Campaign of the Month: June 2014

Battletech : The Farscape Campaign

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…

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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…

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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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Episode 19 - Hebron
"The Dingoes were to secure and hold the town of Hebron, a central market and light industrial center west of the Citadel. However, it was quickly growing apparent White Death might be playing a different game than we thought..."

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 Iron Dingoes had taken a couple of days to refit and repair, and reorganize themselves into lances; Paladin leading Ravenheart, Boom-Boom, and Priest; Voice leading Pitbull, Advocate and Fixer; and Glamour leading Pockets, Wraith and Shredder.

Examining the scout information retrieved from their Force Recon of the Central Sector, the unit decided to travel along the monorail track west towards Hebron, primarily because the roads were suspected of being heavily mined. Along the tracks, about 5 kms away from Hebron was a small agricultural station, about 35kms west of Citadel, and the group would likely be able to get more accurate information regarding the disposition of Hebron’s defenses from the outpost personnel, before striking directly into the town itself. It was discussed activating * “The Werewolves”, but since time was passing the command staff decided to save a days preparations and not use them for a scouting mission of the outpost.

Travelling with the two flanking raider lances on either side of the main assault lance, the unit made good time, reaching the outpost on-schedule. Their AeroFighters and LAMS remained behind on overwatch, along with the “Crimson Sands” with a complement of security troops and techs for emergency salvage ops. The Line Scout and Combat Armor units followed along about a kilometer behind as a reserve, and to hold territory, the Pegasus Scout Tanks in the unit blending their sensor nets well with the two Ostscouts, to keep an eye on matters.

The monorail tracks led just past the station, which was surrounded by a collection of refugees and their tents. A pair of Scorpion Light Tanks, a wheeled APC, a pair of light utility trucks and an armed jeep. No troops were visible, though the teeming masses of several hundred civilians could easily hide any such forces. Lying off to the north of the station was a twisted monorial propulsion unit with three transportation units tossed off the rails behind it, facing east back towards the starport.

With the vehicle engines active, the unit moved closer, and quickly Boom-Boom, Paladin and Advocate moved into the compound, carefully navigating between tents and clumps of refugees. The crowds milled about, shouting various epithets at the Mechs, when suddenly four platoons of infantry leapt from hiding and took prepared positions, among the train station’s various buildings. Pitbull, Voice and Fixer moved to intercept the tanks. Paladin called over the intercoms “Pirate forces step down!”, while Voice detected a quick data burst sent from the main train station towards the west. Voice called out not to fire on anyone, and that he had noticed the signal.

The lead platoon in the station proper called over a megaphone “We do not acknowledge your authority Raiders!”, followed by the two Scorpion Light Tanks barreling out of the compound, knocking tents flying and killing slower groups of refugees as they tried to escape the tightening net. Glamour’s unit surrounded and tore the two tanks to pieces before they could get more than a hundred meters from the massed camp, with Voice and Glamour finishing them off with his Blazer and her flamer. Paladin reached down, picked-up the APC and gave it a good shake… realizing afterwards, it bore the colors of White Death’s garrison troops, not the local Pig-Stickers. The occupants of the APC didn’t get better. Pitbull tried to take a closer look at the wrecked train, identifying the transport units were relatively intact, though the propulsion unit had suffered a bombing attack and lay in shambles.

A quick discussion ensued, with the group trying to decide what to do with the outpost, and they chose to call-in the Crimson Sands and start a salvage op. Paladin shocked the entire unit by tossing aside the APC, and immediately demanded the surrender of the infantry company… who proceeded to surrender, waiting until the refugees were gone before leaving their fortified bunkers. The several hundred refugees soon began a riot, looting the two light utility trucks of the food and medical supplies on-board, while the Force Recon from the Dingoes Line Unit surrounded the camp with its tanks as support, and waited out the riot. It lasted for the better part of 30 anxious minutes, and threatened to get out of control. When the riots began to turn sporadic, the unit had their hired translator “Abudabi” try to inform the refugees to leave the compound and head east along the rails to the starport, where more food and other supplies were available…

With the slow departure of the tattered civilians along the rails, the Crimson Sands arrived, quickly followed by the * “The Dead Man’s Hand”, the enemy infantry in the bunkers began to file out, surrendering their small arms to the Snow Dusters infantry, and gathering together along the south edge of the compound. The techs and security guards from the Crimson Sands began to salvage the vehicles and the train. While Pitbull assisted in examining the contents of the train, by tearing open the containers bent and twisted doors, Voice, Advocate, Ravenheart and “Abu” left their Mechs to examine the station itself, with Voice and Advocate looking for the source of the microwave signal pulse they’d detected earlier. With little chance of any sort of surprise attack, Paladin dropped from his Mech as well, and started talking to the captured infantry, quickly identifying the leader of the unit as one Captain Anton Pavel.

The train was revealed to be carrying two loads of construction materials (duralloy beams, duralloy sheets and pipes : 27 tons each : 3000Cs per ton ), and a surprising collection of thirty-six (36) “Amber Flair Omni 25” Fusion Engines in the third. The propulsion unit was revealed to have a salvageable electric engine (17-ton 320-rated electric engine of unknown manufacture). The various fuel cells spilling out of the train’s engine were also mostly salvageable. Why the train had been carrying this cargo towards the starport at the time of its destruction remained a mystery.

Voice and Advocate searched the train station, finding it lightly armored with concrete barricades and broken into three sections; the main terminal, the baggage-handling area and the basement. The main terminal had been serving as a barracks for the infantry company, with the usual scattered equipment, but no micro-transmitter was discovered. The baggage area had been converted to a small armory and a section cordoned off to hold a small number of prisoners. The small arms included several locally produced assault rifles and appropriate gear to equip another five (5) squads as “militia”. The prisoners included numerous young men and women, apparently for shipment to the capital; no one ever knew why. Among them were a pair of local techs, and a young woman who identified herself as Senior Tech Katherine Bolivar. She told a tale of being from a hidden research laboratory (known as “Shadow Station” ), but that she had evacuated the facility when it had suffered an attack. Voice immediately informed the unit off normal channels of the situation, and she was hustled off to board the Crimson Sands with a “Leash Contract” in her hands to think about new employment… It was decided to keep these facts quiet until they could examine the situation closer for themselves, and that higher command didn’t need to know about this prisoner yet…

Paladin interrogated the captured infantry Captain, though he quickly and willingly gave up all the information he knew about Hebron and the “Pig Stickers”. He listed five infantry companies as garrisoning Hebron, along with a surviving lance of Mechs from the local “nobles”, the Pig-Stickers. They had some anti-Mech infantry, a couple Sniper Field Artillery pieces and a company of armor, along with a collection of techs in an Engineering Company. They were lightly armed for the most part, but had spent the better part of the last few days preparing for an assault. The Captain and his disarmed troops were hustled aboard the Crimson Sands for evac, and the unit moved off towards Hebron, leaving their remaining troops to garrison the salvage site, as the work would take the rest of the day.

Continuing off west towards Hebron along the tracks, the Dingoes encountered a short spat of long-range artillery fire from the city center, but after a half-kilometer, it ceased and artillery began to launch a cordon of flak around the nearby skies of Hebron, keeping any sort of AeroFighter strafing runs an impossibility. Spread across the eastern plains, the Iron Dingoes avoided the roads on their approach. Voice’s heavy lance in the center position, Paladin and Glamour swept swept their lighter lances to the north and south.

A Manticore Heavy Tank was dug-in along the eastern entrance by the main road along with two platoons of infantry. To the south, the refinery was surrounded by a trio of munitions shops, and the rubble of an entire section of town that had been leveled by repeated explosions. A company of infantry were positioned in armored bunkers on the corners of the refinery, while the munitions plants each had a platoon of guards. Arrayed around the refinery were four Mechs; a Thunderbolt, an Awesome, a Locust and a Wasp. Pockets noticed with his long-range sensors, a trio of Mechs dropping fast and hard from orbit, that would be landing somewhere in the area within a minute.

Paladin’s lance flanked the armor and infantry guarding the main road, and the tank and infantry immediately pulled-out. The Manticore retreated back down the main road into the town, while the infantry platoons ran for cover into a nearby building. Voice’s lance clumped together and approached the town along the rails, though Voice himself slipped off into a clump of woods and began to snipe at the Awesome along the south edge of the refinery. Glamour’s lance moved quickly across the low hills, and began to flank around the southern edge of the refinery.

The Thunderbolt first moved off to support the center, but seeing the large number of Mechs moving towards the refinery, it swept back around the north and tried to link up with the Awesome. The Locust also started to move off and scout the advancing forces, but pulled back along the north of the refinery, skirting around the western edge to run into Shredder along the south-western corner of the refinery, who tore it apart with several well-placed shots from his medium lasers and flamers.

Boom-Boom slipped into the flank of the retreating Manticore, but was surprised as a platoon of infantry rose from a passing building to “fire-bomb” his Jenner with incendiary grenades, spiking its heat, and then launch a number of anti-Mech rockets at him. The Manticore also fired on the Jenner, severely damaging it. Boom-Boom quickly moved away from the site, jumping off into a section of woodlands near an ornamental lake to the south. Wraith moved into the position abandoned by the Manticore, sniping at it and the infantry, who managed to scatter into their target building for cover. Paladin slipped next to the Manticore and took a couple shots, when a pair of Saracen Hover Tanks accompanying a Maxim Hover Transport moved along the road from the west to first fire some long-range missiles at Wraith, and finally SRMs at Paladin and Boom-Boom. Ravenheart slipped along the side, sniping and taking shots of opportunity, when she activated another hidden platoon of anti-Mech infantry, launching incendiary grenades and rockets at her Ostscout.

Pitbull, Fixer and Advocate moved closer to the refinery, shooting at both the Awesome and the Thunderbolt as they presented themselves, as they returned fire. Glamour and Pockets moved to flank the Awesome and the Wasp; Pockets tore the head off the Wasp with a well=placed shot, forcing the Awesome to close ranks with the Thunderbolt along the south-east corner of the refinery. As Voice closed for a number of tight shots at the Awesome, it savaged him back with its massive PPCs. Retreating to cool-down, Glamour took Voice’s place, closing and “over-killing” the Awesome while spiking her own Mech’s heat to dangerous levels. Priest also followed her and let loose a series of energy shots, and combined they tore through the armor of the Awesome’s Center Torso, managing to shatter the engine shielding around its fusion engine, and allowing the plasma to literally burst from the machine and consume it in a flash of bright light.

To the north, as the Maxim and Saracens slipped off to the north in a swift retreat from the field, a second Manticore moved up main street from the town’s center, and firing at anyone that presented themselves, moved to link with the severely damaged first Manticore. All Mechs along the north began to fire at the infantry in their refuges, forcing them to slip back out and seek other cover. Ravenheart and Paladin smashed through the refuge of the second infantry platoon, taking some damage, but making them run for other cover, as well. Paladin, still suffering from several well-placed shots to his Phoenix Hawk tried to stop the hover tanks, but took a savage volley from each, knocking him over and doing damage to himself in the fall. The remaining northern lance Mechs closed with the pair of Manticores and tore apart much of their armor, but the strength of the Manticore’s armor allowed them to survive the assault with hard shots from their Medium Lasers and SRMs.

To the south, the units were beginning to take sharp hits from the infantry platoons under cover of the factories. Shredder, tiring of the attacks, struck back by firing on the south-western munitions shop; it reacted by exploding into a massive fireball, doing a 50-point explosion that nearly consumed his Mech. Shredder’s left (Panther) arm went flying off and the Mech itself nearly collapsed, knocking it out of the fight. The Thunderbolt took a savage series of hits from everyone, blowing armor off everywhere (except its head), and eventually Priest damaged its gyro and touched off the ammo bin for its LRM-10s, blowing the Mech to pieces. Glamour, Voice and Priest all took a few seconds of valuable time to cool-off and re-assess their situation.

