Lee (Pockets) ————————-Ostscout
Dana (Voice)—————————-Jenner (Mod)
Bruce (Glamour)———————Phoenix Hawk
JP (Pitbull) —————————-Black Knight
The jump into Pilpala was without incident, and the Jump-point remained open and clear, without even a military JumpShip present. We gathered into our ships, many of Lord’s dependents taking temporary quarters on the “Vagabond”, and began the five-day burn to Pilpala’s dusty surface.
A couple days later, we drew attention, and the planet’s starport tried to get us to identify ourselves. After a brief discussion, we tried to claim we were “experiencing technical difficulties”, but the garrison wouldn’t hear it. They warned us that continued transit along our present course would declare us hostile and we were warned to back away. We tried the “silence card”, and communications stopped.
About a day later, four heavy AeroFighters intercepted our course, and tried to strafe us, while identifying our numbers and mass. The strafing caused considerable damage to their lead fighters, a pair of Stingrays, and the Aeros pulled away and fled back to the planet, following a heavy barrage from the Pandora’s Box. Both DropShips took superficial damage, but we had gained superiority enough to hit the upper atmoshpere and begin our planned drop on the abandoned survey sites south of the Orion Prison Complex.
Dust storms obscured the site, but our sensors could see enough to identify the location on-planet, and both Beka and Captain Thane set-down perfectly. The Survey base still had several drop-pads, and a large concrete pad intended for aerodynes, the latter strewn with rubble and the ruined hangars of whatever craft had been stationed here once. Off to one side was a large hill.
Since our bays were crowded with supplies, vehicles and spare parts, we could only deploy the “ready lances” of the main Dingo force, and even that with difficulty. We broke into our component pair-teams, and scattered across the area around the DropShips. Pockets, hoping to use his superior sensors on the Ostscout, headed for the hill and nearly tripped over a small radar dome retracted into the surface of the hill… He and Paladin proceeded to attack it and destroyed the thing in short order. Immediately, a distant wail of an air-raid siren warbled over the blowing sands of the storm, and the units closer to the concrete pad noticed a pair of towers rise out of the ground and begin opening fire. Also, the ground in several of the ruined hangars opened and a pair of Sabre lances popped out of the ground, turning and opening fire on Glamour and Voice. Fixer and Pitbull moved forward a little, though Pitbull held off approaching until he was sure of the situation. Wraith and Trooper De Luca moved up and supported Glamour and Voice in attacking the light Sabre AeroFighters that milled about on the ground firing at anything they could.
In the far SE corner, another pair of hangar floors opened to disgorge a Stinger and a Phoenix Hawk, both oddly shaped; Pockets guessed they might be LAMs, and Glamour managed not to drool on her consoles enough to verify they were likely LAMs. This pair jumped around towards the center of the south side, near the larger ruined hangars, each big enough to once hold small craft, warily keeping an eye on things.
Soon, a pair of bays opened to disgorge a pair of 75-ton Eagles, while Paladin and Pockets lept to the attack, with Pockets wielding the ruined Kintaro arm he’d taken from the battlefield in Deadwood, screaming “Eat Kintaro!” over his coms. Pitbull and Fixer advanced and attacked the Eagles, as well. Thus freed, Pockets and Paladin destroyed the closest tower in short order with many well-placed weapons and melee attacks. The LAMs slowly began moving across the concrete pad, speeding directly to assist the Sabres, as two of the Aeros were quickly destroyed.
Again, another pair of bays opened to disgorge a Stingray lance, between the Sabres and Eagles. Voice and Glamour moved to attack the LAMs, as Wraith and Trooper De Luca took their position around the Sabres. Paladin and Pockets skipped in the trail of the LAMs, flanking them and getting into a brief scuffle around their LAM targets. Voice took a couple serious blows from the closest tower and a PPC shot from one of the Stingrays, before he started to pull away from the fight, back to the DropShips. Glamour took the leg off the Stinger LAM with a swift kick, and its pilot quickly powered-down and surrendered.
