zeus; and a “Striker Lance”, consisting of a Griffin, Shadow Hawk, Valkyrie and a Mongoose. Arrayed with the Striker Lance in the center, and the Assault Lance in the far corner, they began to advance under their ECM umbrella.

In the distance, about 2kms away, a Union-Class DropShip, identified later as the “Reaper’s Scythe”, landed, awaiting the return of its MEchs from this coming raid.

At first, typical scattered fire arched across the field, though one of the Saracens took a pair of devastating PPC shots, tearing into its skirts and slowing it enough to begin a careful withdrawl. Glamour lept behind the leading Mongoose, but took a PPC shot and scattered Medium Lasers, knocking her over and onto the ground.

The support armor lance “Rabbit-Punchers” opened fire on the Griffin as it approached the refinery, but had no results. The J. Edgars also took some fire, and they responded by closing rapidly across the plains to arrow into the town and the cluster of light Mechs from Paladin’s Lance, attacking Stargun’s Jenner, and doing more damage to its already taxed systems. The unit responded by declaring “Dingo Pack Tactics”, and physically tearing apart one of the J. Edgars.

As the Striker Lance moved past the fallen Glamour, she scrambled her Phoenix Hawk up and ran towards the Shadow Hawk, hitting it once in the head with a Medium Laser. The “Rabbit-Punchers” also opened fire on the S. Hawk, but did limited damage. As a follow-up, Glamour kicked the S. Hawk’s head off in a glorious three point field-goal… One of the Shrieking Reapers was down.

Stargun took more damage from the massed J. Edgars, and fled back down the first street he could, away from combat. As he ran down the street, he tripped and skidded a ways, breaking apart his already fragile armor. The Mongoose, leading the Striker Lance in its approach towards the refinery, took more withering fire from Pitbull’s unit, but managed to make the relative safety of the far side of the refinery. Wraith, holding the trees behind the facility opened-up, and the Mongoose took head and serious critical damage to its engines, before finally having a leg torn off and collapsing against the building.

The Assault Lance moved forward, carefully navigating the hills until they reached the edge of the refinery, taking random shots at the building, inter-mixed with shots at other Mechs as they made themselves visible. The Saracen/Maxim/Pegasus Lance managed to enter the refinery compound, and began concentrating fire on the armored flanks of the refinery. The Battlemaster became enemy number one, as its ranged shots and amazing piloting skills marked it as being piloted by an Elite pilot. It took scattered fire, at first, but as Pitbulls’ and Voice’s lances closed, came under repeated shots. Even the “Rabbit-Punchers” got in a couple good shots on it.

The remaining J. Edgars fired on Ravenheart, but the two were pinned closely by Paladin’s lance, and they tore the pair apart piece-by-piece, immobilizing both. The remaining J. Edgar limped after Boom-Boom as he retreated, but also suffered a serious critical kick before doing scattered damage to his Mech and being knocked immobile.

Boom-Boom, suffering nearly catastrophic damage, limped past the smoldering ruins of the three J. Edgars that made it to the city, and found a nice quiet corner to wait for the fight to end. Stargun, also in a critical situation, followed suit. Pitbull, Advocate, Glamour, Voice and the “Rabbit-Punchers” fired everything they had on the Battlemaster, as he covered the rest of the Shreiking Reapers to reach the stone and tree woodlands south of the refinery. The Saracen/Maxim/Pegasus unit skipped around behind the refinery, opening everything they had on its north face. The Ostsol, charging into the compound, joined the S/M/P lance, and opened fire on the refinery, but Wraith interrupted his attack, doing sufficient damage to distract its efforts.

The Ostsol, taking both a Gyro and enough damage to break apart one arm, was knocked over by a savage kick from Wraith, but it staggered up, still trying to withdraw from the fight. Closely followed by Wraith, taking critical damage, but refusing to let this quarry escape, Wraith savaged the OStsol over and over again, finally taking off a leg with his “…superior Mech-Fu skills…” and forcing the pilot to power-down. Fixer got in a couple good shots, one savaging the Battlemaster’s cockpit and shattering his pilot’s concentration.

The remaining Griffin and Valkyrie from the Striker Lance jumped into the northeast corner of the refinery grounds, sniping intermittently at the refinery supports and Wraith. The S/M/P lance repositioned themselves for a rapid retreat, but managed to damage one corner of the refinery sufficient to weaken its support structures and collapse that section. The Thunderbolt, Zeus, and Battlemaster moved south-east of the refinery, mostly concentrating fire on the building, Fixer and Pitbull. Pitbull and Voice, suffering severe heat issues struggled with their MEchs controls, with Voice failing and powering-down. The BAttlemaster, taking immense damage, struggled backwards, firing on Fixer’s savaged Crab, before taking a critical shot in response that blew the Battlemaster’s ammo bins apart, cracking the Mech into pieces; its pilot barely managed to struggle from the ruins with its escape pod, but was knocked unconscious in the exchange and easily captured after the fight (with four pilot hits…).

With the fall of the Battlemaster, the remaining Mechs fired everything they had on the refinery, doing severe damage and collapsing various sections as they pulled-out. With the last of the refinery structure in tatters, the Zeus was able to knock it down, and immediately declared they would not fire on anyone if they were allowed to leave the battlefield unmolested. Wraith promptly agreed, backing away, guns up. VOice and Paladin quickly conferred and agreed “… let them go, we have salvage enough, and little need to risk ourselves further… we’ve lost the battle even though we are still winning the war…”. The remaining Mechs retreated east towards their Union-Class DropShip, a battered, if still intact lance. The Saracen/Maxim/Pegasus lance moved quickly at flank speed away from the fight, and circling around the DropShip slipped away quickly to the south.

