Battletech Mercs Unleashed

Connecting the Dots, pt 4

09/12/3065 00:33 Location – “Scavenger’s Respite”, Astrokaszy

Sergeant Reinholdt was on edge but hiding it well, he had managed to get a few hours of shut eye since his encounter with Ravina. The platoon had dimmed the lights but at least three soldiers maintained watch clustered around the small stove warming tea in clay mugs. The whole settlement was operating in low gear, they were effectively trapped here by the weather as well but were nocturnal by nature. His platoon was in a similar situation but they needed to stay sharp so they still grabbed shut eye. The platoon’s long distance radio was still not picking up anything interesting just static on all channels, they couldn’t tell if it was being jammed or if there wasn’t much going on due to the sandstorm.

Corporal Hermes and two of his squadmates skulked through the settlement back to the garage. The weapons and ammo cans they had spotted earlier were absent from the back seats of the Sand Cats which set him on guard. The vehicle’s hoods were warm, the scavengers had gone out recently. He checked the Ferroglaz visor built into the garage door, the winds were still fierce out there and there was no light. How did they head out with these conditions? Where did they go? We should get back to Leon and tell him right away.

Corporal Ames Hermes roused Sergeant Reinholdt in German, Sarge wake up
Having interrupted a particularly interesting dream Leon was not really in the mood for Ames’ antics What is it Corporal? My turn for watch? Not yet Sarge but its almost oh-one-hundred, the scavengers went out in the sandstorm recently and they took the guns out of the Sand Cats Leon rubbed his eyes and rose to a sitting position, What do you mean? Its blackout conditions out there. I don’t know Sarge but they went somewhere recently, maybe they have a beacon system Alright wake the others we’ll just have to wait this out with our eyes open until Johnny comes back Corporal Hermes woke the others, Leon took a drink out of his third canteen before grabbing his rifle and armor off the collection leaned against the wall nearby.

04:49

A pair of Desert Rat Troopers maintained a watch inside the scavenger’s garage and primary entrance to the settlement. An armed scavenger minder leaned against a wall nearby smoking a cigarette near a fan leading out of the settlement. They watched as the strong winds subsided, there were still strong gusts but the full force gale had subsided momentarily. Radioman Wilhelm managed to get a radiotelegraph message to As’Sab, he received a confirmation, Johnny is on his way Sergeant, He’ll be here within the hour.

05:17

Sergeant Reinholdt racked his mind for a way to rescue Ravina from the scavengers, he hadn’t told the others about his conversation with her last night. He was man to man marked by a scavenger soldier who seemed particularly interested in him. It wasn’t the same one from the corridor which wasn’t a good sign. The man asked something in Arabic to the translator, How is your stomach, Sergeant? that chilled him and he breathed deeply trying to calm himself,It’s fine, thank you for your concern. He called Corporals Hermes and Boker to him and huddled on the far end of the garage behind one of the Sand Cats. He spoke in German to his squad leaders, Something is wrong about this, everyone keep your wits about you. before breaking the huddle and dispersing.

05:28

Leon was running out of time to institute his rescue, he excused himself to head toward the latrine. His shadow followed him but he left the rest of his platoon behind and another scavenger took his place. He entered the latrine and his mark stood outside. He took a leak and washed his face and hands, his blood streaked blue eyes looking into the dirty mirror above the sink.

This wasn’t him, he was about to betray people who had been nothing but kind to him, who had rescued a heavily injured Mechwarrior from the sands of a battlefield, he lied to his own men, to rescue a women he hardly knew. He saw their kids, their wives, they weren’t monsters or nameless soldiers on the opposite side of a field just average men trying to do their best to provide a future on a desperate world. Right now the Marten coming their way had a box of gold coins and another box of desperately needed medicine on-board. But he was still going to do it, God help him, he had to do it.