Fixer, Advocate and Pitbull turned from the refinery, to watch as an Orion, and a Rifleman landed on the eastern hills. An Exterminator (originally listed in the Dingoes’ War Books, as an Enforcer); a medium Mech that was a former assassin of battlefield commanders. The heavy and assault Mechs disengaged their drop-packs and demanded the unit not interfere in the “…Lawful execution of a House Marik contract for the life of Major Michael Ruxbundy!” Paladin panicked, and struggled to get upright, but failed (twice!), and fell over on his Mech’s side, knocked the Major unconscious. The Maxim and Saracens moved off-map, fleeing the battle with a minimum of damage to themselves. Ravenheart smashed through a warehouse to reach the Major’s side, scanning quickly for any other nearby dangers.

As the rest of the northern Mechs closed to finish off the now trapped Manticores, Pitbull, Fixer and Advocate all begin firing on the newest arrivals, while the new Mechs returned fire (the Rifleman using PPCs!). With the fall of Paladin, Voice took command, charging everyone to “…!@#$ the infantry, take out those tanks and Mechs now!” Glamour, Voice and Pockets moved up from around the refinery, to face their new challengers. The Exterminator simply moved behind the hill it had landed on, and began to dissappear from sensors. Pockets detected a series of largish blips on his computer sensors; seemingly a DropShip was burning in for a landing about 10kms northeast of Hebron…

So far the Dingoes had taken as well as they’d gotten…

<<the>>

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Episode 18 - Hunter, Be Prey
"With the fall of Citadel and the retreat of White Death's forces, we began to send out recon teams and bring supplies to the starving masses of Dunkelheim... but White Death wasn't going to turtle in Goldberg anytime soon..."...

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 (Pockets)——————————Ostscout

With the fall of Citadel, the Dingoes were granted a 48-hour window to effect repairs and see to their salvage. They were also informed they should expect to take over responsibility for patrols and pacification of the western region, known as “Central Sector”.

While repairs began, rumors began to be spread among the downed DropShips, that the “Claimjumpers” had mostly retreated from the area surrounding the starport, though handfuls were still positioned in strongholds and outposts nearby. Raids by small lance-sized units of armor and Mechs were still occurring, and convoy travel remained dangerous. The infantry among the planet’s militia were well known to love mines along the roads.

With repairs completed, the unit and all other mercenary forces were ordered to abandon the landing zone and effect a sub-orbital jump to a designated spot in the starport perimeter, which was effected quickly. The starport was awash in a steady stream of shuttles and DropShips arriving at the landing zones, as fresh troops, and tons of medical and food supplies were unloaded to aid the colonists after their three years of captivity. Among the most noteworthy sights, was the appearance of the battered “Star of Glory”, the Overlord-Class DropShip that had survived the initial landings of the “Black Banners” and several independent mercenary groups. Having effected orbital repairs, she landed with a great “Crump”, and the collapse of one of its landing gear.

Consumables were issued the unit (as per contract), and the unit asked their liaison officer, Cornet Katherine Podalla “Ravenheart” to see about acquiring ten tons of stadard armor and a dozen heat sinks from regimental supply, which the unit took on company store (175,000 Cs total). The day was spent trying to sort-out the logistics of several hundred soldiers and machines set-up barracks, and the local defenses were improved. Large portions of the off-loaded materiel was ear-marked for the refugees known to soon be swarming the area, and was accumulated into makeshift dumps around the old warehouse district. It was also noted a small salvage crew was at work on the ruins of the orbital missile bunker, cautiously salvaging torpedoes and naval missiles.

With the down-time, Pitbull tried his hand at mingling with the local mercenary survivors; the unit that had survived were becoming known as the “Lost Boys”. There was a lot of card playing, swilling of brews and more rumors that the mercs had joined the op knowing it would be a hard mission, but the pay was too good, and they had each been promised inclusion into a “special unit” in the Concordat military at the conclusion of the present contract. Voice tried to access the war footage, and study the tactcis being used by the opposition. Glamour tried to quiz Ravenheart, getting some barebones information on alternate landing fields, and learned about the airfield in the southern mountains near the Southwestern Sector capital of Lords. It was rumored the region had a very large military.

On the morrow, the Dingoes formed into a trio of traditional lances to begin patrols of the Central Sector. Using Ravenheart (Ostscout), the unit added Stargun (Jenner) and Shredder (Firestarter) to the roster, leaving a lance of the Dead Man’s Hand as a reserve and to guard any salvage or medical convoy required in the near future. The ad-hoc company was to be; Paladin leading Pockets, Stargun and the Chameleon piloted by a temporary hire from the dispossessed “Lost Boys”. Voice leading Pitbull, Fixer and Advocate. Glamour leading Ravenheart, Wraith and Shredder. They intended to have their Force Recon of the Snow Dusters two platoons to spread across the sector, doing what they do best; talking to locals and finding out what is going on in the region. They also left the two primary AeroFighters on standby, as well as the Crimson Sands for an emergency boost when needed. Since the entire area of the Central Sector to patrol was roughly 40kms on a side, they expected to take an 8-hour patrol to follow the entire border, and return later that night to Citadel.

The initial survey went well, but as they neared the western border with Goldberg’s (and the White Death’s) lands, both Ravenheart and Pockets picked-up a collection of roughly two squads of infantry camped in a thick copse of trees. Paladin’s lance moved forward, guns trained, as the units dug-in, and hunkered down. Ravenheart also identified a lance of Mechs moving slowly behind a nearby ridge and closing. Waring her unit, Ravenheart and her lance slowed to hold the far south of the field, while the central Voice’s group moved into position atop and behind a series of hills, and Paladin’s unit stayed to cover the infantry. Paladin’s speakers and war-cam picked-up “babbling” in Arabic, which he could not understand, but made sure whatever they were saying was filmed. He felt, there was something about their tattered military fatigues and equipment that made them seem more than just refugees, but could not really identify what or who they might be. The Crimson Sands was called to boost in to retrieve the infantry, and a section of duty guards were called in from Cerberus Command to accompany the DropShuttle. ETA was 30 mins.

When the enemy Mechs came over the ridge, they were identified as a Jenner, a Valkyrie, a Vindicator and an Archer. Since the pirate groups of the White Death’s forces tended to paint themselves in similar fashion, based on each separate command, it was obvious they were two separate groups; Voice further identified the Archer as one of the two the group had met near the missile bunker when they had assaulted the command tower. It was apparent, as they quickly ignored the central lance and closed with Paladin’s unit, that they might intend to attack the refugees.

The enemy Mechs immediately turned away from Voice’s lance and the Valkyrie and Jenner ran towards the trees along the north edge. They met the fury of Paladin’s lance, and a swirling melees ensued. These two Mechs loosed all their fire into the woods, though only a single medium laser managed to chew through the woodlands and strike the clustered infantry. The Vindicator and Archer moved towards the infantry, but were quickly swarmed by half of Paladin’s and all of Voice’s lance. Paladin managed a snipe on the head of the Valkyrie, while Pockets, Stargun, Advocate and the Chameleon pilot “Dingo Pack Tactics” assaulted the Archer, scattering shots all over it. Voice sniped the Vindicator. The entirety of Glamour’s lance held back on the southern hills, keeping themselves in overwatch and looking for any other dangers.

With fire attacking the refugees, Paladin called on his lance to defend the woods, and as they pulled back, they engaged the Valkyrie and Jenner point-blank. Advocate got off another lucky shot and tore the head off the Jenner with his PPC, killing the pilot and taking the vehicle out of the fight. At the same time, the Vindicator pilot took a critical shot that blew through its torso and tore apart the shielding to its engines, forcing a heat overload. The Vindicator managed to get a couple shots that tore apart the legs on the Chameleon, damaging its hip actuator and knocking it over. As the Chameleon pilot powered down, so did the Vindicator pilot, removing both Mechs from the fight.

The Archer pilot backed away from the fight, and up along the ridge, but received the attention of Voice’s lance and started to get torn apart. The Valkyrie was swarmed by several of Paladin’s unit. With a valiant charge, Voice closed with the Archer, and as it fired several flights of LRMs into the woodlands, eradicating the refugees, his “Maser” tore the head off the Archer with a single shot, taking the Archer from the fight. The Valkyrie took a couple shots, but seeing the lead pilot go down, and facing its own swarm, recognized it couldn’t retreat, and wisely powerd-down. The Dingoes held the field, following this quick, brutal fight.

Glamour immediately, as unit field medical officer, moved to see if there were any survivors, while Pitbull covered the Vindicator, and Paladin’s people covered the Valkyrie. Voice called in a med team and a salvage convoy to take care of the wounded and fallen Mechs. The Line Armor was to escort the convoy, as well as the remaining four Dead Mand’s Hands. The pilots of the enemy Mechs were ordered to stay where they were until the infantry arrived on the Crimson Sands, and after a tense 30 minutes, the DropShuttle arrived, and the enemy MechWarriors were taken into custody. with the arrival of the salvage squads and the convoy, the Dingoes pilots began assessing the situation. Glamour and VOice tried to identify anything that might have survived the refugees, but craters and unidentifiable remains were all that had survived in the woodland.

Pitbull started an interrogation of Rahvin Stone, the Valkyrie pilot, and he proved to be very hostile, claiming the Jenner pilot had been his brother. Very little of importance could be pried from him, however, and all they learned was that he was a part of “The Pig-Stickers” a local band of pirates that ruled from the central town of Hebron. It appeared that the Archer pilot had been a chosen lieutenant of White Death himself, and the three Pig-Sticker pilots had been requisitioned for the mission with no knowledge of what it was for or why they were doing the attack.

The other pilot, Sitarra Hewitt, from the Vindicator was far more quiet and compliant. Both pilots were secured aboard the Crimson Sands and sent back to Citadel, though Rahvin required “subdual” from the medical team. The Chameleon was given an emergency repair, replacing its hip actuator with the Field Repair Gantry. The Jenner was retrieved by the JetCopters, while the Archer was loaded on the Meadowlands; the remaining two Mechs would be walked back with the convoy, using techs as pilots.

As repairs began, Pockets identified a pair of jeeps along the outer edge of sensors, apparently trying to skirt the unit and moving quickly towards the east. He and Ravenheart moved quickly to intercept them, and discovered a handful of civilians in military trucks loaded with tools and a few personal effects, who surrendered as soon as they closed. Pockets simply grabbed one of the jeeps and moved back to the salvage field, and Ravenheart followed by telling the crew of the second truck to follow.

Upon returning to the camp, it became obvious that Ravenheart could speak Arabic, if only in passing. Her discussion with the refugees (who kept shaking their shoes at Pockets) related several important facts about the “Overlords” and the state of affairs in the Sector. The most noteworthy, was the fact that they were among the first of possibly many thousand refugees who had been abandoned at the camps, since the militia forces had been recalled to Hebron to defend the factories there. It seemed like the Pig-Stickers were improving their defenses of the sector capital by any means necessary. The civilians were offered protection with the returning convoy in a few hours, which they accepted… though they still swore at Pockets and shook their shoes at him. They also asked for the Dingoes to find their daughters; the Pig-Stickers had been taking young women with them when they left the camps, as well…

Once the repairs were complete and the convoy on its way, the remaining Mechs began to travel their perimeter patrol, and they encountered no other people, though they found several abandoned camps, sometimes with evidence of rioting and possibly the slaughter of small groups of refugees. Returning to the starport well after dark, the unit brought their machines in for repair work and rearmament.