The Iron Dingoes, looking forlornly at the ruins of the refinery, worried about reinforcements from the Union, and called-in their pair of AeroFighters to keep an eye on the Shrieking Reapers landing site. The pair did a quick fly-by and noticed nothing incoming. About 30 minutes later, the Union lifted-off, burning quickly for orbit, its crews and MEchs clawing their way through the local Aero-cordone to disappear among the stars… It was now time to take stock of their situation, and contemplate their recent Reversal of Fortune…

Episode 21 - Strike the Head
"The attrition among the mercenaries on Dunkelheim was atrocious. The Dingoes were still doing fairly well, but their allies were close to the brink. What was needed was a strike to the head of the enemy to shake things up…"

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

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

Returning to the Citadel with their war booty, the Dingoes assault unit scattered to their various tasks. The technical team along with the Werewolves and most of the command staff that had visited the “Shadow Station” were in need of a serious decon shower and close medical attention. It was quickly identified that they had all been exposed to a curiously chaotic soup of chemicals in their short stay, and required close attendance at the clinic for the next few weeks. Some reacted very badly to the air in the station (Fixer and a few others very badly), but all were expected to recover. Their little friend, Tech LaForte was in need of extreme supervision, and was admitted to the Dingoes Den medical bay for an extended convalescence.

Although suffering from a perfectly hideous cold, Fixer and Glamour got right to work looking over salvage and the extensive listing of captured vehicles and Mech components. The decision was made to break apart the hover tanks, most of the severely damaged Mechs, and scavenge what components they could from the damaged Scorpion Light Tank to bring the Manticore (having suffered only armor and motive damage) back to operational status. The resulting armor lance was entered into the security lance, though it lacked full crews. The remaining Valkyrie was formally granted over to Priest, and the remaining Thunderbolt, Jenner, Vindicator, Archer and Chameleon left in the reserve lists, while complete load-outs were discussed and reserves acquired to effect repairs and modifications.

Also, several members began to add minor modifications to the unit’s T&T systems, planned for in the past, but never having the handful of days it would require to install and modify. Lastly, the value of Needle Laser : “The Hatpin” was discussed, and its potential production for the Dingoes armory was agreed upon.

As the weeks passed and patrols through Hebron continued, it became apparent there was little to no resistance remaining in the Central Sector trying to stop TF29s interest in the region. TF29 Command sent their promised handful (four platoons) of local troops, mostly former members of the Civic Guard, all with basic arms and some passing training in police work. Furthermore, a collection of Baron Sarne’s personal Ranger Battalion were assigned to look after the oil refinery, reminding everyone its value as the only such facility on-planet.

Word reached the command staff about how desperate their merc allies were for repairs. Having salvaged extra parts, the Dingoes approached their allies Veruca’s Visigoths, offering them spare parts and technical assistance to bring them up to par, in exchange for 14.5 tons of combat armor. They readily agreed, and Glamour made several contacts among the techs of the Visigoths, for future work. The remaining mercenaries ( The Black Band, and Bane’s Badgers were in much the same state, though they were not is as desperate a situation. The main military force of Baron Sarne’s Forces were doing much better. Reports held the enemy of The White Death’s Forces were battered, but retreating and consolidating what they had left around the capital.

As the weeks passed, the constant food supply convoys from the Citadel became a common event, led by the assigned Liaison officer, Cornet Troy Barnes, who worked with a mixed company of Light Mechs, Armor and Hover Infantry, to escort nearly a hundred tons of food and medical supplies every few days for local distribution. Although there was some trouble, the Iron Dingoes alleviated the local shortages from their own supply stores, giving 10% of their own stockpiles to the town leadership for further distribution, as well as having their medical teams help-out in their spare time with clinics and at the small hospital in town. What might have been a very difficult month was eased greatly by their efforts, and the town council that had formed accepted and worked well with the Dingoes command staff.

Notable events during the month included;

Glamour : Intending to work on her Mech one morning, discovered her lead Tech, Tech Brandy Wiebe listening to a tirade about something from Tech Marion Ravenwood, a junior tech from one of the salvage squads. Upon spotting Glamour, she turned and accused her of being “… another misbegotten whore of a scavenger…”, before storming off. Glamour remembered that both she and Fixer had a deep philisophical disagreement with her and one other tech nearly a year previously, on the trip from the Marik border to Heroditus. Glamour noted she would investigate the files on this woman and try to figure-out why she was so hateful…

Pitbull : Accused one day of having forced himself upon a local man’s young daughter, the civilian father demanded Paladin, as Major of the Dingoes, either seek punishment for the man, or marry her and “…take her to the stars with them…”. After a few hours of debate, and a medical test to determine she was, indeed with someone’s child, and not willing to risk injury to the baby, Major Ruxbundy called for docking half Pitbull’s pay to be donated to the man for the child (750 Cs), and promised that “…the very bad man…” would be flogged. While Pitbull was later docked pay (though he found 750 Cs in his Mech cockpit a few days later), he was not punished in any other way, though the civilians did not know this. At first, Pitbull did not seem very pleased with the situation, at all…