He lost track of time as several minutes passed, his escort knocked on the door. The door opened and Leon stabbed his combat knife into the unsuspecting man’s neck covering his mouth as he pulled him into the latrine. He rinsed the blood off his hands, grabbed his rifle, closing the door behind him silently, and headed toward the MedBay.

There was a guard near the MedBay door, Leon fired his suppressed rifle three times hitting the man in the head and chest killing him instantly. The door was locked, he pulled out his pistol and fired a burst into the lock before kicking it in. Ravina was handcuffed to the metal bench, Leon smashed the leg that she was secured to. She freed herself and kissed her savior passionately, I knew you would come, we have to go quickly! More will come. Leon embraced her, Hang onto my armor straps Ravina I will get you out of here. Leon keyed his personal radio, All Desert Rats shots fired, free to engage.

Back at the garage Corporal Ames fired at their minder killing him immediately and surprising the indigenous translator who had been conversing with him, Men get that door open, On it, Corporal Corporal Boker’s men took up defensive positions pulling the Sand Cat’s doors out and firing at scavengers as they turned the corner. Corporal Ames’ men were pulling at the garage door’s pulleys to no avail as the alarm blared, Electronic Lock, Hendrick rig up some detcord and get these locks open, Roger, Specialist Hendrick pulled out a length of C8 detcord attached to a adhesive backing placing it along the door in a figure eight pattern. Boker’s rifleman continued their fire as more scavengers fired at them behind outcroppings in the hallway. I’m hit, more rifle shots were fired down the long but winding corridor ricochets sparking the metal that lined the walls.

Women and children screamed as Sergeant Reinholdt fought his way back to the garage. His armor had been hit several times by lucky rifle shots but he fought like a man possessed clearing each room of riflemen before moving on. Ravina clung tightly to his combat harness, Leon could smell her jasmine spice perfume over the cordite of his assault rifle shells, hear her labored breathing behind him synchronize with his own, feel her touch on his shoulders, it was exhilarating. Then he heard a shriek and felt her fall into him, he rolled over to see a scavenger that had somehow escaped his notice. The man raised his rifle but folded as Leon let loose the entire magazine of his TK MP-76 machine pistol into the man’s chest, crimson blood splattering the walls nearby. Ravina where are you hit? Ravina moaned, He got me in the leg Leon, I don’t think I can walk, Leon grabbed her chin looking into her eyes, No you’ve got this, come on I will help you up but you have to be strong, its not much further

Leon lifted Ravina up wrapping her arm around his shoulders while supporting her injured leg with his own, Come on grab the straps, we have to move she complied and Leon’s M3 rifle hung from its sling, he changed his pistol magazine and continued on, only slightly hindered by the woman clinging to him. He got to the final corridor and let loose semi-automatic death to the rifleman firing on his platoon. The thirty three rounds found their marks splashing more blood into the rusted and bullet ridden metal. Hold Fire! Friendlies! Corporal Boker signaled to his men to hold fire and rushed to help the pair. What the hell Sarge!

She’s in shock we need to get to the chopper Hendrick blow the door The detcord blasted a clean hole into the heavy metal door and the Desert Rats bounded toward the approaching Marten. Sergeant Reinholdt fireman’s carried the shocked Ravina placing her gently onto the transport bay’s floor. The bay had a box of gold coins and a box of medicine. Sergeant Reinholdt leaned into the cockpit. Go! Johnny, Go! Juan “Johnny” Markoi looked puzzled But what about the scavengers? Leon leaned in closer, Leave them, they weren’t worthy of our help, Alright Sarge, I hope your right, already got enough people shooting at us. The Marten gained altitude and sped off to the North and As’Sab.

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Connecting the Dots, pt 3

09/11/3065 17:48 Location – “Scavenger’s Respite”, Astrokaszy

Sergeant Leon Reinholdt and his Desert Rats continued their quiet vigil within the scavenger camp. He had decided to walk around with his translator to meet these people and perhaps gather some more intelligence to bring back to Jasmina for analysis. The line was quiet just alternating between the Titanfellers broadcast and a pirate music station that was just barely comprehensible. The locals appreciated his interest and provided some anecdotal information but none of it really warranted a note in his journal.