Taking the next day for continued repair work, they took stock of the situation, learning a few matters regarding the other mercenary patrols and the state of affairs in the nearby sectors. Glamour took the opportunity to take a close flight in the unit’s Stinger LAM to maintain her skills, and then “glamourized” for the remainder of the day. Pitbull and Advocate hunted down Ravenheart and requested a friend of hers in the resistance be “hired” as a unit translator. Paladin had his recordings downloaded and sent to C&C for examination. The two pirate pilots were taken away for interrogation by regimental command. The Snow Dusters returned and verified the fact that most of the refugee camps had been abandoned, and that there was a growing struggle between the three local sector’s military forces. White Death’s stranglehold might be slipping.

Given the fact that the regional defensive militia had been recalled to the captial at Hebron, it was agreed that the Dingoes should strike the town as quickly as possible. They began to organize fireteams and discussed weapons load-outs (to inferno or not to inferno). The Dingoes also reviewed what information they knew about the capital (unit strengths and resources), noting that the two primary targets to secure were the munitions factory and the oil refinery. With a day or two to prepare, they would soon strike back at White Death’s troops.

The only question unanswered, was why would someone sacrifice an entire lance of Mechs to silence some refugees?

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Episode 17b - Trojan Horse : The Fall of Citadel
"The line Mechs had managed to find a way into "the Citadel" through an abandoned mine shaft, and were now able to freely range throughout the fortress... at least until they tried to blow something up..."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

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

It was during salvage operations that Fixer came up with the idea. Watching a salvage crew lose power to their tools, it dawned on him that the naval laser towers (and probably most of the other weapons systems in the Citadel) were reliant upon their main power for the bulk of their fire control systems and power. Informing the Major and Wraith of his thoughts, the plans to hit the naval laser towers were modified…

It was decided to activate *"The Werewolves", who were immediately ordered to search the administration building for any information of value they might find. They left even before repairs had fully begun on the the line Mechs, giving them about an hour to search for something regarding the source of the main power for the Citadel. After repairs were complete, and the prisoners packed into the salvage convoy, the unit decided to give the Werewolves an additional half-hour to finish their raid. Word came that the unit had entered the facility, and encountered “…a very large dog-like creature with bony armor covering its entire body… the skull seemed especially tough, and its claws were both sharp and fast…”. The guardian of the admin facility destroyed with no casualties, they continued to search the complex. By the deadline, they reported they had found some maps of the starport grounds (circa three years ago, pre-Invasion), repair records on DropShips and shuttles, and a diagram showing engineering protocols to connect the starport’s power generator (located under the Citadel Command Tower) with improved air ventilation… one of which ducts connected from the basements directly into the Command Tower’s lower levels.

With an opportunity to take out the main power generator, it was agreed to give the Werewolves another hour to slip into the lower Command Tower and plant sufficient demolitions charges to disable the generator. Fixer figured it would take the compound about a minute (6 game rounds) before any secondary generators activated, so the Dingoes had a window to assault the naval laser towers before they began targeting them. Timing their departure, they gathered at the mine-head, and 30 minutes later began moving into the compound in a long line, still organized by “Star”. The “Ice Wraiths” and “Frost Angels” stayed back and dug-in to ensure the Dingoes had an exit.

Moving across the compound the Dire Dingoes and Dead Man’s Hand swung wide past the infantry barracks, and approached the command center and its three naval laser towers from the northwest. They passed an APC broken-down and being repaired by a lone tach, and also encountered a small convoy of six trucks filled with infantry and what appeared to be AsTechs moving from the western gate off towards the DropShip assembly grounds. Ignoring the AeroFighter Hangar Bay, they managed to get within 1/2 a kilometer of the north-west tower, when a lance of Mechs approached their position, hailing them. Consisting of a Vulcan, a Trebuchet and a pair of Javelins, they moved at a slow pace, and appeared to be moving north. Unable to get the Werewolves on comms, the Dingoes began to open fire on the first tower as they approached and passed it, with the designated Stars choosing their assigned towers and tried to keep either their target or the central tower as a shield against attacks.

The first salvoes took the approaching support lance by surprise, and only sporadic fire against the trailing members of the unit. The Dingoes ignored counter-fire and concentrated on eliminating the towers as quickly as they could. After the first salvoes, the towers began warming-up their systems, and the turrets went active, when suddenly a lone tracked APC burst from the Command Tower, spun a quick donut and moved off to the south away from the area. Assuming this was their commando team, the Dingoes moved to flank them and continued progressive fire on the second towers, when a large flash came from beneath the Citadel, and plasma burned-out from every opening along the lower levels. Power immediately went down, as a pair of Wasps sauntered into the area from the south. Continued fire from the trailing Dingoes tore apart the structure of the first tower (labelled “Tower A” by command), while the leading MEchs attacked the second tower (labelled “Tower B”).

A Catapult and a pair of Patton Heavy Tanks appeared among the rises from the north, and moved directly towards the trailing Mechs, but remained at least a minute away from contact. The Vulcan and Trebuchet fired-off long-range shots, one getting a lucky round from its AC/2 to strike the Chameleon’s head, and rattle Pitbull. As the lance reached the ruins of Tower A, the Wasps leapt into the woods west of the Command Tower, watching, but not engaging the leading Dingoes Mechs. The Catapult and pair of Pattons rumbled through the rubble piles north of the tower, still trying to close. A lone tracked APC moved in from the north, making a direct bee-line for the central tower, ignoring everyone.

A pair of SRM Carriers and a couple platoons of infantry appeared near the missile bunker, and while the former began moving to intercept the lead Dingoes Mechs, the infantry moved around the main entrance to the bunker and tried to dig-in. The sight of twenty SRM-6 packs moving to intercept the rapid elements of the Dingoes, frightened them into slowing their approach, while the slower elements in the Dingoes managed to reach the crumbling Tower B and savage it with rounds of close-in weapons and melee assaults. Slayer, using bravado, moved into the south edge of the forests, luring the Wasps in for an attack, while the other pirate units swept around both sides of the command tower firing salvo after salvo at the trailing Dingo Mechs, but doing little severe damage. Another tracked APC moved in from the north, rapidly travelling across the rubble piles towards the command tower.

The rapid destruction of both “Tower B” and “Tower C” (the furthest west tower) in a matter of a few seconds, however, altered the fight. The lead elements of the Dingoes switched fire to the SRM Carriers, and Slayer nearly took the leg off one Wasp, forcing them to quickly retreat. Slayer then moved to the edge of the woods and sniped a shot into the damaged front of one SRM Carrier, blowing it apart. Stargun bounced forward and followed-up with a lucky laser shot, and did the same to the other one as it retreated. Valentine took a couple shots, but her “…elite piece of Star League trash…” Ultra AC/5 jammed again, and reduced her combat potential significantly, and she withdrew from the fight to the south.

Power was restored in various towers and facilities across the compound, but the only support the defenders could give was scattered fire from the laser turrets in the Citadel itself. The Dingoes moved out of range of the central tower, crossing the open plain to the west and closing with their remaining target, the missile bunker. A pair of Archers appeared near the bunker and moed to defend it, firing several salvoes of deadly missiles at the approaching forces. The missile lance of Vulcan and Trebuchet followed along closely behind Dingoes, stopping at the forest edge.

Behind the trailing Dingoes Mechs, a Maxim and a pair of Saracens appeared, moving rapidly across the field to flank them. The lead elements of the Dingoes began firing and attacking the missile bunker, taking sporadic fire from the dug-in infantry and Archers. As the central “Star” moved to divert the Archers’ fire, the two support Mechs were forced back, and retreated towards the rubble hills taking scattered fire. The Wasps moved to assist, while the Catapult, Trebuchet, Vulcan, Javelins and Pattons gathered at the edge of the woods to snipe into the trailing Mechs. The first tracked APC from the north entered the shattered lower maintenance bays of the command tower.

As the units began to coalesce in the area south of the missile bunker, the damage began to be felt on both sides, especially with Slayer, who took a full salvo of four LRM-20s, losing an arm and taking serious other damage. Pockets leapt behind the Archers, taking various shots of opportunity, and Stargun charged the hover tanks, firing wildly, while the rest of the DIngoes tore apart the missile bunker. Glamour, in her haste, stepped into a rubble of a portion of the collapsing bunker and tripped. It was later identified she’d snagged her foot on a White Shark Torpedoe…

When the bunker finally went up in a gout of collapsing masonry and smoke, the Dingoes called-in “all-retreat”, and all units disengaged, fleeing south with all best speed. The remaining pirate Mechs and tanks scattered off to the north and east, fleeing the facility, and refusing to engage anything. The remaining Dingoes Mechs managed to leave the map (despite some wiching to “claim the field” and fight it out further), and pulled back to the mine entrance, sweeping past the fairly empty infantry barracks and leveling it as they passed.

Things began to happen rapidly after the Dingoes raid. Having taken the bright shot of light and power-outage as proof that the Dingoes had succeeded at hamstringing the compounds’ AeroSpace defenses, the supporting forces began their assault on Citadel;

Low level attacks on the walls by AeroFighters laden with bombs breached the defenses in several places. A full battalion of infantry mounted on APCs moved in a rapid dash to gain the walls along the north, while a company of heavy armor moved into the compound and began chasing lone APCs and Mechs away from their defensive posts. The remaining Mechs of the “Black Banner” and its surviving allied mercenary forces assaulted the walls from the east, while “Bane’s Badgers” and “Veruca’s Visigoths” took the west. Meanwhile, a pair of infantry squads came through the tunnels used by the Dingoes to aid in holding the “secret exit”. A trio of heavy VTOLs carrying an infantry platoon each, landed inside the compound along the orbital catapult rail, taking cover and digging-in.

With all these units in position, the final assault began. As forces from TF 29 moved through the compound, pirate infantry, armor and Mechs began a full-scale retreat, scattering away to the south-east and north-east. The final proof of the fall of Citadel was as the pirate DropShips began to launch from the starport in a rapid succession of blasts, followed closely by the handful of remaining AeroSpace Fighters. Both a Triumph and a Condor DropShip were unable to lift-off, swarmed by TF 29s infantry forces, but the remaining spheroids (a pair of Unions, a pair of Lions, and a Dictator) managed to claw into orbit and reach safety. The Citadel had fallen…

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Episode 17a - Trojan Horse : The Tunnel Rats
"Our contract with the Taurian Concordat had led us to particiate in the invasion of a border world, Dunkelheim. Full-scale war was nothing new to us, but this time, we were prepared, and intended to meet the enemy on our own terms..."

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 (Pockets)——————————Ostscout

Having secured their landing site, the “Brush Wolf”, “Pandora’s Box”, “Crimson Sands” and “Dingoes Den” dropped near their ground forces and deployed the unit’s security forces. Bane’s Badgers Union-Class DropShip, “Star Digger” quickly followed suit, as did the Visigoth’s loaned Union-Class DropShip, the “Seething Rage”. With security forces deployed, Ravenheart declared the site secure, and within the hour several spheroid DropShips from the 1st Taurian Rangers also dropped on the site, and construction crews began work on a quick airstrip for TF 29s Aerodynes and AeroFighters. Taurian forces deployed their own security, and the Dingoes were able to relax a little, while repairs began on the line units. They deployed the remaining Dead Man’s Hands to keep an eye on the perimeter, as well.

As morning dawned, word came down that local resistance fighters had made contact with the C&C, and that a major had landed from the orbital command staff, and was organizing some sort of “Special Duty”. The Dingoes officers were called to report to ground control, gathering most of the line command, including Capt. Fionna Lord and Valentine, though Wraith & Pitbull stayed behind. Ground command was revealed to be a pair of Swift Wind scout cars on either side of a ballistic nylon tent, hidden among the Taurian Rangers DropShips.

