Battletech Mercs Unleashed

Point of No Return, pt 2

09/11/3065 06:00 Location – Strategic Command Center, Trojan Dropship “Raging Bull”, Al’Sur

The atmosphere was tense as the other command staff issued their reports to the unit commanders. Now the only person left was Jasmina Ilonka, the mole, and their intelligence officer she had been nervous earlier but had gathered confidence as time passed. Joe “Hotshot” Leeson had become increasingly irate however something that Markus “Tack” Brandt had tried to reign in to no avail there was no telling what Joe was going to do so Markus started. “Lieutenant, please deliver your current battlefield report.

Yes, sir, based on Signal Officer Heron’s traffic analysis and our limited understanding of the Titanfellers disposition I am not sure what they are doing. Top Shot has been heavily loaded with ordnance and repeatedly flirted with the Action Arc around As’Sab. We fully expected a mech or tank counterattack last night, some kind of hostile activity in our direction at either the base or convoys leaving Warawi but there was none. She paused and grabbed her chin, deep in thought, Strange considering how much they hate us for imprisoning Major Brekard at that Black Site, killing several Mechwarriors on multiple occasions, and nuked an objective they were supposed to be guarding. Jasmina gasped at the sudden surprise visible on the rest of the command staff and everyone held their breaths. Well everyone except Thane whose look of disappointment was invisible under his hood.

Markus grabbed Joe by his shoulder preventing him from doing something rash, Joe can I talk to you outside. Like right now! Everyone but Jasmina return to your duty stations The Vanguard Commander opened the door to the Mech Bays and walked out onto the catwalks that overlooked the immense bays. A steady pzom, pzom of pneumatic wrenches, the bright blue-white light of arc welders, and smell of burning metal assailed their senses. Markus closed the door and pushed the slightly smaller man against the bulkhead on the other side, shouting NUKES! Joe, FUCKING! NUKES! WHAT THE HELL! Why wasn’t this in a report? That was it. Joe went red with rage shoving Markus back into the metal fencing that protecting the catwalks from flying debris, the load clang caused some of the tech crews to stop working to observe the scene. WHAT THE FUCK, MARKUS! I didn’t know about Nukes alright back off! This is news to me too, you picked the wrong day for this. First I find out my girlfriend is a spy, almost lose her in combat, then you say its ok, now I hear we used Nukes against our sworn enemies and you think I had something to do with it and didn’t tell you! The two spent several moments staring each other down in silence before the techs started working again.

Markus reopened the door into the now mostly vacant command room, Jasmina, Leon, and Thane were the only people still there. I said everyone out! Leon stood firm, With all due respect Commander I’m not going anywhere while he’s here, nodding toward Thane. Joe followed but vaulted over the map table drawing his pistol and grabbing Thane’s hood to pull it down. Markus was too slow to stop him but Leon had drawn his pistol as well leveling it on Thane.

A horrific cybernetic visage was under the hood one eye and a portion of his mandible were obvious prosthetic. The rest of his fact was heavily scarred and burned with close cut brown hair on his head. Jasmina nearly fainted but caught herself on the map table her other hand covering her mouth clearly not expecting what was under the hood. Joe looked down his pistol’s sight at the monster before him, No more secrets freak, what have you been up to this entire time? Thane’s face looked disappointed but serene even with a pair of pistols aimed at him. Please put your gun down Mr Leeson, the Commander ordered us to be more accommodating but even we have limits. It would be a shame if I had to break pieces of you, like Director Baasch said you need all the Mechwarriors you can get. Joe persisted in ardent rage, Why did you nuke The Titanfellers, Thane? What are you really here for? What happened to you?

Thane looked irritated which Joe perceived as a victory however slight though he still made no moves to remove the pistol from his face which felt weird. Ok, since the Commander insisted we cooperate I will answer your questions, however I will inform her of this little incident. We used nuclear demolition charges against the factory on Marius’ Tears because it was built into a mountain, if you have a more viable replacement I would be interested in hearing it. I am here because I have been ordered to by the Commander if you want truth ask the Major. Car bomb in the New Colony Region, I was rebuilt because I chose to be. The last line puzzled Joe as Markus arrived pressing his hand and the pistol in it out of the way. Chose to be? What were the other options?, Thane looked pleased an unnatural myomer augmented smile crossing his face, There are no other options but the ones you make. Mercenary

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Point of No Return, pt 1

09/11/3065 05:48 Location – Strategic Command Center, Trojan Dropship “Raging Bull”, Al’Sur

Command Staff and the Lance Leads were assembled around the central map table, a rather expensive piece of kit that collated a wide variety of sensor inputs from the Dropships, remote sensors, and the Field Command Post. The Combat Support Staff had left at the insistence of Vanguard Command Markus Brandt and the whirs of the Mech bay beyond leaked through until they closed the door, then there was silence. Captain Blackwell stood in place of the incapacitated Commander Arachne. Behind him was Ebon Magistrate Operative “Thane” whose face is concealed behind a shemagh and hood with heavily tinted goggles hanging around his neck, his Ebony Assault Rifle slung over his shoulder and a Sternsnacht Python on a drop-leg holster. Newly promoted Sergeant Leon Reinholdt watched him warily, occasionally moving his hands to his TK MP-76 Pistol although Thane didn’t seem to care.