He was drawn back to Ravina’s MedBay, she seemed apart from the main scavenger group. She certainly didn’t look like them or carry a weapon. Her chestnut brown hair, blue eyes, and fair complexion were in sharp contrast to the deeply tanned and brown coloration of the natives he had encountered so far. She seemed withdrawn and out of place, something felt amiss about her situation although none of the scavengers seemed to act controlling or intimidating toward her.

Leon dismissed his translator and walked into the med-bay, “Parlaiz vous anglais, RavinaOui, she responded, Dieu Merci, my French is dreadful, didn’t pay attention in primary school, didn’t think I would need it. She walked quickly toward him getting uncomfortably close before whispering, Sergeant, What are you doing here? You could have evacuated with your Mechwarrior and left, why stay? Leon put his rifle down on the wooden workbench before responding, We need information, solid first person information, I think we are being misled. I’m not sure who we can trust… I guess I just needed to get the lay of the land from the people that live in it. Ravina wasn’t buying it, she didn’t even try to conceal her tone, Is that really it? If so why come to me? I’m not from around here, you can clearly tell. Just come out and ask it?

No amount of weaponry could protect him for a women’s intuition, Fine, I know you aren’t from around here. You don’t look, act, or speak like these people, I’ve been around Magistracy citizens long enough to recognize their behaviors. Are you being held here against your will? She nodded pushing her finger to his lips to quiet his final question. They don’t speak English but could be watching, take me with you when you leave, I can be useful He grabbed his rifle off the bench and she gave him a vial of placebos before pushed him out of the MedBay, one of the scavengers was out there waiting with the translator both looked at him strangely. Leon shouldered his rifle and looked right at them, Something I ate, lets get back to the others

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Behind the Lines, pt 5
Siege of Coolwater

09/11/3065 02:14 Location – East of Coolwater

Major Brekard’s Battlemaster walked with the rest of the assault lance, the Zeus, Thunder Hawk, and a Warhammer had reorganized against the Clantech Stalker, Linebacker, Summoner, and Nova as the tempo of battle slowed due to damage and depletion. The Warhammer limped along, missing an arm, the Stalker’s torso had blown out from a previous ammo explosion, acrid smoke billowing out of the jagged metal. The Summoner and Nova were torn to pieces and the Linebacker and Battlemaster were engaged in a close range duel. The Titanfellers pressed against the Jaguars but they began to withdraw, the assault lance wasn’t able to keep pace so chose not to pursue.

The Badlands were carnage, pieces of Battlemechs littered the field most were charred beyond use. Blasted hulks were motionless bleeding red or green coolant from their destroyed heat sinks. The Titanfellers Salvage crews were busy recovering Mechwarriors trapped in their downed machines and putting out fires while heavy lift vehicles dragged the blasted carapaces to their staging point.

Major Brekard walked his Battlemaster to the staging point, his damage was mostly armor. The War Machine took a knee and Thomas helped Annette to the cockpit ladder before descending himself. He found his XO Weaver, Grenadier Commander Holfsteed, and Top Shot’s Forward Air Controller Laurenz at the command post MULE. Good fighting everyone, whats our current condition look like Commander Holfsteed spoke first You routed the Jaguar’s Battlemech forces but we are dealing with sporadic infantry raids at the salvage teams. I have found likely avenues into their underground fortress and my men stand ready to deal with them on your orders.

Good, Good hold off on that for now. Keep the Warriors suppressing any heavy weapons that make themselves known but priority is on protecting those salvage teams. Weaver have you talked to the Chief Tech? Not yet Major, we have lost several mechs but the Jaguars got the worst of it. Several Mechwarriors were killed during headhunter raids but it is unlikely they will be able to pull that off again. Damn, fine soldiers through and through pull from the reserves at Tai’Iqih when we start getting empty cockpits. How are things in the skies Laurenz?