In the meeting, they met some of the local resistance leaders (one of whom knew Ravenheart quite well, from her stay on-planet), and the ground command officer, Major Halverson. He detailed that a battalion of armor had been deployed against the LZ, along with several strike forces of VTOLs, while a battalion of infantry garrisoned the Citadel. The bulk of the base defenses were still intact, and orbital command was unsure of the safety of their position; the bulk of its landed assets were busy trying to maintain the LZ perimeter.

Since air-space control was still something of a stalemate, the supply DropShip was trapped in high orbit with the bulk of their reserve forces, and with a feared lack of supplies TF 29 had only two choices; push ahead with the assault, or pull the forces back to high orbit and abandon the campaign. Baron Sarne has determined to push ahead with the assault, but was fearful of the remaining Aero assets at the Citadel as well as its naval laser towers and orbital launch facility. No one had expected this level of resistance. Its defenses remained strong; a ring wall, trencheworks, minefields, laser towers with supporting missile bunkers, and would require the remaining strong force he had intact on-planet to level the defenses; the Iron Dingoes.

The Resistance had knowledge of a hidden entrance into the compound; an abandoned mine shaft dating to the original colony, that opened near an old ore processing facility in the southern portion of the compound. The mines provided access to a dumping ground used by the garrison for trash, sewage and general rubbish, and once the Dingoes had access to the compound, they could choose targets at their whim. Since the compound was large (5kms across), there was a good chance they would be mistaken for native pirate units and should avoid conflict until the shooting begins. Once it has become obvious they are eliminating the various defenses (a large explosion inside the compound should do nicely), Taurian forces would begin their assault on the compound itself, with the 1st Taurian Rangers, Bane’s Badgers and Veruca’s Visigoths attacking along the west, the Black Banners and other surviving mercenaries from the east, while a select force would drop directly on the compound from Baron Sarne’s orbital reserve.

The Major suggested concentrating on the command tower, but the orbital missile facility, the naval lasers and any Aero defenses the garrison might have were all viable targets; he admitted the Dingoes would have a better understanding of the defenses once they were in the compound itself, and should act on whatever targets of opportunity presented themselves. The leader of the local resistance tried to stress the importance of keeping the starport facilities as intact as possible, since it represented a lifeline to his starving people. He also suggested searching the admin buildings, since maps and other intel would be at the site, and it remained quite abandoned and unused by the pirate garrison.

One hour was allocated for planning and organization, and since the entire attack force was dependent upon the success of the Dingoes raid, they decided to take all their active Mechs; both the line units and the Dead Man’s Hand into the tunnels. It was quickly decided to assign Alpha Platoon “Ice Wraiths” of their Force Recon to sow confusion. Broken into single squads, they would try and take a naval laser tower, and use it to fire (at least once) on another tower as a distraction. Another squad was to search the maintenance buildings, while two squads were to “cause a fuel spill” in the fuel processing lines leading from the tanks to the processor. The command group discussed activating *"The Werewolves", and they were chosen to search the Admin building for whatever information they could find. Beta Platoon, the “Gray Ghosts”, were to accompany their Omega Command Group of two Pegasus Tanks to hold the compound side of the entrance once the Dingoes had exited the tunnels.

The Mechs were quickly reorganized into three “stars” of five Mechs each, based on movement and range capabilities for the assault. Paladin, Fixer, Wraith, and the Clooney Brothers, Gunman and Shredder were assigned together. Pitbull, Advocate, Stargun, Solitaire and Ravenheart were in the second group. The third consisted of Pockets, Slayer, Voice, Glamour and Valentine. Rearmed and sitting with full repairs across the board, the unit headed out to the hidden entrance, escorted by Cornet Spencer, a local resistance fighter. The short trip through arroyos and among the impossibly tall insect mounds of Dunkelheim’s surface went without incident, and they approached the mine entrance about 5kms south of the Citadel.

Entring in a long line, the group of MEchs slowly made their way through its depths, noticing the place had been dug with large machinery, probably IndustrialMechs, and so passage was quite easy. Keeping the support units with their Jackrabbit hoverbikes and Pegasus tanks well behind the Mechs, the whole unit followed the designated tunnels, eventually reaching a large powered elevator that led to an upper level. Travelling a short distance, Ravenheart and Pockets noticed a number of EM signals coming from a large chamber ahead, somewhat near the entrance to the compound. Ordering the lighter, more fragile Mechs to remain behind, the majority of the line Mechs swarmed into the chamber to find a large, bottomless chasm cutting across their access. It was bridged by a single large engineering marvel of stone and iron. A pair of UrbanMechs waited behind the bridge among a mass of stony outcroppings, and a pair of laser bunkers were built like hornet’s nests on either side of the cave. As the Dingoes stormed into the chamber, a Zeus, a Victor and a Banshee activated behind the UrbanMechs and a fight began.

Fixer, in the lead, took withering fire, was knocked over, and promptly pulled back. Glamour managed to get two hits on the Zeus, striking it once in the head with a medium laser. The Zeus and Victor moved across the bridge and Pitbull, up to the challenge, declared no fire on the Victor, taking a wild charge on it intending to knock the Mech into the depths of the chasm. The right-hand UrbanMech came under a vicious assault, was knocked over and promptly powered-down. The Victor made several powerful shots on Pitbull (including a pair of head hits from the UrbanMech and Banshee), but took Pitbull’s charge full in the torso and fell over into the chasm. As it fell, it savagely kicked Pitbull’s leg off, knocking him over as well, before the falling (undmagaed) into the lightless depths and out of the fight.

The Banshee moved across the bridge, as the remaining UrbanMech followed along, holding the bridge. Voice charged the Banshee in a desperate assault, but missed, though Voice took a savage kick it in response. The remaining UrbanMech took severe fire from Glamour and Stargun, tearing it apart and knocking it over, forcing it to power down. Various combined fire destroyed the right-hand laser bunker.

Paladin moved in behind the Zeus and as the Mech was surrounded, it took a combination of fire from various pilots, but suffered a hard shot from Valentine’s AC/5 Ultra, blowing through its armor and igniting its ammo bays. The resulting explosion tore it apart, clearing the space enough for Wraith to step towards the Banshee. Various other fire destroyed the left-hand laser bunker.

Firing from a prone position on the ground, with his heat almost off the scale, Pitbull fired a last volley into the Banshee before his heat spiked, and his Mech automatically shut-down. Wraith cracked the Banshee in the head with an SRM, and the machine also took severe damage from the remaining pilots, until eventually it took a hard shove from Wraith, and fell back into the chasm near the bridge, managing a last minute kick that tore all Wraith’s armor from one leg. The roars of the combat echoed back and forth through the caves… but, the Dingoes held the field.

Quickly rounding-up the two surviving pilots from the UrbanMechs, the group decided on their next action; they hadn’t thought about extraction or salvage. Pitbull was out of any further fight, and they needed to do something about that. Replacing the leg would take hours, and that wasn’t really an option in their present circumstances. Pitbull decided to go over and start interrogating the two captured UrbanMech pilots, while Captain Lord arrived with her troops. Dispatching a Pegasus back to the entrance of the caves to order a couple salvage crews with a repair gantry on a Meadowlands Transport to salvage the Black Knight, the unit decided to break-out the Chameleon as a replacement, escorted by “Typhoon Lance” from the Line Combat Group, held in reserve.

With time to wait, Pockets located a strange recurring EM field in one corner of the cavern, and it was further identified as a low-level power signature, coming from a mech-sized metal door covered in debris. Quickly digging it clear, the Dingoes identified it to be locked with an electronic mechanism. Fixer broke-out his tools and deftly managed to open the barricade, revealing a small “maintenance closet”, with a pair of odd-looking DVM-3 MiningMechs, cocooned in a pair of maintenance bays with a collection of tools and parts.

Pitbull succeeded in intimidating the captured pirates enough to learn the pair were stationed at the bridge as guards against casual intrusion, and had recently had the three assault Mechs assigned when TF 29 had assaulted the starport. The pair knew very little about the garrison or any watch-words, though they insisted repeatedly that “…the White Death is everywhere! He knows what you’re thinking, man… like all the time…” Despite their drug-addled nature, the group put them under guard (rather than toss them down the chasm) with the salvage crews in the Meadowlands to be returned to the LZ.

With the arrival of the salvage teams about an hour later, the crews spent an hour activating the MiningMechs (ignoring most of their attached systems to save time), and cleared the bays to allow the unit repair three Mechs instead of just the one. They stripped the UrbanMechs of armor from their legs, while the MinigMechs were activated, and using these pieces began repairing Fixer’s savaged Mech. Meanwhile, Voice and Wraith had their severely depleted leg armor repaired from the patches found in the cache, and within a short period of time, were able to move out of the cavern. The gantries, tools and parts were salvaged to piece together a third mobile repair gantry for the Dingoes. Using the MiningMechs as salvage machines (with their active lift hoists), they began dragging the UrbanMechs from the chamber back to the LZ, while the Black Knight was loaded onto the Meadowlands and Pitbull took charge of the Chameleon for the Dingoes foray into the compound… The Dingoes mission, labelled “Trojan Horse” entered the most dangerous aspect of its operations…

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Episode 16 - Operation : Overlord
"It was time to put Heroditus behind us; not only because of growing scandals, but because we'd done nothing but spend money... plus, we needed the break from all the media rumors that were starting to fly about the unit's love lives..."

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 (Pockets)——————————Ostscout

Having stored the salvaged Mechs and supplies in the Dingoes’ Den, the piots caught some rest, and waited for the dawn. Contacting their known agent with “The Ruler”, they were informed a “Mr. Jewel” would be arriving to “settle-up”. A discussion began among the command staff regarding the terms of the arrangement, and they thought maybe they could re-negotiate the terms when Mr. Jewel arrived.

The man that arrived stood 6’+, wore a lime green suit of a fine cut, and in addition to jewelled rings on every finger, he had the snarling tattoo of some wind demon running across the left side of his torso and arm, peaking out from his neck and wrist. He got down to business, asking after what was salvaged, and though he listened to the Dingoes’ offer, he demanded one of the Chameleons, and all of the salvaged Mechs (Panther, Dragon, and Wasp bits), in exchange for the other Chameleon and all twelve of the VR pods… he even offered the software control chips as a bonus… The group agreed without question. As Mr. Jewel left, he handed a video chip over to Pitbull, and with a mysterious smile, left…

The chip contained footage of the entire raid on the utilities facility, from the Dingoes first shots all the way through its final attacks and ending with the Dingoes’ VTOLs arriving and proceeding to spread-out, dropping infantry and tech salvage squads… The Dingoes’ logo and badges were very clearly presented and it was obvious from the makes of the Mechs involved, that it was the Iron Dingoes that had raided the facility. The mob had the Dingoes in check… it was a warning they would reveal everything if Mr. Jewel did not get his agreed salvage.

Later that day, a handful of prime movers arrived at the starport, and identifying they were there to pick-up a “package”, the Dingoes’ techs started organizing the salvage for loading on the movers. Several techs from the couriers verified the salvage as correct, while Pitbull contacted his unlisted number, and also verified that the prime movers had been sent by Mr. Jewel. With everything checked-out, the transfer began, and the lead “black-suit” gave a steel case holding thirteen VR Software Control Chips to their control. The techs quickly verified the chips were okay, by using one to power-up the Chameleon they had captured, and the prime movers left the starport.

The “Mob” matters behind them, the Dingoes began to examine other options. How many pods should be kept? They finally agreed to install four in both the Dingoes Den and the Brush Wolf, while the remaining four would be mothballed for later use or sale. They verified the command console in the Chameleon was active, and began to run specs how they might alter the Mech to better prepare it for combat. They began a series of slow repairs on the damaged units, from their recent raid. Finally, they began to put out word they wanted to trade their remaining salvaged Mechs and began looking for a Griffin, a Phoenix Hawk, and a couple others.