Advocate : Advocate had a “prophetic” dream, though he never shared it with anyone, and it shook him enough that his abilities suffered for the next month:

“You stand in your Griffin, on a wide flat concrete swath of open nothing. Your DropShips rest before you, and in the sky above, floats the Vagabond. It slowly moves away from you, towards the distant sun, a low-hanging red glaring eye of storms, and you feel it is abandoning you, being chased by three black ravens. In the distance, a wave of blood seems to creep towards you, transforming into a massive tidal wave. The vast wall of water seems to rise above you in your Mech, threatening to swamp the three DropShips and DropShuttle. You strive to try and hold the waters back, and you are able for a time, but eventually the water crests even higher, and it covers everything you hold dear…”

Fixer : In his efforts to acquire supplies for his DVM-3 MiningMech conversions to SalvageMechs, made a secure contact with a supply sergeant in TF29s logistics and supply. In future searches for equipment or supplies from the regimental depot for a 20% reduction in costs, though such items are alsways considered “Salvage quality”, having been deemed surplus to regimental needs.

Wraith : While moving through the Hebron market, avoided a near assassination attempt that forced him to spend a few weeks in the medical bay. While exactly what was on the assassin’s corpse at the time was not determined, but it seemed to make Wraith very pensive for a few weeks. His sister, Tech Mitsuko Kitsune began wearing a sidearm constantly afer this event, and was also noted as being very pensive.

As food shortages continued, it was not surprising that during one particularly large “riot” near month’s end, trouble occurred. During what was at first a normal distribution day at the central supply depot in town, a number of individuals began to agitate for receiving more than their fair share. As the crowd began to get agitated, a pair of mortar shots landed in the middle of the compound, originating from a nearby apartment. The handful of patrol Mechs and hover armor rallied to the site, searching for the shooters, but found only a pair of abandoned tubes on the roof of the large building.

While the majority of the local units were busy trying to find the shooters, a number of military troops rose from the crowd of refugees, and stormed the distribution site, taking the officers present as hostages. The terrorists demanded via bullhorns that “… the mercenary scum leave Dunkelheim…”. In this difficult situation, the Major was contacted back in the medical bay of the “Dingoes’ Den”, and he demanded that casualties be kept at a minimum. Plans to begin negotiations were in the works, when a number of shots rang out from the warehouse where the hostages were being kept. After several minutes of tense waiting and no reply from the terrorists, the warehouse was stormed, revealing numerous dead, including the liaison officer, Cornet Barnes. All had been executed, and white skulls painted across their faces; the mark of White Death’s elite commandos. White Death had noticed the actions of the Iron Dingoes, and was leaving a message…

The last item of note to occur in the month, was the information Advocate had requested of Lieutenant Commander Kristina Schmidt, regarding the mysterious co-ordinates uncovered on the “Shadow Station”. She informed the Dingoes command staff they marked a site on one of the outer gas giant’s L5 points; the position wherein micro-gravity effects are minimized and remains relatively stable between the orbits of a large planet with one (or more) of its moons. LaGrange Points were infamous for becoming the “dust-bunny” spots of a planet’s orbit, collecting debris and even rogue comets over the millenia of their existence, but they also provided a great position for JumpShips to use as pirate points, provided they had intelligence on the locations collected debris. The possibility of sending a recon force with the DropShuttle to the location was discussed, but if the spot was the location of White Death’s missing JumpShips, then he also likely had them well-guarded, and so investigating the location was shelved for the moment, and the Dingoes kept the knowledge about the site to themselves.

As the month drew to a close, Paladin was contacted and ordered to engage in an objective raid into Goldberg. As the forces of White Death had pulled back into the capital and consolidated their hold on that important location, Baron Sarne had decided to bring his superior Mech forces to bear, and break the growing stalemate. With the local regions pacified and watched over by rebel militia loyal to his forces, Sarne planned to flank his combined mercenary Mech forces to the south, in an attempt to encircle the city in a noose, expecting Colonel Death would counter by pulling his reserves and meeting the Mechs along the city borders to stall the maneuver.

In reality, Sarne planned to use the diversion of a battalion of mercenaries moving rapidly along the city’s edge to allow his strongest single force of mercenary Mechs (the Iron Dingoes) to push quickly into the city center, and move against the central military command structures, destroying them and any repair facilities in their vicinity. The hope was the raid would demoralize Colonel White “White Death” remaining pirate allies, and break apart his coalition, destroying his control of any force beyond the core of Dunkelheim’s regular army.

The attack went forward on September 21st, 3017, with the mercenary BattleMechs moving to surround the city of Goldheim. two days later, with the bulk of Colonel White’s reserves in motion from their central garrisons, and heavily engaged in the raid, the Iron Dingoes were let slip and by the night of September 23rd, pushed swiftly past the scattered infantry forces left as picket troops from the 1st Guards Battalion along the north-eastern edge of the capital. They reached the center of the city late at night, and under cover of darkness began their search for the command center (with its distinctive antenna array), the main command barracks, and any repair bays they might find along the way.

