Campaign of the Month: June 2014

Battletech : The Farscape Campaign

Episode 66 - Rumble in the Jungle

“You’ve spent too much time with the stars. You don’t know anything about living, the law of the jungle, the human jungle. I do, I’ve spent my life at it. You don’t know what your civilized people will do to cling to life. I do, because I know I’d cling if I had to kill to do it. And so will you.”

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————Battlemaster
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk LAM
JP (Pitbull) ————————-——-Battlemaster
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Flashman
Chris (Caboose) -————————Phoenix Hawk
Ken (Templar) -————————- Ostroc
Scott (Moxie) -————————— Maxim Heavy Hover Tank

April 3rd, 3021 : Following the unit’s jump back into System – Dumassas, the Iron Dingoes began organizing rotations through “The Factory”, and while their fleet prepared to reposition itself into a holding pattern near “The Bloody Paw”, the Command Staff ordered a shuttle from the station and rendezvoused back to meet with their senior officers on the station.

Station Master Haro Lothrain informed the unit upon their arrival, that the station had proven extremely popular… so much so, that there had been an increasing traffic of mercenaries and their equipment (including Mechs and their pilots) through the station, bound for Terramatrix. Most had been somewhat down-on-their-luck types, and had been using the station’s facilities to perform repairs and maintenance. As such, they had a rough number, of about a battalion of MechWarriors and a Regiment of infantry and armor had been incoming over the past couple months.

They also received several older hails from the Liaison Officer from * “The Dead Man’s Hand”, Cornet Carla Estrella. Due to the time-lag of ten hours to send a message to Terramatrix, they initially ignored her queries.

Doctor Max Helmut “Moxie” organized the transfer of the salvaged bio-lab equipment into The Factory – Main Medical, and set-up the new laboratory, designed to study biology matters. The salvaged Battle Armor – Tornado PAs were transferred and stored with the unit’s “Coffins” in the Factory’s deep storage vaults. Captain Erika Hartmann “Glamour” made contacts with all her Intelligence operatives, and started going through her gathered briefs.

April 4th, 3021 : LtSG Massimo De Luca “Advocate” pulled a Tornado Battlesuit out of storage, was assigned a squad of marines and the lead tech team who had designed and built the Iron DIngoes “Warlord Mk2” Field Kit, and finally pulled the spare Passenger Module from * “The Scrapyard”. So equipped, he began booking passage via commercial JumpShips, to try and reach Joshua’s Station as quickly as possible. He was intending to bring the design specs they’d taken of the Battle Armor – BH-18 “Waddle” Combat Walker, combined with their own research and the salvaged BattleArmor, and see if they could access the design and manufacturing resources of their old acquaintance Karl Lotjonen. How long this might take was anyone’s guess, but they speculated several months for the entire trip…

The unit also transferred their salvaged Large Agricultural Robot over to the station for reprogramming by Moxie and then for storage in the Deep Vaults. Glamour’s reports revealed that the incoming mercenaries were indeed rather worn, desperate sorts, but that they were just as deadly when pushed against the wall. Someone, or several someones, were hiring them soon after their arrival, and then they were shipping down to the planet as cargo, using local transport services (mostly DropShuttles).

So informed, Major Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” went into his most “normal” clothing, and attempted to find a couple un-hired mercs and try to find out who was hiring them. He had trouble remembering his own name for a bit, and settled on a persona as “Advocate” a pilot from * The Fold Fiends. He found that the mercs never knew who was hiring them, just that they met privately and the contracts were being witnessed by the local Comstar tech Adept Koda Svenson, who was assigned to the station for that purpose.

Originally the unit thought they should follow the mercs using security footage across the station, but Trooper Pol Baca “Templar” came up with the idea that maybe the unit should follow the Comstar tech instead. The unit’s intel techs began working through all the tapes from the last few months, and would contact the unit once they had something.

Colonel Michael Ruxbondy “Paladin” returned another call from Cornet Estrella, and over the whole day was able to communicate with her, learning a great deal about the situation on-planet. She related that The Dead Man’s Hand were engaged in a “wargame” out in the western mountain jungles with the Royal Guard, but while they rotated their lances through the games, they were also using the games as a cover for scouting the region. They had encountered numerous tracks and signs that small troops of infantry and Mechs were moving through the region, scouting-out the perimeter. In a lot of ways, it was what had been happening down south in The District of Garcia over a year ago.

Meanwhile, the unit’s allies in The 4th Motorized Infantry Battalion, Sangrian Army – “Garrison’s Own”, had been reporting the strange “Aero-Blip” had been spotted several times over the southern jungles. Also, garrison patrols had reported movement in the jungles of forces that were definitely not indigenous. Whatever their intentions, they were likely less than good.

April 5th, 3021 : All cargoes transferred and troops assigned, the unit detached from their transports and burned in-system to Terramatrix.

April 11th, 3012 : Taking hours to relay information, Glamour’s intel reported en-route, that they had narrowed the mercenary contact to one person : the Comstar Adept himself. Seemed he was making contact with the individuals privately, and soon thereafter, the mercs would take passage aboard various commercial transports for flight down to Terramatrix. All of them.

April 15th, 3021 : The fleet arrived over the northern pole, trying to remain hidden until they had scouted the situation and decided on a certain plan. They immediately deployed Intelsat “Predator’s Eye” into high orbit, and settled into silent running.

Paladin contacted Cornet Estrella via satellite, and informed her of the unit’s position in orbit. He then informed her that it was the responsibility of the Dead Man’s Hand to deal with the western “situation”, and that the Iron Dingoes would deal with the southern one. Once and for all.

The unit then transferred their Gamma (Force Recon) Group “Snow Demons” Line Infantry over to the “Crimson Sands”, since it was the only force of infantry they had that could quickly and easily navigate the southern jungles. They also dispatched Senior Scout “Scammer” Firdaaz with his Swift Wind Scout Car to accompany them.

Ciudad_Garcia.jpg

Taking most of the day, the unit landed at Ciudad Garcia Starport, and within minutes of landing, had unloaded the infantry and Scammar in his car. Local security and customs forces were initially annoyed, but after presenting the “proper papers”, they left the DropShuttle alone. Lieutenant JG Dara Gideon was ordered to remain behind at the starport, until further notice, as their back-up for off-world evacuation.

April 16th, 3021 : The Snow Demons travelled through the evening, arriving at Garrison under dark. Immediately contacted by their allies in the 4th Battalion, they were assured the troops were loyal to the memory of the men who had trained them, and as such they were willing to “remove” the leadership that had been appointed by the local government. A “Purge” quickly ensued, and all suspicious members of the unit’s command were imprisoned, placing Major Petros Vagarez in charge of the entire force. The unit’s position and safety at Garrison was assured. And, more importantly, the 4th was theirs.

April 17th, 3021 : The unit’s scout, Scammer, was dispatched to the dam on Lake Orlando. He observed and reported the site was guarded by a Marauder on the dam itself, and a pair of Rifleman, one guarding each end. A platoon of SRM-equipped Infantry on motorcycles also seemed to patrol the site. Moving on, he was able to survey the village of Ourinhos, finding four Archers, three Rifleman, two Warhammers, and an ancient Longbow. Another pair of platoons of SRM-equipped infantry were spotted employing motorcycles and jeeps. All seemed peaceful, but these were different mercenaries than had previously been encountered at the site.

The unit contacted their old industrialist friend, Mister Hernandez, informing him of their presence in-system. They discussed the military situation in the District, and where everything stood. Hernandez assured them that mercenaries in the employment of the Merchant’s League would not engage any “hostile” forces unless they attacked the holdings they were assigned to protect. He admitted the forces around Lake Orlando, however, were something of an enigma. Although they were employed, by and large by the League, they were a large force, and might be on the payroll of someone else.

During their discussions, they learned of a series of meetings that were culminating this very evening in a party at the Governor’s Palace. Apparently various munitions salesmen and military industrialists were present, talking about munitions purchases and new weapons and vehicles. After ensuring the group would keep a low profile, they made plans to crash the party.

Templar, Pitbull, and Glamour recalled the “Crimson Sands” to rendezvous with the unit’s DropShips in orbit, and loaded their Hover Limo “Elite” into the cargo bay. They brought their blueprints of Kate & Leopold on a blank portacomp, hoping to use them as cover. Taking the ship down to the starport, they quickly made their way through Ciudad Garcia to the Palace. They crashed the Munitions Conference.

Meanwhile, the fleet left orbit, and made a forced landing outside the fort at Garrison. They made contact with the new leader, Major Vagarez, and he welcomed the Dingoes formally to Garrison, offering supplies and the town. With Paladin, they began to make plans.

governors_ball_a_l.jpg

At the conference, they found many different individuals moving about, mostly local industrialists, with some off-world investors and several munitions specialists. They also saw Governor Dominica (who immediately recognized them), and Commander Pablo Othello, who did not. They also saw the man, Doctor Varn, who had sold the unit several truckloads of munitions, and was also the factory administrator in the capital. Glamour approached and flirted with the Governor, hinting that more might be available…

Templar was drawn to someone who looked distinctly like the women he’d met before who might be Colonel White’s daughters… Major Koko White “Azrael”. She proved to be very articulate, a shrewd businesswoman, and very happy to show-off her “wares” to a military man. In particular, she showed some advanced blueprints of a wheeled APC, known as the Amalek. She presented her card (smelling of cinnamon), detailing she was from an unknown manufacturing firm, Starhammer Forge, and gave a contact office here in the capital. Eventually, Templar’s attempts to hide his Iron Dingoes patch failed, and when she spotted it, turned icy. She summoned her son, Jeremiah White “Lucius” who seemed her personal assistant despite his young age, and the two quickly left the party.

Pitbull confronted Commander Pablo Othello, and though he didn’t recognize Pitbull at first, but eventually he did, and mentioned he thought he recognized “…the whore dancing with the Governor…”. As the conversation turned sour, the three met back together again, and promptly left the palace ahead of a complete lock-down. They travelled back to the Crimson Sands, and performed a sub-orbital drop to Garrison for a good night’s sleep…

April 18th, 3021 : Taking a day to recover from their night’s jaunts, the unit met together later in the day, and made plans to scout south into the Corazon Jungle, in force, once they had managed to get a bead on the signal. All depended on the luck and skill of their scout, Scammar in the south…

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Episode 65 - SAMURAI

“New eras don’t come about because of swords, they’re created by the people who wield them. ”

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————Battlemaster
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk LAM
JP (Pitbull) ————————-——-Battlemaster
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Flashman
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Thug
Ken (Templar) -————————- Ostroc
Scott (Moxie) -————————— Maxim Heavy Hover Tank

March 1st, 3021, Early Morning : System – Gollere, Barony of Horn, Northern Marshes; 4 hours after first contact…

After a group discussion about the fate of REAPER, the group began to discuss how to gain access to its store of data. Eventually, they offered to give REAPER its “eyes and ears” back in the adjoining rooms in exchange for the Technician’s Card it had taken. REAPER agreed, and once its surveillance cameras and audio mikes were restored, it gave up the card from the slot outside its chamber.

Seeing that REAPER could indeed be negotiated with, the group decided to take this further. In exchange for the restoration of its sensors throughout the facility, and the ability to turn its ECM and Communications back on, it would relate all it knew about SAMURAI, nearby planetary SLDF bases, and all the research data it had about the Battle Armor – BH-18 “Waddle” Combat Walker. This latter piece of data was agreed to be sent via orbital dispatch, once the unit left the planet’s surface and intended to leave. It seemed REAPER felt safe once they’d abandoned the world. The unit agreed. After departing for some quick rest and further discussions outside the complex, and to organize the recovery of assets (looting or Dingo Pack Tactics ) from the complex.

March 2nd, 3021 : The group decided that if they had access to those prototype blueprints, they could take them to their old acquaintance Karl Lotjonen, and perhaps get him to help in the development of the technology, not the least of which was because of his corporation’s original development of the Iron Dingoes “Warlord” Field Kit. Colonel Michael Ruxbondy “Paladin” gave the okay to do the deal with REAPER, and the techs restored the interior cameras and amps, eventually manually turning REAPER’s communications back on.

The group having completed its tasks, REAPER related what SAMURAI was. SAMURAI was another lab, one of several, that were run by AIs. Seems the remnants of nuclear blasts all around the region were from SLDF nukes trying to wipe-out the labs and their research. Some, like REAPER himself, were back-up data nodes. Others, like SAMURAI were research nodes dedicated to specific tasks. SAMURAI was apparently doing marine biology research, as well as conducting seismic studies. REAPER claimed to have not heard from SAMURAI in some time, though once, they had communicated off and on. REAPER also claimed to have not heard from any other nodes since the “Great Destruction”. SAMURAI and REAPER were unique. Asked for the location of a “government” access card to get into SAMURAI’s complex, REAPER claimed there’d likely be one in the abandoned bunkers off to the south-east (previously searched by Dingoes troopers).

March 4th, 3021 : The next few days were spent finishing the “claims process” on all the fallen Mechs and salvage taken from the bunker. LtSG Massimo De Luca “Advocate” started interrogating the handful of survivors the group managed to capture alive in complex, that were wearing the suits. They were still clearly REAPER’s creatures, but it was hoped that distance might break them of the control.