As the next couple weeks went by, while waiting for the return of the JeriCorp Tramp, it was becoming increasingly obvious that their stay on Heroditus needed to be shorter and not longer… Various news agencies were clamouring to get interviews with the PCs regarding their time on Heroditus. Within a few days of their viewing the Vid-Chips, footage began to circulate displaying their raid, though it had been severely edited, and did not show exactly who was involved (though if you knew enough about the Dingoes, it was hinted…). Lastly, a late-night cable channel called “DINGO WATCH!” had begun to play. It featured a camera pointed 24-7 at the starport launch pads where the Dingoes were parked, and had open commentary with “specialists” regarding technical aspects of the Iron Dingoes Mech choices, and who was dating whom…

A single tech applied and was hired from the local mercenary net, and the Dingoes conscripted both of the green-rated techs they had captured from the “Raiders” who were based from the utilities facility; more to keep them under watch than anything else. The Dingoes were able to trade their Hermes-A (from the Dead Man’s Hand), the Major’s Spider (from the Dire Dingoes), and their salvaged Thunderbolt from the Stargun Incident, for a Phoenix Hawk and a Griffin. The Major “upgraded” to the Phoenix Hawk, and Advocate traded his Firestarter to Nick Clooney for the Griffin, replacing his now sold Hermes with a better line Mech. Pitbull co-opted the new Tech to serve as his personal Technician (at last settling on a personal technician for his Mech).

The eventual arrival of the “Vagabond” brought other good news; a contract. LtSG Dajus-Marik informed Pitbull and Advocate of the news, and arranged to meet with the agent (known only as “Dropbox 92”). Arriving at Myrmos and taking an office in the Arcade for such matters, they met the man, identifying himself as “Subaltern Stark”, of the Taurian Concordat and his two accompanying techs. Pitbull recognized them as the odd techs who had been working “special programs” on the VR Pods at the Arcade, for the last several months. Subaltern Stark informed the two warriors the contract was a “Planetary Assault” mission, that it was well-paying though rather dangerous, and that they would be a part of a force of other mercenaries to serve in the unit colloquially called the “Junkyard Dogs”. Taking this information back to the Dingoes, they were told they had been chosen because their profile and results in the simulator pods had been “appropriate”, but that they needed to commence negotiations and have the contract locked-down ASAP.

Taking this information back to the Dingoes, a command meeting was called and after a short discussion, the group agreed to accept it, but that pay per squad and mercenary control of salvage were the priority. They met back with Subaltern Stark the next day, and Advocate began the actual negotiations. At first, acquiring a doubled remuneration took most of their negotiating power, and they gave-up much of their re-supply offers to retain full salvage rights. The contract agreed to, they were quickly assigned a Liaison Officer Cornet Katherine Podalla “Ravenheart”, and Comstar assigned Adept Creed as their contract guarantee. The last provision in the contract for unit salvage, however, demanded that anything deemed “…of strategic value, such as naval weaponry, Drop- or JumpShips, and military-rated manufacturing facilities, remain the property of the Taurian Concordat, though proper marketable recompense be returned to the capturing parties…”. An odd, but reasonable request. The contract was signed, and the unit moved forward and finalized matters.

( Contract – “Operation : Overlord” ).

Since the plan involved a planetary “hot-drop” on System – Dunkelheim, it was decided to include three other pilots from the Dead Man’s Hand in the initial landing units, to bolster their attack strength and give them valuable drop experience. It was decided to assign Trooper Elias Whitlocke “Stargun” to the Jenner in the reserves, and appoint him, Senior Trooper Valentina Masterson “Valentine”, and Senior Trooper Dale Taylor “Solitaire” to accompany Ravenheart as drop support. Voice, Pitbull and Fixer were assigned as part of the connection to the Intelsat “Predator’s Eye”, giving them improved range on their weapons systems. Last miute loading and finalizing negotiations with the Vagabond, the unit prepared to leave the growing controversy revolving around the Dingoes behind them.

The fleet (listed as “Task Force 29”) gathered and met together towards the end of the month, and on July 30th, 3017, the entire fleet jumped out-system towards Dunkelheim. Consisting of four Invaders, two Merchants and a rare Explorer-Class JumpShip (the Fleet command vessel), they were quickly joined by a final unit, the mercenary AeroSpace Company “Armageddon Starlines”, with their pair of Avenger-Class Assault DropShips, several lances of Aeros, and a Condor for its techs and support staff. Units gathered consisted of “Bane’s Badgers” (a full Mech company with their own Union and a pair of Aeros), "Veruca’s Visigoths (a pair of heavy Mech lances, no transport), “The Black Banners” (a mix of several small commands, amounting to 17 Mechs who had recently combined under their own company), and several lances of smaller, independent mercenaries, amounting to roughly two companies. In addition, the expedition was led by Baron Kenton Sarne, and his 1st Taurian Rangers, a mixed forces regiment of Mechs, armor and infantry, well-supplied with Aero support and engineers, as well as several small armor and infantry militia units from the Taurian Concordat to act as garrison and security troops. Finally, Baron Sarne had brought a collection of his own House troops, intended to be a reserve force for long-term support.

With the fleet gathered at the rendezvous, the final plans were laid-out. Upon jumping into Dunkelheim, TF 29 would follow a simple battle plan. First Stage : Claim Air Superiority. Second Stage : Assault and take the starport to use it for resupply efforts. Third Stage : Eliminate any loose bands of marauders in the area around the starport, and begin liberating the prison camps and isolated civilian populations. Fourth Stage : Assault Goldheim (planetary capital) and destroy the White Death’s forces on Dunkelheim.

The initial assault on the starport would be broken into three waves:

Wave One : With Armageddon Starlines as primary support, the Union-Class DropShips “Cayuga” and “Kennedy” will drop the independent mercs, while the “Black Banners” will follow in the Taurian Overlord-Class DropShip “Star of Glory”, to drop on the eastern side of the starport, and draw fire from the Citadel, allowing the rest of the operation to follow.

Wave Two : Consisting of the Iron Dingoes, Bane’s Badgers and Veruca’s Visigoths, along with their DropShip support, will “hotdrop” on the west side of the starport, establish a landing zone and eliminate any patrols in the area, to facilitate a landing field for TF 29s infantry and armor support units.

Wave Three : The 1st Taurian Rangers will land to establish a ground base on the landing field west of the starport. Depending on resistance, the combined force will then assault the Citadel of the starport, and once the starport is secure, remaining assets will be gathered at the starport, and contact begin with the next stage of the plan…

Thus with their plan in hand, the combined Task Foce 29 jumped out-system.

Panzyr :

The gathered fleet jumped without incident. The system was an abandoned Liao border colony. The fleet appeared near the systems’ ruined Nadir recharge station. There was a distant contact reported as a Scout-Class JumpShip left the system on the second day, but nothing came of the incident.

During the wait, Tech Ishikawa organized a “Meet-and-Greet” among the Dingoes, with everyone gathering for a feast and drinks to allow all the new hires to be introduced to everyone else. The activity was well-recieved, and morale went up. The unit then jumped out-system.

Hochbaden :

The system of Hochbaden was a Liao colony that had been left to itself over a century ago, and had been assaulted and ravaged in mid-3013 by unknown forces. Many believe it had been the forces of the White Death, who had eradicated its defenses in record time and destroyed all its orbital colonies in short order. The ravaged system was now abandoned and considered haunted.

About three days into recharging the fleet, an Aero patrol from the 1st Taurian Rangers reported contact with a pair of unknown “close escorts” (200-ton small craft), but quickly disengaged to report their findings. Armageddon Starlines dispatched their Avengers and a close escort of a wing of Aeros to investigate the encounter, and followed a faint sensor reading to a gas giants L5, which identified a small asteroid base. Initial attacks eliminated the two close escorts, and a follow-up raid from Baron Sarne’s personal troops captured both the base, and its accompanying Scout-Class JumpShip with a Triumph-Class DropShip aboard her. Sending a prize crew and clean-up work by the 1st Taurian Rangers, took an additional week, but once the unit was guaranteed the Scout was operational, it left the ship to join TF 29 in Dunkelheim.

Dunkelheim :

Despite several years of yoke under “ClaimJumper” rule, the Nadir station appeared to never have been occupied, though it had been stripped of salvage. After a scout force assured the safety of the location and a lack of the ClaimJumper Fleet (rumored to count a pair of Invaders and a Merchant), allowed TF29 to deploy sails and prepare for the planetary burn to Dunkelheim. The burn in-system took almost three days, and the DropShip fleet met no resistance until it approached close orbit…

Planetfall : The Dingoes dropped their forces along with their companion mercs with Wave Two, and in-transit discovered that the initial plan had worked; the First Wave had met a strong resistance force of Aeros, naval missile spreads and highly accurate laser fire. The DropShips “Cayuga” and “Kennedy” had been destroyed, dropping only a handful of troops, while the “Star of Glory” had scattered its troops widely in its maneuvers, but had managed to reach high orbit mostly intact. Several Aeros had been lost, but the defenders orbital satellites had been eradicated, and several of the ClaimJumpers Aeros destroyed.

The initial drop went well for Wave Two, having had most of the defenders attracted to Wave One’s activities. All three of the Dingoes drop lances landed, though Paladin and Wraith had troubles in the last part of the drop, and Pockets nearly landed on Stargun. Word began to filter in that the Badgers and Visigoths to the north and south were being probed by heavy resistance, and a pair of J.Edgar Light Tank lances and tracked APCs slammed into the Dingoes…

The fight was a case of probing attacks by both sides, with the hover tanks trying to sweep around the unit, while the APCs and their infantry held the ridges to the east. Initial fire from the Dingoes was sporadic, but eventually they managed to immobilize half the tanks before they could slip past the unit, and the Dingoes scattered widely across the plain to make their escape difficult. The APCs were mostly destroyed as they dug in with their infantry, but when the light armor was chased-down and immobilized or destroyed, all APCs tried to escape. Only a pair managed to slip back to the east, and the infantry was eliminated with flamers and machineguns. The Dingoes held the field with scattered and light damage to its units.

Word came that their comapanion mercenaries had met serious resistance in the form of a company of heavy hover tanks (Saladins & Saracens and a lance of J. Edgars) each. Word came that the Black Banners and the handful of surviving independent mercenaries to the east, had taken heavy casualties; down to eleven Mechs, with ten disabled and three unaccounted for. With relative quiet on the western front, the unit was able to take a short breather, improved when the unit Liaison officer, Ravenheart, called in a strafing run on the retreating armor, and it was decided to bring in the Dingoes DropShip assets and make their present battlefield the landing zone. Positioned 20kms from the Citadel, it was almost ideal, allowing close support with the unit’s artillery and other defensive assets.

With the arrival of the Dingoes’ DropShips, security troops were dispatched to give the Line Mechs the chance to rearm and repair, and commands came from the TF29 Command and Control (C&C) that eight hours would be granted for emergency repairs, while DropShips began to land from the rest of the fleet, and engineers from the 1st Taurian Rangers started to clear a landing field for Aerodyne and AeroFighter repairs and refueling. With the approach of dawn, the assault might finally begin…

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Episode 15 - The Games People Play
"We had money. We had salvage. We even had a rep (sorta). But it was the games we'd played that got us a contract..."

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

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

We woke from issues surrounding our experiences in the School of Hard Knocks, with a message from Arlana and JeriCorp; she needed to take a contract. We had originally agreed to her waiting a month, which had just passed, after which she would need to look for another contract to pay her people. She had acquired a short haul contract to Victoria in the Victoria Commonality that was expected to last six weeks. She couldn’t turn it down, but promised to return after the trip to settle our contract talks as an interface JumpShip for the Dingoes.