Alina Kunimoto hadn’t changed out of her flight suit yet having been kept on high alert overnight as Top Shot flew multiple sorties that veered their way before tracking south toward Jaguar controlled territory. Adrian Post’s fire-resistant armored tanker uniform was immaculate as always; the man was a consummate professional when it came to military matters. Jasmina Illonka had changed out of her Gendearme uniform back into her more casual clothing, the same was repeated throughout the room except for Harold Ingress and Michael Dolen who were both in their work uniforms.

LCmd Post looked ready to pounce on SqLd Kunimoto they were frequently at odds but this was unusual. Markus and Joe had called this meaning to calm everyone down, they were rapidly approaching a point of no return they had been lucky thus far but mistakes and misunderstandings would prove fatal on the battlefield and already had. There were numerous unanswered questions and the people they wanted to ask them of weren’t here.

Joe and Markus had already discussed Jasmina’s outing as a mole working for Major Grey in depth prior to assembling the others. The betrayal was visceral to Joe but Markus had expected that somewhere along the way they might have been infiltrated. In fact he was relieved because if she was working for Grey there was little chance that any other agency but MIM was spying on them even if it felt strange to admit it. After the discovery he had Raging Bull’s crew and Leon’s men check everywhere discovering several bugs and some defeat devices but left them in place.

Captain Blackwell’s elevation to contract liaison was concerning, Major Grey should have been here to answer these questions rather than doing her own thing in Shervanis. Markus spoke first eager to resolve the series of conflicts quickly.
VCB: “Captain, where is Commander Arachne?
CB: “I am afraid she is incapacitated at the moment but improving. I am not sure when she or any of the other Mechwarriors will be ready for action again.
VCB: “I heard from Mechwarrior Bowman that they fought against two tanks and one hundred battlesuits and were almost overrun.

Alina piped in, “If it weren’t for my Aerofighters they would have been! That battle cost us Andre I don’t know what we would have done if they have failed.

Adrian yelled over her, “Yet you left the dropships defenseless, if Top Shot hadn’t veered off to the south we wouldn’t be standing here right now either you would have been shot down or they would have bombed us.

SLK: “With all due respect Lieutenant Command I am the Aerospace Commander in this unit not you. Your plan could have cost us the entire command if we hadn’t modified it You even realized it when you sent Gloves and Dolphin to join Hotfoot.
LCP: “Squad Leader your reckless assault could have paved our road of ruin as well.
SLK: “Adrian, you know my Aerofighters can’t stop Top Shot if they are determined to attack! Why hold us in reserve, if not to buy time for you to roll away.

Markus slammed his fist into a nearby table derailing a conversation that was rapidly devolving. “Both of you knock it off! The Titanfellers are out there right now, accentuated by knife hands and we don’t know what they are up to. But we aren’t going to stop them if we are at each other’s throats. We have already lost people in this fight, good people, get control of yourselves.

The strain was visible throughout the command, this was not an easy contract but they would get it done. Chief Tech Dolens and Operations Director Baasch showed it plainly, this was their first campaign, even Signals Officer Heron was unusually sedate. The two sub-commanders regained their composure, Alina fixed hair that had fallen out of its bun and Adrian was still tense but diffused.

Continuing Markus looked toward Abram Baasch, “Director Baasch, tell me, was it worth it?
Abram drank from his canteen before beginning, “While I can’t put a price on eleven people’s lives, from an operations standpoint it was worth it, we have enough armor to continue the fight and several mechs that can be made operational. The ammunition is a bonus but please be more careful in the future we need all the Mechwarriors we can get.

Joe looked toward Chief Tech Dolen eager to resolve the standard business and get to the more important discussion, “Strike Commander we are currently stripping the armor off the tech and combat vehicles to base it forward where it can be used. Tack’s Guillotine and Cheapshot’s new Charger will be operational by sunset. The Defiance will be ready later, we have prioritized fixing active mechs. If we ever get a break we will start bringing the damaged salvage mechs online. I don’t see that happening anytime soon though based on the reports I see.

