“I’m dead in the water
Still looking for ya
I’m dead in the water
Can’t you see, can’t you see?”
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk LAM
JP (Pitbull) ————————-——-Battlemaster
-————————— Maxim Heavy Hover Tank
January 2nd, 3022 : * Landhold : Garrison, Garcia District, Republic of Sangria : As the scouting mission in Castle Corazón drew to a close, Lord (LtSG) Henry “Fitzy” Fitzroy began going over potential contracts for * “The Dead Man’s Hand” during their “Hiring Season”. In addition to a small contract for another company of infantry, similar in most purposes to Contract – Operation : “Show-and-Tell”, there was a continuing effort by House Davion to recruit a sizable Mech force to hold the peace in System – Csomad. They also caught a lead on an offer by someone claiming to represent Baron Kenton Sarne, though he would only offer the contract in person, on-planet. When Fitzy seemed interested, he took a shuttle and planned to arrive in Ciudad Garcia as soon as possible.
January 5th, 3022 : Major “Veruca” Louise Salt was contacted later in the day from * “The Dingoes’ Fangs” Field Ops in San Marcos, Senior Tech Catherine “Piper” Walker. She reported in that her unit had uncovered the whereabouts of the Frontier-Class Air Transport, “Nairobi” they had been tasked to find. It had been sitting in a hangar for the past year, unused and practically abandoned. However, reports in the capital of another similar craft operating led her to dicover another “Frontier” Heavy Lift VTOL operating under the name of “Tiber”. This vessel was found to be shipping large quantities of fuel (through dismountable fuel tanks in her cargo), roughly 12 tons of water and foodstuffs (enough food to feed roughly a company or more of infantry for a month), and five tons of unclassified “Agricultural Equipment”. This vessel often travelled with infantry from San Isabel, taking them back from R&R and training in San Marcos.
The odd thing about the flight, was that it was conducted every month, and upon arrival at San Isabel, several days later, would again load the same supplies and personnel, and return to San Marcos about another week later. Again and again, this vessel repeated the mission back and forth. Always bringing supplies somewhere, but never dropping anything off beyond a handful of troopers wearing San Isabel uniforms. She requested a new mandate, since that seemed to fulfill her original request, but had no one else to ask for orders. Major Salt told them to finish their contract in San Marcos, and quietly relocate to San Isabel, get access to the national government in the same way, and await further orders. Just gather intel on flight patterns and other similar matters.
January 7th, 3022 : Word came over a news broadcast from RCN Television, reporting that the industrial fires in San Succi had continued to devastate the city, and had burned-out what was left in the area. This meant that the Indumil industrial complex they had raided was now a smoking ruin, along with much of the industrial strength of the nation’s heartland. Only the power plants and Indumil factory in the northern provinces, as well as other smaller complexes remained. The automotive industry in the nation was obliterated, along with many agricultural supporting industries. The water treatment plant and some other factories, such as the Bavaria Beer and Nutresa Group plants on the outskirts of the city remained intact, however. General Pierre Garza was still in control of the city and trying to put it back together, though the military government faced continuing pressure from marauder bands and gangs trying to take control of key industries and supplies.
January 8th, 3022 : Reports came from the 11th Infantry Militia Platoon “Tunnel Rats”, * “The Cerberus Command”. They had captured a young infiltrator trying to get into Corazón Airfield. MechWarrior Dominic Haugustus “Pockets” was sent along with Fitzy to interrogate the young man, since Pockets spoke fluent Spanish. They also brought a supply of Dingo Spit.
The flight via Karnov UR Transport was uneventful, and landing at Corazón Airfield, they discovered a young man, barely twelve, who had been trying to infiltrate the base. A local native of the Corazón Jungle, they managed to coax him into revealing he was from Tuadann, and had been seeking some token of proof he could be accepted as a warrior in his tribe. Apparently, stealing from the “metal men” was considered a mark of high skill. Seeing this as an opportunity to possibly recruit the skilled jungle fighters of the southern jungles, they managed to get the boy, one Cassius, agree to lead them to his village, several days away in the depths of the jungles.