March 7th, 3021 : Searching the abandoned shelters south-east of the complex took several days, and among the expected debris of the hundred ruins, were ragged furnishings, debris of all sorts, and sometimes working 3-d holo-players, and a few other handfuls of technical artifacts that were salvaged. In addition, they found a green card with a black stripe, labelled Stage-IV Government Administration SLFD ID card. Card (and salvage) in hand, the unit rendezvoused back at the DropShips, and planned for their trip to SAMURAI. * “The Werewolves” were activated, and the troops were organized while the command council all wanted to see what SAMURAI was about.

March 8th, 3021 : The large group, led by the Command Lance in their Mechs, made their way up the coast past Mudport, and eventually reached the hidden cave entrance and its elevator. Werewolves in the lead, they entered the area, and crowding around the elevator used the new ID Card, to activate the elevator. It quickly began to move down, then shifted out to sea, and then down once more, followed by another shift out to sea. This repeated several times over several minutes, before eventually slowing to a stop.

The elevator door opened up into a large, domed room with walls made of a transparent crystal, showing the base/lab was perched on the edge of an abyss about 300m deep. Through the dim waters, three other domes could be seen, one a large building directly towards the cliff, and a smaller pair of domes on either side of it. The smaller domes were connected by long , tube-like passages. Surrounding the facility were large patches of seaweed, growing like fields.

Secrets_of_the_deep.jpg

The room itself was elegantly appointed, with chairs, couches and tables. An oval opening led through a tube towards the larger dome beyond, while a reception desk lay to the right. Next to the entrance, attached to the wall, was a thick bronze plaque which read :

SAMURAI
Sub-Aquan Marine United Research And Investigation
Established by the government of the Terran Hegemony, in the year A.D. Two-Four Hundred and Eighty-Four, to investigate underwater environments for the benefit of the people of our nation and the Inner Sphere.
Jon Reedman, Secretary of Technological Advancement
11 May, 2484

While the group spread through the entry chamber, investigating various items, a sudden barrage of energy fire came from Dame Modesty Scrope “Viper” and Trooper “Wiley” Xavier who were guarding the entrance to the chamber, shooting down the tunnel to the larger building. It seemed there were several people shooting pulse energy weapons back at the group. Without hesitation, Trooper Pol Baca “Templar” grabbed the desk by the door and using it as a shield, began moving down the tunnel towards them, followed closely by Lieutenant SG Michael Anderson “Fixer” who grabbed the chair. Major Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” and the two Werewolves laid down suppressive fire while the group closed, when a third person appeared from around the corner in a lab coat, who threw a jar of chemicals at the group… and missed spectacularly, shattering the jar against the tubeway with an acidic hiss… but the crystal tube resisted the burns.

The attackers were quickly subdued with strong counter-fire, and searched, revealing all of them in drab-colored overalls, armed with vibro-blades and Mauser 960 Assault Systems. These people, however, also had a silver skull cap attached, covering their entire upper head. Doctor Max Helmut “Moxie” determined them to be a cybernetic implant, fairly invasive, and absolute. Beyond, the dome opened into two corridors along the edges of the dome, with small doors running along the inner wall, and more transparent crystal on the outer walls.

The gang broke into two separate groups, Pitbull moving south with one group, and Paladin leading the other north, while the Werewolves held the central entrance. They found the doors led to small personal quarters, though Paladin’s group found one tech asleep in one room and he was quickly subdued. Eventually the two corridors wound back around to join at a small common room set with long table and twelve chairs. A small kitchenette was present, complete with cooking equipment and a service for twelve. Food seemed to be a wide variety of seaweed with locally acquired spices.

Leading from the common room, was a narrow corridor that led to a general storage room, holding cartons of foodstuffs, spare equipment and tools, and an assortment of electronic replacement parts. In the center of the chamber was a thick pillar studded with various dials and buttons, surrounded at the one meter mark by a red line. Glamour and Fixer quickly identified it as a magnetic fusion power plant, still in perfect working order.

Splitting back into their groups, Pitbull’s group headed down the south tube, while Paladin’s group headed north. They ordered * “The Werewolves” to hold the entrance and the elevator leading to the surface. Pitbull’s group entered the southern tube, passing another tube leading east, and followed the new one to find themselves perched on a narrow walkway above another smaller transparent dome over-looking ten glass tanks evenly spaced below. stairs descended into the flooded dome, and the vague movement of something large could be seen amid the jellyfish, eels, rays and other things among the flooded tanks. They left this dome and continued south an oval door marked with the word Labs, and a small card slot reader.

Paladin’s group headed north, and passed an eastern tube that was sealed-off, leading east. Access couldn’t be gained. Continuing further north, the group came to a 3m-wide airlock chamber, with stairs going up to the right and another airlock iris leading left. Taking the iris, they found a 3m-wide corridor bending around the outside of the new dome, also ending in a manually-operated hinged airlock. Several sealed racks followed along the right side, each holding a large deep-sea diving suit, equipped with mining claws on their right arm. They discussed their options.

To the south, Pitbull’s group used their recently recovered government card on the door, and it was swallowed by the machine with a grind. The group sat down and proceeded to crack open the electronic lock with tools. Paladin’s group left the airlock chamber, and headed up the stairs, finding an iris door, that opened into a bubble chamber atop the dome. Inside was a full 360-degree view of the area, and a series of computer consoles, and two featureless boxes. Sitting in the central chair was a cybernetic soldier wearing a black uniform, who promptly pulled his sonic rifle and opened fire on the intruders. The group poured into the chamber and silenced him with extreme violence.

As the group investigated the controls, they noticed a tall, slender tower rising near the dome, that ended in a large turret mounting some sort of large laser. The controls seemed very simplistic, and consisted of two items: Shield Control and Installation Defense. The Shield Control buttons seemed to brighten and lessen the ambient lights around the complex, whereas the Installation Defense buttons controlled the directions of the turret, “Energized” it for firing, and both rose it up above the complex, or brought it back down to secure it.

Leaving the controls alone, they down into the lower chambers, put on the diving suits, and entered the excursion docks. The large chamber was very simply appointed, with a large “cargo” hatch leading below the dome, and a smaller tube entrance leading ocean-ward to a large submersible. The cargo hatch turned-out to grant access to a a massive 250-ton submersible docked below the dome. Once more, the controls proved very simplistic.

Pitbull’s group quickly managed to open the door, and it revealed a square, glass cubicle with no apparent means of opening it. The floor and ceiling were covered in grillwork and a single red button on the far wall. Beyond, was a room furnished with chairs and tables and having seven doors leading from it. Pitbull boldly walked into the room, pressed the button, and was promptly sealed-off from the others by a sliding metal door. The floor and the ceiling radiated a bright red light, and twenty seconds later shut-off and the far side glass opened. As the group, one by one made their way through the glass chamber, Pitbull noted each door leading from the room was labelled; “Lab Supplies”, “Lab 1”, “Lab 2”, “Lab 3”, “Operating Room”, “Seismic Station”, and “Computer Center”.

Working their way counter-clockwise around the room, the Computer Center consisted of ten humming, refrigerator-sized cabinets connected to three large computer terminals, watched over by a single cybernetic technician . Quickly subdued, investigation of the monitor he was working from revealed he was filing a report about the disappearance of a “scouting force” of four workers investigating Death Lake. According to the report, the explorers were attacked by troopers wearing golden armor, very much resembling the “Golden Legion” encountered by the Iron Dingoes earlier in the month. It further suggested they were making “replacements”, due for completion in two weeks. Other notes on the computer involved numerous information regarding seaweed growth studies and water samples.

Investigation of the computer functions seemed to indicate it was running at barely 10% of its original levels. Running through its root commands were four basic orders; 1-Maintain Facility, 2-Study local marine life and other facility missions, 3-Maintain Technical Levels and Personnel, and 4 – Protect Facility.

The Seismic Station was lined with rows of recording devices, hooked to a single display monitor detailing a constant series of information that Pitbull determined to be map markings across the globe, recording magnitude, duration and location of seismic events. The operating Room was a brightly lit chamber with extensive equipment, similar to the advanced medical facility found in a MASH. Strapped to the table was a person with newly implanted cybernetic devices, and two cybernetic surgeons. The two techs were quickly subdued and the “patient” examined to reveal him alive, but in dangerously critical condition.

Lab 3 turned into a stairway leading into a large bubble chamber above the dome. This chamber was filled with electronics and simple medical gear, but the central focus of the lab were the four large tanks filled with blue, crystalline waters. Within each tank were very man-like figures, each laced with an intricate series of electronic wiring. It seemed like the locals were “cloning” cybernetic people. Lab 2 was lined with aquariums filled with local dangerous water creatures being studied by a pair of cybernetic workers, quickly subdued, and Lab 1 was a biological laboratory for studying chemical reactions. The last chamber, Lab Supplies, proved to be filled with large quantities of lab equipment and supplies.

The group contacted each other, compared notes, and met back in the central common room to discuss options. It was decided to test the Installation Defense mechanisms, so Pitbull took the lead and had Fixer and Templar try firing the laser, each time finding it required a period of charging, but had an impressive range, equal to a Light-NPPC, or low-level Naval Particle Cannon. Based on its mass of nearly 1400 tons, they couldn’t salvage it anytime soon.

Over the next few days, the unit called in their salvage squads, and set about stripping the facility as best they could of supplies, spare parts and valuable equipment. Pitbull, Templar, Glamour, Trooper “Wiley” Xavier and Tech Ginney McRiven put on the five deep-sea diving suits, and walked down to the station from the beach… a long perilous trip that resulted in seeing the facility and examining the larger sub docked to the submersible airlock. They explored the sealed-off section and its dome, finding the area had been severely damaged from numerous physical blows. Once consisting of a communications center, a security office and a large, central chamber with five coffin-like boxes connected to a central sphere by thick, multi-colored tubes. The outer transparent duraglass was bypassed, allowing Ginney and Glamour to examine the central sphere. It appeared the sphere casing was damaged, and resulting corrosion had further damaged its circuitry. It was obvious a third party had damaged the central processor of SAMURAI, rendering it capable of only basic functions, as a simple computer core, its AI functions long-since destroyed.

Examining the larger cargo sub, let them see they couldn’t really salvage the sub, so they ordered the sub stripped of equipment to salvage and activate the smaller Aquarius Research Submarine. Among the valuable supplies, they were able to salvage a complete biology lab (intended for installation on “The Factory” ), the four cloning/healing tanks (also intended for installation aboard their medical facilities on “The Factory” ), the medical bay for later inclusion into a new MASH, and large quantities of foodstuffs. Templar coins the cybernetics salvaged “Thinking Caps”, while those artifacts and the corpses are placed under the responsibility of Moxie for later study.

March 11th, 3021 : SAMURAI was finally salvaged, and attention was turned to the salvage from the battlefield, and storing everything aboard the required DropShips for transport. SAMURAI equipment was ticketed, and shipped for immediate transport to “The Freedom of the Stars”. Salvage and repair work took the better part of a week, during which time, the Dingoes stayed fairly busy. The Aquarius was brought to the surface, though there was no official crew for its general use, and transported back to the fleet for storage via the unit’s Planetlifter Air Transports.

March 20th, 3021 : Salvage work complete, the group was invited to a ball being held in the local Baron’s palace, in celebration of the end of the Golden Legion. It proved to be an impressive ball, filled with the local nobility and people of import. The Dingoes were formally introduced to Baron Jemmas of Horn three daughters, and he was formally presented with a detailed map of the region fro m the Dingoes scouting effort, as well as a ton of AER-9 Laser Rifle and enough Iron Dingoes “Militia” Field Kits to equip 12 infantry squads. Negotiations quickly ensued.

The Dingoes requested the option to recruit from the Baron Jemmas’ own college when in-system. They also asked to purchase supplies directly from the Baron in the future, and he agreed to all their requests. He even hinted he had a young daughter (and an older daughter) in need of marriage… A couple days later, Glamour made good on her offer to fly the Baron in her LAM, taking him into orbit and showing him a good time indeed. The last few days on-planet were quick and uneventful, eventually the group being paid-out of their contract early, with a case of gemstones, some hard off-world currency (C-Bills), and the majority paid-out in trade certificates for timber, foodstuffs, and fresh water from the barony’s reserves. These could be easily negotiated off-world for cash to traders and other interested parties.

March 30th, 3021 : The group lifted-off the planet with their troops and salvage, and once in a stable orbit, contacted REAPER. It responded, and ensured that the unit was intent on leaving, sent the prototype information for the Battle Armor – BH-18 “Waddle” Combat Walker. The unit then burned quickly for the jump-point, leaving it all behind them.

April 3rd, 3021 : Transports loaded and cargo secured, the Dingoes jumped out-system to their temporary home, Dumassas. Once comms had cleared, the unit contacted “The Factory” it received a call from station command, requesting immediate contact. Seems things were developing down on System – Dumassas

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Episode 64b - REAPER

“By the time Skynet became self-aware it had spread into millions of computer servers across the planet. Ordinary computers in office buildings, dorm rooms; everywhere. It was software; in cyberspace. There was no system core; it could not be shutdown. The attack began at 6:18 PM, just as he said it would. Judgment Day, the day the human race was almost destroyed by the weapons they’d built to protect themselves. I should have realized it was never our destiny to stop Judgment Day, it was merely to survive it, together. The Terminator knew; he tried to tell us, but I didn’t want to hear it. Maybe the future has been written. I don’t know; all I know is what the Terminator taught me; never stop fighting. And I never will. The battle has just begun.”