Facing them around the brightly lit center of the city, was a pair of Mech lances, and an armored defensive force. The first lance, identified as “Kasparov’s Knights” was a raider lance of allied pirates on picket duty, consisting of an Archer, a Blackjack, a Scorpion (Quad-Mech) and a Dervish. The archer was identified as one of the pair encountered back during the raid on the Citadel when the Dingoes had assaulted the laser towers, and was believed to be piloted by a very skilled pilot. The light lance, a recon element from the White Death Battalion, consisted of an Assassin, a Locust and a pair of Stingers. The armor, an element of the 1st Guards Battalion, consisted of an LRM Carrier, a Striker Light Tnak and a pair of Scorpion Light Tanks. The heavier Mech lance awaited in the concrete ruins to the north, while the light Mech lance held point in the center, and the armor lance waited in the center of the south concrete ruins.

The Iron Dingoes had sent a full company of Mechs, consisting of a hastily (and confusing) reorganized collection of Mechs; Paladin led Ravenheart, Slayer and Stargun along the north edge; Voice led Glamour, Wraith and Boom-Boom along the south; while Pitbull had temporary command over Fixer, Priest and Advocate in the center of the site. They began moving among the buildings of the center of town, some having mounted searchlights, and were spread-out looking for the command center and any other important buildings on their target lists. The Archer and Scorpion moved to the point of the open lit area on the northwest, the Scorpion going hull-down in a ruined building, with the Archer standing just before it. The light Mech lance moved to intercept Paladin’s unit, along the edge of the northern concrete ruins. The Blackjack and Dervish hopped across to flank the armored lance, which advanced through the dark areas in the center of the southwestern region, taking ranged shots with their combined LRM-20s. It quickly became obvious that there would be difficulty with the darkness affecting range and the sighting of weapons.

About 30 seconds into the raid, a vehicle repair bay was identified along the south-east corner, and came under combined fire from both the Assault Lance and the Striker Lance. In the north, Stargun took some LRM fire from the Archer, revealing that it was indeed a very good pilot. Wraith kicked the repair bay into submission and the southern/cetnral lances moved forward. A flare went up, illuminating the area where the enemy Light lance was gathered, and they scattered.

The Locust from the enemy Light lance was forced forward, and took withering fire from Paladin’e lance, forcing it to stagger back into the light with a damaged gyro and its engine shielding cracked. Glamour concentrated fire on the LRM Carrier, and destroyed it with only scattered damage from the enemy armor lance in return. The Dervish and Blackjack moved into a point position east of teh southern concrete ruins. The enemy Light lance began to withdraw across the open area between concrete ruins, moving south.

The Dervish, as the point Mech near the center, was lit-up with searchlights and took scattered fire from the central assault lance. Glamour and Voice quickly moved along the southern edge of the command area, firing as they went, and Glamour immobilized the Striker, forcing its crew to abandon their vehicle. The southern lance identified a second vehicle repair bay and began firing on it. Pitbull also spotted the peculiar antenna array atop a heavy building near the center of the southern concrete ruins, and called in fire on the site with his PPCs at extreme range. This alarmed the Archer, and it and the Scorpion dislodged themselves from the northern ruins, forcing them to move south, slowly advancing through the darkness. Glamour circled behind a Scorpion Light Tank, doing serious damage, and destroying it. The second vehicle repair bay was destroyed. The enemy Light lance gathered around the cmmand center, but seemed unsure of their tasks, with the Assassin taking point and sniping at the Voice’s approaching raider lance.

Paladin’s lance moved into the north-western concrete ruins, sniping at the moving Archer and Scorpion, while they slipped into the area looking for more targets. Voice charged and engaged the Dervish in a “knife-fight” behind the command center, while people continued to snipe at the Archer. Ceasing fire on the command center, everyone began to try and take out the Archer, as it slowly approached the center of the map. Fixer managed to get a lucky shot past its armor, damaging its gyro, though it remained standing. Glamour continued following the last Scorpion tank, and destroyed it. Suddenly Paladin’s unit identified a new repair bay; a large structure loaded with an entire lance of Mechs undergoing repairs, and the swarm of techs and crews hinted the Mechs would be activated very soon…

As Paladin’s unit changed targets to gather around the Mech Repair Bay, firing and tearing into its iron and concrete hide, the Archer took intensive combined fire from Pitbull and Parish, who tore it apart and knocked it savagely to the ground, its Gyro a faltering ruin.

As panic began to set in, everyone opened fire on the first Mech Bay and the Command Center, and for nearly 30 seconds, the structures withstood the intensive damage. As the first Mech Bay blew apart, the Archer pilot tried to stand, failed, tried again, and failed again, finally powering down and staying put. With the fall of their leader, the enemy light lance of Mechs retreated in full rout to the west, its Assassin leading the way. The pristine Scorpion Mech holding point covered the battered Dervish and Blackjack while they slowly retreated, as well. Around the Command center, another vehicle bay, a second Mech Repair Bay and the command barracks were identified, and the Command Center finally was torn into submission with a vicious kick by Voice.

The combined Dingoes fire on the remaining repair bays and the command barracks took less than a half-minute, but the results were final; they had succeeded in both their primary and secondary objectives with scattered damage. Taking the opportunity to collect “battlefield salvage”, the unit scavenged the limbs from the Locust (both arms and legs), and the arms off the Archer, before coring both downed Mechs, to ensure they couldn’t be rebuilt. Taking the severely injured pilot of the Archer hostage, with Pitbull personally leaving his Mech and using his sonic stunner to subdue and secure him for transport. The pilot, Captain Edward Balwin of Kasparov’s Knights was his prisoner. The Dingoes promptly abandoned the field, running swiftly to the north-east and away from the reinforcements moving into the center of the city. The next hour and a half was tense, with the Dingoes pushing past sentry pickets of infantry, but they managed to reach the relative safety of Hebron and its garrison, largely because of the chaos in White Death’s command structure.