Bringing several hundred kilos of supplies (most as gifts) with them, a pair of squads from the 2nd Platoon, “Star’s Reach Militia” were dispatched and led by LtJG Paula “Kaliente” Perez along with Fitzy and Pockets. They presented a Deadwood Special “Longhorn” Hunting Rifle to the boy, as his trophy, and planned to present another to this mystical war-chief, Honzo Arkadjian. They then proceeded into the jungles, and quickly became dependent on his skills.
Several days passed, and the unit travelled along the Rio Tashent, while Cassius related the horrors of the jungles, namely the “Fangclaws” or Nexu, but also the “SwarmTeeth” (packs of native water rats that swarm their prey), and the “JumpLegs” (an oddly-shaped monkey-like creature, with impressively long limbs to swing and leap through the trees). The unit grew fond of the child, nick-naming him “Little Brother”, a name he took to well.
January 14th, 3022 : Out of communication with headquarters due to the jungle, the unit reached Tuadann, and despite some suspicion, were welcomed into the central chief’s hut with open arms. Cassius explained how he had claimed his coup on the “Metal Men”, and that he had brought them here for trade. The group presented their gifts (soaps, jerky, metal utensils and the “Longhorn”), and the chief offered salt and a feast was quickly held. Amidst the revelry and music and feasting odd dishes, the group asked a few questions about the village and its people, but the chief seemed good at avoiding questions and giving misleading answers. They also noticed the quiet and unassuming Varsha Arkadjian sitting just behind the chief, watching their every move, but in the festivities.
Eventually the group mentioned the skill of the clan’s warriors, and the chief boasted “…even the best of you could not defeat my least warrior…” pointing at his daughter. In fairness, the group challenged the chief’s daughter to a sniper duel, offering an equally capable female warrior, Scout Abigail Breslin “Winter”, the Shadow Recruit of Kaliente. The party moved outside, and a pack of nearby JumpLegs were chosen as targets. The shooting went fairly evenly at first, but eventually, Varsha managed to take the lead during the “moving targets” portion of the duel, and the unit accepted their loss with grace. Fitzy asked after Varsha, sna speaking quickly with her, learned that she was promised in marriage to a trader, and that “…my dowry bring peace to the Tribe of the Corazón…”.
While the drinking entered full swing, Kaliente and Senior Trooper Yineth Trujillo slipped away from the feast, and tried to see if they could scout-out the village. They wandered the community, and eventually noticed something odd about the way the main hall was laid-out. Entering inside, they found one door (a metal-reinforced door!) guarded by one warrior. Kaliente slipped over to the soldier and distracted him for a little while, allowing Trooper Trujillo to slip through the door quickly and enter the darkened room behind. Turning-on her flashlight, she found a small room filled with a very advanced communications suite, of a type she couldn’t recognize. Noting the channel it was set to, she quickly looked around for anything else, but then left the room and quietly slipped back out. “Bored now…” stated Kaliente, and walked away from the soldier mid-necking. The pair then re-joined the crowd and settled in.
Eventually, Kaliente decided to visit with Cassius, finding him deep in his cups. Openly confronting him with about Varsha, and exactly what the marriage was about. He drunkenly responded “…you know, with Kassler, Proust’s man.” Proust, it turned out, was indeed a “Metal Man”, and he and his “…lived in those caves over there along the river… =HIC= …soon, with Proust, the Warchief will control all the Villages in the jungle… For the Tribe!”. He closed his comments with an odd motion of his hands, like a Catholic Cross, and the odd statement of “…the Tribe…”.Further questioning about this resulted in nothing new, but Kaliente acknowledged that many in the tribe used the statement and motion.
January 15th, 3022 : As the party wound-down, the group were given an old empty warehouse to bed down in, and settled in for the night, posting guards. Once sufficient time had passed, Kaliente woke Winter, and the pair slipped out to the river (barely avoiding patrols), and wandered a couple miles until they spotted a massive cave in the side of the wall along the river; obviously the base they were looking for. They managed to sneak back into camp (again barely), and went over to report their findings to Fitzy. Meanwhile, the comms officer noticed a snap-burst communique headed orbital on the channel noted by Kaliente’s foray into the Chief’s Hall.