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————Battlemaster
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk LAM
JP (Pitbull) ————————-——-Battlemaster
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Flashman
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Thug
Ken (Templar) -————————— Ostroc
Keith (-) -———————————- Condor Heavy Hover Tank
Scott (Moxie) -————————— Maxim Heavy Hover Tank

March 1st, 3021, Early Morning : System – Gollere, Barony of Horn, Northern Marshes; 40 seconds after first contact…

A general retreat was in full order among the scattered defending elements, while the handful of northern Sentinels and Powered Armor were clustering together in a defensive perimeter against the Dinoges Scrum Lance and its various hover tanks. To the south, in front of the hidden bunker with the intense ECM field, the surviving mercenary Mechs and pair of Sentinels and assorted Powered Armor were trying to hold their line and confronting the Iron Dingoes Command and Ground-Pounders Lances, It was also obvious, that the MEchs were getting smarter, especially as the coded communications bouncing around the area grew thin and less frequent.

The hover armor quickly concentrated fire on the isolated Battle Armor in the central woods, taking virtually no fire in return. The scout Mechs on the Scrum Lance sniped various Sentinels with little effect. Captain Erika Hartmann “Glamour” managed to tear into the CT on one Sentinel, ravaging its engine, but it remained otherwise intact. Captain Mitchell Kitsune “Wraith” used his Needle Laser : “The Hatpin” effectively, blowing through the LT of one Sentinel, and triggering an ammo explosion that tore the Mech apart.

Near the bunker, Colonel Michael Ruxbondy “Paladin” managed a critical shot into the LT on the Warhammer, destroying one of its Small Lasers. Lieutenant SG Michael Anderson “Fixer” managed to tear the LL off another Sentinel, while another secondary shot hit the Head off the other Senitnel nearby.

The Warhammer came under a sudden barrage of strikes, suffering severe damage, falling over and collapsing under the strain, missing a leg and both torsos. LtSG Massimo De Luca “Advocate” tore apart the Hunchback, with a series of devastating PPC shots from his Flashman. Mechwarrior Parish “Priest” also managed to blow apart the Cyclops in a brutal shot to its ammo bins.

In the north, the armor continued to flank the defenders, shooting apart its Powered Armor infantry, and assisted by Glamour in her P-Hawk LAM. The Scrum Lance quickly closed and bean taking apart the remaining Sentinels, with both MechWarrior Evan Lars “Caboose” and MechWarrior Valentina Masterson “Valentine” managed to destroy a Sentinel each, through obliterating their CTs.

A full minute into the fight, things were obviously winding down. All Powered Armor had slipped into underground tunnels near the bunker, or been destroyed. The two remaining Sentinels, one n the north surrounded by tanks and Scrum Lance, and the other, near the bunker’s entrance surrounded by both Command and Pounders LAnces were doomed. Paladin head shot the southern Sentinel, tearing it clean off, and getting the only relatively undamaged Sentinel salvage in the entire fight. To the north, The armor devastated the remaining Sentinel with scattered SRMs, and Caboose finished it off with an ammo explosion.

As silence crossed the battlefield, broken only with the ECM fields running everywhere, it was broken only by plaintive signals from the bunker Several demands for teh surrender of the bunker across all channels were ignored. Templar and Fixer both approached one of the first Sentinels taken down, being the most “intact” Mech available, and after closing with it, dismounted from their Mechs to investigate these machines.

Accessing the Mech’s cockpit manually, the pair started examining the machine’s electronics suites, finding no pilots, but rather a rough cobbling of electronics that seemed to hint the machines were being robotically controlled. This explained the intense military comms traffic, though the technology was advanced, the components were crude and cobbled from various non-standard sources. Salvage teams began to swarm the field, guarded by all Dingoes Line Infantry and Armor. The intial reports were that there were no salageable components from the Powered Armor, due, primarily, to the large-sized weapons systems used to destroy them, leaving only bits and pieces. Several intact Laser Assault System (LAS) “Grendal”s were salvageable, however, as well as numerous [[: mauser-960-assault-system]]s. A large number of Sentinel limbs (including its vaunted AC/5 Ultras) were also being taken from the field, as well as the headless Sentinel, the Warhammer and most of the Hunchback.

Pitbull made a torch of a tree coated with flammable liquids, and entered into the bunker through its large, excavated entrance. Immediately inside, the bunker was a large series of empty bays, formerly Mech bays, stripped down with only two remaining active. Collections of tools and parts lay scattered about. Next to them was a massive duralloy vault door bearing The Cameron Star. Examination of the doors led the unit to see they were sealed by some sort of card-lock for a mag-key. Doctor Max Helmut “Moxie” arrived, and carefully exited his “ride” aboard one of the Maxims, and using the Stage III Tech Pass Card he’d found in the armory library back in Horn, managed to open the door, though the access port punched a hole in the strip on the card.

Beyond, were relatively clear corridors slanting gently down under the ground. Drain slots were located at regular intervals, and air was being circulated and renewed through vents along the ceiling. Glow strips in the ceiling and upper walls lit the way. Interior doors were a superior duralloy, and virtually unbreakable to standard weapons.

Pitbull led the marine pltoon “Shiv’s Star Talons” and Gamma platoon “The Snow Demons” of Force Recon into the breech, accompanied by Wraith, Fixer, Templar and a number of techs were kept near the entrance to assist, along with the spare marine platoons.

At the first intersection, they found several holo-cameras watching them, and after the unit destroyed them, a disembodied voice spoke over an intercom, saying : “…You’re all going to die down here…”. A pair of marine squads and standard Line Infantry squads were left here as guards. A series of corridors led back and forth, with the unit finding clusters of rooms at points . Each section led to narrower and narrower corridors and cameras watching at each intersection.

The first “Cluster” was a lounge area, with a medical bay, a storage closet and a converted office laying off it. The storage area held racks of blister-pack communications in the shape of Cameron Stars. Nearly two hundred (162 units) wireless communcators were present, and they were found capable of cutting through the ECM fields, and so were distributed among all the units in the bunker, allowing communications between them through the static. Several of the channels were revealed to have coded electronic communications running back and forth along them. The second room entered proved a medical bay, complete with a medical person wearing Star LEague doctor’s gear. He asked after the health of the intruders, and requested they sit on the bed for “…analysis and processing…”. No one complied,even though the good doctor was rather insistent, though he soon sat back down in the corner and waited. The unit sent word to their resident cyberneticist ( Moxie ) to come and take a look at the “subject”, and left.

The last room in the area was a locked (opened through Wraith’s electronics lockpick) converted office stripped of its furnishings, though it had a private water closet. Inside, were three rather worn prisoners wearing smock-like pale yellow hospital gowns. All three were planetary locals, being rather brawny and tough, and bewildered by higher technology. They reported they were fed twice a day, and they were often visited by men in golden armor, along with the good “doctor”, who sometimes brought new people, and sometimes took others away, as directed by the golden armored men with “…the red scorpion mark…” on their shoulders. The three were escorted back out of the complex by a squad of troopers.

The corridors beyond led to a series of turns (all watched by cameras), and eventually ended in a collapsed section of ferrocrete and duralloy beams and rubble. Basic engineering proved useful in identifying it as a collapse, likely dating to a nuclear blast or other severe seismic disturbance sometime in the distant past.

The next section encountered, located almost across from the first section, was a large double-door locked by an electronic pass-key. Opening the door using the passkey card, it revealed a former research lab converted into some sort of lounge for troops, and four suited troopers equipped with Battle Armor – Tornado PA, a pair of rifles and a pair of Grendals.! Immediately the invading troopers swarmed them with the sheer number of forces present (basically 36 troopers to four….), and overwhelmed the troopers quickly with minimal casualties (three troopers severely injured, one dead). Prying the troopers out of their armor, they found all captured infantry to be rigged with strange cranial implants, similar to those possessed by the doctor, and their suits were form-fitted to their individual physiology. Based on the battle-damage and wear on these suits, they were four of the missing six troopers that had managed to flee into the underground tunnels.

Leading from this room were two other small corridors. One proved to be locked, but was accessible through Wraith’s and Fixer’s skills, and opened to reveal a large armory, stocked with six complete suits of Battle Armor – Tornado PAs, twenty-two cases of grenades (a mix of HE and CS Gas) for the Mausers, two Grendals, six Mausers, and numerous energy cells for the rifles and other uses, all military-grade. The second chamber off the lounge where the fight had occurred, proved to be the converted labs used as a barracks by the powered armor infantry, that opened with the pass-key. Racks for nearly fifty PA-Ls were present, bunks and a large pair of converted shower stalls.

Returning to the main intersection, the unit headed down the side corridor, finding two narrow corridors leading to a collapsed series of tunnels, and a pair of large rooms. The first was a locked storeroom filled with boxes of blank holodisks, circuit boards, glow sticks and other important consummables for the facility. An entire wall was dominated by shelves of vacuum-packed cartons of food rations (enough for 10,000 meals!). The second room was a refurbished lab turned into a maintenance bay for power armor. Furnished with work tables, hoists, parts bins, and several incomplete suits of Tornado armor, there was also a unique piece of equipment, an Industrial Magnetic Shape-Former, used to shape armor pieces over exoskeletons and other internal structure.

Back into the main corridor, they eventually found another intersection, with a newly collapsed access area, and an older collapsed area with a pair of doors leading away from it. The doors led to two connected rooms of a mess hall and a food preparation area highly automated , but providing nutrient packs and soups…

ANother clsuter down to the west was a combination of rooms, all interconnected from the main hall. The first was a data control bank with a large viewscreen, numerous memory banks and a battle-armored trooper, who was likewise also overwhelmed by the 30 or so troopers who stormed in after him. Equipped with a Mauser and CS Gas grenades, he caused a single death in the fight, but otherwise the invading mercenaries were able to capture her (!) and pry her out of the armor.Fixer and Templar stayed to fiddle with the computer and a squad of guards. Five of the six had been caught.

From here, the unit found another bank of electronic equipment in the next room, and quickly determined it to be the control center for the ECM pulse outside. The unit discussed the ability to communicate freely, and so they shut-down the ECM unit manually, and immediately, the local communications grids lit-up allowing full use of unit comm-links. Meanwhile, FIxer and Templar determined that the computer information in the first room was all false; it was a ruse to keep intruders occupied and believing this was the main computer. It wasn’t.

Out in the main corridor, Pitbull found a large room that proved to be the main power room, using decaying nuclear piles to produce heat and thereby power turbines through heat exchangers. This was something they had encountered before on System – Claybrooke. Along this corridor, they also found a small lab converted to repair and build weapons, including several HE grenades and their components, as well as numerous parts for assembling more Grendals (six total).

The final chamber in the area was a locked smaller lab filled with servers and cabinets holding a massive cybernetic tank that contained a human brain dipped in strange goo. They had found REAPER!

Meanwhile, Moxie and Advocate entered the complex and made their way (under heavy protective guard) to the medical lab, and began interrogating the medic the unit had found there. After he grew agitated and was grappled by the two, they tranqed him, and began examining the lab. They found that the medic had several crudely cobbled together electronic “neurological stimulators”, something that could be surgically affixed to the patients spine, just below their skull, and then the large neuro-helmet device over the bed could be placed on the patients head and it could be “reprogrammed”… The medical lab seemed to only serve this purpose.

Back at REAPER, Pitbull engaged in talking to it, finding it very sure of itself. He entered the central chamber, and was promptly shocked by a virtual lightning storm that knocked him unconcsious, and did some serious physical damage. He was “hooked” out of the chamber and following soem tranq patches recovered. Wiping the blood off his face, Pitbull began to talk to REAPER about its plans, and tried to reason with it, realizing, that REAPER (and the people who had escaped in the DropShip earlier, now had some very valuable research data in their possessions. The question was how to access that data.

REAPER wanted to gather a defensive army, and spread into the planet, but that wasn’t really an option that the Iron Dingoes were going to allow. Damn morals. LEaving a guard, they continued to explore the complex and think about the matter. Eventually, they followed the main corridor to another dead end of collapsed tunnels, but found, at the far end of the tunnel, a makeshift refugee camp for nearly 200 people along the corridor. Interrogating the leader of the group, they found that they were the kidnapped local farmers, as well as members of a tour group who had come to the system on a sight-seeing trip from Davion space. The missing tourists!

They related that they had been boarded in orbit, and then hustled aboard a large DropShip, _"…larger even than a Union…" and then landed here and stuffed away. Sometimes gold-armored troopers would arrive and take people way, especially since “…they took the good doctor…”. Sometimes they would bring food and supplies, but they were always under the direction of “…that silver-haired woman, and those golden-armored troopers with the red scorpion on their shoulders…”. Further questioning revealed “the woman” to be Captain Selvari White “Seraphim”. Another of the “daughters” of Colonel White, perhaps?

Beyond the camp were a pair of rooms, one proving to be a lecture hall turned into a trash dump, and the other was another lab converted into a makeshift maintenance bay holding several scavenged machines, including an Industrial Laser Jigsaw and an Industrial Sheet Duralloy Fabricator, both irreplaceable in producing battle armor. In addition, they found perhaps a hundred sheets of duralloy, each valuable in the armoring of a single exoskeleton.

The unit then began organizing the evacuation of the prisoners and once the battlefield was salvaged, the salvaging of the labs and repair bays in the bunker. Once that was complete, they could determine the fate of REAPER and his store of knowledge…

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Episode 64a - REAPER

“You realize, Dr. Angelo, that my intelligence has surpassed yours …my birth cry will be the sound of every phone on this planet ringing in unison.”

