"This is Beta-One-One. I'm looking at this dropship, and they're lighting up their engines and packing up. I don't know if we can take them on without backup, but if we don't hit them now, they're leaving."
Gbasden winces as the adrenaline fades and the broken arm makes itself known. "Understood. Alpha-One-Three and Alpha-One-Four, proceed to reinforce Beta-One. Alpha-Two, return to base with me. I'm not going to be any good over there with a broken arm, and... "
El Guapo replies, somewhat indignant. "Major, other than that leg, my mech is almost untouched. A dropship's engines take maybe 90 minutes to start up. I can make it!"
"Fine." Gbasden says through grinding teeth as stars spark in his vision due to jostling. "Just don't blame me if you show up and the fight is over. What else do we have in the area that can back up Beta-One?"
"Aircraft." suggests Isgrimnur. "I don't mean to shoot down, I mean, use our aircraft. They can get there in time."
So that's what happens. Isgrimnur and Stefan move to reinforce Beta-One immediately, with El Guapo trailing behind at about 1/3 of their speed. Alpha-Air (a Stuka, a Shilone and a Lucifer) is deployed rapidly - there's no time to load bombs or anything, but they can still do strafing runs. Beta-One launches their attack with the faster elements of Alpha-One about thirty seconds away, along with the aircraft.
The opposing force, as expected, is a mixture of light and heavy tanks, with a pair of mechs in attendance. The tanks must have gotten here by some other means, since a Union isn't exactly known as an armor transport.
At least, this time, Beta-One didn't run out directly within laser range of the dropship. Just LRM range. But he doesn't have *that* many LRM launchers, just two per 180-degree firing arc. And we'll have to advance to PPC range to inflict any serious damage. On the plus side, there's a nice lake where our Awesomes can drop down and cool off.
And, as an added bonus, we caught the Dracs with their pants down and their heavies are all on the wrong side of the dropship. And one of their hovertanks crashes into a tree as Zarathud points the Awesome's PPCs at it. But that's not our mechwarrior's real target. The dropship takes five PPC hits and a salvo of LRMs, melting away a substantial amount of armor. Zenn7 takes a single PPC shot in return, and light autocannon fire plinks off Zarathud's armor.
That's about as far as we go. Nice and cool. Zenn7 absorbs some LRMs but stays upright effortlessly. We nail the dropship with five PPC more PPC shots and a few LRMs from Moley. The armor indicator on its left side turns yellow.
LordMortis annihilates a Pegasus that tries to circle around the back of our mechs. Zenn7 smirks as a PPC shot from the dropship boils water instead of hitting his mech, and then we score six more PPC hits on it. It's going pretty well, so far.
Isgrimnur and Stefan arrive from the north, and our aircraft streak in as well. Zenn7 takes some PPC and autocannon fire from the dropship, but armor holds up. The Union takes six more PPC shots, blasting off armor plates. Stefan empties the last of his LRMs into the dropship as well.
Our Lucifer uses its exclusively laser-based armament to disable a Scimitar hovertank. It takes some damage as well, but nothing serious. The Shilone targets the Behemoth and puts a laser and some LRMs through a weak spot in the right armor (uncovered by previous laser blasts), destroying the assault tank's engine and blowing out some internal equipment as well. It takes some AA fire, damaging the aircraft's fire control system. The Stuka, meanwhile, blows away a Scorpion tank entirely.
The dropship is still in the yellow, but we continue blasting away as the Kurita units are momentarily distracted by our aircraft. A PPC shot flies into one of the Union's mech bays, sending a cloud of debris flying out, while Zarathud blows away a medium laser turret. Our Lucifer takes a little damage, with an autocannon shot hitting the sensor cluster at the front of the aircraft. Zenn7 takes some more LRMs, but armor continues to hold. Still, it'll be time to pull our Awesome back soon.
[storage medium damaged]
Another six PPC shots to the dropship, plus four from Stefan as he jumps into a nearby lake. Zarathud blows away the docking collar, while Stefan scores a hit through the weakened left side, destroying another medium laser. Zenn7's armor absorbs its last PPC, LRM and autocannon salvo - there's technically armor left on the mech, but it couldn't stop a machine gun burst, let alone a PPC shot.