The last of the Sabres destroyed, Wraith and Trooper De Luca began chipping away on the Stingrays, quickly turning one into scrap. Meanwhile, Fixer and Pitbull began using their relative mobility to stray away from the main arc of the Eagle’s powerful weapons, chipping away and destroying one of the fighters. The last Eagle put up a serious fight, taking multiple shots off its nose, but eventually Fixer and Pitbull bludgeoned the pilot into unconcsiousness and tore off one of its wings. Paladin and Pockets pulled away from the remaining LAM, as Glamour and its pilot exchanged blows, with the LAM piot getting in some good shots, but taking few in return. When coms went down, and only the LAM remained intact, its pilot surrendered to “…superior forces of House Liao, requesting for the Honors of War”… The Stumble Raid was over.
The surviving bits of AeroFighters were quickly salvaged, with tech crews slipping from the Dingoes Den, and wearing their Light Horse Infantry Field Dress, which possessed filter masks and allowed them to accomplish the task within the hour (assisted by several of the Mechs). Due to lack of space, the salvaged AeroFighters were strapped down all over the place, and the techs then tried to access the Reserve Lance and its pilots pulled their Mechs out onto the tarmac to assist after another 30 minutes. Pockets investigated a subdued EM signature he’d detected earlier near the small craft hanagars, and found it to be a retracted control tower. He destroyed it quickly, while Pitbull moved over to the remaining tower and blew it to pieces with his PPCs from a safe distance.
The pilot of the last Eagle to go down was quickly brought into the Dingoes Den, and strapped into a medical bay under guard, since he was badly wounded and unconscious. The pilot of the LAM, identified as Captain Barbara James, was questioned closely by Pitbull, while the Stinger LAM pilot was pulled from his wreck and placed under interrogation in the Den by Trooper De Luca. Pitbull found Captain James (Callsign : “Sunset”) to be friendly (considering the circumstances) and willingly told basic information about the base that lay under the concrete pad. She confirmed that the Captain in the Den’s med bay was leader of the Marik 405th AeroFighter Wing, assigned to this planet as a garrison from the Marik Periphery Aero Fleet.
The former Stinger LAM pilot was more amenable to interrogation, begging for his life. He verified the facility was home to the Marik 405th AeroFighter Wing (the “Shahir Lions”), under Major Pavel Altukhov. The base was reported to have “several squads” of infantry, and included a pair of MP squads, assigned to keep an eye on “…all the new conscripts we picked-up from the recent war…”. Further inquiries identified them to be technical personnel from the 3rd Marik Milita; no one important, but mostly AsTechs and a few minor specialists from that disbanded unit. When Wraith learned about them being Techs, he started trying to find if his missing sister was among them, but Sunset couldn’t remember meeting her; especially since they’d only been there a few months and other than her assigned crew, they were kept from becoming friendly with the regulars and the pilots. Wraith started asking everyone if they knew his sister.
Several of the damaged Mechs (Paladin, Voice, Wraith and De Luca) were assigned to emergency repairs in the DropShip Mech bays, while access remained open, and the Reserve Lance was called on to lead a “commando” excursion into the lower base facility. At first, preps were made for Wraith, Paladin, Voice and De Luca to accompany the Reserves into the lower facility, however everyone realized that Captain Lord had still not deployed her troops… When Paladin contacted her to accompany their Mechs into the base, it became obvious protocol had been forgotten; no one had included Captain Lord in any discussions (as previously promised), and her troops remained locked-out of the command channels and unaware of what exactly was going on…
Captain Lord was requested to send some squads to help “take the base”, and after a little tense thought, she agreed, dispatching four of her recon squads to assist the group in raiding the base. Verification from the Stinger LAM pilot seemed to agree that a little over 300 personnel were present; mostly technical crews, support infantry personnel and pilots for the AeroFighter Wing. Pitbull tried to blow open one of the hangar doors, but all it revealed was a pit 120m deep leading into some sort of heavy airlock. Conferring with the Stinger LAM pilot, the group learned that near each door should be a command panel to operate the equipment, so long as you didn’t blow it apart first.