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk LAM
JP (Pitbull) ————————-——-Battlemaster
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Flashman
Chris (Caboose) -———————- Phoenix Hawk
Jay (Advocate)—————————Thug
Ken (Templar) -————————- Ostsol
Scott (Moxie) -————————— Maxim

March 1st, 3021; Early morning : Heading into the swamps in the north-west of the Barony of Horn, the Line forces slowly approached the spot Captain Erika Hartmann “Glamour” had previously scouted using her LAM to map the location out. Coded communications traffic of a military nature was centered in the region, and following a sudden burst signal into the location, a sole DropShip, identified as a Lion-Class DropShip left the region and burned for orbit. As they entered south of the swampy hilly region, an especially strong ECM field appeared on a nearby hill, near a handful of ruined ferrocrete bunkers and rubble piles rising from the muck. Beyond lay a massive crater, and near that a smaller crater from the departing DropShip’s wake, rapidly filling with muddy water. Beyond everything, among a swampy forest, lay a large lake. Nothing stirred.

As the unit’s Mechs entered the field, the Grounders moved along the east, Command down the center, and Scrum swiftly headed along the western edge. The Line armor waited on the edge for deployment, staying out of harms way, and the Line infantry behind them. The Grounders activated their satellite link to the unit’s Mobile Command Post via Intelsat “Predator’s Eye”. Glamour began a fast flanking maneuver along the western edge in “hover” mode, keeping an eye on sniping from behind.

In response, a lance of Mechs moved from a bunker hidden in the hard rocky hill east of the ruins; an Atlas, a Cyclops, a Hunchback and a Warhammer. The Command and Grounders lances backed-up a little, trying to avoid the large number of AC/20s arrayed against them, but were able to snipe even their lesser weapons at longer range with their satellite link. Fire was concentrated on the Cyclops, as the lead element, and it took a devastating series of blows from PPCs that tore into the RT (50 points in one round!), savaged its AC/20, and knocked the Mech to the ground.

Glamour noticed the units were unable to return fire very efficiently, and MechWarrior Faith Whinyates reported that coded communications traffic was reaching extreme levels.

The assault lance from the bunker continued to advance, with the Grounders taking cover in a light forest, and opening with everything they had. The Command lance just hunkered down where they were, and concentrated fire on the advancing Mechs, exchanging sporadic sniping fire for their own withering attacks. Various STN-3L Sentinels began to appear, one pair powered-up near the advancing assault lance, while another pair powered-up in the woods near the Scrum lance. Another lance strode onto the field from the swampy woods of the north, still a long ways away from everything, but capable of closing and using their AC/5s soon enough.

MechWarrior Evan Lars “Caboose” leapt into the woods next to the pair closest to him, and was immediately swarmed by a cluster of four Battle Armor – Tornado PAs, that had remained hidden in “stealth” mode in a space of heavy woods. About 50m away, another cluster of four appeared, and they opened up their weapons, a mix of Mauser 960 Assault Systems and Laser Assault System (LAS) “Grendal”s on the intruder. As units began to pull back into defensive clusters amidst the trees, more and more Tornadoes appeared, always in clusters of four, in a mix of standard and support weapons. A lonely pair appeared near the ECM node, high on the slopes of the rocky outcroppings. Communications traffic increased again to manic levels.

MechWarrior Valentina Masterson “Valentine” opened up the CT of the nearest Sentinel, tearing into its Engine, though not taking it out. Several Tornadoes were damaged and their troops eliminated. The scattered “central” Tornadoes were unable to reach any targets, but began moving into position. Nearby, Glamour slipped in behind a pair of Sentinels, and after damaging one with her LL, kicked the other in the Head, and though it seemed to have destroyed the cockpit, the Mech remained in combat…

Lieutenant SG Michael Anderson “Fixer” let loose with a full barrage into the Atlas, taking it in the Head, while the rest savaged it, as it covered the standing efforts of the Cyclops. Various physical strikes occurred across the field, but none did any other serious damage. The unit calle din their Line armor to support and flank the Tornadoes, and harass the scattered Sentinels, with their Zephyr Hover Tanks activating their ECM suites.

As the tanks advanced rapidly over the open swampy terrain, their ECM began to disrupt communications, hinting that the units were controlled from teh central bunker. While the individual troopers were a little inept, as a whole, they had been able to co-ordinate their attacks quickly and without hesitancy. The two cut-off in the south-west woods near the Scrum lance openly abandoned their better defensive positions and assaulted the nearby Phoenix Hawks and Wolverines. MechWarrior Robert Stuart “Prince” blew through one Seintiel’s LT and touched-off its ammo reserves, blowing the Mech apart, though the arm was torn off and left behind. At almost the same instant, a round of SRMs from Commander Fionna Lord “Angel Frost”s own Pegasus Scout Hover Tank, cracking through to its CT, and blowing both its engine and gyro. As the Mech blew into pieces, its mate was savaged by Captain Mitchell Kitsune “Wraith”s prototype Needle Laser : “The Hatpin”, cutting apart its Gyro, then kicked its leg off, knocking it over and watching as its Sensors blew apart, and the Mech collapsed in a heap. Two Sentinel’s were down.

Off to the east, the firepower tunred intense, as Pitbull assaulted the Atlas, striking its CT with numerous successful strikes, causing several critical failures across the Mech, including its LRMs, SRMs, and both its Gyro and Engine. With the final Engine critical, the fusion reactor expoded, slagging the Mech utterly. LtSG Massimo De Luca “Advocate” managed to redirect his fire with an over-ride, but his strikes also scored deep damage into the Hunchback, including criticals into its Engine and Gyro., knocking it over. Fixer savaged a Sentinel, tearing apart its LA.

Glmaour continued to harass the two Sentinels further north, eventually kicking one through the CT-R, but doing no significant damage.

Twenty seconds into the brawl, and the various groups of Tornadoes took scattered damage, including one of the two troopers on the rocky hill, by Glamour, who swept towards them. Several clusters of troopers were making their way back to the ruins in the swamp, though some took savage damage in the retreat across the open. Pitbull and Trooper Pol Baca “Templar” opened up on the Warhammer, doing scattered damage, though Templar got a shot into its Head..

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The units seemed to be pulling together, and their fighting abilities were seeming to get better…

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Episode 63 - The Legion of Gold

“My name is Legion; for we are many. "

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk LAM
JP (Pitbull) ————————-——-Battlemaster
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Flashman
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Thug
Ken (Templar) -————————— Ostsol
Scott (Moxie) -————————— Maxim

Feb 12th, 3021 : Just prior to jumping out-system, Major Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” decided to attach his secret project, Chip 10987, to his neurohelmet, The Fisher King’s Neurohelmet in an effort to finally stabilize “Cortana”’s matrix. Following a period of several minutes, the Chip finally activated with a drop of water and assimilated the circuitry of the helmet, spreading along its neural pathways and waiting… for something… Tech Brandis Turgan was then ordered to turn his attentions towards Data Core – Decimator 397

Delaying a couple days to secure a cargo of a civilian DropShip seeking access to Gollere, and the arrival of some last minute supplies, the unit cycled its crews through their station at the jump-point, “The Factory”, and waited.

Feb 15th, 3021 : The fleet of three JumpShips ( “The Freedom of the Stars”, “The Den Mother” and “The Iron Vagabond” ) then left System – Dumassas, and jumped out to System – Gollere, it’s Line units in tow.

Once comms and sensors cleared, they were hailed by a single Merchant-Class JumpShip, “The Cormorant” out of New Syrtis. After being assured the unit were mercs hired by local governmental forces, the JumpShip crew revealed they had been hauling a Mule-Class DropShip with cargo, and a Condor-Class DropShip with tourists out of System – Malagrotta. Both DropShips had burned in-system and reached orbit, but after the Mule landed, the Condor suddenly cut off communications and rode for higher orbit, before disappearing. Many suspected pirates.

February 18th, 3021 : The unit then escorted their paid-fare civilian passenger ship in-system, and after ensuring it landed at the planetary capital, began maneuvering to land at their intended target of the Barony of Horn, for their Contract – Operation “Steampunk Shuffle”. Several hours later, the fleet of DropShips began dropping on the area near the capital of Horn, a small, provincial town of several thousand citizens, and occupied its landing area with their five DropShips. “Brush Wolf” landed last, deploying its Intelsat “Predator’s Eye” above their drop-zone. They activated a PING to try and get a lock on any SLDF sites, but ionization interfered too greatly with their efforts to get any proper readings, due to the system’s binary electrical signals.

With the fleet landed in full, it impressed the “slack-jawed yokels” with a great deal of awe and wonder. The town was “…quaint…” as one member put it, being a former administrative center that had been rebuilt when the local colony was begun. The Fortress of Horn was a town of nearly 4000 citizens, protected by an earthen rampart, topped by a wall of fieldstone and brick. The local militia was a citizen-soldier force of about a battalion of musket-armed troopers, supplemented by the Baron’s own “Knights” and “Squires” who employed composite armor and advanced weapons (sometimes laser rifles) from out-system export or lovingly maintained from ancient times. The town itself was composed of residences, shops and industrial efforts, and the center of the colony’s future.

The unit were met at the landing strip by a caravan of advanced-looking wheeled APCs, as well as a modified hover APC used as a “limo” by the Baron. Many of the command staff joined Sir McNabb and were shuttled to a meeting with the Baron. Captain Erika Hartmann “Glamour” remained behind to fly her PHX-HK2 Phoenix Hawk LAM in circles around the capital to take a series of navigational readings and map out the terrain. This display also frightened and amazed many locals.

Eventually the unit met with Baron Jemmas of Horn, discovering that his palace was once an important planetary armory, complete with underground parkade filled with various military vehicles and other important equipment. The Baron himself was well-armed, and all his bodyguards were equipped with advanced ceramic armor and laser rifles. After local cuisine tasting and many pleasant discussions about space travel, something which the good Baron expressed an interest in, referring to it as “…similar to bedding a wench for the first time, I presume…”.

The Baron explained the difficulties he and his citizens had been facing of late, including the arrival of these so-called “Gold Legion Raiders”. He explained the colony had lost four of its north-western villages, showing the unit on an ancient map the local area, and he feared more were to be attacked in short order. The group noticed numerous interesting additional marks on the map, and were informed the map had been found in their archives back when the colony was first founded.

The attacks were then described. First numbering a dozen strong-seeming warriors in golden-glowing armor, they had steadily grown in number, until the last raid in “Bear” had been with nearly 30 or forty of the yellow-armored troopers were being seen. In addition to their being seemingly impervious to common small arms fire, they moved with an efficient determination, ignoring most attacks until they had overwhelmed resistance, whereupon they looted everything of value including young, capable citizens. He said one survivor of the last raid was available to interview, having seen the destruction first hand. Any other needs could be discussed with their Liaison officer, Apprentice Synod, Garth Ammon. The Baron agreed that he needed to pay the unit to do this quickly, employing all his colony’s reserves and future production for a year or two, lest there be no colony in a year’s time. He excused himself then, and left the unit to themselves.

Escorted to the meeting with the lone survivor from the raid on Bear, the unit met Soldier Willum. In bandages, he related how the two dozen golden-armored troopers he had seen, swarmed from the morning mists, and methodically spat laser fire and launched grenades against any who opposed them. He related how one brave Knight armed with a laser rifle managed to get a critical shot on one, that set the armored giant smoking in a shower of sparks, but that he soon drew the attention of the other three members of the invader’s squad, and died quickly. He himself, was knocked unconscious by a grenade explosion near him, and awoke, wounded and alive well after the attackers had passed.

He was interrogated by the unit, relating there had been around two dozen troopers, acting in groups of four, about half with the “fire lasers” on their shoulders, the rest wielding laser rifles with grenade launchers. He also mentioned seeing two troopers towards the back, not engaging in combat, and seeming to direct the attackers. Their strange armor was bulky and seemed impervious to any small arms attacks, save the one he mentioned. Indeed, the armor was full-length combat armor, covering the whole body, all limbs and even their heads, the latter with a large bright amber plate of glass or something that reflected a bright, red light. Completing their interview, they were excused and requested access to the town’s libraries and archives, to perhaps find more information. They were granted a handful of passes, and the unit took their leave, promising to begin their hunt once they had determined the raider’s location.

The unit consulted with Glamour, and expanded her flights to include the marked regions they had noted on the map in the Baron’s possession. These included an area noted as “Shelter Ruins”, about 40 km west of Horn, and another spot labelled “Aquan Labs”, about 60 kms north along the coast. The unit also reviewed their understanding of the attacks, determining they must have come from the north-west, and planned to begin their actual scouting towards that direction when the contract finally began. Meanwhile, a pair of marine platoons (supplemented with a couple light transports for travel) were dispatched to each location (“Aquan Labs” and “Shelter Ruins”), to begin a little scouting work, while the unit’s Force Recon and Senior Scout “Scammer” Firdaaz were dispatched into the north-west “Computer Core” location to begin their own investigations. Meanwhile, select members of the unit were going to do some rooting around in the local archives and college library.

The 1st and 8th Marine Platoons travelled north along the coast and spent a couple days poking around the ruins there. They reported finding a “hot zone” (also marked on the map), over a spot where about a dozen large buildings were positioned, now only flattened and scattered ruins. The site had been hit by a dedicated, small tactical form of nuke, containing damage to a small area.