Skies are clear Major, we are expecting major sandstorms near Tai’iqih tomorrow so Top Shot might not be able to scramble as effectively. Good to hear we are out in the open here, Gurn keep those guns pointed up and out while the Battlemechs get repaired. Has anyone seen Schmidt?

The three other commanders shook their heads, they didn’t know where their intelligence chief was but the Major had a few options. The Derecho MLRSes, Marksman SPAs, and Von Luckners took up firing positions on the ridgeline, their magazines now reloaded. Major Brekard found his LIC liaison in the command tent for that unit, easily spotted by the trio of “Alptraum” Loki Commandos and their distinctive dark blue armor.

Herr Brekard, good to see you made it through the battle in one piece. You have to many people counting on you to die right now.
Yes thank you Karl, do you have your PsyOps units in place, I’d rather not have to blast the village and hills looking for Jaguars.
Yes they are assuming positions now and will begin their broadcasts soon
Good
Do be careful Major, the Jaguars have been sending assassins our way
Major Brekard brandished his TK P-98 pistol, I’m counting on it

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Behind the Lines, pt 4
Battle of the Badlands

09/11/3065 00:47 Location – Outside Coolwater

The Titanfellers Command Lance (Battlemaster, Thunder, Hercules, and Catapult) stood on a ridge just Northwest of the village of Coolwater, illumination rounds cast the village in a pale green-white light. The Task Force had finally broken through the defensive lines that had caused them so much misery. Sporadic mortar and rocket fire was silenced by the Warrior attack helicopters that orbited the area as a Boomerang Recon Plane watched for targets of opportunity on ghost silent wings.

The Task Force had taken up defensive positions waiting for their true opponent. Tactical Officer Annette Harris piped through Major Thomas Brekard’s radio. Major we are picking up thermal and RADAR contacts to the East from the remote sensor systems

Finally, he had allowed a messenger to escape the village before encircling it knowing Khan Ash would have to respond to such blatant aggression. The Battlemaster strode along the broken terrain to the North of the village, under the Hills to the South were the Jaguar’s forward defenses and he wasn’t willing to tangle with them yet, that was what the Grenadiers were for.

Task Force DECLAW regrouped East of Coolwater, The Major and his Titanfeller BattleMechs stood, their desert camouflage illuminated by running lights. The winds that tore across the desert were dampened here but whorls of sand still blew across the badlands. On the opposite side stood the Jaguar’s Claws their Light Battalion of Star League BattleMechs, augmented with a Binary of Clantech Omnis and Second-line models. Each of them were painted dark grey with red slashes across the limbs but only the Guillotines and Warhammers had spotlights on illuminating the ground before them with faint red light.

Finally! hiding behind walls in not something I expected from clanners, Ash
Breaking them down is exactly what I expected from you Major Brekard. What took you so long?
I was enjoying the sun. Now that the weather’s worsened its time to get back to work. Titanfellers attack!

Major Brekard advanced across the open plain launching hypersonic gauss slugs from his Battlemaster’s cannon. The Thunder Hawk walking beside him did the same, four magnesium bright flashes launching forth in rhythm as they advanced. The rain of missiles from the Jaguar’s Claws was intense, red streaks impacted on the heavy armor plating of the Titanfellers. The heavy weapons fire and constant artillery barrage from the Derecho MLRSes was equally hellish tearing into the Jaguar Battlemechs without remorse.

A Jaguar Warhammer was cored through with a quartet of slugs pirouetting into a rocky outcropping before its ammunition exploded, raining debris over the battlefield. Faster strike mechs dueled between the line units evading the heavy firepower as the lines advanced toward one another jockeying for advantage under the missile barrage.