Joe was on a roll, “Mixed news but positive Dolens, Karras, Heron report
Karras wore a look of concern that was unexpected, “We are still in the good graces of our hosts although the Titanfeller’s propaganda continues unabated and rumors have been flying, most of them negative. The locals grow increasingly concerned as the weather worsens.” Heron also looked concerned and about ready to pass out, “Something is going on with the Titanfellers, the traffic has picked up pace. I don’t know what they are doing but Top Shot has been active all night veering toward us then heading South. I have been close to hitting the panic button more than once.

Increasingly impatient Joe continued “Ingress, report
Chief Engineer Harold Ingress smoothed over his coveralls, “I have nothing to report but do have something to suggest. During the salvage and recovery operation we didn’t see any villagers in town. One of my men walked into the village and found it abandoned. From the sensor readouts we know where the landmines are and the village is already surrounded in defenses. If we base a strike force or logistics point out of the village we can rapidly attack Tai’iqih without having to go via the Divine Palm Oasis. We will eventually have to deal with Top Shot Commander."

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Aftermath: Warawi

AAR prepared by Lieutenant Jasmina Ilonka

Mercs Unleashed engaged the Headhunters in a fierce melee that unfortunately cost the lives of Mechwarrior Iris “Rook” Shields and Lieutenant Andre Mutabe as well as the unit’s armored infantry. Sergeant Leon Reinholdt, the platoon leader for the base security on Dainmar Majoris will replace him on the command staff. Operations Director Bassch is still tallying the supplies the tech staff and infantry pulled from the Headhunter’s stockpiles, the heavily laden Sustainer land train captured from Wawawi was unable to fully make it back to As’Sab before it became to hot. MULEs are ferrying supplies back to the secure perimeter at our forward base to allow it to continue.

Ebon Magistrate Operative “Thane” has secured Captain Marisol Reyes and Mechwarrior Juan Ramirez from the Highlander, the Tempest’s pilot fought back and was killed. They returned the two of them to the “Baba Yaga” along with the incapacitated Commander Arachne and her Mechwarriors. Captain Blackwell will assume responsibility as the contract lead until Major Grey returns or Arachne is healthy again.

The Headhunter’s Assault Tanks held a defense long enough to evacuate their techs and for the dropships to lift off. Squad Leader Kunimoto chose not to engage the fleeing dropships but vectored to intercept Top Shot before they veered toward the Sleeping Jaguar Oasis. The anticipated counterattack by the Titanfellers failed to materialize overnight despite active radio traffic and multiple sorties from Top Shot that kept Cearra Heron’s signals team awake all night.

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A Steep Price

09/10/3065 18:47 Location – Far Side of Warawi, Astrokaszy

Mechwarriors Bowman and Tena, Lieutenant Mutabe, and the Ebon Magistrate skirted the edge of Warawi, each mech with hands including Tena’s Powerman Loadermech MOD had a four pack SRM handheld. The Headhunters’ Mech forces surged toward the strike force under Commander Leeson’s control furious at their violation of a cease fire not even a day old. The battle there would be fierce but it would all be for nothing if the supply depot on the other side of the village were damaged or their Eagle AeroFighters took off to swing the balance.

Commander Arachne of the Ebon Magistrate dropped her handheld SRM and engaged acceleration circuits to push her myomer muscles faster to prevent those fighters from lifting off. Invisible beams of coherent light burned armor and flesh alike killing the technical crews that were readying the Aerofighters for take-off. She sprinted and crashed her Battlemech’s leg through the cockpit, the 45 ton mass of her Mech and momentum from the sprint tore through the rust red air-frame instantly killing the pilot. She extracted the matte black armored leg from the mostly intact fighter and engaged jump jets. The destroyed Aerofighter’s wingman had powered up his weapons and steered the fighter toward her but while graceful and powerful in the air the heavy craft was not nimble on the ground. Arachne’s Beowulf landed astride his fuselage bending wings with a load screech at the sudden mass they now supported. Looking through his gold plated visor he saw the Battlemech raise it’s fists into the air and bring them crashing down on top of him.

Back at the supply depot Lieutenant Mutabe and his ten armored infantry disembarked from the Locust and Anubis Battlemech. They took up defensible positions behind a berm near one of the ammo dumps. The villages’ defensive guns turning their direction and fire against the Ebon Magistrate Raven that was heading its way. The gun barked firing 57mm shells toward the birdlike Battlemech but their aim was off. Sixteen Missiles streaked across the windblown sand, some fell short but most impacted spreading hellish fire on the gun and it’s crew. Andre Mutabe watched as men ran engulfed in flame, their screams of anguish mercifully blown away with the wind. The fire found the gun’s magazine and caused a massive explosion, rocks fell on the Armored Infantry but they were unharmed. The Raven did it again on other gun and missile emplacements to similar effect.