That was when Ravenheart’s sensors went wild and noted that several things were happening; points of heat were dropping on the town, implying drop-pods with about two lances of Mechs inbound. Behind them a couple hover lances had dogged them and seemed to be on approach towards the city with what looked like a large force of mechanized hover infantry. The Dingoes had a heap of trouble on the horizon and a possible reversal of their fortunes…

Episode 20 - Death Station
"The town of Hebron was proving a difficult thing to take and pacify, and it held many answers about the White Death’s plans. What secrets lie buried in the soil of Dunkelheim’s past… or hidden in its skies?"

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————-Phoenix Hawk
Dana (Voice)——————————Hunchback
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Black Knight
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Crab
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Griffin
Lee (Priest)——————————-Chameleon
Dylan (Boom-Boom)——————Jenner

The Assault on Hebron continues…

Concentrating on the newest arrivals, the “assault” lance of the Dingoes turned about and opened full fire on the Rifleman on the hilltop. Fixer slipped around behind the new pair of combatants, while Voice, Pitbull and Advocate closed and fired everything they could. The Rifleman and Orion concentrated on Pitbull, shattering his Mech, though he took their volleys and remained standing.

On the northern flank, everyone else rallied to the fallen Major, sniping at infantry, tanks and anything else that revealed itself or got too close. Pockets stayed on over-watch, tracking the descending DropShip to the north-east, while Boom-Boom and Shredder slipped to the southern edge of the town and tried to stay out of harm’s way, their battered Mechs trying to escape. Having failed at getting close to the Major’s Mech for a killing blow, the enemy Exterminator slipped into the scattered northern woods to snipe at Advocate, trying to cover the Rifleman’s and Orion’s retreat.

As the two bounty hunter Mechs slowly made their way down the north flank od the hill, they laid into Pitbull, tearing his Black Knight apart, with the Orion slipping in behind to give him a savage kick and knock him to the ground. The Rifleman still took a savage series of hits, but stumbled downhill dangerously ravaged, with its remaining armor depleted all across its front, its right torso torn apart, and finally fell over. Pitbull, semi-conscious and dangerously over-heated, powered-down.

Glamour and Parish slipped across from the factory, and tore into the infantry platoons trying to get to the lesser factory buildings on the edge of the industrial sector, intercepting them in the woodland beside the ornamental lake. Glamour opened with her flamers, and burned one of the platoons to ashes. Ravenheart and Wraith continued to cover Paladin, doing some damage to the anti-Mech infantry that had closed with the fallen Major’s Mech and was attacking it at point-blank range.

The Rifleman staggered upright, despite serious leg damage, and its (now proven) elite pilot moved off, trying to follow its companion Orion north off the field. Fixer sniped at it somewhat, but Voice managed to hit it again with his Blazer, and that combined with his other laser fire tore off both of the Rifleman’s legs. Knocking the Rifleman to the ground, the Mech auto-powered down, its pilot scrambling to escape. The Orion and the Exterminator moved off through the scattered woodlands to the north, quickly fleeing the field.

Glamour closed with the anti-Mech infantry platoon threatening the Major, ravaging them with flamers, while Wraith tore the tracks off one of the Manticores. While the fallen tank’s crews abandoned the vehicle, the remaining Manticore managed to escape, moving off at full flank speed into the city center. The surviving infantry units began to disperse, and quickly scattered into the town. The industrial sector of town had fallen to the Iron Dingoes.

Pitbull and Fixer closed with the escaping Rifleman pilot. He identified himself as Koenig, of the Quarrel’s Fist bounty hunter group, and offered 50,000 Cs for his release. Pitbull thought about it and accepted, despite a serious desire to squish the elite pilot, and after getting Fixer’s nod of approval, let him drop a roll of bills from his bag and walk away, heading northeast. Pitbull and Fixer then dropped out of their Mechs, discussed the terms and split the roll of cash; Pitbull taking 35,000 Cs to Fixer’s 15,000 Cs.

While Ravenheart and Wraith kept watch on Paladin, who had regained consciousness somewhat, though he dared not try to stand up, the rest surrounded the factory complex and demanded the infantry hunkered in the buildings surrender. After some negotiation with Voice and Advocate, they agreed, leaving their small arms and scattered into the southeastern countryside away from the town.

The Dingoes called in the remaining salvage squads, using the Dead Man’’s Hand Mechs to cover their approaching convoy. While they waited for their arrival, the unit discussed options, and decided they would keep an eye on the town, while the Mechs rotated through repair work back in the Citadel. Sent back for repairs, Voice, Glamour, Fixer, Parish, Shredder, Boom-Boom, and Paladin’s Phoenix Hawk returned to the Citadel (the latter piloted by a Tech, while Paladin was med-evac lifted in the MASH Cobra). This left Pitbull, Wraith, Advocate, Ravenheart, and Pockets to guard the site, along with the hendful of DMH Mechs (Slayer, Solitaire, Valentine and Stargun).