The 6th and 9th Marine Platoons were dispatched north-west, and quickly scouted the area, finding about a hundred shelters, each on the surface, a solid block of stone and concrete evenly spaced around a narrow valley. Each covered a large internal shelter, meant to house perhaps a dozen people for some time, with sleeping rooms, a common room and support facilities each internally powered and supplied. Most were open and looted, some the lairs of small creatures, while a handful remained under power, but they were also looted and abandoned. Nothing of note was found in the area.

Doctor Max Helmut “Moxie” and Trooper Evan Lars “Caboose” spent a couple days accessing the town’s college library. In their search, they managed to find stacks worthless books, but under one large collection, Moxie found a rare technical manual detailing how to theoretically decompile an AI. He managed to take a record of the entire manual, and down-load it to his own datapad, for future study. Used as a bookmark, he also found an orange security card with a silver stripe, labelled Stage III, Robotic Technician". Caboose found porn.

Trooper Pol Baca “Templar” and Lieutenant SG Michael Anderson “Fixer” went to the town archives, finding stacks of tax records, sales and trade orders, and large numbers of documents. Under the pile, they found a single blueprint of the Baron’s own palace, from back when it was a minor armory in the SLDF. It displayed a private power source that seemed to be the town’s primary source of power. The lower levels seemed extensive, and appeared to hold (or once held) more than expected.

February 21st, 3021 : The north-western force reported in to reveal the area was a deep swamp. A morass of thick mists, swamp forests and deep pools, it had few places that anyone would want to settle in. Even the pathway, formerly a paved road that led into the area petered-out and led nowhere noticeable.

Expecting there might be something more extensive, and since the radiation counts around the Aquan Labs were dangerous to their suited crews, the unit dispatched Captain Mitchell Kitsune “Wraith”, LtSG Massimo De Luca “Advocate”, and MechWarrior Robert Stuart “Prince” led by Major Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” in their Mechs to rendezvous with the marines and search the ruins. Passing north along the coast, through Mucktown, a prosperous trade and fishing port of about a thousand citizens with a company of militia. They approached the ruins of the Labs, but about 2km south of the ruins, Pitbull’s Beagle Active Probe picked-up a noticeable blip that turned-out to be a cavern along the coast. The marines were called-in, and entered the cave, finding a lair of some large bird-like predator, that was quickly slain. It’s quill attacks from its tail proved ineffectual against the hardened marine combat armor.

Beyond this was a stairwell dropping deep under the ground, with a small design carved into each stone step, depicting a pair of crossed oriental swords, that Pitbull identified as being marks of the SAMURAI logo, a marine exploration and research company from House Kurita. Eventually the stairwell led to a large elevator room, lined in lustrous metal. When the marines brought their tech forward to investigate it, a strong ECM field went up, sealing all communications and bringing silence to the unit. Several minutes passed.

Eventually, the marines evacuated the cave, reporting a strong electrical field that had activated after they entered the room, and that had they not been wearing their marine combat armor, they’d likely all have died… The tech reported finding an access slot where some sort of security card might be inserted to gain access, but they couldn’t determine the type. The unit pulled-out, deciding to explore further once their contract was complete.

The unit then brought their Mechs along the coast, with an intent to find something out into the ocean near the cave. Eventually, they managed to find a deep EM signal, about 1km out to sea (Depth 10), and after some discussion on how to proceed, decided to call off further exploration as well, until the unit had acquired a proper deep-water salvage team or some sort of submersible. Pitbull ordered the unit’s DropShuttle to leave, rendezvous with the Iron Vagabond and return to Dumassas to find something (salvage crew, or submersible) they might use. The unit then scouted the ruins, finding nothing beyond melted plastic and ferrocrete, and moved off along the road leading to the west. They passed through an ancient, ruined farming village, and eventually found an abandoned Large Agricultural Robot at the road’s end, by the forest. The unit called in their salvage squads, who quickly determined that the unit’s pair of Planetlifter Air Transports might be able to do something. They then watched over the salvage operations for a few hours, and then returned back to the Fortress of Horn.

February 22nd, 3021 : Glamour expanded her search patterns, to include the swamps to the north-west, and did a quick search over the massive ground-burst nuke site to the south. The southern blast seemed to have been against a large underground bunker, that was absolutely destroyed, its surface now a cratered morass of melted steel and ferrocrete. Nothing exceptional was found to the north-west, although a large plateau seemed to rise out of the swampy region, covered in rock and trees, though still a muddy mess to cross and pass through.

Moxie and Templar reported their findings, including Moxie turning in the card he had found, though he was instructed to hold onto it until further notice. He found-out about the robotic agribot, and spent the next few days looking it over and assessing the damages, along with the salvage squads.

The north-west Force Recon further reported the swamps were unremarkable, though the findings of Glamour’s mapping proved correct; a raised region could be located that, while muddy and swampy, proved to have a strong foundation around the area labelled “Computer Core” on their map. The whole unit agreed, this was likely the spot they needed to visit.

February 28th, 3021 : After several days of downtime, the unit gathered their resources, examined their scouting reports, and prepared their advance into the swamps. They looked over the roughly 1 km raised area mapped by Glamour’s Phoenix Hawk LAM, and noted a section of rocky defiles and on the eastern approaches, as well as a large open water lake to the north. The unit made plans on their approach, and left as the clock struck midnight, officially now under contract.

March 1st, 3021 : Passing through the farmlands along the main trade road north-west, they scouted the village of Fort Attison, finding it to have recently (within a couple days) to have been attacked. The former town of 1200 citizens had been defended by an earthen rampart and nearly a company of infantry, but was now a smoking ruin, haunted by handfuls of civilians. The armor units of the Line scouted along the edge of Death Lake, and Moxie took advantage of this detour to investigate why it was called Death Lake, by taking samples. During this experiment, a massive “Garfish” tried to eat him. On the shore, while taking a sample. His guards captured the specimen, and it was tagged and stored in the back of the Maxim Hover Transport he was riding in, for future study. Now they knew why it was called “Death Lake”.

The unit continued on , from where the road slowly dissipated, past the ruins of Deerld, the first community victimized by the Legion of Gold, and off into the swamps… Tensions began to rise…

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Episode 62 - The Haven Consortium

“Behind every captain, there’s a crew. Sure, some of you are as ugly as a sea cucumber, some of you are closer to being a chair or coat rack than a pirate, and some of you are fish I’ve just dressed up in a hat…”

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk LAM
JP (Pitbull) ————————-——-Battlemaster
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Flashman
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Thug
Ken (Templar) -————————— Ostsol
Scott (Moxie) -————————— (Science Lab)

January 20th, 3021 : After battle on the plains of Tether, System – Rolling Thunder.

The turrets on the base’s pylons stopped firing as soon as the Mechs surrendered, and all went silent within the facility. The unit knew there was a full platoon of marines and about two dozen techs in the place, and they were doubtless fortifying their position.

Discussions ensued regarding how to proceed, and since the unit had time before their marines needed to deploy, they waited. Eventually, Captain Erika Hartmann “Glamour” broke the silence, and demanded that her possession of one of the San’Grael (believed to be the watch from early in their careers) makes her one of The Starlords – “The Brotherhood”. When queried who she had stolen her token, she responded “Starlord Zane”. Silence.

Five minutes passed. Then ten. Then came the response; “You have assaulted a neutral facility owned by the Haven Consortium. This is an act of war against all the Starlords.”

“Fine”, she responded.

The unit gathered their marine squads, calling in both those waiting aboard the unit’s Orkan-Class Space Planes in orbit, choosing to land them at the base’s own shuttle strip, and called in the “Star Talon” with its complement of marines. They quickly deployed, with their key units from Shiv’s Talons in their heavy combat armor, the Iron DIngoes “Warlord Mk2” Field Kits, taking the front assault positions towards the bay. The rest accessed the various personal access doors, and breached the airlocks quickly, assaulting directly into the lower engineering bays. In an overwhelming display of force, the unit took very few casualties, and within ten minutes had the entire base under their control, and a squad of marine survivors along with most of the techs. The base was theirs.

The prisoners were interrogated in the base itself, and placed under heavy guard. The survivors of the Fold Fiends were quickly leashed, while the unit’s salvage squads took their time scrapping the facility, and salvaging the Mechs from the field. The unit suddenly saw the incorporation of the Fold Fiends as a possible third combined-arms battalion…

As the days progressed, it became apparent that all the formal Marshals from the marines were unapproachable. A discussion made them all agree to leave them behind. Among the techs, some of the refinery staff were formerly civilians and four were hired for a position aboard the unit’s The Factory – BioDiesel Refinery, while two of the regular Kindred were determined to be former civilian techs and not too dangerous to hire. The rest were to be abandoned wiht the Marshals.

Among the base’s salvaged bits, the unit took all its “Mech Bays”, stripped the turrets, and found a large collection of various trade goods that made their way into * “The Scrapyard”. They all seemed to be made by various companies under the monniker of the Haven Consortium. Finally, large supplies of spare parts were salvaged for their own refinery, and the remainder of the facility was sabotaged for what was to come. The Fold Fiends Mechs were packed aboard the “Dingoes’ Den” as cargo.

February 2nd, 3021 : After a long recharge time, and hard work, the unit’s DropShips left the asteroid Tether, and moved back to their JumpShip fleet. They prepared everything for a jump, and sent “The Iron Vagabond” and “The Den Mother” off ahead back to System – Dumassas with all their DropShips, while “The Freedom of the Stars” remained behind for a little experiment, with most of the command staff present.

The unit had decided, very covertly, to test their AR-10 Launcher. They placed Engineer Tia Sprang in her position as command on the weapon system, and placing the target of the refinery base on Tether as their target. With all its Marshals and Kindred deemed dangerous as victims. She launched a Barracuda and it quickly closed with the facility, and struck dead center. After the initial explosion, a series of rippling explosions expanded through the refinery, and out into the large storage tanks buried around the facility, resulting in secondary explosions that proceeded to tear the asteroid into two pieces and dust. Tether had just been un-tethered… As the dust expanded, the unit jumped away, back to Dumassas, clapping each other on their backs. Some however, seemed horrified by the level of destruction… The unit collectively decided to start calling their torpedoes, “Coffins”. Somewhat apt.

Back in System – Dumassas, the unit decided to rotate their crews through their landhold, “The Factory”, and transferred personnel, parts and supplies appropriately. The unit examined their possible recruitment efforts having been gathered on the planet of Terramatrix and at the station itself. It seemed, the station was attracting local attention as a gathering point for mercs. The unit managed to get a pair of crews with hover tanks, and some Mech pilots and pilots with their own Mechs to fill the rosters of their new unit, * The Fold Fiends, and formally assigned them to The Factory as a defensive force, while they started to work together and build their esprite de corps. NUmerous infantry units were placed into training units in * “The Cerberus Command” as Militia.

During the week, Major Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” started looking over his maps and consulting with the navigational maps aboard “The Iron Vagabond”, and comparing them with his own collection. He came to the conclusion, that two navigational points were available on the Iron Vagabond, to two unknown systems; Lorkdahl and Badlands. Pitbull’s own knowledge of the region and SLDF history, let him know both of these systems were lost colonies from the Taurian Concordat, and rumored to have been thorns in the side of the SLDF throughout its occupation of the Periphery.

Other news, included the rumors that House Steiner had offered an olive branch to all the other Houses of the Inner Sphere. If accepted, this could spell the whimpering end of the Third Succession War! The news brought a wave of fear among citizens of the system, since they felt it might mean House Davion pointing its intersts back into the Periphery, once more…

Trooper Pol Baca “Templar” threw a party for the techs that designed the Warlord Mark 2 combat armor, to thank them for their year of hard work.

The unit also found Senior Tech April O’Neil aboard The Factory, doing a documentary called , “My Life as a Merc”, following the untis; various techs and troopers about, and watching their lives unfold. She claimed to be doing it from the proceeds of her research project for Karl Lotjonen, but she also mentioned she saw a market back on System – Heroditus

As the week drew to a close, they were contacted by an _ Apprentice Synod, Garth Ammon_, of System – Gollere. He had come to Dumassas seeking a mercenary company of MEchs, to deal with an issue on his homeworld. Intrigued, and needing something to do before they trekked back across the Periphery on a LosTech hunt, he offered a three month Combat Campaign contract, to hunt and eliminate a group of “…large, man-sized Mechs …” that were raiding and eliminating various communities in his home province, the Barony of Horm. Negotiations ensued, and they nearly lost on Full Salvage_, but were able to get it i n exchange for reduced supply options. The _Content Not Found: contract-steampunk-shuffle was created and signed, though the unit discovered something else new… they had a Comstar adept on the station, who had just opened an office…

The unit made final preparations, taking their time, as they had some weeks to get their personal matters in order before they made the trip one system over… to deal with battle armor… preparing their jump for the 16th of February.

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Episode 61 - Rolling Thunder

“Times of great calamity and confusion have been productive for the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace. The brightest thunder-bolt is elicited from the darkest storm.”

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————Battlemaster
Bruce (Glamour)————————Phoenix Hawk LAM
JP (Pitbull) ————————-——-Battlemaster
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Flashman
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Thug
Ken (Chewie) -————————— Ostsol
Keith (-) -———————————- Condor Heavy Hover Tank
Scott (Moxie) -————————— (Science Lab)

January 3rd, 3021 : Having waited for their JumpShips to recharge, the unit gathered from an extended R&R among the debaucheries of System – Tequila Beach. Last minute, supply acquired a large collection of Endo Steel, and verified numerous modifications to unit Mechs, and then bundled everything together for jump out-system.