The Titanfellers Wolverine and Komodo isolated a Crusader, tearing into it with laser fire before cracking its head with a punch. The Komodo tried to shield itself with its arms but the Crusader’s heavy fire chewed through and cracked it’s engine shielding forcing it to retreat. The Wolverine’s autocannon fired again before kicking a leg out then continued its attack elsewhere.

A Jaguar Wyvern IIC and Phoenix Hawk isolated Titanfeller XO Amanda Weaver’s Fire Support Lance, its Archer, Dervish, Whitworth, and Panther had mostly expended their ammunition and taken hits from their time on the field. The Wyvern’s intense firepower tore into the Panther before punching through shutting down their bodyguard unit. Weaver’s Archer grappled the Phoenix Hawk in a death grip giving the Dervish a solid shot and restraining the highly mobile Battlemech despite the lasers and machine guns tearing into her increasingly bare armor.

The Whitworth’s lasers were little threat to the Wyvern Headhunter unit but they were buying time. A pale green light illuminated the intimidating Battlemech as it walked toward the fire support mech. A dark shape jumped into the fray, The Nightsky landed with a quick slide almost losing control on the loose sand. The Mech raising its heavy hatchet while firing its lasers. The Wyvern turned, quickly firing at the new foe with its laser before the hatchet cleaved through it’s rear armor into volatile ammo.

The Phoenix Hawk burst free from the Archer’s grasp aided by its jump jets scorching the front of Weaver’s Battlemech. It fired a burst from it’s weapons that kneecapped the newcomer which crumbled throwing up sand. XO Weaver’s Archer picked up the stricken battlemech which limped on its damaged leg as she picked up the engine killed Panther.
Alright lets move it trooper, back to the Landtrain with you

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Behind the Lines, pt 3

09/10/3065 21:47 Location – Above Sleeping Jaguar Oasis

Squad Leader Benjamin Cirillo sat behind the controls of his Stuka Aerofighter his black flight suit pulsing to compensate g-forces. The Assault Aerofighter was followed in diamond formation by the remainder of Top Shot, they moved in unison over the desert below, almost disappearing into the night except for their running lights and white hot jet-wash.

DECLAW Control, Top Shot is coming in for a bombing run, shoot us a beam

Titanfellers’ Tactical Officer Harris looked over the command console embedded in the Battlemaster. She could see the rest of the assault force around her and directed a RADAR beam over a section of desert where they knew a minefield was located. The Grenadier’s heavy tanks were in formation with the Titanfellers Battlemechs loosely covering their flanks. Through the enhanced sensors she could see the flight of Aerofighters several dozen kilometers Northwest and the village of Coolwater to their East.

Top Shot you have your beam, drop ordnance at ten meter increments over four hundred meters. A breathy voice responded to her Confirmed Control, setting bombing parameters now, will start run in five mikes before returning to base for a new load

Jaguar’s Den

SaKhan what do you want us to do, Jakk looked once more through the starlight scope, the Titanfellers had gathered en mass no doubt finally making the push into the Jaguar’s Domain. His subordinate Commander Carret looked at him with steadfast determination. Commander I want you to send a messenger to the Khan informing her that we will not be able to hold. Do it quickly before we are enveloped! I will hold them for as long as I can. Aff SaKhan Carret left crawling through the fortifications the Jaguar’s Claws had built into the hills South of Coolwater and which were home to over three hundred hardened guerilla fighters. Jakk picked up his field telephone and informed his gun commanders to hold fire until the Titanfellers came closer.

Moments later, Jakk could feel the shockwaves and deafening explosions from the tens of bombs dropped over his carefully laid defensive line. The Aerofighters hit their afterburners and buzzed the village, a powerful sonic boom cracking over the valley as they burned back to the sky.