With more than a month of downtime sorting-out all the issues resulting from the “Sunburst Incident”, we spent much of the time trying to reorganize our assets with the reconstruction of the now named “Brush Wolf”. Assigning the Line Mechs and AeroSpace to it was easy, but it also brought its own set of problems. The freed space in the Dingoes Den’s Mech bays allowed us for the first time, to grant the Dead Man’s Hand a dedicated series of Mech Bays. The real problem, however, was the Brush Wolf’s lack of space for a dedicated Marine squad, as well as the needed technical squads. The construction efforts were made easier because of the already improved life support facilities aboard the Brush Wolf, and even after it was all done, we made money from the equipment we salvaged. We stripped the former lounge areas to build a series of dedicated “infantry” bays sufficient to house two platoons of infantry, and promptly filled them with a marine squad, several squads of dependents, AsTechs and the dedicated Techs for the Line Mechs. The relief in space was quickly pressured again, as we began to acquire more new hires.

Advocate managed to conduct a series of interviews with many of the former crews from the “Hot Booty” and “Hot Rod”, since they were now out of work, and we acquired most of a full crew for the Brush Wolf, including a steward/medic. The crews had a month to learn tehir new vessel before we would need to call upon her for duty once more.

Deciding to keep the Thunderbolt scavenged from the Stargun mercs, because of its potential value once we’d improved it to “Dingo Standards”, we found a buyer for the Archer and Centurian, and using the income from that trade took a large list of vehicles, supplies and equipment in trade, along with a smaller share of cash. In the exchange, we also managed to locate a 250-rated fusion engine that we adapted to upgrade Voice’s Hunchback, giving it improved movement speeds and swapping-out its AC for an experimental “Blazer” to bring the Mech to “Dingo Standards”. In the pile of parts and supplies arriving at the Dingoes Den, Advocate tried to smuggle a req for a motorcycle, but was denied by Paladin’s eager eyes.

In addition to the usual handful of techs, medical paramedics and infantry troopers we managed to recruit, we also found a couple interesting individuals who applied to fill our MRB listed officer positions. The first was Trooper Jessica Burlingame “Slayer”, known among the local underground Mech Dueling League as a tough pilot. She claimed to have heard all the news and wanted to sign-up and serve a tour. Second was Lieutenant JG Dominic Reed, a retired naval engineer, seeking to travel and in need of a job to do so. Lastly, we managed to find a Planetologist; Doctor Carolyn Lamb, a civilian with a skill in pharmacology and knowledge of diseases that seemed very capable.

The last we found, was a battered mercenary infantry command, called “The Last Bastion” of five squads of troops who had recently arrived from a Periphery system; System – Patrician. Apparently a world wracked by civil war and over-run by rogue mercenary bands and worse, its various city-states were divided between loyalties with the regional great powers. The surviving unit included a veteran junior officer Lieutenant JG Jerri Holden and their former patron, Lord Henry Fitzroy. Both troops and officers were valuable additions to our unit, though they brought with them their own collection of dependents.

With only a month to wait on matters, people began their “downtime training regimens”, with everyone following their own personal agendas. Pitbull, in particular, hit the Arcade with regularity, seeking information about any “spare” VR Pods lying around, but found little information to help him at first. Eventually, he was able to find-out the Arcade had once had several smaller “labs”, and that a number of VR Pods went missing along with various “training assets” when the government took control of the facility. Using Lt. Chase as a liaison contact, he was able to find-out that a group led by the mysterious figure, “The Ruler”, were likely a good source of information regarding finding such rare items. He was warned they demanded cash up front and of the “buyer-beware” manner of their activities.

Talking to the local protocol expert, Tech Ishikawa, he learned nothing of note, but speaking with LtSG McGuire gave him the information that “training assets” likely referred to a couple Chameleon training BattleMechs. Also, he intimated that use of such equipment likely required access to large quantities of power, water and other utilities.

Taking a trip down to the New Hedon Municipal Hall with a pair of the admin staff and Advocate, Pitbull began a multiple-day journey through the difficult bureaucracy of New Hedon’s government. Advocate was reminded the last time he’d tried using the hall had led him to winding-up in a tattoo parlor, and so also was not looking forward to the incident. It took the group two days of forms, lines and healthy bribes just to gain access to the city’s utilities network and study its massive snarl of systems. A couple days later, they had determined that the Academy had fallen to the city government right after the Libertines seized the planet; one of their first tasks was to consolidate their utilities into a single multi-acre facility, and they abandoned several smaller facilities in its wake. Looking over the records of the city utilities, they noticed an increase in utilities usage in one of the “abandoned” facilities about a season or two ago… Bingo!

Taking a trip out to the facility, the group scouted the site. Based in a poor, almost slum area of town, the facility was a collection of sewage recycling, electrical transformers and storage warehouses, surrounded by a retaining wall. The gates were guarded by a unit of infantry with a medium transport truck, in local “Lone Star Security” uniforms. It was obvious work was on-going at the facility involving heavy machinery, though sensor ghosts made identifying exactly what the units might be. A quick investigation of the locals revealed the group was believed to be Lone Star Security, and that they had been occupying the facility for months now; no one questioned their motivations; it was not a good idea to get on the wrong side of Lone Star Security…

Pitbull called a general meeting of the command staff, explaining that he’d found the location of the missing VR Pods, but their retrieval would likely result in three possible endings. One, they could inform the local government, which would likely result in them having Lone Star Security retrieve them, or they could inform Lone Star directly, and suspected the result would be the same; they get a pat on the back and a cookie. Two, they assault the facility to seize them, but if the unit was a secret Lone Star training facility, they were in trouble, not to mention it would likely attract too much attention. Third, they could contact the Ruler, and see what they coud do about getting access to the facility.

Taking the Football out on the town, Pitbull, Voice, Glamour and Advocate (noticeably excluding Paladin in the venture), went to visit a small dive bar known to be the hang-out for the contacts from the Ruler. The small, dingy bar proved expensive, and once it was obvious the group had cash, they were approached by a dark, mysterious man who answered their questioned as vaguely as possible. They were able to learn, after more cash, that the group at the facility was not Lone Star Security, but rather a band of rogue mercenaries known as “The Raiders of New Hedon”. For an additional payment, they were assured the items the Dingoes were looking for (Chameleons and a group of VR Pods), were indeed present, and in exchange for a 15 minute window of distraction provided by the Ruler, the Dingoes would have to pay 50% of their salvage. After a quick discussion, they agreed.

The problem quickly became how to access the facility. While it was obvious the Dingoes could boldly assault the place, they needed to do it quietly, and so some other means of accessing he facility needed to be found. It suddenly dawned on the command group that the facility was a utility compound… sewers! Their contact with the Ruler confirmed that sewers were extensive in the city, and accessible to MEchs, but that they were a maze of connecting tunnels and no map was forth-coming. Glamour remembered that they had a contact with the Underground MEch Dueling League; “Slayer”. She likely knew how to get around the city tunnels in her Mech, and so they agreed they would take the place in two days. Their contact offered to give them a more detailed listing of their opposition the following day, and the command staff departed.

With “Slayer” willing to be their guide aboard the borrowed unit’s Jenner (while “Mannequin” was down for repairs), they made their plans. They intended to use their VTOLs to retrieve any of the small units they might salvage (flying fast and hard, and NAP), as well as bring in a small number of Salvage and Recon Squads to secure the site and salvage anything they can find In salvaging for this mission they knew the time limit would be something difficult to overcome. They decided to put their two “travel permit” Meadowlands and the Football in the nearby neighborhood with the remaining salvage squads at the ready. Finally, their contact from the Ruler let them know that their opposition included six Mechs (2 Heavies, 2 Mediums and 2 Lights), a lance of light armor, and a number of infantry squads.

At the last minute, Pitbull convinced a local at the starport that the unit was moving supplies between their DropShips and a warehouse complex on Governor’s Island. Although the initial bluff failed, the heavy bribe convinced him to look the other way, provided the Dingoes didn’y leave the Island facilities, nor caused any trouble. It was also decided to declare the VTOLs were under-going “night training maneuvers” near the targeted utilities complex, and a flight plan was officially registered.

Making their way through the cavernous sewers, the Dingoes broke into the utilities compound along the south wall, exiting from the recycling tanks. As the Dingoes reached the facility on time, word came over local comms nets that a series of explosions had ripped through a couple nearby construction sites, and someone had blown the planetary beacon. The distraction had begun.

Slayer, Advocate and Pitbull moved off to the west around the tank farm, while Paladin, Voice, and Fixer moved off to the east, and Glamour bounced through the recycling tanks and a light woodland that had grown-up in its midst. Glamour took a couple shots at the guards and blew their transport up at the entrance to the main warehouse at the facility, while Fixer and Voice took pot-shots at the parked Striker Light Tanks near a small series of warehouses near the complex center.

Fixer took up a position in the street with a clear view of most everything in the middle, while Voice came around the corner with Paladin. Pitbull “parked” himself near the corner of the warehouse, while Slayer and Advocate moved forward. Running from the warehouse came a Wasp, a Panther and a Dragon. The Wasp took a full shot to the Center Torso from Voice’s experimental “Blazer”, and blew it apart with one shot. The Dragon took some shots and moved slowly into the center of the complex, while the Panther took a withering series of blows, and bounced up onto the complex, away from the warehouse entrance. Another set of Mechs exited the facility, including a Marauder, a Phoenix Hawk and a Wolverine. Paladin closed with the infantry at the gate, flanked by Slayer, and combined they tore apart the guards and blew apart their truck.

Voice moved into the rear of the Dragon, taking apart a Striker Tank in the process, while Fixer continued to snipe. Paladin concentrated on the Marauder, while Advocate bounced up onto the roof next to the Panther and tore off its leg with a swift kick. Glamour moved around to the north of the warehouse, and was confronted by a pair of Scorpion Light Tanks, and a pair of wheeled APCs. She managed to get into the back of the Wolverine, and let loose a full salvo into its rear torsos, chewing through armor.

In a sudden reversal common to the Dingoes, Fixer managed a lucky shot with his large laser, and tore off the head of the Dragon, knocking it over and killing its pilot. The Panther tried a few half-hearted snipes with its torso SRM, before eventually powering-down and abandoning his Mech. Although the APCs disgorged a couple squads of infantry, Glamour blew apart one APC and ravaged the infantry with her flamers. The Marauder took a series of hits from Advocate and Pitbull closed and took off its leg, knocking it over as well. The Wolverine, after taking a couple shots at Advocate, bounced back to the complex wall and tried to withdraw, though Paladin, Slayer and a couple sniper shots from Pitbull failed to stop it, before it bounced off into the surrounding suburban area. The Phoenix Hawk, totally unscathed, bounced off into the eastern suburbs taking a couple shots from Fixer, but evacuated the area as well. Glamour tore apart a Scorpion Tank, and its crew and the other two surviving crews abandoned their vehicles and ran. The remaining APC tried to escape by taking the long way around the complex, but met Fixer and he tore it apart.

The Marauder refused to power-down, and continued to shoot nearby targets, until Voice declared “Dingo Pack Tactics” and everyone closed on the Marauder to finish it off with a brutal series of kicks and close-in weapons attacks. Glamour slipped into the facility, finding eight temporary Mech cubicles, two of which contained a pair of Chameleons. With the minut-long battle over, the VTOLs arrived soon thereafter, and the Meadowlands Prime Movers came, spreading the unit’s techs and infantry throughout the battle site. The group found a hover jeep in Lone Star Security colors and a collection of supplies and ammo, watched over by a pair of female techs. Taking the techs as conscripts (though not trusting them), the unit salvaged all the ammo, and misc supplies (which turned-out to be several tons of bio-fuels, three tons of explosives and thirty-five tons of domestic food).