January 4th, 3021 : Jumping into the border world of System – Armington, the unit registered themselves again as leaving Davion space, and deployed their sails for recharge operations. An uneventful week passed, and the unit made the final jump out-system.

January 11th, 3021 : The jump into System – Dumassas proved a happy reunion; the entire unit was back together for the first time in over a year! “The Iron Vagabond” and “The Freedom of the Stars” were in-system, and * “The Dead Man’s Hand” were deployed in the Sangrian capital at the start of their contract. The unit had sent ahead their contract income for the last contract, plus the deposit for the new one to the unit on a shuttle.

Over the next week, the unit took an assessment of its status, and transferred troops and personnel between ships as needed. They gave Lord (LtSG) Henry Fitzroy the mandate to conduct recruitment operations from the locals, especially since they had proven very popular with the local government, having done numerous contracts over many years. In some ways, Dumassas was almost another home to many in the unit now.

January 20th, 3021 : It was also decided that the unit follow-up on the Jumpkeys they found, particularly the one leading to System – Rolling Thunder. Leaving their landhold “The Factory” behind, the unit packed everything aboard their JumpShips, and made the jump using the Jumpkey. Immediately, there was a problem. The pilots aboard the Iron Vagabond noticed something was odd with the jump, and then the maneuver drives kicked-in. The JumpShips each re-positioned themselves, something that none of the navigators had ever seen happen, followed by tense waiting as the ships made their jump bubbles, and then, in the seconds for the Jump transition to occur, the ship’s jumped…

Rolling Thunder was a radiation-laden system, dominated by its brown dwarf “star”, and the large ice asteroid later identified as “Tether”, located about a half-an-hour’s flight away. The station-keeping drives cut -out, and once sensors were clear, the unit did a long-range scan over the asteroid, hoping for comms or something substantial, but found nothing. in-system static was extensive, clouding most anything. The unit deployed their Line Command and Line Interceptor AeroSpace lances, who did a close scouting fly-by of the asteroid. Captain Erika Hartmann “Glamour” activated her recently installed 3D-topographic mapping system, and while conducting their flight, discovered an anomaly. Some sort of station was on the planetoid’s surface, surrounded by rubble and extensive mining efforts. The unit returned back to their fleet, and brought their map with them.

The unit examined the map, and decided to take the “Brush Wolf” down to the planet’s surface, some distance away from the base. They would send the slower “Grounders” and “Paladin’s Own” would make their way through the heavily mined canyons, and thus approach the base relatively closely, though unnoticed, while the “Scrum” lance would approach directly some minutes behind, and act as a lure for any garrison forces that might be present. Glamour would follow along as flanking support about a minute behind the Scrum lance in her LAM.

photo_1.JPG

The unit landed under fighter escort, and moved into position without incident. When the Scrum lance appeared on the edge of the clear area “south” of the base, a lance of Mechs moved out of the main loading ramp, and the Archer was sniped at (successfully) by MechWarrior Evan Lars “Caboose”.

The positions of the former drives went active, revealing themselves as turrets, equipped with LRMs and SRMs. Scattered fire began, with the hidden units revealing themselves, and Trooper Pol Baca “Templar” taking a shot and getting a lucky hit into the Blackjack’s CT, blowing its ammo and splitting the Mech right in two.

Now almost a minute into the fight, things took a serious turn (known as the “Blood Bowl” round). Major Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” squared off against the first Thunderbolt, cracking its internal structure and flooding the central fusion reactor. This immediately over-heated the Mech, forcing it to shut-down, while MechWarrior Jessica Burlingame “Slayer” hit it with a lucky head shot, cracking its armor, destroying its life support and killing the pilot. Captain Mitchell Kitsune “Wraith” and MechWarrior Robert Stuart “Prince” double-timed the exposed Archer, doing extensive damage, including several breeches in its armor on the left leg, left torso, and both right and left arms, damaging all its lasers and leaving it with a single LRM for combat. It shut-down and surrendered. Finally, combined fire from the unit also forced the first Griffin to fall over, almost destroying its left leg, causing numerous criticals and forcing it to shut-down and surrender. The unit, however, took very little serious damage, and continued forward.

photo_2.JPG

The garrison down to eight Mechs, started to “turtle”, moving back-to-back and pulling into what little defenses they could salvage around the base. The bulk of the heavy Mechs from the unit were in peak range, and opened into the massed group. MechWarrior Jessica Burlingame “Slayer” got another lucky shot inot the otherwise virtually untouched JagerMech, breaking its head armor and killing the pilot. Pitbull both breached the right torso armor on the Catapult, and head shot the Mech, killing the pilot. Lastly, among the scattered fire going both directions, Prince managed to pierce the Crusader among the volleys that struck it from the rest of the unit, piercing its left torso, and igniting the ammo bins, destroying the Mech in a rippling series of ammo explosions throughout the Mech. The Enforcer also took a lucky hit that cracked its internal structure, over-heating the fusion drive and forcing it into over-heating.

Down to only a handful of Mechs, the leader, one “Jolly” Roger Galligan of the Fold Fiends mercenary company offered their surrender and asked for the honors of war. There was much discussion in the ranks regarding this, but the unit accepted their surrender, accepting all salvageable “dead” Mechs (a Thunderbolt, a JagerMech, a Catapult, and a destroyed Crusader and a shattered Blackjack ) as war salvage. The merc group proved to be a ragged group of rogues and borderline pirates, who lived through plunder and salvage, now selling their services as a garrison for this isolated facility. Perhaps most telling, he promised to present a legitimate contract signed with Comstar as a signator…

Galligan informed the unit there was a platoon of marines aboard the station, along with a handful of techs, all beholden to an organization known as “The Haven Consortium”, though some might refer to it as The Starlords – “The Brotherhood”. He called it a conglomerate of worlds and corporations based from System – Pirate’s Haven Star Cluster, with a formal military and definitively unique culture.

Discussion began regarding the capture of the base and its refinery, as well as its techs and whatever else might bring them help in making the next step…

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Episode 60 - Tequila Beach
"Life gives you lemons, you reach for the tequila."

“Life gives you lemons, you reach for the tequila.”

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————Battlemaster
Bruce (Glamour)————————Stinger LAM
JP (Pitbull) ————————=——-Ostsol
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Flashman
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Thug
Ken (Chewie) -————————— Ostsol
Keith (-) -———————————- Condor Heavy Hover Tank
Scott (-) -——————————— (-)

December 15th, 3020 : The unit sold-off the surplus Combat Armor and salvaged scrap metals taken from the ancient hulk of the Jumbo-Class DropShip “Tentative”. The remainder was folded into the unit’s supplies as consumables or items of potential other uses and value.

The unit also spent some time itemizing their research into the old journal they had detailing the “San’Grael” (Episode 11 – Shipboard Life). They concluded that the maps and journals seemed to follow a trail of caches established by the 689th Engineering Corps along the Periphery edge of the Inner Sphere. It seemed he was headed for at lest one more somewhere between Cavion and Marik space….

December 16th, 3020 : After a couple days of down-time, Captain Frank Elgyn contacted the command council, informing them they could buy a Jumpkeys leading to System – Tequila Beach, though it would cost 500,000 Cs. They agreed, handed over the cash, and took possession of the Jumpkey they needed. They also asked if the contact could translate the locations for the unit’s other Jumpkeys, but asking 500,000 Cs for the lot was a little steep, and they refused to accept it, planning to look elsewhere.

December 19th, 3020 : Spending a couple more days rotating crew through the station for some R&R, they packed the fleet and gathered on their JumpShips. They inserted the Jumpkey, and cycled comms through both “The Bloody Paw” and “The Den Mother”, and prepped for the jump.

System – Tequila Beach proved to be a milky-white “light” nebulae, a shard of free plasma and latent radiation that allowed a very slow charge (14.85 days) of jumpdrives via jumpsails. Located deep in dead space somewhere between System – Malagrotta and Vackisujfalu, near the Periphery border with Systems Constellation – “The Hyades March”.

After several moments of tense radio static, came a broad-band comms signal :

“Attention incoming vessels. You have entered a restricted area. You will broadcast your electronic and visual identification and statement of intent on frequency 934A-3B. Please maintain your present position until further notification. You are being tracked by our main batteries.”

After a brief exchange, the fleet received docking instructions and a course to follow to the station. Eventually, the fleet headed in that direction, and moving through the blinding light of the nebulae, eventually saw the large armored habitat that was Tequilla Beach, surrounded by a swarm of shuttles and various JumpShips.

Identifying themselves as * “The Iron Dingoes”, they looked over the required protocols for customs, and then carefully decided what they were going to sell at the station markets. They all piled aboard a shuttle, and headed into the station. Customs were quickly passed through, and they scheduled the trans-shipment of their “Nerve Gas” SRMs taken off “The Tentative”. Customs informed them they needed to speak with The Cardinal himself, and were invited to dinner in a day’s time… They quickly headed into the market decks and split into groups looking for whatever they could find.

Among the various stuff they found, Colonel Michael Ruxbondy “Paladin” found a Spider Mech, spending an hour staring at it and its stats. He missed his first mistress… Trooper Evan Lars “Caboose” easily found a Phoenix Hawk, but closer inspection revealed it seemed heavy for its weight class…. It was a PHX-HK2 Phoenix Hawk LAM! Contacting Captain Erika Hartmann “Glamour”, who immediately salivated and marked it as her own, begging the unit to buy it… which they did for a flat 8,000,000 Cs cash. They also found a couple Partisan Heavy Tanks, though the seller demanded 4,000,000 Cs for each of them. They did not buy those.

December 20th, 3020 : After more browsing, the unit arrived at the personal quarters of the Cardinal, which included a small personal gravity deck. They encountered his personal body guard, Hella Brun, a tall woman with sharp features who had been his guard for over two decades. Passing into the elite quarters, located on a boom off the main station, they were impressed by its simple opulence. Eventually they were seated, and met The Cardinal himself, a tremendously old man stooped in a hoverchair, essentially a mass of wrinkles topped with a shock of snow-white hair. He was dressed in an archaic style of robes, but very tasteful.

After small talk, the conversation got around to what, exactly, the unit was doing at his station. After assuring The Cardinal their intent was only to acquire a few things, sell a few things and maybe find some information. They related the origins of the unit’s discoveries while in Marik space, including the mystery surrounding the ancient watch they’d recovered. After explaining some of the incidents around its acquisition, they finally mentioned it might be connected to The Starlords – “The Brotherhood”. He agreed, it was likely one of the “Pieces of Eight”, their lost San’Grael, which ownership presented the unit with a problem. While it might be acknowledged by the other Starlords as legitimate (and only they would know for certain), it could only be possessed by a single person, and that person could only try to carve concessions from the others regarding space or territory. What the unit would do with such an item remained unknown. He also hinted to Glamour that she should investigate “…some Trifles down at the flower markets…”.

Over the next two weeks, the unit waited and killed time shopping and moving about on the station, giving the crews and troops some more down-time. They searched out some scientific equipment (expensive!), and various other pet projects, but nothing of exceptional note. Major Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” did some serious research into Star League caches, identifying that the potential cache Brigadier Zane might have been aiming for was a border world along the Liao-Davion border. He narrowed it to either Jaipur, Midale, or Robsart, all of which were important sites for Castle’s Brian and independent garrisons of the Star League military.

The group also spent some distasteful time on Level 12, among the slave markets. In particular, Pitbull went hunting for someone with comms experience, who had a background in Comstar, and who might know something about HPGs. He managed to buy a beaten young woman, Tech Jeyne Tull, with an eye towards getting their pair of HPGs operational once more.Trooper Pol Baca took a personal interest in her well-being, and began spending time with her whenever possible. Chewie also spent time combing the salve deck, looking for likely “good-hearted” individuals that needed saving, and wound-up buying seven commoners, spending effort and money to bring them aboard the fleet as future personnel. Lastly, in addition to a dozen new “black boxes” for Mech stealing, Pitbull discovered that the watch fob from the “San’Grael” s being a pornographic picture of Katrina Steiner, from when she was young and a mechjock with no intention of ever becoming the Archon of House Steiner. It was definitely not worth a pitiful 100 Cs…

Searching for a Beagle Active Probe to replace the one lost on Pitbull’s Mech, they found a battered unit for 400,000 Cs. They also visited Sprang’s, asking him to identify the Jumpkeys they had taken back in System – Malagrotta, for a cheap 50,000 Cs. They proved to include five to “black” worlds no longer considered habitable, but one was a pirate point on New Avalon, and another was for New Syrtis. Three of them were for separate pirate points in Flannagan’s Nebula, the star cluster that surrounded System – Taurus.