Lieutenant Nyx’s Anubis Battlemech held it’s handheld weapon tightly, she peered through her embodied sensor package. There were a huge number of contacts that appeared through the static that surrounded the fortified village nearby. A Mongol Shortbow, Armored SRM Carrier, and one hundred battlesuits crested the earthworks. Mechwarrior Tena expressed their feelings clearly “Fuck” as her eyes went wide, she was in an armored industrial mech not a full battlemech and her companions were not the first choice to hold a line. Lieutenant Mutabe was quiet, signalling his team to spread out among the berms and check their ammo, something had gone terribly wrong but now he had to deal with it.

Later

The Anubis fire it’s last volley from the now empty SRM launcher, the Mongol fired another flight of 24 missiles, explosions blossomed along her launcher and now pock-mocked stealth armor. The gray sand was blacked from the hellfire that burned around the combat area and impact craters made the desert a moonscape. The Mongol caught on fire, setting off the fuel tank and ammo magazine. The explosion was so intense the Anubis shuttered in its wake.

Andre and Blue Squad skirmished with another squad of Battle Armor trading 14.7mm machine gun rounds between one another. The bullet holes threw up sand and tore into flesh and armor with equal vigor. His armor shell was tore apart and the only thing holding him together was the auto-medpack in his armor. Dropping onto his back he fired one of the last bursts in his battlesuit at the Dark Red warrior that opposed him, the bullets tore the warrior’s helmet off and dropped him in a gory fashion.

The Raven and IndustrialMech fought together but their position was tenuous, both were heavily damaged and increasingly vulnerable. Nyx and her Anubis jetting around between the nebulous lines that were drawn between that pair and Arachne’s Beowulf and Bowman’s Locust. The Raven fired another volley of Inferno missiles at the attacking battle armors, the fiery payload cooking the enemy infantry alive. Unfortunately Lyssa’s Mech was now swarming with their allies, their claws rent the armor from the defenseless BattleMech as machine guns and other missiles tore into its exposed limbs. Tena stared in disbelief as Nyx’s Anubis fired it’s Inferno missiles at her ally, the Raven went up in flames; the infantry that had been swarming it fell off as their operators were cooked alive or passed out from the heat. The Battlemech fell to the ground which extinguished some of the lingering flames that had surrounded it, Lyssa could no longer bear the strain of the assault.

Commander Arachne redlined her Beowulf overriding all safety features that fought to prevent her from doing so, Interface was strained as her mortal body and machine spirit were stressed to the breaking point. The temperature in the cockpit where she lie in trance hit 47C and her Battlemech was bleeding red coolant and nearly stripped of armor. Her lasers broiled the enemy that swarmed around the smoldering crater where the Armored SRM Carrier once was, now it was a tangled mass of steel. She could “feel” more suits climbing her Battlemech and like ticks picked them off, crushing them in the mech’s powerful hands. Unfortunately she was reaching a breaking point; then, an explosion, enemy battle armor cut her knees out from under her while she was distracted with the numerous other threats. She forced through the very real pain. Keep Moving! or its all over.

Mechwarrior Bowman fired his last burst from the Locust’s heavy machine guns, Arachne was getting the worst of it but there were seven dead allied armored infantry out of the ten from his group. The remaining three clung to the makeshift platforms that had been added earlier today. The wind had stoked the fires that now marked the dead on the battlefield, still more hostile forces jetted jostling to attach themselves to a mech and bring it down like lions on a wildebeast. The survivors from his last attack leapt onto the ultralight Battlemech momentarily throwing off balance. Andre and his infantry fought them in an intense melee five meters off the hard sand floor, their ammunition long expended on the bloody field before them. One of the Headhunter’s battle suits produced a long bladed punch dagger from his off-hand and drove it through what little armor Lieutenant Mutabe had and past his back. The rest of the Mercs Unleashed battle armor met a similar fate and their corpses were discarded from the Locust, their battle claws tearing away the shielding that protected the Mechwarrior inside.

Lieutenant Nyx jumped into the air once again, the enemies were having a tougher time tying her down but the wear of battle and lack of ammo meant her time was nearly out. Commander Arachne was moments away from passing out from critical damage, the Mercenary Mechwarriors wouldn’t survive much longer if something didn’t change soon. Instead of using her precious ammo she grabbed one of the suits that threatened Mechwarrior Bowman crushing it’s inhabitant and tossing it like a rag doll into the hard desert sand to joined the rest of the dead. Then she heard Aerofighters, the Mercenary’s Sabre Aerofighters streaked by at high speed dropping a half kilometer long line of Napalm that burned the rest of the enemy. Then she passed out and her Anubis settled on the other side of the berm from where so many had fought and died.