Fixer and Parish managed to effect rapid repairs and within a couple hours returned back to the industrial compound in Hebron. As they travelled along the monorail tracks, they encountered a Skulker from the 1st Taurian Rangers (Baron Sarne’s personal military force), who reported to them that all military forces in their sector seemed to be pulling back to Goldberg (the Dunkelheim capital) or were concentrated in Hebron.

Pockets and Ravenheart ran a quick patrol around the town, and detected it was mostly quiet, with only a single concentration near the center of the community where a number of tanks, light vehicles and somewhere around a pair of infantry companies were holding their ground. Through the night, they kept a vigil, taking turns as some slept and watched for any counter-attack. Meanwhile, Voice and Glamour undertook emergency repairs at the Citadel, and within a few hours were fully active and returned back to the Hebron industrial center by morning, accompanied by the line unit’s armor and infantry assets, who had finished guarding the eastern outpost’s salvage site.

The fresh salvage techs swarmed the factory buildings, determining the local munitions plant to be the “Dunkelheim Ammunition Manufacturing and Services Company” that produced BM-118 Assault Rifles and RPG-7H Launchers, typically used by the planetary militia, along with ammunition and mortar reloads. The third destroyed building had formerly manufactured explosives and other important munitions chemicals. The oil refinery was the “Hebron Petroleum Refinery Company”, the only refinery on the planet. It contained thousands of liters of kerosene and some refined ICE fuel. The abandoned militia’s small arms at the facility were salvaged.

A day passed, while Wraith and Pitbull slipped back to the Citadel to conduct repairs. Paladin, feeling better after being patched-up and given medical attention, made contact with the TF29 command. He was informed that a company of planetary militia (all from a local rebel cell) were being sent to assist in holding the town, with their arrival in a couple days. Repairs on the Wraith’s and Pitbull’s Mechs were determined to be very extensive, and would take most of the next two days. Paladin’s Mech is also in a bad state, taking nearly two days to repair as well.

With a new day’s arrival, an enemy convoy gathered in the town’s center and made its way off to the western approach of town. The ready Mechs (including Ravenheart, Pockets, Voice, Glamour, Advocate and Parish) were sent to stop them, with the line Pegasus and Zephyrs keeping watch on their flanks, while the infantry assisted by Fixer and his Crab, held the industrial site. Quickly meeting the convoy at the town’s edge, the Dingoes identified three Scorpion Light Tanks (hauling sniper field artillery), a Manticore Heavy Tank, three Prime Movers with 80-ton trailers loaded with supplies, numerous light utility trucks and jeeps, and about two companies of foot infantry.

When the convoy was confronted, they threatened (from the identified Manticore) to destroy the center of town and its “Mech repair bays”, unless thye be allowed to leave. Slipping off to the side, Pockets managed to escape unnoticed, and was ordered to check the abandoned site out. Moving quickly, he reached it with his Ostscout in minutes, and found the site to have been the community administration center, with a repair and warehouse facility attached. A single massive concrete Mech repair bay stood in the center, and a collection of construction vehicles were tucked along one side of the compound. Numerous perimeter infantry defenses had been hastily abandoned, including a collection of crates around the warehouse entrance. Using his advanced electronics suite, Pockets was unable to identify any specific threat, though there might be low-tech explosives wired somewhere…

As the convoy slowly moved-off, its tank turrets aiming at the massed Mechs, and the Dingoes waiting for the call to open fire. When Pockets called-in there was nothing terribly threatening about the site, and that there was actually only one Mech repair bay with no tools or supplies, Voice decided to call the convoy’s bluff. Taking a pot-shot at the lead Manticore with his Blazer (and missing), he told the convoy to stand down. The convoy erupted in panic, infantry scattering along with vehicles everywhere. The CO of the convoy, one Captain Serge and his crews abandoned their charges and called for a general surrender. The convoy’s bluff was proven, when nothing exploded and the Dingoes captured most of the convoy intact. Although the techs and engineers of the local Engineering Company had scattered with the convoy troopers and AsTechs into the local town, valuable vehicles, and tons equipment & supplies had fallen into the Dingoes hands.

On the next day, Paladin contacted TF29s command, and officially informed them that the Central Sector was officially pacified. After a short, tense silence, the commanding officer (Colonel Hawkes) repiled “Are you F@#$ing serious?!?” Paladin reported various captured assets and the success of the Dingoes’ removal of all active military forces in the Sector. Colonel Hawkes seemed pleased, promised the previously mentioned infantry, and also offered to send a few of his personal “Rangers” over the next couple days to protect the industrial plants. The Dingoes were ordered to hold the position and await matters in the Northern and Southwestern Sectors to resolve, before moving from Hebron.

Open discussions resulted in the unit spending a couple days gathering their strength, splitting-off with the Dead Man’s Hand to patrol town and keep an eye on the industrial plant. As people began to openly move about the town once more, the Dingoes’ decided that now was a good opportunity to look after rumors of the “Shadow Station” brought to them from Senior Tech Katherine Bolivars comments about the place. With the unit mostly repaired, they decided to take two squads of Stargaurds, a squad of techs and activate * “The Werewolves”. Fixer, Wraith, Pitbull and Voice were to accompany them, each taking control of a separate squad (Fixer the techs, Voice the Werewolves, and Pitbull and Wraith a squad of marines each). Taking the “Crimson Sands”, in hopes the ship’s recent use in salvage operations might not draw attention to their operation, they dragged Tech Bolivar along for her experience and knowledge of the station’s location.