Just after the pair returned, Varsha Arkadjian woke Fitzy from his sleep, and surprised him by having slipped through his pickets. She verified the truth about her being promised in marriage to one of the “Metal Men” that lived in the base behind the caves, and that it was an effort of her father to both remove her daughter as a “weak” leader of her people, and to get their support in taking over the entire Corazón Jungle. She asked the unit to smuggle her out tonight, and she promised to guide the group on a fast route back to their airfield, as well as promise her people’s support once the conflict was over. She claimed she had control of most of the young male warriors. The elder council, however, would not accept her as a chief as long as her father had control of the “Metal Men”.
The group grabbed their supplies and equipment and bugged-out, quietly and without incident, heading along deep jungle trails no one else would know about. Moving quickly, the group made good time, and within three days were back in range of the Corazón Airfield, calling for an immediate evac by VTOL, and to get the unit’s Mechs ready for combat. They learned that Major Salt was holding-off negotiations with the agent sent by Baron Sarne, and that they had until the end of the month to make a decision or the offer of a contract would lapse.
January 19th, 3022 : Following a quick flight back to * Landhold : Garrison, the unit promptly boarded their Mechs and received a quick update on the situation. Aerial recon of the area targetted revealed that the site was buried deep in the valley behind the caves, and that a powerful ECM field and anti-aircraft guns covering all approaches. Further research revealed the site to likely be Brightwater Base, a rumored military fort but never actually visited by anyone. The unit slowly made their way down the Rio Tashent, with Varsha riding in the rumble-seat with Major Salt.
Waiting for the call, would be two platoons of infantry; the Command “The Last Bastion” and 3rd “Black Tower Militia” Platoons to be flown in once the unit got close enough. Aboard the DMHs Cobra Transport VTOL and Karnov UR Transport they were prepared for a drop into the base once the Mechs had made their way inside through the caves. They would be escorted by all four of the unit’s Warrior H-7 Attack Helicopters.
January 21st, 3022 : After a couple of quick days travel with only a few hours spent in their cockpits to rest here and there, the group approached Tuadann. Sensors picked-up the comms burst from the village as they passed it, but the unit didn’t stop, rather moving along towards the cave seen earlier. Finding the cave and entering inside, they detected a large pool of water within, and several caves leading deeper inside. Sensor echoes were hideous and distorted everything, but the unit’s OTT-7J Ostscout and similarly equipped OTL-4D Ostsol picked-up motion activity deep within the caves and moving quickly their way.
The unit had some difficulty at first, unused to submerging completely in water and moving through as fast as they could. Several units stumbled and had difficulty getting across the pool to the other shore, and nearly a minute was lost getting across from the cave entrance.
As Major “Veruca” Louise Salt and MechWarrior Katie Starling led the way across the entrance pool, they just managed to get to the shore with their STK-3F Stalkers when a Crusader and an Enforcer poked out of the exit cave and began exchanging fire with the intruders.
As the crowded beach began to fill, with a Griffin and a second Enforcer joingin in the fray, shots began to disrupt the defenders, with Veruca and MechWarrior Ela Rose in her BNC-3E Banshee laying down severe damage on the Crusader. The Crusader charged Ela’s Banshee, knocking it over on its back, but Ela’s counter-strike punched through the Crusader’s RT, critically damaging its ammo reserves and blowing the Mech apart. Veruca and the Griffin exchanged kicks. Behind the crowds in the tunnel, came a looming Victor in a familiar paint scheme; Dominique “Domino” Harvey was back.
Ela tripped passing through the rubble of the fallen Crusader, falling over once more. MechWarrior Jena Malone “Rocket” stumbled passing by the slower Stalker driven by Starling, knocking both over and damaging the Stalker’s LT in a crippling critical that flooded half its weapons, forcing it to limit it’s attacks. Trooper Hendricks MacKracken – “The Iron Duke” and Ela both shot at the Victor, now clearly in the main cave, and both struck with their weapons, including a pair of critical hits to the Mech’s Head! (Ela’s PPC got the kill).
Both Enforcers fired on Ela’s Banshee, and other fire rocked her Mech, forcing her to stumble over. Veruca got a lucky shot into the newly appeared Wolverine damaging its Head. She followed-up with a swift kick into the other leg of the Griffin. Other fire was exchanged, but it looked like a tough fight indeed, with anyone the winner at this point.
Things were getting hot.