Dozens of Tanks and Mechs poured through the bomb cratered breach point, tanks took up defensible ridge-lines and the Titanfellers’ Battlemechs strode into the valleys daring to be opposed. Jakk called in artillery strikes from the two other fire-bases within range dealing some damage to the Grenadier tanks but missing Battlemechs. A squadron of helicopters lifted off from the Oasis, the chop, chop of their rotors reverberating against the mountain walls as they sped toward the rear lines to silence the guns. Rocket flashes lit up the night and an ammunition explosion could be felt even in the Jaguar’s fortified redoubt.

The line went dead and Jakk was on his own until Khan Ash arrived with Battlemechs to repel the invaders.

Outside the Casbah of Neo Szabo

The Jaguar Claw’s standard flew over the ramparts of the Casbah, charcoal grey with three blood red slashes across it. Four sentries stood around a small brazier to warm themselves against the chill of night, its aromatic smoke drifting gently in the wind. They could hear the sound of a motorcycle and see a headlight climbing up the hill and readied their weapons.

The Khan’s Chambers

Watch Captain Dillon walked through the Cashbah passing the piles of luxuries that had been removed from the Khan’s Chambers but had not been taken to Shervanis for resale to the Canopians yet. Following close behind was Elemental Mantis wearing desert garb and armed with a heavy sword in addition to his machine gun. They were stopped by a point of Salamander Battle Armor standing in front of the armored door that warded the Khan’s Chambers.

State your business Watch Captain. Our Khan is discussing important matters with the Chief Tech and Scientist-General and asked not to be disturbed. Dillon never appreciated these moments, he may not be a Trueborn Smoke Jaguar Warrior but they had made a Freeborn Spheroid SaKhan yet still dared to challenge him at every opportunity. Jan I come bearing a message from the SaKhan, an urgent report from the front. Inform the Khan immediately and open the door.

The door was so heavy it required a pair of the Salamander armored Elementals to open it, Dillon stepped in but Mantis had to turn over his weapons before he would be allowed to enter. They continued along the darkened corridor heavy footsteps echoing off the bare stone walls. The only thing that still remained ornate in the Shiekh’s chambers were the doors, inlaid with precious metals and gems that caught the pale moon and starlight that shone through the large windows that overlooked a blacked out city. He could see light escaping around the door at the far end of the corridor and knocked on the door. One of the few remaining servants of the Sheikh opened the door and Dillon stepped in to the Khan’s map room.

Khan Ash Smoke Jaguar stood over the table around her were the Chief Tech, Loremaster, and Scientist-General. Her face was uncovered although the scarf she used was wrapped around her neck. She was wearing a simple grey ensemble that provided maximum flexibility (sleeveless shirt, short pants, calf-high boots) blended with her dusky skin and revealed her many scars, Watch Captain what brings you here? Dillon bowed slightly, Exalted Khan, I bear a report from SaKhan Jakk concerning the defense of our Dominion, he requires an urgent and powerful response

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Connecting the Dots, pt 2

Previous

09/11/3065 15:33 Location – “Scavenger’s Respite”, Astrokaszy

Sergeant Leon Reinholdt and his fellow mercenary soldiers sat around a low table enjoying the cool tea and warm pita bread while speaking to each other in German. Most of them were former Lyran Military Policemen ousted for their opposition to Katherine Steiner-Davion who found a common bond with the other mercenaries in this unit. Ravina and several scavengers had joined them and were discussing things with the translator in Arabic or with the Canopian natives in French. As far as he could tell none of them could understand German.

Leon had picked up various snippets with his elementary French and asking questions through the translator, apparently Ash had showed up at an inopportune time for the natives of this region, these scavengers and the desert villagers migrated to the valley in the summer to work in the gem mines and farms there. She had closed the valley and trapped or set up ambushes on the paths and mines that would allow alternate routes which he noted for when he returned to Al’Sur. His own observations were that this settlement was built from debris the inhabitants had scavenged from the area including some Star League era material.