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Prelude: Warawi

09/10/3065 18:17 Location – Waypoint Juno, 40km W of Warawi

Lieutenant Nyx paused, her Anubis’ sensor package was picking up two mechs one of them an assault class neither of which were broadcasting. Her fast mech kicked up sand which blended in with the near constant sandstorm they had been walking through for two hours. Once in visual range she stopped and opened a point-to-point comm link with the Salamander and Blackjack Battlemechs and returned with them to the main strike group.

Hotfoot sorry we are late, the Lieutenant didn’t want to break radio silence to inform you we would be joining the group. He thought you would need the firepower more than he did.

That’s great news Gloves, I trust you put Flak in that Arm Cannon to take care of our fliers.

Sure did they just need to get close enough to use it

Lieutenant Mutabe’s Battle Armor disembarked from the MULE Cargo Truck they had been riding in for the last few hours. The light armored infantry boarded the Anubis and Locust Battlemechs that would carry them to final strike location.

We are activating our ECM jammers everyone get in formation, we should be able to sneak right up to them if this sandstorm keeps up

19:24 Headhunter’s Base, Warawi

New Captain Marisol Reyes kneeled in front of an alter praying for her now departed husband’s soul. A young man walked up to her from behind attempting to be quiet but catching himself on the rough stone that was abundant in the vaults below the village. She stood up surprising the man who thought her deep in prayer, before she could speak though the man interjected, A thousand apologies Captain but I have urgent news.

The Mercenaries and their witch are attacking, yes? The young man was caught off-guard he had just received the transmission and had ordered the Dropships and Aerospace fighters be brought online asap. How did you know we just got the reports in from the Swift Wind?

I divined this would happen; have they no honor to give me a day to mourn before they try to take my life as well. Tell everyone to bring me that bitch’s head so that we may show it to the Precentor, I would do it just for vengeance now without a material reward.

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Arachne's Web

03/15/3063 Location – “Dreamland”, Selene Station in orbit around Boreal (Niops VII), Niops Association

Eight young women sat in Padmasana (Lotus Pose) their yellow and orange clothing a contrast to the white room whose walls were adorned with a series of organic looking patterns they were sitting in. The complete circle showed no sign of entry, exit, or ventilation in the dim light of the room, all of them breathed in perfect coordination.

The whole group wouldn’t have looked out of place in a trendy yoga study on Crimson except each of them has the short hair of a Mechwarrior, unit tattoos from elite military or police units, and cybernetic components. One of their number stopped and banged a pair of wooden blocks together which snapped the whole group out of their patterns. They reorganized themselves into loose lines and faced the speaker.

Ladies we move back to explaining Interface to our newest members. Electra, you begin explain the history of the program so they may be.

Yes, Callisto. Nearly twenty years ago Burke Kale of the NAIS developed a neural implant that would allow him to control a Battlemech with his mind. Ten years ago he did it successfully but the Federated Commonwealth chose not to pursue that path. COMSTAR’s ROM did copy the technology en route back to New Avalon but put it aside to focus their efforts on building the COMGUARDs.

When the Word of Blake seized Terra; ROM reactivated the program eager to seize an advantage over the more mainstream and supported COMGUARDs. While they had access to fine medical minds on Terra they chose instead to partner with Precision Instruments of Luxen to advance portions of the technology, eager to find some kind of holistic process that would alleviate the crippling problems inherent to the technology. Needless to say we did good work but couldn’t fix all their problems.

Sabrina, go over the details of Project: Aether for the others

Project: Aether was commissioned by the Magestrix as part of the Ebon Magistrate Initiative shortly after PIL connected the dots. An ARC team grabbed a copy of the DNI from a ROM double unfortunately costing that agent their life rather than risk exposure. MIM Agents sent with BULLDOG grabbed several copies of Clan Smoke Jaguar’s Protomech interfaces and captured three members of their scientist caste and some techs right under the Star League’s noses, truly an incredible operation and testament to our ingenuity

Our partnership with the Niops Association made here the best place to conduct research and fine tune the hardware. The Aether PAL was one of the missing components it acts as a bridge between your mind and the Battlemech’s computers. Magistracy medical knowledge, Niopian technologists, and Jaguar scientists we have finally fixed most of the problems we know the Word are still dealing with. You figuratively sleepwalk your way to victory

Psh, I didn’t sign up to fight a war on my back

Arachne you are a MIM operative we have won more battles on our backs than any other nation in the Inner Sphere

09/10/3065 Location – As’Sab, Astrokaszy
Commander Arachne was secured in the darkened chamber of her Battlemech’s interface cockpit; there were no visible buttons, levers, or gauges just strange organic looking patterns, an isolated pod, and computer equipment.