“The most striking feature of the station was the rotation of its ring. The play of light and shadow constantly revealed new facets of the hull’s exterior. Not rotating, however, was the main docking section and its docking collar. This structure along its single spoke was specifically mounted to counteract the rotation of the ship, making docking easier for pilots and for the ship to connect to JumpShip collars.”

Each squad took a separate way in; the two marine squads entering through the empty escape pod airlocks (Quadrants 1 and 3), while the techs and Werewolves came in through the main docking collar (Quadrant 2). Wraith and Pitbull were in their combat suits, as were the marines. Fixer had his Engineer’s Exo-suit, but the rest were only in their combat armor with their favored weapons (though they wre able to seal the suits to use their own air supply). Pitbull was refused his SRM launcher, since the marines didn’t feel it was very conducive to a close-action in the station corridors.

Wraith’s team immediately entered Auxiliary Lab, just off the airlock, while Pitbull’s entered a large cargo bay. The ring seemed to have been vandalized, with lights smashed and various items destroyed. Both left a pair of marines to watch the airlocks and moved deeper into the ring. The Werewolves encountered an airlock to Avionics & Communications, or the long tube-like central cargo spoke of the docking collar. The latter was filled with various plastic shipping crates, strapped to racks along the walls, including one long coffin-like container and several empty animal carry-cases. The Ring’s cargo bay was mostly empty, though the few battered shipping crates and barrels were found to be empty. The Auxiliary Lab was mostly empty, with a central explosion seeming to have destroyed most everything and nearly pierced the ring bulkhead, buckling it. Along the far wall was a collection of lab tables in a big pile.

Voice moved from the spoke into the simulated 0.5Gs gravity of the ring, into a large reception hall, with some seating and a ship’s inter-communications device.

Pitbull’s group moved out of the cargo bay and into what they felt was the bridge; a pair of acceleration couches surrounded by blinking computers, with a large flat screen against the bulkhead wall that displayed the forward starscape (away from the planet) and various camera images along its exterior hull. Wraith’s group immediately tripped over something, when the point-man was “grabbed” as he passed the table pile. His startled scream was met with intense laser fire on the tables from his squad mates and confusion reigned until Wraith was able to quiet things down. The trooper had been clawed at by some sort of bloody appendage, his combat suit’s leg smeared with gore and some strange blue gel.

Pitbull examined the bridge computers, but was unable to do more than get a basic understanding of things from the data he saw. Immediately as the fire-fight in the Auxiliary Labs started, a blaring marching band tune began to play over the ship’s speakers, drowning-out most every conversation. After failing to turn the music off, he called for Voice to get the techs down to the bridge to extract what they could and shut the music off…

Determining the music was uncontrolled from the reception computer, Voice & Fixer with the Werewolves and the techs moved off along the ring, passing various staterooms and eventually entering a large galley and mess hall. Vandalized like most other rooms of the ship, they found one corner of the mess to have had its tables mounted and welded against the wall. Ignoring it, they moved off towards the bridge in Quadrant 3, while Pitbull left two troopers and moved off to see what the fight was about and investigate the sealed chamber. Wraith started to clear away the tables from the corner of the lab where they lie. He uncovered a strange hole carved into the floor with a laser torch (!), that was smeared with a sticky cobalt-blue gel. It led not into a ventilation shaft (as expected) but some other sort of tube that seemed to follow the outside “floor” of the station’s ring.

Once Voice and the Werewolves’ techs had entered the bridge, they examined the ship’s logs and he managed to shut-down the blaring music. Voice noticed, however, as they did so, a computer log-off from some other computer on-board. Pitbull entered the Galley and examined the sealed section towards the kitchens, determining they had likely sealed someting inside, when he heard “scratching” on the tables, followed promptly by “mumbling and snuffling” (Fan-n-n-n-tastic!). He swore, he heard something mumble words back to him when he tried to communicate, and asked his troopers to see about opening the seal. When it proved impervious to casual attempts to open it (and Pitbull reminded the squad senior trooper that a missile launcher might be helpful at this point… “Shut-up Sir”…) he called in some of Fixer’s techs to get a few tools and open it up. When the tech group arrived from the bridge, he was notified that someone “else” was in the ship, and started a room-by-room search of the station ring. starting at the mess and moving starboard past Reception and towards the Auxiliary Labs, past Wraith’s initial drive pod and airlock.

Wraith and his troops moved into the Main Labs, which occupied the entire 4th Quadrant. A series of lab tables flanked each wall past the iris, covered in lab equipment. All lights were smashed and some experiments had been destroyed. Immediately to the left of the iris valve was a large “divet” in the floor bulkhead. Moving through the quadrant, Wraith’s troops encountered a single self-contained science computer (an Ichiban Model/0.5) still displaying a series of data. Opposite it was a high-energy laser of some sort (later identified as a Medium Laser with some sort of modifications and components added to it, “The Hatpin”). None of his troops could identify what experiments were being run. One corner of the lab had been set-up with broken tables and trash, resembling a nest, with another hole cut into the floors smeared with blue gel, but well-padded with torn clothing and sheets.

Pitbull continued his search, and found a dismembered corpse in one stateroom, whose limbs had been literally torn-off… (Fan-n-n-n-tastic! Umm… tech squad? I don’t think we should be opening that barricade yet…), eventually determining the staterooms were empty. An auxiliary bridge was discovered next to Drive Pod #2, though he determined it was not being manned at present. Another hole was uncovered in the staff washrooms, leading into the tunnel and its blue goo-smeared interior.