Additionally a rebel militia had taken refuge in the Ghost Town to the South, on Hotfoot’s return trip he mentioned that there were signs of combat there which meant that either everyone was dead, alive and there, or alive and might come here. What he really needed was a good radio connection back to base. The only messages he received were the ones that the Titanfellers were broadcasting from their radio station to the east. Fortunately there didn’t seem to be a radio in this settlement but that was only slight comfort. He tapped his radioman Wilhelm, and excused himself to head outside, he was beginning to learn the curved corridors of the settlement although he still needed a guide.

As Sergeant Reinholdt neared the garage and doorway out he could hear the howling wind and coarse sand scouring the exterior. He opened the small visor built into the garage door and saw the weather outside, if it wasn’t for the ferroglaz he knew that the windblown sand would have blinded his unshielded eyes. Verdammt! Wilhelm we aren’t going anywhere tonight. Fucking sandstorms! Wilhelm checked the visor plate as well looking disappointed, The sergeant got back on his squad radio, Rats, looks like we are spending the night here, no way Johnny is going to be able to fly the Marten back today, police your gear, I will return in a few minutes

Leon spent a minute looking over his own kit, six extra mags for his M3-68 rifle and TK MP-76 pistol, three canteens, two flashlights with extra power packs, three concussion grenades, personal medkit, combat knife, and a full satchel battery for his radio. It would work although spending a night in a potentially hostile camp wasn’t something he relished. The two Mercs walked between a pair of worn and bullet ridden Utilitech Sand Cats parked in the garage, each one had a light machine gun and three assault rifles as well as ten ammo cans in their back seats. This was going to be a long night.

He wormed his way through the series of passageways back to the rest of the platoon, saw that they had checked their gear and began rotating rest. Their guide arrived with several others to deposit a pile of bedding for their wayward guests before departing again. Then the mercenaries were left alone again. Corporal Jonathan Boker walked up with Cpl Hermes to Leon, Sarge, I don’t know about this you heard what the Titanfellers have been broadcasting, what if they sold us out? Corporal I understand your concerns but I haven’t seen a functioning radio in this settlement yet. They wouldn’t give us up without getting their payment for Nathan or medicine we promised them anyway. Cpl Hermes looked nervous You saw the Sand Cats on the way in. These people are armed to the teeth. Corporal everyone on this planet is armed to the teeth especially in a place like this including us, the only person I saw without a gun was Ravina. Standard buddy rules watch each others backs and we will get out fine.

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Connecting the Dots

For Reference

’a. Waypoint Alice —> Abandoned Settlement -→Ghost Town —>Nearby mines(?) -———> Al’Jafir

Hotfoot and Red Mist were tasked with this route here are their observations. The Abandoned Settlement was occupied at the time, the inhabitants flagged Hotfoot down and Sergeant Reinholdt’s security team flew in (report to follow) to make contact. While approaching the ghost town the pair realized that there had been a confrontation since the last sweep. Freshly dug earth and minor structural damage was noticed from yesterday’s photo recon.

While hugging the Pillars of Heaven Mountains on the way back, Hotshot flagged several abandoned mining shafts but while disembarking neither pilot noticed recent activity. The recon pair was challenged by hovercraft and Guardian Jump Fighters but managed to catch a glimpse of the heavily fortified travel station. Several assault tanks and heavy gun emplacements were dug in but there were not a lot of Battlemechs. The pair shook their attackers while only sustaining minor damage.

’b. OId Travel Station —> Ruins -→ Half Buried Town —→ Ta’iqah

Roughrider and Jez Roland embarked on the other recon arc, the Old Travel station was occupied by a squad of Indigenous militiamen. They hadn’t seen anything recently but had been ordered to occupy that area to catch a group of bandits that were stalking the wastes. The Ruins, North of Warawi were unoccupied but there was a recent flurry of activity since last sweep. It was noted for further investigation by an scout team.