The techs quickly rigged the Wasp bits into a cargo net on a Sktcrane, while the Panther was strapped under the other, and the units were dispatched back to the starport. A pair of the Cobras were stuffed with as many of the supplies as could be scavenged from the site, along with the jeep and its Techs bundled aboard under guard. Finally, the Chameleons were dropped onto the Meadowlands, though its Tech crews discovered the machines had something wrong with their motivational controls. The vehicles were also quickly dispatched with an infantry sqaud each to keep watch. Finally, the VR Pods were packed aboard the last Cobra along with any remaining TEchs and Infantry, and sent off on the short hop back to the starport. Pibull and Glamour grabbed the Dragon’s legs and the whole unit slipped back into the sewers below the city, trying to make good time back to the starport and their DropShips.

Slipping back to their drop-pads, the unit took stock of their salvage, and techs closely examined both the VR Pods and the Chameleons; they were determined to be missing their software control chips. An integral part of the training routines for both electronics suites, the unique design of the machines made them an integral part of their mechanism, and they could not be bypassed… someone had their means to actually use the things. The captured techs admitted they had been missing since the Raiders had found them, otherwise they would have been piloting them.

NOw the unit needed to negotiate their share of the salvage with “The Ruler”. But the real question, was what were mercenaries doing with explosives and a Lone Star hover jeep…

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Episode 14 - The School of Hard Knocks
"The colony was saved, our salvage was astounding, and we had some street cred on Heroditus... now how do you get a pack of vampiric leech lawyers to release their hold on a pair of DropShips?"

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

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

Location : Stargun Airfield, Heroditus, the Periphery

We spent the better part of a two days accounting the salvage from the battle for Little Heaven and performing a series of close searches of the two captured DropShips. Modesty spent time each day in “duels” with Wraith, providing a little entertainment to our crews in betting who would win. Modesty proved to be a surprisingly capable swordswoman, and was possibly augmented, as well, with cybernetic neural nets. Other than her over-bearing personality and cutting words, she was very quiet and kept to herself in her locked closet aboard the Dingoes Den. When things seemed secure, we held a staff meeting and discussed where we stood, and where we should go from here.

It was decided that we needed to re-think our assets, and either drop our weight class or find a means of improving our existing Mech engines and speeds. Ultimately, using “Dingo Pack Tactics” was one of our key reasons to watch our cruise and flank speeds, and it was decided to stay with a minimum flank speed of 85 kph. Various plans were drawn up by Glamour and Fixer, and supply lists were made for future reference to find the tools and equipment we needed to hit that profile unit-wide.

The unit also looked a little closer at the hard-copy equipment lists Fixer and Wraith had pulled from “The Barnyard” curio scrapyard in Myrmos. Several items were noted as valuable, but would have to wait until we could actually inspect them a little closer in a couple weeks.

It was agreed our plans for “tapping into” Modesty’s neural core was not possible with our existing tech and skills.

Advocate spoke with Talker Muriel about establishing ties with New Hedon, to better organize matters for the future of her people. She spoke with her council, and they agreed; she would travel to New Hedon as Little Heaven’s “ambassador”, build a consulate office, and establish formal ties with their parent nation. The Dingoes, for their help in stopping the raids, were granted “citizenship” papers in Little Heaven, allowing them to act as attaches to the consulate and make a formal and fully legal claim on the two DropShips of Sunburst Enterprises.

After a day of packing and plans, we sent a pair of tech squads back along with an infantry squad, Advocate and Talker Muriel, aboard the Crimson Sands for a quick sub-orbital hop to New Hedon’s starport. It was the first time she’d ever flown, and Talker Muriel had a rough time of the short trip. They spent the rest of the day giving a tour to Muriel of our “home ship”, before making plans for the trip to the Libertine Council’s Hall.

Back at the Airfield, we packed the salvaged Mechs (…a headless Centurian and headless Thunderbolt, and a mostly intact Archer) up out of the valley to the “Hot Booty”, and tied it away for later transport, while the rest of the Mechs prepared to travel in a convoy north to New Hedon the next day. The Dingoes Techs finished studying the cryptography on Modesty’s computers, and using one of their best computer Techs, Tech Brandis Turgan, they were able to crack it. It revealed the following;

  • The “Hot Rod” had been engaged in hauling several ship-loads of convicts to the Stargun Airfield, from Scrope Correctional Facility for “…community service…”.
  • Dame Modesty Scrope had been issuing direct commands to these convicts and assault teams, to “…dispirit and impoverish the colony so that they will be willing to sell their lands cheaply…”.
  • Various financial transactions from several New Hedon banks to certain accounts had been made, though the exact names and accounts are unavailable; just numbers in the millions have been transferring recently.

They also interrogated the flight crews of the “Hot Booty” and “Hot Rod”, determining they were fairly innocent of the whole matter, though some were minor members of “House Scrope”. It was decided that they would fly their own DropShips back to New Hedon, along with a squad of infantry on each ship to ensure they get there… A handful of convicts were rounded-up, and their testimonies taken regarding the whole incident. The command staff also inquired of Lieutenant SG Jenna Seedar as to whether they could access some “truth drugs”, and her shock and dismay against using them was backed by the fact they had to avoid getting a “coerced” testimony, so the idea of chemically interrogating Modesty and the convicts with such serums was abandoned.

Advocate went with Muriel to the Libertine Hall, and began a series of bureaucratic snafus that led to eventually meeting with Protocol Officer Shaka Ben Suzuki, a government political officer assigned to assist Muriel in establishing a consulate in the city. Muriel was given a series of addresses to check-out for the offices, and three names; “Bassinger & Bailey”, “Weiss, Terra Nova & Sung”; and “Zeal Associates”, to be contacted if the consulate needed legal support for anything. They were listed as equally eminent and skilled.

The first, slower Mechs of the Dingoes left the camp, while the remaining faster Mechs remained to escort the Dingoes Meadowlands Carriers, remaining Tech crews and “the Football”. The group would rendezvous several days from now near the edge of the jungle. Once the convoy had reached the outskirts of the city, the DropShips (hosting the rest of our infantry) would rendezvous at the Starport, and formally filed papers would lay claim to their possession at that time.

In New Hedon, the offices chosen were in “Harmony Tower”, a 69-floor glass and steel monstrosity near Myrmos that many of the similar mining colonies to Little Heaven were based from. It had a reception area divided in half by a low counter, three offices along one side, and a long, thin boardroom along the other. A secure safe had been built into the support beam of the plush, corner office. The tower itself actually had private halls and a roof garden suitable for hire in functions and meetings.

Advocate chose and contacted the law firm “Zeal Associates”, informing them of everything the group was involved in, staking a formal claim on the two DropShips as “spoils of war”.

Later that day, Advocate and Muriel formally met with PO Suzuki, who informed them of some of the protocols for the upcoming meeting with the President of the Libertine Council, a discussion about clothing and, of course, the present… “What present?”, asks Muriel and Advocate at the same time. It quickly becomes apparent, through the horrified PO Suzuki’s babble, that having a gift to give at the presentation to Gabriel Fur’ Seng-Geng, President of the Council of Herotitus Libertines, is the accepted protocol. It should be both representative of the colony or realm, and be “delightful”.

Advocate inquired what does Little Heaven export, to which she replied “Cigars, Bauxite, and a little Dream-Fern Resin…”. “What’s Dream-Fern Resin”, asked Avocate (echoed by the rest of the group). Muriel identified it as a noxious weed that grows widely across Little Heaven’s valley; it has only one redeeming quality, it helps with pain when processed properly and consumed. While the Dingoes second medical team (a handful of former bio-chem students), examine what information they can about it… Doing a little research, the Dingoes determine that “Dream-fern resin” is not registered anywhere as a narcotic, but they think they might finally know why the Scropes were interested in the valley.

The next morning the bio-chemical analysis of the Dream-Fern Resin was made available. It is indeed what they think it is; the resin can be processed to provide a base chemical used in the production of a local drug, known as “Waste” by the streetwise. Although it has potential use in medicine in improving alertness, boosting self-esteem, and increasing libido, it is also highly addictive and prolonged, regular use (over 6 months) causes neurotoxicity and amphetamine psychosis, as well as severe cardiovascular damage. The Scropes were trying to get a lock on the drug trade in New Hedon, and possibly beyond… It is decided that of all their options, a 1/2 kilo of Dream-Fern resin will be retrieved from the colony to be used as a gift for the President… come what may. The Crimson Sands was dispatched, while Advocate went in search of a proper container to present the resin in, and Muriel spent the day getting her dress “just right”.

The day arrives for the meeting, while the rest of the Dingoes gathered into the larger convoy a few days out of New Hedon. PO Suzuki arrived for last minute detail work, and although not especially happy about Muriel’s dress, or the present, he talked Advocate into wearing a “Dingo Formal Uniform” taken from their SLDF uniform cache. He then asked “…so, when is the landau arriving…. what do you mean you don’t know what a landau is?” He cried a little, then asked what vehicles were available for trasporting the pair to the ceremony… all they have is Senior Techs John and Susan Gibbons hover truck “The Chuckwagon” (with its massive freezer and storage bays for food in the back) or SRM Jeep – “Nerf”, since the “Football” is still in the convoy. PO Suzuki made some panicked calls, but was unable to get a landau, since they were all pre-booked for this event. He cried a little more and ordered a taxi…

Advocate arrived with Muriel and PO Suzuki at the Libertine Hall Palace. A complete “red-carpet event”, with all the planet’s noble and celebrity best and brightest in attendance. The arrival of a common taxi and the “sparkly normal” gown of Muriel attracted immediate notice. The news media went insane. Although a deer trapped in the lights of the oncoming media storm, Muriel was introduced as the “Ambassador of Little Heaven”, along with her escort, “Advocate of the Iron Dingoes”… The carefully wrapped package is moved on down the line, drawing many interested looks, and eventually the group approached President Gabriel, offered their gift, which was accepted to great fanfare. He didn’t just like it, in his drugged-out stupor, he called a recess while he and his two female companions retired for a “break” (which lasted the rest of the evening), accompanied by his little gift, and the enigmatic “Ooo…. we’ll remember Little Heaven, indeed we shall… I formally recognize your colony and accept its gift… now where’s that man with my resin?”. The rest of the evening passed with a mosaic of all walks of Heroditus life. The Freaks. The Geeks. The Dangerous. All rubbing elbows. Advocate even thought he saw the Huntsmen at one point, but after a couple hours, PO Suzuki hustled the pair back out to their taxi and “home” to the Den. It looked like a success.

In the morning, the local media was all ablaze, talking about Little Heaven, as the “…plucky little colony that stood up to a Liao invasion.” There was talk about what parties the consulate will begin, and how soon. The Dingoes legal team, Zeal Associates, bring word that they have discovered the following regarding the Dingoes’ claims;

  • The two ships present a problem. Yes, their users can be tried for being involved in piracy, but there is another interest – the finance houses that own them, known as Sunburst Enterprises. This company is owned by a selection of investment funds and individual shareholders.
  • The professional soldiers who served as hired mercenaries, were defeated, and their war material is now the legal possession of Little Heaven, and they have claim on their assets (though this has already been cleared-up by the Dingoes, and did not need further work).
  • The customs officials who planted bombs aboard the PCs equipment (back when they were leaving the city) should be arrested and tried for sabotage. The investigation has ended regarding this matter, however, since the man responsible for commanding the searches, was a Commander Germana, who unfortunately slipped and killed himself while polishing his cutlass only a few days ago…

Several days passed, during which the Dingoes’ convoy finally made the trip to New Hedon unmolested. As they approached the city, they were stopped by the local security forces, but they let the Dingoes pass with little trouble. When they passed through the city, they pick-up a handful of news VTOLs that follow them, until they were chased away from the starport. Although stopped by security a couple times they are never halted long, and soon even had an informal escort of police vehicles. Security forces were polite and considerate this time around. The pair of captured DropShips were able to land in a pair of staging bays some distance away from the Dingoes unit assets.