The ship had been almost completely searched, and the group started to confer over their coms, while the techs worked on the computer in the bridge and the science computer in the Main Labs. The techs determined the following:

- The ship’s computer had no information about experiments aboard, but was conducting transmissions of lab reports every day up to the abandonment of the lab, towards the capital of Goldberg.

- Batches of the reports had been regularly sent every six days to both the capital and to an unknown location in the system. Co-ordinates were available, though access to charts were needed to verify its location.

- A visitor’s roster over the last four months indicated numerous high-ranked staff officers had visited the facility, including Colonel White, and numerous senior infantry.

The science computer revealed numerous other facts:

- Data including experiments numbered, its general title and basic examination of its status.

- Experiment 1067 : Combat Drugs – Complex combinations of various medical compounds, powerful stimulants, neural accelerators, pain killers, and endurance/strength enhancers that combine to create a nearly fearless, ruthless, focused and utterly lethal frame of mind. - Experiment 1077 : Deathpaste – Almost universally banned and reviled, the use of a bioagent and radioactive dust (cobalt in this case) combined with a bio-gel, and used to smear on missiles and autocannon rounds. It exposes dangerous and lethal levels of radiation on enemies to contaminate and slay large portions of the enemies techs and support personnel. - Experiment 1079 : Fiber-Optic Guides – Fibre-optic cables allowing the mounting of lasers in a location other than the one from which it fires from. These guides create extra weight and add an additional critical location in the affected torso. - Experiment 1101 : Hydride Fuel : A non-explosive additive for ICE fuels. - Experiment 1103 : Needle Laser : “The Hatpin” – A standard combat laser modified using energy boosters to produce a beam of less than 1/10th of an inch wide, with a total duration of less than 0.02 seconds. The result is a laser that creates an armor-piercing beam at short ranges, doing a very small amount of damage to its targets location interior, provided it achieves a penetration value sufficient to overcome armor values. The laser weighs more and generates a larger amount of heat per shot.

The knowledge that combat drugs might be running through the atmosphere alarmed the Werewolves and techs (and Voice!), since unlike the others they were not equipped with exo-suits. The Werewolves also commented that maybe they needed to get some for their own purposes in the future…

As the information about “Deathpaste” was being examined, Wraith had just stripped off his suit and was staring into the tunnel in the auxiliary lab, and upon hearing the news, smeared the blue gel on his hands onto a nearby rag, and demanded the unit hurry it, since he now needed a radiation decon shower… It was determined the bridge computer was booby-trapped, and though Fixer and the techs were likely able to disable most of the triggers, when the core was pulled, it would trigger “something” as the power feed left the core. With no means to continue supplying the rate of power needed, they decided to take that core last.

The divet in the Main Labs proved to an access panel that opened up outside the ship, allowing large equipment or experiments to be removed from the ship. It included an emergency bolt separation routine for emergency decompression. Using that access panel, they could get “The Hatpin” and the entire science computer from the ship, though the main lab would be trashed when they did so, salvaging none of the experiments prototypes or other materiel beyond the raw computer data.

When the blaring music statred for a third time, they examined what they had missed. Then it dawned on the group that no one had investigated the Avionics and communications pod near the docking collar. Pitbull led a marine squad to the pod and opening its iris, they found a disheveled and sickly tech manning the single acceleration couch. After a sharp confrontation where he demanded the “pillagers” leave his home, followed by giggles and sobbing, he was confronted about what was going on, but could only relate that “…since the explosion, Johnson had gotten a little… bitey…”. Growing weary of the conversation, Pitbull used his sonic pistol on the tech, knocking him out and after tying him up, moved the far more compliant life-support tech, one Tech Eugene Laforte, to the Crimson Sands.

With most of the loose ends tied-up they evacuated the labship, and decompressing the main labs, they moved the science computer and the experimental laser into its cargo bay. They also looted all the plastic cargo containers from the docking bay, finding them to include numerous consumables (basic clothing, hygiene supplies and packaged rations). A number of them also included several advanced assault rifles and three labelled “explosives” were filled with HE grenades. Packing slips on the crates identified them as being from a munitions plant on Patriarch, dated over a year ago, some time prior to the nuclear holocaust that struck the world.

With only the main computer remaining, the group evacuated the labship, leaving Fixer with a pair of marines to get him out when the core was pulled. The Crimson Sands undocked, and manuevered itself near the escape pod #1 airlock, to one side. Disabling the last few triggers, Fixer detached the core to find all power drop from the labship, forcing the interior into darkness. The trio moved quickly, and made for the nearby Escape Pod #1 airlock, as the ship suddenly maneuvered, flipping itself over… to face the planet directly… The trio managed to get out of the ship, though one marine caught himself on the way out, forcing the three into a radical spin towards the Crimson Sands stationed just a few meters away from the station.

The sudden acceleration of the Shadow Station took them by surprise, but it boosted towards the planet surface on a very steep approach, almost immediately bursting into flames and breaking apart to burn in the atmosphere. Retrieving Fixer and his two bodyguards, the Crimson Sands returned to the starport only a couple hours after it had left, cargo intact and a few more questions answered, though a few more had been created. All evidence of the Shadow Station and its contents were lost except for a smear in the sky and the contents of the hold of the Crimson Sands…


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