The last one, however, caught his eye. He mentioned it as a “black world”, except if you looked on a star chart, it led to nowhere. The co-ordinates were for a system located one jump away from System – Dumassas, System – Pirate’s Haven Star Cluster, and System – Armington. It was, however, Dead Space, a region with no listed system on any known maps…

For an additional 50,000 Cs, Sprang sold the unit a blueprint of a Seeker-Class DropShip he once worked on. He admitted it might not be one-hundred percent accurate, but it was a good starting point for the group to begin scouring the “Dingoes’ Den” for the mysterious hidden areas they suspected were somewhere within its hull…

They asked him about naval weaponry, and in particular, if he’d ever worked on Colonel “White Death”‘s shipos, The Black Star and The Sable Countess. He agreed on one condition; he wanted to get his grand-daughter Engineer Tia Sprang off the station and into somewhere that she might be able to actually have a life. He agreed that if anyone knew anything about naval weapon’s systems it was she who could figure things out. Assured they would find a home for her, he spilled that, yes, White came to him on occasion for repairs and maintenance on both ships, but that he was bound to give no other information regarding a client. Still, it assured the group that Colonel White indeed had a pair of Tracker-Class WarShips, fully capable of causing major destruction…

It was agreed, that once the fleet was charged (around the 4th of January), they would head back to Dumassas and then jump to wherever Rolling Thunder might be…

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Episode 59 - Ghost Ship

“I do know one thing. I’ve seen strange things happen in Dead Space. But I know something else. Space gives you an opportunity you take it.”

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————Battlemaster
Bruce (Glamour)————————Stinger LAM
JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Ostsol
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Ostroc
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Thug
Ken (Chewie) -————————— Ostsol
Keith (-) -———————————- Condor Heavy Hover Tank

“I do know one thing. I’ve seen strange things happen in Dead Space. But I know something else. Space gives you an opportunity you take it.”

Prior to leaving the system, LtSG Massimo De Luca “Advocate” paid-out four months salary to the unit before everyone headed off to some R&R and scattered on their journey. Also, they began modifying the unit’s spare Condor Heavy Hover Tank from the Scrapyard for their newest crew. They stripped out the AC/5s and gave it LRMs and Flamers with heat sinks.

Eventually, the unit prepped their JumpShips and left the system.

November 18th, 3020 : System – Armington : In Armington they encountered the first recharge station they’d seen in almost three years. A quiet system, they were immediately hailed by the station control, asking for identification and purpose.

The unit ID as * “The Iron Dingoes” was swiftly acknowledged, though their status was woefully out of date (last registered back on Joshua’s Station above System – Taurus ). The unit requested a recharge using their sails, and acknowledged they were looking for contracts, promising to send an updated TO&E in a day or so. Requests were granted, as well as leave for a “resupply trip” to System – Malagrotta.

Contracts were relayed back to the unit in a couple days, offering two regional Cadre contracts with planetary militia, and one “Territorial Campaign” (Riot Duty) in nearby System – Csomad. A quick discussion let them to deny all three options, and they quietly passed time before jumping back out to their next stop.

November 26th, 3020 : System – Csomad : Csomad proved a little more lively, with warnings coming from the Nadir station about a local “Amber” alert on the inhabited planet. A couple transports jumped in-system, but a little over a week later, they jumped out-system.

December 3rd, 3020 : System – Malagrotta : The fleet declared their status and writ of passage, deployed their sails and spent a day readying for travel, and looking through the heavy local jumpship traffic. Trooper Pol Baca “Templar” identified the Monolith-Class JumpShip off to one side as the one formerly stationed in System – Outpost, looking like it was loading suppl;es for some military-related purpose.

A quick council meeting resulted in a discussion regarding contacting their old ally Karl Lotjonen. regarding possibly acquiring Seeker-Class DropShip BPOs. Funds were set aside for a priority message through to Joshua’s Station, and plans made to contact him.

The unit then undocked the “Star Talon” along with their pair of EGL-R6 Eagles as a slow escort, and burned the couple of days (2.67 days) to the moonlet Fontana, ostensibly on a supply mission.

December 6th, 3020 : The trip to Fontana was uneventful, though their AeroFighters were in desperate need of fuel, and docking was acquired for both Fighters and the DropShip at the starport. Fontana proved to be a combination starport/capital city/mining support city and proved to be very modern in its offerings for entertainment and services. Access was only via monorail service through the various city locations, but swift and efficient. They also learned that in order to make contact with local businesses, a special (rather simple pre-paid burners) radio com-link system was required, so several units were purchased and distributed to the group. Chewie took an especial interest in the devices, planning on spending a day or two tearing one apart to see how it was made, and bought a couple for himself.

The group split-up on various private missions. Colonel Michael Ruxbondy “Paladin” took his personal assistant and went looking for upgrades to the office suite aboard their private DropShip, the “Brush Wolf”, spending 10,000 Cs on a new council meeting room and its furnishings, followed by a nice, expensive dinner with Tech Rima Fakih.

Captain Mitchell Kitsune “Wraith”, Lieutenant SG Michael Anderson “Fixer” and MechWarrior Evan Lars “Caboose” went to the local HPG station to send the priority message to Lotjonen, and then spent the rest of the time looking for a discount gun shop, finding one offering slightly used merchandise (80% off!) of a large variety of guns. Wraith picked-up an advanced laser rifle for his protege’ Scout Abigail Breslin “Winter”, followed by a night at a dive bar and greasy, oh-so-greasy food.

LtSG Massimo De Luca “Advocate” and Captain Erika Hartmann “Glamour” went shopping for new AeroFighters and Tanks for the unit’s inventories, and quickly managed to locate a pair of EGL-R6 Eagles @ 3,200,000 Cs each, a pair of SL-17 Shilones @ 2,720,000 Cs each, and a lone TR-7 Thrush @ 1,090,000 Cs. All in relatively good shape (though located elsewhere in the system), they got permission to purchase all five vessels, and organized shipping to arrive at Fontana in five days. They also found three Saracen Tanks, but declined their purchase, but jumped on three Partisan Heavy Tanks they found for sale (one was in poor condition, but overall they were cheap at 4,500,000 Cs for the lot). They also arranged for these vehicle’s purchase and delivery at Fontana. The rest of the night was a wine and dine event.

Major Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” and Trooper Pol Baca “Templar” went “streetwising”, looking for rumors about lost treasure and other Star League LosTech. Using contacts from the unit’s recently hired “retired” Davion sergeants. Eventually, they met with an old technician in a dive bar, who regaled them with the legend of The New Karachi; a reputed “Ghost Ship”…

“It turns out that during the Malagrotta Affair, everyone always talks about the captured vessels, but few talk about the _*”TCS New Karachi"*_, a Pinto-Class Warship that was reportedly captured. A Corvette, a small escort vessel, the ship had a single DropShip, a Jumbo-Class DropShip, known as “The Tentative”. It was reputedly destroyed, but the New Karachi and its cargo had been making fast for an escape vector when encountered, for Fontana’s LGrange-4 pirate jumppoint. Why? Good question.

“Seems people never really talk about the “Why?” of the Taurian Battle Fleet’s presence in Malagrotta. They claimed a mis-jump and repair time spent in orbit, but entire fleets don’t mis-jump. No, I suggest they were planning on the coming conflict and were in-system to stockpile weapons and munitions for the inevitable war that was just around the corner. When Davion called their bluff, and dropped a war fleet in their lap, they made a fight of it, but were surprised during loading operations, and overwhelmed by a force three or four times their size. The outcome was never in question."

“But the ‘Tentative’, now, that was another story. Whatever she had in her holds was dangerous enough they risked the debris fields of _The Drift_, to attempt an escape. If they’d made it inside that debris field, a mass of ice, battle damaged ships and other waste that collects in the trailing LaGrange point of a mining moon, well, they’d have gotten away. Unfortunately for them, the TCS New Karachi never made it. But then again, I’ve studied the reports, and though there has never been a confirmed kill on the DropShip, they wrote the DropShip and its contents off as destroyed. I tell ya’, she’s still in that field, and whatever she had is still on board…”

That was all the convincing they needed. Pitbull and Chewie both returned and informed the group of their findings… Looked like it was time to find this Ghost Ship

December 8th, 3020 : After a day’s R&R, the group made plans for their trip to the L-4, “The Drift”. Chewie accessed the local network, and found The Drfit was a common site for salvagers, bandits and worse, all looking through the debris for something someone else might have missed. Recent news articles hinted at the recent loss of a military patrol, and a science shuttle near The Drift

The unit then cautiously travelled out the handful of hours to the L-4, with both Eagles in tow as escorts. Several hours later, the group approached the debris field, and it proved both hazardous and unpredictable. Pieces of old shuttles, DropShips and mining debris, ranging in size from small loose screws to hull slabs, mangled and trailing their own debris, along with the fog of ice particles and small chunks of frozen water were everywhere. Moving intentionally into the field proved anything they might find, would not be via radar, motion detectors, with even optics being obscured. It took guts and skill to gamble entering the debris, but both AeroFighter pilots and Commander Andre Wallingsford did so, taking very little damage.

After several hours of searching, the unit realized why such a find must have remained undiscovered for so long… it was nearly impossible to just search for something like that. They decided to release the AeroFighters back to Fontana, and called in “Dingoes’ Den” as a support vessel for the hopefully eventual salvage work, and to provide refueling for the AeroFighters. That meant that there was still nearly three days, however, before they would arrive… The group drifted deeper into the field, and started passive scans, discussing options.

December 9th, 3020 : The unit decided on following a basic grid pattern, breaking teh field into sectors, but examined the sectors, looking for difficulty factors. They realized that there were some sectors that were far more dangerous and likely avoided by casual salvagers, and decided to concentrate on “…the weird-ass most difficult locations…” Almost immediately, they get a massive hit. Success on the first try!

The “Tentative” was in the thickest part of the Drift, and proved massive; a Jumbo-Class DropShip. It showed some damage, mostly confined to its undercarriage, and it had its engines shot fairly to pieces. It would not be salvagable without something to haul it away. There were no lights or EM readings, though thermals identified low readings from the engineering sections. They also recognized that the engines had been covered with “racking” of some sort; possibly exterior docking bays for small craft, numbering four in total, each with a rudimentary docking collar and pressure sealed airlock.

Boarding procedures were discussed, and the two “training” marine platoons (8th and 9th), and the two Militia platoons (7th and 10th) from * “The Cerberus Command”, the latter equipped with C80 Combat Environment Suits were readied for boarding, led by several members of the command staff (notably Wraith and Pitbull). Once the troops were aboard, the DropShip would depart to a safe distance away. Paladin verified his plans, and the ship moved to dock.

The Star Talon rapidly docked and using its integral boarding locks, cut through the hull into engineering, and troops quickly swarmed into the ship, taking engineering and fanning-out across the cargo decks and into the crew decks. Initially more difficult than expected, the group quickly filed more and more troops in, eventually outnumbering the defending pirates hiding aboard by nearly 4-to-1. After nearly an hour of tough boarding action, the ship fell to Iron Dingoes marines.

Roughly a squad of pirates were captured alive, but injured, and another squad surrendered. Forces swept through the decks, taking a quick examination of valuables and equipment, discovering the ship had indeed been converted into a base for pirate raiding, with booty and tons of ancient Taurian combat armor and weapons discovered in the cargo areas. The main hangar busy were active, but empty. The bridge revealed that there was an active raid in progress, but all ship’s logs were written in code. In the crew quarters, they recovered a pair of scientists, and a Davion patrol pilot, who knew very little of value.

The unit tossed all the prisoners into the Star Talon’s brig and medical centers, along with their own wounded. Pitbull, Advocate and Chewie started interrogating the prisoners, and though difficult, after an hour they were able to piece together that the pirates were off on a raid. Several hours passed while the codes were cracked,, with Paladin deciphering them as tracking heat blooms near the debris field, coupled with low-frequency comm signals to choose targets to raid. When asked, the pirates revealed they had sent four more squads on-board a pair of typical KR-61 Class Long-Range Shuttles converted over to boarding actions. They also had a pair of older GTHA-500 Gothas to act as escorts.

It was quickly decided to leave the bulk of the uninjured marines behind to ambush the pirates when they land back at the ship, placing a pair of regular marine squads in each hangar bay, along with a pair of reserve militia, and placing a single marine squad with a militia squad and some leadership to capture any pilots who come through the engineering airlocks. The main hull breach was hastily repaired, and the Star Talon undocked, and moved a short distance away, dropped into an “idle” mode, and prepared to reconnect when the time came.

December 10th, 3020 : Early in the morning, the raiders returned, dragging two heavily damaged LR Shuttles along with them; a fighter and shuttle docked in each bay, and the two captured shuttles docked near engineering in the cradles. The ambush in one docking bay was difficult, but swift, while the other was an over-whelming success, capturing an entire squad with no problems.. In engineering, both pilots surrendered without a fight. The Star Talon re-connected, and the prisoners were transferred into the, now bursting prison. The ship/station secured, they swept through the base with careful progression, awaiting the arrival of the Dingoes Den and the salvagers.

December 12th, 3020 : The Dingoes Den arrived, and the ship’s stores, supplies and cargo were stripped. All shuttles were loaded aboard the Den as cargo, and the two Gothas were given temporary pilots for the trip back to the fleet.

Supplies captured included :

Crew Quarters – 500 Auto-Pistols, 500 Assault Rifles, 2000 Clips Ammo for each (4000 total), 2000 Sets of Taurian Concordat Combat Armor. 15 tons of nutrient powder (3000Cs each).

Upper Cargo Bay – 30 tons SRM ammo, 10 tons SRM “Inferno” ammo, 10 tons of SRM “Nerve Gas” ammo. Twenty tons of AER-9 Laser Rifles (80 per : 100,000 Cs each). 5 tons of AEP-7 Laser Pistols (130 per : 100,000 Cs each). Collection of textiles (20 tons : 9000 Cs per). 20-75 liter plastic barrels of nutrient powder (1.5 tons : 3000 Cs each). Large cache of industrial chemicals and solvents (10 tons : 50,000 Cs per). 160-500 liter plastic tanks of Water : (250 Cs each : 500 Cs per).