Early the next morning, after the news of the Iron Dingoes return to their home aboard the Dingoes Den was posted everywhere, Zeal Associates contacted them, with an offer from Sunburst Enterprises. They proposed a “No Contest Salvage Claim” and the immediate transfer of one third of each ship’s full market value to the colony (roughly 92,747,058 Cs). After a few attempts to try and get a better deal (first 75% and then 60%), Zeal informed them Sunburst would not budge. “Take 30% or see you in court”. Later that night, a pair of techs failed to report back in for duty… Tech Mitsuko Kitsune and her best friend, Tech Brandy Wiebe.

Wraith went ballistic. Initially the Dingoes contacted the city security forces, but they seemed uninterested in resolving the matter (tourists go missing all the time, apparently…). Within minutes, Wraith had armed himself and headed off to where they were last seen along the Copacabana. The rest of the Dingoes tried to stop him, but he ignored their calls and took the monorail to the shopping district… in body armor…. with guns… lots of guns…

The next morning, a package arrived, consisting of a vial of blood tied with a bow of black hair and a note. Essentially, the note demanded the colony of Little HEaven and its attaches, the Iron Dingoes, withdraw all charges against Modesty Scrope and admit the whole campaign was undertaken to discredit the good name of Scrope. If they do not fulfill these requirements in 6 hours, they will lose their two techs and family, and other certain, less-flattering aspects of the PCs past will come to light… The Dingoes unilaterally agreed they would not do that.

Soon thereafter, Wraith was escorted into the Dingoes Den by planetary security, with the groggy words “She didn’t wander in, did she?”, to which Voice responded “Well, some of her did…”, and handed him the note. Wraith had earlier been “subdued” with tranq guns and sonic rifles when he’d been found accosting the security at a rave club near where his sister had been kidnapped. His diplomatic credentials had kept him from jail, but they suggested he be kept under key for the duration. The unit tossed him in the only secure facility they had – in the tool closet with Dame Modesty Scrope.

Voice contacted Lieutenant JG Abbey Chase “Peaches”, figuring she might have contacts they could exploit, and she arranged for the security footage used along “The Strip” of the Copacabana to be made available. As a high-crime location, it had extensive coverage all along its length. The Dingoes contacted PO Suzuki, who had heard about the kidnapping, and was enroute to city hall to see what help he could get the group. Turned out, he kinda liked the Dingoes. That took an hour.

Two hours into the waiting period, the tapes arrived, and the group realized they didn’t have anything they could view them on. The city security wouldn’t likely give them access, so they pondered options. Glamour realized the equipment on-board the “Hot Booty” was likely the only means they had in viewing the tapes, and so while the rest headed across the airfield to view those tapes, Glamour contacted Muriel at the consulate in Harmony Towers, to determine that Muriel was fine, and headed over there in the Football to be available in need. Pitbull gathered a pair of squads Scout Infantry and getting them armed, arranged to have Nerf and one of the Meadowlands Carriers available as transports. PO Suzuki responded with authorization for the unit to bear open arms within the city, as well as a warrant to act as legal security for any search and siezures required in direct relation to the kidnapping. That took the second hour.

In the closet, a now somewhat sobered Wraith abandoned beating on the door and swearing at the guards to let him out, and turned to Modesty. He apologized for having treated her like this, and asked her to be gentle when she makes her inevitable escape, and try not to kill anyone. She responded, "Actually, the way things are progressing, I’m more concerned what will happen when they come looking to “collect” me…" After the exchange of a few more pleasantries, the two had “a moment”, and before you knew it, the two were at each other like rabid voles in Pon Farr.

The next couple hours were spent examining the reams of security footage, and Voice spotted a scene where masked figures in an unidentified speeder swooped down on the pair as they were walking along the Copacabana, captured them unceremoniously in a net gun and bundled them into the hover trucks’s back. The vehicle then swung north into Oldtown before disappearing into the shadows. Knowing what they were looking for in a vehicle, the Fixer, Paladin and Voice all closed in their searches, eventually spotting a similar speeder near the Barton Station monorail. The vehicle, carrying a large bundle in its back, then swooped into the construction site, and dropped its cargo into a big hole in the ground, leading to its underground water and electrical connections, before whisking away into the shadows. Located near the Cleon Memorial Stadium, it was a locally known landmark, and Pitbull took his troopers out into the city straight towards the Memorial Stadium.

Glamour, meanwhile, had Muriel draw-up a formal statement, regarding the “deplorable actions of the Scrope Family”, and calling upon the Moot to formally oust the entire family from power. Using their recent media glory, they had it broadcast across several channels just as Pitbuill’s team arrived at the construction site.

With an hour to go, Pitbull’s unit spared no time searching the site, and abandoning their vehicles, they slipped into the ventilation/electrical shafts exposed. Searching around, Pitbull found a single rail used for electrical “tunnel cars” to assist repair crews in covering vast distances quickly; the trail led down deeper into Oldtown, and eventually he found an abandoned railcar covered with a tarp next to a tunnel leading up into a private townhouse. The entrance proved to be untrapped, though it was lightly barricaded against casual intrusion.

The assault on the townhouse was quick and brutal. Three men proved to be guarding the site, and they were both well-armed and armored in military-grade heavy weapons and armor. Since the Dingoes assault had come from the only un-monitored entrance, they were able to rescue both girls (mostly) unharmed, though the three thugs guarding them were drugged out of their minds and would not go down quietly. The assault squads took limited losses; none of the kidnappers survived. The unit quickly looted the thugs of their weapons and armor, though most of the upper floor was blown-out and flattened in the fight. Pitbull sent the girls down into the tunnel with one squad and then took the lead thug’s hand (which had a tattoo of some mercenary jump infantry company) wrapped in one of the corpses’ own sets of fatigues. Together, the unit slipped back up the tunnel to their vehicles (unmolested), and quickly made their way back to the starport.

As things seemed to finally be in hand, and Wraith was discussing a few post-fun matters with Modesty, an explosion rocked the Dingoes Den. Security immeadiately reported someone had landed a pair of Karnovs near the docking collar of the DropShip, and had blown the main docking corridor open. Several security squads quickly mowed through the initial resistance, as various Dingo staff officers began to respond to the alarms. There was a single squad broken into several small fireteams of two raiders each moving rapidly throughout the upper levels of the DropShip, shooting random panels and people, while two dedicated invading squads began a methodical search of the living quarters of the DropShip. A fourth squad remained to hold the airlock. Wraith asked Modesty to please open the door for him, which she did with a single hard kick (to the surprise of the two guards in the maintenance room). Wraith gathered his arms, and recruiting the two gaurd troopers to assist in the DropShip defense, asked Modesty if she’d be alright… she simply smiled, blew him a kiss and closed the tool closet door…

As the Dingoes numbers grew, and defense of the upper levels stiffened, the raiders began to retreat, unable to quickly find what they were looking for. None were captured alive. Using assault shotguns, “diplomatic armor”, dueling cutlasses and pistols, the initial assault turned against the raiders, especially as they met the full fury of the Dingoes defenses and its command staff. The raid was quickly put-down, when the surviving raiders retreated to the airlock, and with the “guard” squad fled into the VTOLs and quickly moved off down the starport towards the shuttle pads.

While Commander Darryn Thane contacted the starport to relate they were under attack and not involved in an illeagal “fly-by”, the casualties of both the raid on the Dingoes Den and eventually those from the rescue efforts from the townhouse in Oldtown were brought to the medical teams aboard both DropShips, saving many from certain death. The VTOLs were reported to have landed at the shuttle impound lot, and had seized several LR shuttles held under the Sunburst Enterprises aegis. Arrangements were quickly made to dispatch the Crimson Sands and follow the escaping shuttles. Only a short hour behind the escaping shuttles, Lieutenant JG Dara Gideon, spent the next couple days following them to Heroditus’ L3 Point, where it rendezvoused with a Merchant-Class DropShip (of unknown registry), and jumped away from that pirate point. The Crimson Sands returned with their information.

With knowledge that the Scropes were gone from the planet, Modesty was released and Wraith asked her if she wanted a place among the Dingoes until she figured out what to do next. Her only question; “How big’s your bed?”…

The mess, both diplomatically and physically was immense. Over the week, the media suddenly became hostile to Little Heaven. The story was quickly spread that “…some country bumpkins and urban scum…” shot up some escaped convicts, made a big splash in the media, had tea with the president, and then couldn’t protect their own dependents when bandits raided their camp. The Iron Dingoes were referred to as a “…ratty, third-rate mercenary command..”. As the week passed, small groups of agitators began to spread graffiti and minor vandalism throughout the city, calling “Mercenaries Go Home!” and “New Herod for Libertines, not Foreigners!”.

There were, however, some compensations;

  • The colony gained free title to the “Hot Rod” and the “Hot Booty” – the Scropes left debts, but the colony had a prior aggrieved claim. Both were turned over to the Dingoes by the colony Elder’s Council, since they have no interest in the “…big, beastly things”.
  • The remainder of Sunburst’s assets, five aging *KR-61 Class Long-Range Shuttles along with a collection of military goods were found in a hangar complex on Governor’s Island. The goods consisted of six SRM Support pods, other basic equipment and soft goods sufficient to arm six squads of SRM-Infantry. In addition, a MASH unit and three Hover APCs were recovered. It appeared from documents, that the Scrope family had kept the equipment against eventually making a final push against the colony. The colony, as lead claimants, took two of the shuttles, seeing them as useful in contacting New Hedon in the future. The other three and all the remaining equipment, they left to the Dingoes.
  • The neutral minor members of the family, namely the pilot crews and engineers held in prison were released from their contracts, meaning they had to find other jobs…
  • All remaining assets of the Scrope family were seized by the Libertine Council, and their name stripped from the Moot.
  • The lead kidnapping thug was identified (mostly through his name on his uniform combined with identification of the tattoo on his hand…), as one Gunnery Sergeant Levi Kent, a former member of the small Jump Infantry Merc Company “The Jumping Junkies”. His friends were local street thugs, Miles Strasser and Theoi Chun.

To every silver lining, there’s always a cloud. PO Suzuki paid the Dingoes a visit, and informed them that Little Heaven’s success at uprooting and toppling a minor noble house (albeit murderous pirates) had upset the planetary Moot. It would be best if the consulate kept a low profile, keeping open as a contact for trade and any individuals seeking to join them, but not get involved in any important diplomatic events or other matters that might draw attention to them. He suggested the Dingoes follow suit for a while. He also hinted that the Scropes might send trouble their way through their friends in the Moot or other means. Although the Scropes are a reviled name on Heroditus, they seemed to have Liao connections, and that might come back to haunt them.

PO Suzuki also informed them he had been promoted; First Secretary of the High Commission of Colonial Affairs. He, his wife and two daughters were moving soon, and they would be unavailable for a few weeks as they restructured their lives… but he could be used as a contact in the future. The Dingoes asked him to find a contact in the planet’s Admirality that could trade their two new DropShips for a Union-Class. A day later, he put them in contact with a military salvage yard that had something they might be interested in; “Iridium Lion”. Although it needed some work and expense, it was in good condition and could serve them well. What a hard, sloppy fight to get a Union!

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