Several of the tech crews were called out of the Den to try and hack the systems, and following that success, Pitbull, Gunman, Shredder and Baroness dropped down hangar access points in all four corners of the concrete landing pad. Each pit proved to be an airlock chamber meant to keep the poisonous atmosphere of Pilpala from the base interior. Each Mech was accompanied by a squad of the recon troops and a member of the Dingoes dismounted from their Mechs acting as leaders. The tech squads operated the elevators, and lowered the impromtu units into the lower bay under the concrete pad.
The elevators opened to reveal a massive 500m launch bay, scattered with clusters of techs guarded by a handful of MPs, and with Aerospace cubicles lining both north and south walls, broken only by a pair of small craft bays in the south center. The central portion of the bay was watched over by a raised Flight Deck Control platform, with a few techs monitoring consoles and staring in horror as four Mechs and several squads of armed men entered their domain. Demands for the members of the Marik 405th AeroFighter Wing to surrender and hit the ground, resulted in small clusters of guards breaking for a tunnel in the far north-west corner, while the techs on the Control Platform and any others on the bay floor, clumped together and surrendered. Taking control of the bay, the Dingoes noticed another pair of tunnels in the west end leading somewhere.
The unit identified who was in charge of the Flight Deck, a Captain Stratford, and asked a few questions about the base. They learned that the northwest corridor led to “The Armory”, where the tools were kept locked-up and the MPs had a small cache of weapons and ammo stored. To the direct west were the crew barracks, and to the southwest lay the command control room. He also warned that Captain “Red Hand” Hack was responsible for the MPs, and that he was not to be trifled with. Contact over the limited coms channels available, led to a conversation with Captain “Red Hand”, and ended… poorly… The Dingoes agreed that assaulting the place wouldn’t net much, and so they began rounding up all the techs (not yet identifying themselves as members of the 13th Provisional). It was decided to assault the defenses around the Crew Barracks and find any other techs who might be in their rooms.
The recon squads rounded the techs into a single group, watching over them around the Flight Control platform with a pair of Mechs (Pitbull and Baroness), while Shredder and Gunman watched over the entrance to the Armory, ensuring the MPs didn’t try something. The four recon squads along with their Dingo leaders, finally made a direct assault into the crew barracks, encountering two pockets of resistance. The first was near the entrance, where a squad of infantry had barricaded the “Ready Room” against assault, but the Snow Dusters quickly took the site, revealing a small holotank with plans for the entire system under display. Voice quickly seized the data core and tucked it into his pack. The second difficult site was just past the main common room, where a medical suite was located. Taking the site with limited casualties, the Dingoes managed to find a Medtech squad preforming triage, including a full surgeon, a pair of general medtechs, and a pair of lab technicians. The facility was well-equipped with supplies, including three full medical theatres. Once the injured infantry were treated, the medtechs were captured and taken to assist in aiding the Snow Dusters wounded, eventually declaring them conscripts and hustling them to join the support techs in the hangar.
With the majority of the techs under Dingo guns, they were hustled into several MT-1B Light Crawlers, NBC-sealed troop transports found on the base, and driven up to the Dingoes Den under guard. The single Class-113 Coolant Truck (known as “The Crash Wagon”) was seized, as were a pair of mothballed Eagle AeroFighters located near the Recon bays. Lastly, a single K1-Dropshuttle and a pair of UR Karnovs were located in the small craft bays; the Dropshuttle was identified as the “Crimson Sands” and its pilot, Lt. Dara Gideon was standing nearby. Pitbull began negotiations to add her and the ship to the unit roster, and after a quarter-hour of discussions, she agreed. Wraith approached Gideon (as he had most everyone at the base), and showed her a picture of his sister, and she recognized her! Gideon said she had met the girl in the laundry at the Orion Prison, since she often ran supplies from Circle City and to the prison… Wraith immediately hit upon a cunning plan…