The commander executed a series of gestures and the Neurohelmet’s visor dropped into place, unable to actually move it down herself due to being secured in the interface “cocoon.” She could hear the tech close the cockpit’s hatch and see him quickly descend the mobile stairs attached to her Battlemech.

She relaxed her mind and body while voicing a series of unintelligible mutters interspersed with controlled breathing until she triggered Interface with another gesture command. Liquid cold poured into her mind, a feeling like ice on her spine provoking a moment of fear as her body was paralyzed but was replaced by a steady warmth as she entered a REM trance and became “embodied” in her Beowulf.

She could “feel” the heat of a small star replace her heart, hundreds of kilometers of fiber optic sensors and coolant circulating through her Battlemech’s heat sinks replace her “nerves” and “blood”. She flexed “her” arms and legs checking their full range of motion and mentally checking off vital systems that she just intuited were green without knowing. Content that everything was in good order she joined the rest of the Strike Force ready to fight.

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Into the Breach, pt 2

09/10/3065 16:05 Location – Mercenary Assembly Area, As’Sab

After checking the camp for Jasmina and not finding her Joe “Hotfoot:” Leeson flagged down one of the techs that was driving a 6×6 utility vehicle to go to the assembly area. Lieutenant Mutabe and the Battle Armor squads were practicing mounting and dismounting the recently modified for mechanized battle armor Locust and Lieutenant Nyx’s matte black Anubis Battlemech.

Joe walked over to André Mutabe’s Battle Armor, only recognizable by a pair of gold bars on the spaulder, The Lieutenant snapped a quick salute and removed his helmet. His cornrows and black skin were covered in sweat, a common feature for everyone on the planet even if they had to suffer through two weeks of acclimation from Niops to Astrokaszy, 61°C is still not something humans are equipped to endure.

Hotfoot what brings you out here?, the battle armor’s helmet looked positively small in the massive battle-claw of the light grey IS Standard Battle Armor, the heavy machine gun in the other arm was empty now but the chamber looked massive. Joe felt mildly uncomfortable in the presence of such a machine he couldn’t imagine what was in the heads of anyone who faced it on foot, unarmored.

Just looking for Lieutenant Ilonka, André; but since I’m here what is your team’s status?, Joe adjusted his goggles as the Lieutenant’s visor caught the sunlight and reflected it into his eyes. André adjusted it but the light was momentarily blinding.

Practicing some tactics, most of my people haven’t been in real combat before or hung off the side of a mech traveling at one hundred kilometers per hour in a sandstorm. Additionally Mechwarrior Bowman has never piloted a mech with five battle armors hanging off it. Kinda throws the balance off when you have another twenty-five percent of your mech’s weight hanging on. We don’t want falls at high speed, I had it happen before, spent a month in the infirmary.

Alright don’t wear yourselves out. Have you seen Jasmina?

I think she was with Commander Arachne and Lieutenant Inderpol or at least I saw her when we came out for maneuvers. See you at the briefing Strike Commander. André shook out his battle armor’s helmet before putting it back on and walked to join the rest of the squad as they jumped onto the Locust as it walked by, taking time to find the recently added platforms and claw-holds that would secure them while the Battlemech raced across the desert.

The Ebon Magistrate kept their own little assembly area complete with guards away from the normal mercenary gathering areas. Joe passed through a squad of Magistrate soldiers (HELLCATs, under Arachne’s explicit command, they didn’t even take orders from Major Grey without it going through their commander) who stood and readied their weapons as he approached but let him pass.

Everytime he interacted with Ebon Magistrate he got a chill down his spine, they rarely spoke or showed their faces, and kept separate from the main unit. The only person that talked to the main unit was Arachne, she wasn’t very personable, and something always seemed off about her. He didn’t pursue though, content with getting a paycheck and secretly glad they didn’t divulge terrible secrets to him, he had plenty of his own.

Joe walked toward the matte black Thunderbolt, Raven, and Beowulf that were next to the Niopian Mongoose, Crab, and Guillotine. Captain Blackwell, Commander Arachne, and Lieutenant Inderpol were conversing in a language that Joe didn’t understand that seemed like some kind of pidgin or creole. Jasmina stood nearby in a fresh blue Gendearmerie uniform with a black cooling vest that he had never seen her in before. She noticed him crossing the gap and tapped Inderpol on the shoulder, the trio stopped their conversation with Captain Blackwell and Commander Arachne departed.

Oh, hi, Joe, what brings you out here?, her body language was tense and visibly uncomfortable but confidence beamed on her face. A gust of wind shook her sun bleached hair from its bindings and he missed the rest of her sentence to the wind. Closing the distance with a short jog he stood before the two of them.