Roughrider’s ECM allowed the recon pair to approach the Half-Buried Town near Tai’iqih. This town was mostly occupied by camp followers or displaced villagers there due to the Titanfeller’s presence. Jez disembarked and made contact with their unofficial Chief Malak, he mistook our BattleMechs for Titanfellers but was willing to speak. The position was marked for further investigation by someone capable of interacting more appropriately with them.

Jez and Ranvir approached Tai’iqih and got very closer before being chased away by hovercraft, VTOLs, and faster Battlemechs (Jenner, Jackal, PHawk, and Wolf-trap). During their observation period they noticed a convoy guarded by those Mechs departing toward Ni’keet. The scout unit ran away before Top Shot was scrambled to deal with them.

09/11/3065 11:52 Location – Abandoned Settlement, Astrokaszy

The Marten VTOL kicked up sand like a grey tornado that scoured the desolate terrain beneath them. Sergeant Leon Reinholdt and his “Desert Rats” disembarked, faces covered with masks and goggles, their tan and gray camouflage uniforms and body armor disguised their outlines as they advanced their M3 6.8mm Assault Rifles at the ready.

Two squads encircled the compound while the remaining two were greeted by a young man with his own rifle slung over his shoulder. Leon removed his sunglasses before greeting the man then began to speak through the Indigenous Auxiliary translator embedded into his squad. The young man handed the Sergeant a torn cooling vest with the MU logo on it. Examining it Leon shouted “Medic!” and followed the man inside with his squad. The remaining three squads took up defensive positions around the structure as a pair of troopers ran to the helicopter to retrieve a stretcher and medkit.

The Mercenary Infantry remained on high alert as they followed their guide through the twisting corridors. The settlement looked like junk but was well maintained, some portions of it might date back to Star League colonization projects but much of it was recent manufacture. As they walked through they noticed that this was the home of a group of scavengers, small workshops led into quarters and communal dining areas, small children ran between the heavily armed men walking in staggered file.

The squad stopped before a door with a Red Crescent painted on it, their guide knocked on the door which was opened by a petite young women wearing an apron. The pair exchanged a few words in Arabic before he waved the soldiers in starting with the stretcher bearers. They entered a brightly lit and noticeably cleaner room that smelled of citrus disinfectant, the ascerbic smell of salves, and various earthy smells emanating from the glass jars of herbs that sat on a rough hewn wooden bench. A small number of medicine vials and a portable diagnostic computer and imager was on a sturdier metal table.

A heavily injured man lay in repose on a grey cot instantly recognizable as MDC surplus. Two other men were laying down as well, one with a broken arm and the other with burns. The three of them took up half the cots that were located behind the white cloth partition. Their nurse walked with the translator, Sergeant, and stretcher bearers.

The platoon Medic Samira was at the injured man immediately her pen light flashing in his eyes, she snapped her fingers Nathan! Mechwarrior Alphaios! Can you hear me? The man groaned but he was weak from the injuries he sustained on the battlefield. Samira spoke to the Nurse who introduced herself as Ravina, she spoke French so the two of them were able to quickly exchange information about the patient’s current condition. Samira walked over to her sergeant, whispering Leon, Nathan is in bad shape Ravina has done all she can for him here he’s stable but his condition is poor. We need to evac him to Al’Sur and the infirmary soon. She has need for medicine that we have in stock, I will inform Doctor Westcastle to send it on the return trip.

Leon agreed and gave the order, the two stretcher bearers and platoon Medic were escorted out by their guide. Outside teams, Samira has one of our Mechwarriors, I want one squad to return to Al’Sur with her. Johnny get on the radio and inform Doc we have a dust-off coming their way with a chit. Samira will forward what she needs en route. Everyone else head inside I don’t want heat casualties, keep your wits about you and watch your mouths, we are guests here until the chopper returns

Another scavenger man replaced the one that had departed, Leon asked him via the translator whether there was any problem with them spending some more time here. The man insisted it was only proper and escorted him to a communal space where the remainder of his command had been gathered.

More to follow

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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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