Lower Cargo Bay – Remnants of countless AeroFighters and shuttles, resembling an elephant’s graveyard. Industrial Metal Compactor (2 tons : 50,000 Cs). 18 tons of various armor fragments.

Engineering Bays – Collection of various ship’s tools. Handful of Engineering Exo-Suits.

Captured Shuttles : 16 tons of S4DPs by Rim AeroSpace : (5000Cs per).

December 13th, 3020 : Booty packed, the unit left the hulk of the “Tentative” behind in the debris field, burning quickly for Fontana. The unit then set about packing their recently delivered AeroFighters and tanks aboard “Betty”, and waited for word from Captain Frank Elgyn regarding his contact…

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Episode 58 - Leaving Paradise

“I wanted to do my part to help preserve that golden age of travel… I step aboard The Patron Tequila Express railcar, and I go back in time to the days when a long journey was something fun and very special.”

Roll Call————————————-Mechs

Dale (Paladin)—————————Battlemaster
Bruce (Glamour)————————Stinger LAM
JP (Pitbull) ——————————-Ostsol
Greg (Fixer)——————————-Ostroc
Ralph (Wraith)—————————Wolverine
Jay (Advocate)—————————Thug
Ken (Chewie) -————————— Ostsol
Keith (-) -———————————- (-)
Scott (-) -———————————- (-)

October 2nd, 3020 : The day following the attack, medical teams were busy trying to save as many lives as they could, and were brought in from all supporting DropShips, while emergency cases were shipped out. Hard work paid-off, saving most of the security troops and many of the techs, though there were losses. The tech squads took it the worst.

The interrogation of the handful of attackers who surrendered revealed them to be mostly hard-luck mercs and desperate miners. The majority were separated into pairs and thrown into the Militia. x – Commander Freyr Rogan (Deseased) was also interrogated, roving to be bold, brassy and arrogant man, who quietly threatened everyone with an unexpected and sudden death. He quietly hinted that Excalibur Corporation was interested in his activities, and that the corporation would soon be paying them a visit. He was secured aboard the “Star Talon”, while everyone pondered what to do with him.

“Victory’s Blood” and “Silverlight” were dispatched to the Zenith Jump-Point to take their arranged commercial transport out-system, and “Betty” was given leave to rendezvous in System – Dumassas at its best possible speed.

Oct 4th, 3020 : Word came from Senior Tech Fernando Botero on Rockport Habitat that the President of the system government, President Murgon Astrofalk, was deathly ill, and that there were rumbles among the local industrialists that hinted at a political shift. It was decided to pull in all the unit’s assets, before things got hotter. A KR-61 Class Long-Range Shuttle was dispatched at double-burn to pick the Field Intel up for an evacuation ASAP.

Oct 6th, 3020 : An official announcement came of the president’s death, followed later that day with an announcement by Excalibur as representatives of the new Cassandra Industrial Alliance :

“Be it known that, with immediate effect, Excalibur Corporation, proud partner of the Cassandra Industrial Alliance, considers the Free Radicals of the Cassandra Belt to be open territory for exploitation and gain. With the death of our most august leader, President Murgon Astrofalk, certain statutes are now considered void: this includes the edicts that had secured the Free Radicals as purely independent territory. They are now considered, by the Cassandra Industrial Alliance, to be free markets open to any and all interests.”

“As the principal mining conglomerate at work in the Cassandra Belt, Excalibur Industries intends to take full opportunity of the commodities the Free Radicals have to offer. It wishes to share this with the independent prospectors and free companies who work the Radicals, but hereby makes it known that retaliation or hostile action leveled against Excalibur installations and/or employees will be met with appropriate force.”

“Those who wish to become partners in the Cassandra Industrial Alliance will find themselves beneficially placed within this new order. The Cassandra Belt is large enough to accommodate all interests. The Cassandra Industrial Alliance does not seek hostility, but peaceful co-existence.”

The message was obviously a gauntlet. The new Alliance was a combination of the primary corporate industrialists in the system. The organization included a navy capable of enforcing its presence in the Free Radicals. War was coming to the system.

Oct 7th, 3020 : Hours into the new day, the system government at Rockport made its response known, with a united front by various habitats in the Free Radicals. They supported the old regime, and denied the Alliance’s claims to revocation of their former rights. Clear Habitat, Vineyard Habitat and Rockport all took the lead. They declared any incursions by the so-called Alliance would be viewed as an act of war. Sabres were rattling everywhere.

Later that day, the injured from the station attack began to filter back on-duty aboard “The Factory”, with security forces taking over from Dingoes troopers, and many of the unit’s recently hired techs taking positions in the engineering staff of the station. To forstall further conflict and efforts to infiltrate the station, the unit transferred its two new platoons of marines to continue their training, while covering the unit’s endangered assets.

Finally, the unit jumped its hidden pair of JumpShips within sight of the station, having carefully calculated the required physics for the jump over the long weeks of waiting. The unit ensured all off-duty personnel possible were rotated aboard the station for R&R, but stepped-up patrols with their handful of AeroFighters, and activated all long-range sensors.

Oct 9th, 3020 : The station’s techs reported the station’s drives were operable, and ready to move the station. Work began on separating the boom from the asteroid, and having it undergo maintenance.

Oct 12th, 3020 : Captain Vesna Clamp contacted the unit, and offered to bring information. He was granted access to the station’s docking bay, and met at the docking collar by Colonel Michael Ruxbondy “Paladin”, Major Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” and LtSG Massimo De Luca “Advocate”, the latter two having met him previously during the “Signing Authority” incident.

He had been working claims beacons in the fringes, when his contacts had heard rumor about the station getting a visit from both Excalibur Corporation and Rockport’s Government. It seemed, with both sides rattling sabres and jockeying for position, they wondered what the troops from the Iron Dingoes had in mind. Ownership of an independent station, and nearly a regiment of mixed troops was a concern for both sides, not to mention the present position of the unit within Excalibur’s own Clusters.

He was invited to a game of cards, and during the bout, asked for passage for his troops out-system. He was granted this opportunity, and further offered long-term employment once the unit reached System – Dumassas if they wanted it, working for the station as couriers. He promised it would be discussed among his crew. They eventually accepted.

The unit called an immediate Council, and discussed their options. It was decided that the unit emphasize they are mercenaries, and as such, would remain neutral as much as possible. Personnel were assigned to meet with the agents from both sides and act as escorts; Pitbull with Excalibur, and Advocate with Rockport. A vote was held, and Paladin chose to make the meeting aboard the station, but that they would be restricted in their tours of the facility. They also realized that the official repair date of the station was November 15th… but since they had chosen to simply dump the ore processing bays and spend resources outfitting it later as a hydroponics facility and a bio-diesel refinery, they were actually nearly a month ahead of schedule, despite the delay from the recent raid. The station and unit would be gone (if their luck held), in days, not weeks. Time was their friend now.

Oct 15th, 3020 : The station was swarming with off-duty personnel and troops, and the unit waited anxiously for their guests. The Factory – The Hangars Upper, or Large Hangar was packed with every shuttle the unit had, and station personnel were ordered to make the place look busy, and in the middle of a refit, toting equipment and parts about.

The first shuttle to appear, was a Callisto Luxury Yacht, that belonged to an agent from Excalibur Corp. The shuttle was escorted into the docking by the unit’s primary AeroFighters, a pair of EGL-R6 Eagles piloted by Lieutenant JG Daisha Defarannos “Elemental” and Lieutenant Commander Rihanna “Wing-Ripper” Blackjay. It docked without incident, and was met by Paladin and Pitbull, and many of the command council and other personnel.

With great disdain, Agent Murgo Voss, representative of the Cassandra Industrial Allaince exited, along with several aides and a couple squads of Excalibur troops. Leaving all but two of the troopers behind, the entourage followed their ambassador to the Black Sector grav deck and into a meeting room set aside for the purpose. Following some hard vodka, the liaison officer essentially gave the unit a pair of choices; either accept an Excalibur/Alliance liaison officer and security troops as guests of the Alliance, or the matter would be taken from their hands “…by a more permanent action. It would be a shame if a permanent garrison was forced to take position aboard this station…”. The unit admitted the station was not fully operational yet, and that they needed a few days to discuss the matter in council. Meanwhile, Agent Voss was given a tour of the station, centering on [[: the-z-calo]] and living quarters in Blue Sector. He seemed unimpressed by the rough and bare facilities available.

Meanwhile, a couple hours later, the representative from Rockport arrived, identifying herself as Vahreen Masque, Director of Belt Affairs, one of the government’s own Council of Ten. Arriving aboard a simple Type-S “Seeker” Mining Shuttle, she brought only a single aide with her, and quickly met with Paladin and Advocate in Black Sector. She was forth-right, stating simply that the unit represented a large unknown in the coming conflict, and she was interested in securing their assistance when the shooting started. She admitted they didn’t have a lot of money, but offered reduced in-system taxation, recompense in time of war for consumables and payment of salary in local scrip. Not much, she admitted, knowing that if Excalibur wanted to hire the unit, the government could not meet their offer. The unit promised they would give her their decision in a few days, and she was escorted back to the docking bay.

Inevitably, both ambassador’s met in the station’s hangar bay, glaring across at each other, but they left without conflict, and moved off their separate ways. Immediately, all troops were dispatched back to their assigned DropShips and JumpShips, and preparations began for the unit’s jump out-system.

Later that day, the unit’s Field Ops arrived via their LR Shuttle, docked and prepared for transport out-system.

Oct 16th, 3020 : The Factory – Boom Controls were officially declared operational, and the Boom was stowed for transport to its JumpShip. The station’s drives were tested, and all ships slowly began to arrange themselves for docking and jump out-system.

Oct 17th, 3020 : All ships were secured and everything was arranged for transport.

The unit sent a snap-burst to Excalibur Corp, relating that they chose to remain neutral for the time being, while their station was under repair. A snap-burst communique went to Rockport relating that the Iron Dingoes were staying out of this conflict, and leaving the system in minutes. They wished the government the best of luck, and the fleet jumped out-system.

Oct 17th – Oct 24th, 3020 : The station arrived in System – Outpost. The usually vibrant and active system was eerily silent, with military traffic scant, and all communiques running in cyphers and military codes. Using old contacts, Space Master Terrance Chantilas tried to get information on what was happening locally, eventually discovering that the Davion Navy had recalled numerous assets from the system, including its ancient Monolith-Class JumpShip, and most of its DropShip transports. They had all left for Federated Suns space some weeks ago, and were not due back anytime soon… No one knew why, exactly.

Given their more than 6 days of lay-over time, the unit’s techs began arming the station’s hardpoints with lasers from unit stocks, but upgraded to numerous Large Lasers and PPCs, rather than mostly smaller calibres as suggested in standard blueprints. They intended to have the refit done by the time they arrived in Dumassas.

Oct 24th – Nov 1st, 3020 : The fleet jumped into System – Pa’an, and spent a quiet week continuing installation of weapons systems on the station, while trying to stay out of everyone’s way. They jumped out-system without incident.

Nov 1st – 10th, 3020 : The unit jumped into System – Gollere without incident, and contemplated a raid… but decided against it. =) They jumped out-system with no incidents.

Nov 10th, 3020 : The unit jumped the fleet into familiar territory, at the Zenith Jump-Point of System – Dumassas. In addition to a handful of random JumpShips and other transports, Captain Erika Hartmann “Glamour” identified one of the transports to be flying a familiar flag… WOLF’S DRAGOONS! After an initial fearful moment, she further identified the Invader-Class JumpShip as hauling a Union-Class DropShip and a pair of Mule-Class Transport DropShips. Careful investigation revealed the unit was travelling along the edge of the Inner Sphere, having just returned from some sort of trade mission in the Periphery, and was making its way to House Steiner space, where the Wolf’s Dragoons had apparently just taken a contract…

The unit watched the ship for three tense days, but eventually the ship jumped out-system and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The station was deployed and announced it’s presence as being “open for business”.

Over the next few days, they made contact with The Sangrian Training Company, informing them of the situation, and asking Captain Jerri Holden to make some investigations regarding recruitment and salvage in-system, as well as get in contact with their friend the industrialist, Mister Hernandez, regarding a manufacturing contract for Long Toms and their ammo, since the unit had BPOs they could share. They agreed to meet back in six weeks for further discussions, when they picked-up their infantry. Also, Master Trooper Grant Burke “Sabre” was recalled to help the unit’s training of all their new troopers and marine officers they’d acquired. Lastly, the unit made inquiries with Adept Caitlan Clarke regarding future “opportunites”.

Nov 17th, 3020 : Still with no word from “The Freedom of the Stars” and her crew and passengers, the unit left “Victory’s Blood” and “Silverlight” to burn to Terramatrix to join the * “The Dead Man’s Hand” together in preparations for their infantry’s evacuation. The unit was able, however, to make arrangements to take a longer-term “Static” Garrison/Cadre contract independent of the rest of the unit, with the Sangrian government, called Contract – Operation “Lasting Influence”.

The rest of the unit prepared to jump into Davion space, intending to travel along the Armington / Csomad / Malagrotta route, where they would be able to have Captain Frank Elgyn meet with a contact to acquire the information needed to perform a final jump into the Shadowport Tequila Beach.

Nov 18th, 3020 : The Line units of the fleet prepared their two JumpShip’s for jump out-system, and left for their journey through House Davion space….

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