Mina, I’ve been looking for you for two hours. What are you doing here; shouldn’t you be at the command post prepping the briefing?, Jasmina took a moment to retie her hair and gather her thoughts before facing him. I’m going on this mission Joe. Joe was taken aback by the firmness and finality in her voice. Mina you have never even ridden in a Battlemech before. The Headhunters are shooting to kill, we are about to break a cease-fire with them after killing nearly a dozen of them including their Captain in a dangerous but necessary raid. This is not a time for amateurs.

Joe this is not a point of discussion, I am the only other officer here that can operate Blackbird’s command console. You said it yourself this mission is dangerous you are going to need every advantage you can get. Joe couldn’t hide his surprise, the Magistracy had maybe two Command Consoles in the entire army the fact that Major Grey had secured one of them was no doubt a result of her ingenuity and “failure” to inform the Command Committee when it just disappeared. Mina how do you know how to operate that piece of Lostech?

Major Grey taught me after she stole it from the First Canopian Fusiliers and smuggled it to Niops, I was in her WILDCATs during the the Lothan campaign before she sent me to keep an eye on you guys in the St Ives Compact.

Wait what? Why didn’t you ever mention this? You just told me you were in the Gendearme before we hired you.

Well it wasn’t a total lie, I was in the Gendearme before I was shadow recruited into ARC team WILDCAT. So technically I never left them before I went to work with you. Although its true I’ve never ridden a Battlemech before, just Mech-jocks. Her comments rose a range of emotion in Joe but he was still visibly angry with her. Even as the Strike Commander she would just call Arachne or Felicity and override any veto he might have on her presence.

Oh and Joe the Headhunters are still looking to kill Felicity Grey and they don’t know she is in Shervanis, so they will be gunning for Blackbird. A hundred million Eagles will go a long way to fixing the thrashing you boys have been putting on them so fight well, for my sake, will you. She gave him a quick kiss and jogged off to regroup with Arachne and Blackwell on the way to the briefing.

Lieutenant Nirav Inderpol looked at Joe, Don’t worry, Mina is in good hands, the Major hand picked us for this mission. By the way Ejay (Ed’s former Atlas Pilot now a Cadre Commander at the Canopian Institute of War) sends his regards, you guys should stop by Canopus when this is all over.

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Into the Breach, pt 1

09/10/3065 15:48 Location – Outpost MU, As’Sab

Joe “Hotfoot” Leeson walked between the tents of Mercs Unleashed’s outpost right outside of the heavily worn sandstone village of As’Sab. His tan jumpsuit and white cooling vest were already soaked with sweat, the mercury had reached 61°C and even with air conditioning it was still miserable. Through the heat distortions he could see the command’s Battlemech forces, technical crews were making sure they were ready to withstand and prosecute any attack. The fierce yellow light from Daw’Ibraham baked the multicolored mineral-rich sand of Astrokaszy so powerfully he could feel it through his boots. The powerful winds created a kaleidoscope in the sky that would have been beautiful if everything else weren’t so harsh.

He walked up to the command post, the light brown tracked vehicle still had “DEXTRAN” painted on it in blocky white letters. Joe opened the door to the vehicle’s portable shelter, light strips illuminated the map table. There was only one person in the actual command post and it wasn’t who he was looking for. She looked over as she desperately tried to calm the mass of unruly hair that threatened to trap her headphones under twists.

Joe, what are you doing here? Briefing is in twenty minutes. I’m not even ready.

Sorry Cearra, have you seen Mina?

Not since I woke up which is strange because she is my roommate right now, I figured she was with you considering you and her are a thing. Have you tried the showers?” Cerra Heron got up from her seat and walked over to where Joe was standing crouching down and batting eyelashes “Because that is where I would be if you were looking for me. Cold water and hot Passion mix oh so well.” She paused for a moment before sitting back down and pulling a comb through her hair “but you will never know because she won’t share. Selfish girl. Maybe you should talk to her about it, I can do pillow talk in sixteen languages. Now get moving I have work to do

As Joe was walking out of the command post he heard Signals Officer Heron muttering to seemingly no one This desert air is ruining my hair. How do the local women deal with it? I guess that’s why they wear headscarves.. He was happy to get out of that situation and felt peculiarly pleased that he didn’t need to worry about such problems.

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Warawi Tactical Assessment

Tactical Assessment Warawi, prepared by Lieutenant Commander Adrian Post,
Mercs Unleashed S-3, on 09/10/3065

As stated in the previous report Warawi is a fortified hill top town. I have only noted changes from the previous condition and included my analysis on best course of action.

Changes
The tanks we encountered last night are now at battery, we observed the Tempest walking around apparently the Headhunters tech crews used parts from the Bombardier we destroyed yesterday to bring it back online much faster than anticipated. The Highlander was also repaired with Captain Reyes’ former Banshee providing the head. The runway once again has the semi-portable hangers we observed the presence of last time and we presume the Eagles are in them.