Moley fires LRMs at a distant Manticore, disabling it. Speaking of LRMs, our Shilone bomber zaps the back of an LRM Carrier, sending a follow-up salvo of LRMs in after breaching the armor. With four tons of LRM ammo exploding, the LRM Carrier disappears. Unfortunately, the aero jock is so busy patting himself on the back that he neglects to regain control of his aircraft after taking multiple LRMs up the tailpipe and crashes into the ground.
Zenn7 steps back behind a rock outcropping to give his beat-up Awesome a break. As it turns out, it's unnecessary - the open comm frequency buzzes and out comes "... dropship Munro - cease fire, we surrender... " followed by rapid gunfire and what sounds like somebody's face getting mashed against a communications console.
"Is that Munro with an e at the end or without?" Stefan wonders.
The dropship does cease fire though, so we follow suit, concentrating on the anklebiters instead. Moley disables a second Manticore tank with an LRM salvo through one of its flanks directly into the engine, while Zarathud evaporates a previously disabled Scimitar whose crew have decided to play hero.
Our Stuka takes some AA fire and gets shot down, but the pilot is able to make a more or less controlled landing, so we'll be able to recover that particular aircraft.
Stefan moves up and just about removes a Vedette from the field, using lasers and a foot to take off all of its front armor and a large chunk of internal structure.
Seeing our mechs moving up and their dropship stop firing, the rest of the enemy units retreat to the south.
As much as we'd like to salvage the dropship, there's just no way we can. In addition to damage to the avionics system, their docking collar and K-F boom got wrecked, which means it wouldn't be able to dock with a jumpship, even if we got it flying. We let the crew (half of them messy, covered with blood and ash) get clear, then slag it.
El Guapo winds up escorting the salvage trucks back to base. The Shilone is basically a wreck, while the Stuka takes most of the week to fix. Our mechs are ready to go within a couple of days. Gbasden's arm will be in a cast for the next month.
Of course, as it turns out, it's irrelevant. Without the dropship, the remaining Kurita forces are unable to meaningfully oppose us, and we mop up the remaining targets within about two months, then pack it in and burn for the jump point. Our liaison is suitably impressed, though not impressed enough to authorize any bonuses. He delivers crushing handshakes all around and expresses a desire to work with us again, to "show those Dracs how it's done".
When we get to Outreach, the first thing we do is get our payment released from escrow. Between the salvage and the contract payment, our warchest is now sitting pretty at 226M C-Bills. We also buy a replacement Shilone, and put out feelers to the FedCom guys to see if we can get a replacement LBX autocannon.
We also have three contract offers:
The Lyran half of the Federated Commonwealth is offering us a contract in the northern ass end of the periphery, in a place called *snicker* Butte Hold. It seems that a mercenary force that they dispatched to take care of some kind of periphery inheritance dispute has gotten themselves bogged down and need us to bail them out. I guess someone else took that contract we passed up a few months ago and botched it up. And lost a bunch of good mechs, from the looks of it, too.
4 month estimated contract duration (+8 months travel time one way)
50% salvage rights
100% battle loss compensation (they opened the bidding at 10%, but our negotiator was having none of that bullshit)
165M expected profit
The Capellan Confederation, of all the possibilities, is offering another relief duty contract. We are to travel to Chamdo (a few jumps south of Outreach), rescue elements of McCarron's Armored Cavalry, and help them complete their mission. The amount of money being offered is staggering, and the contract terms are pretty damn good too. Scrub comments that it's probably a trap.
6 month estimated contract duration (+1 month travel time)
90% salvage rights (?!)
100% battle loss compensation
Green/C allies (must be a training regiment then)
383M expected profit
The Federated Suns would like to offer us a third relief duty contract, which will send us to the south end of the inner sphere to bail out some of their mercenaries from a place called Camadierre, all the way in the Taurian Concordat. The Feds and the Taurians have always been at each other's throats, so it's not a surprise.
4 months estimated contract duration (+6.5 months travel time one way)
10% salvage rights
80% battle loss compensation
Green/C allies and opposition
193M expected profit
Our other option is to hang out on Outreach for another month and see if we can scare up anything else. We shouldn't have too much trouble doing that.