Hostile Forces Assessment
Dragon Fire, Tempest, Highlander, Archer, Hollander, Charger, Defiance, Rifleman
Manticore, Assault Pike, Ontos, Behemoth, Armored SRM Carrier, Mongol Short-Bow
2 Warriors, 2 Hawk Moths
2 Eagle Heavy Aerofighters

Course of Action

Immediate Attack
Commander we have a Strike Force that is undamaged, if we send it in late in the afternoon they can effectively engage the defenders with a minimal risk of Air Power due to the sandstorms and changing winds. Commander Arachne has insisted her Ebon Magistrate Mechwarriors be on the mission to guide the strike force through the minefields surrounding Warawi and provide fire support.

Once we have made contact her strike force will run over to the supply depot, prevent the Headhunters from blowing it, deploy our Battle Armor squads, and try to stop the Eagles from taking off. The rest of the strike force (Cicada, PHawk, Wolf Traps, Cronus, “Solar” Hunchback, Hatchetman Super-Pulse, Blue Hawks, Niops Guillotine and Crab, MoC Thunderbolt), will attack the Headhunters’ Battlemech forces. While the force lacks decisive firepower the Headhunters combat vehicles are slowed and will be unable to respond to their Battlemech allies in a timely fashion. We should be able to deal with them before the assault tanks show up, based on arrangement we will only have to deal with a pair of tank emplacements and a few field guns and missile turrets from the defensive line.

After the Battlemechs are dealt with a helicopter load of techs will land and seize the Headhunters’ transports. The Loadermechs and any Battlemechs with hands not put on sentry duty will load them up and ship it back to As’Sab. Several indigenous vehicle crews will take our vehicles and head out if there is more to take.

Defense Side – The C3 Network and damaged but non-critical mechs should be enough to dissuade a Titanfellers attack during the night. We don’t know if Top Shot will show to bail out the Headhunters but there are enough PPCs on the ground that it will be costly. According to latest intelligence we will have many minutes of warning so they won’t be able to turn the tide.

Delayed Attack
We can wait till the damaged heavy mechs are repaired, the attack would happen somewhere around 04:00 based on Chief Dolens’ status reports. To prevent the Titanfellers from taking advantage of our heavy mechs being away I suggest sending our fast attack mechs on a diversionary raid to Despair. That should keep them busy and if Top Shot responds they will be out of position when we attack our actual target.

Commander Arachne‘s Ebon Magistrate mechs will guide us through the minefields surrounding the town then circle to hold the supply depot along with our Battle Armor. The decisive firepower of the Devastator and C3 Net will make short work of the Headhunters and their defenses. They may take more overall damage but it would be of a non-critical nature unlike the strike forces’ mechs where any solid hit hurts more.

After the defenders are dealt with a helicopter load of techs will land and seize the Headhunters’ transports. The Loadermechs and any Battlemechs with hands not put on sentry duty will load them up and ship it back to As’Sab. Several indigenous vehicle crews will take our vehicles and head out if there is more to take.

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Survey Report - Points of Interest

Report is North to South prepared by Li Shou Dou

Old Travel Station 43km NE of Al’Sur
Some of Al’Sur’s militia accompanied our Battle Armor infantry while they investigated the facility. The group used one of the MULE Cargo transports. There is some evidence of transient scavengers but they didn’t leave anything salvageable behind. The militia lieutenant did find some intelligence at the site but it is not applicable to our current situation.

Ruins, 60km N of Warawi
I conducted a recon overflight of these ruins that Ilonka spotted during our initial burn to this position. There is substantial evidence that an unknown group is active in the area, while I didn’t spot any vehicles there were numerous tracks leading to and from the site and evidence of recent VTOL activity.

The Half-Buried Town 40km North of Tai’Iqih was to close to enemy lines and far away from As’Sab, we didn’t wish to risk it

Abandoned Settlement, 20km SW of Waypoint Alice
This abandoned settlement appears to be made of prefabricated housing units unlike the others. These units are also very old based on the wear but remain in good repair, presumably it is used by scavengers as there are a few worn tracks leading to and from the site.

Ghost Town, 70km SW of Waypoint Ruby
FO Roman only had enough fuel for a single pass over this town but it was intriguing. There are multiple tracks leading into and out of the site but no vehicles were visible in the open.

Its proximity to the Jaguars opens up interesting possibilities, if it is a Jaguar logistics base it would be the best chance to retrieve materiel out of the potential candidates. Even if it is not we might be able to utilize it to very forward base units to harass Titanfellers and Jaguars or gather scarce intelligence on our opposition.

It is very close to Neo-Szabo and our Blue Hawks can carry a full bomb load to the city and return in good order.

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