It turns out to have been a good call, as a kilometer or two behind the lead Cataphract is a medium-heavy mech lance (another Cataphract, a Thunderbolt and two Vindicators), and another kilometer behind them is a demi-company of light tanks and hovercraft, about eighteen in total. Engaging that lead mech would have been pretty rough.
Angel reports the counts and direction of the hostiles then moves to rejoin Gamma Command.
The layout of the comms facility our merc buddies are ransacking makes it perfect to lay a couple of explosive "presents", which we did along probably approach vectors.
"How long until you guys are done in there?" Scrub asks. "Because you've got about ten minutes before we're hip deep in Capellan militia."
"We've got what we need." comes the response. "Just need to get out techs and equipment out. Can you help us punch through?"
"Yeah. We're on it." Scrub responds.
In addition to the civilian units, the mercs brought a heavy tank lance to the party - two Manticores, a Patton (similar to a Manticore, but with an AC/10 and lesser versions of all the other guns), and a Schrek AC Carrier. Which is like a Schrek PPC Carrier, except with half the firepower.
"Major. More bad news." Cylus reports as we form up. "We've got incoming aircraft. Conventional fighters, but lots of them."
"Ugh." Scrub sighs. "Command to base. Scramble Beta-Strike immediately. They need to head to our location and swat these flies."
A bit of good news, a Scorpion tank runs over one of our minefields and gets blown up pretty good.
The new mechwarrior in the Thunderbolt lobs some LRMs over a couple of buildings, trying to hit a Thunderbolt designated by allied units, but the missiles go wide.
There's a flurry of comms traffic as our lance comes around the corner and engages the enemy forces. Scrub points the Warhammer's PPCs and lasers at a Scorpion tank, blowing the lightly armored unit away.
Angel and our Thunderbolt focus fire on the approaching Centurion, Angel cutting off chunks of armor with the Flashman's lasers as the enemy mech works on Scrub's Warhammer, scoring an autocannon and a laser hit, while the two mechs scrape armor off each other's legs.
Cylus engages the Cataphract coming around the corner - the enemy mech's autocannon throws sparks instead of firing as our Grasshopper runs a couple of laser beams over the general area. Cylus performs a sort of leg sweep (as close as you can get with a 70-ton mech anyway), forcing the Cataphract to the ground. Cylus' left leg armor isn't looking too hot, though.
Angel concentrates fire on the Cataphract as it gets up, scoring a couple of laser hits. The Cataphract's PPC and a laser connect with Scrub's Warhammer, zapping off some armor. The enemy mechwarrior should have been paying attention to Cylus, as our Grasshopper pilot is able to jump over and cut through the damaged left leg armor, frying a pair of actuators, forcing the 70-tonner to a knee. Cylus steps on the damaged leg, rendering it inoperable. That mech is basically out of action at this point, so we can move in to other targets.
"They're pickin' me apa... " comes the transmission from one of the evacuating merc tech units. A converted mining mech blows up as its internal combustion engine goes critical. [Author's note: poor thing took three gyro hits and four engine hits]
"Hope it wasn't carrying anything important." Scrub muses.
Cylus leaves the Cataphract and moves to help our Thunderbolt engage the Centurion. Between the two of them, they fry its right arm autocannon and force the mech to a knee.
Angel, meanwhile, moves to engage a Vindicator to the northeast of Scrub, but is unable to make much progress, taking minor armor damage instead.
Scrub quickly shakes her head off and designates a few units harassing the merc techs. "Take these priority units out now, then air watch!" she barks she struggles to get her mech up off the ground.
"Command-Four, take that Cataphract out for good, looks like he's still in the fight." Cylus orders the Thunderbolt, moving on to other targets. Namely, to finish of the Centurion. Which happens when a laser from the Grasshopper pierces the 50-ton mech's rear armor, torching an ammo bin.
The Thunderbolt, in combination with a pair of PPCs from Scrub's Warhammer, knocks the Cataphract with the disabled leg back down. A curb stomp intended to keep the 70-tonner down on the ground winds up puncturing the autocannon ammo bin, which annihilates the mech and sends the poor mechwarrior's eject seat flying into a nearby building.
Angel moves to cover Scrub, taking out the treads on an annoying little Vedette rolling around underfoot, though the armor on the Vindicator's leg proves to be equal to the task of absorbing a kick from the Flashman.
"Yeah, if mosquitoes had AC/20s." Angel mutters.
Scrub's Warhammer is brought down as the damaged leg gives out under autocannon fire from one of the Meteor conventional fighters, although Scrub doesn't go down quietly, blowing the craft apart with well-placed PPCs and laser blasts. A PPC shot to the engine from the adjacent Vindicator doesn't help.
Our Lucifer puts a large laser and an LRM slavo up the tailpipe of a second Meteor, breaking the craft apart in mid-air. The Chippewa focuses on a Mechbuster and its threatening AC/20, taking it out of action with multiple pulse laser blasts, while also scarring a Crane. The upgraded Gotha also blasts a pair of fighters, both light 'Defenders' - they're not destroyed outright, but the come crashing to the ground shortly after being hit. Not too shabby, we got five of the aircraft on that first pass, leaving just three, including one heavily damaged.
The Vindicator finally leaves Scrub alone, after our Thunderbolt joins Angel in trying to swat it off. It makes the mistake of landing on a nearby building, at which point our Thunderbolt proceeds to shoot out a couple of structural elements, bringing the structure and mech down to the ground.
Seeing that our Thunderbolt's got it, Angel moves to engage the Thunderbolt to the northeast, flaying off armor with large and medium lasers. The Thunderbolt fires back scoring a couple of SRM hits and a laser scar, but this one's going to take a while.
Our Chippewa blows one of the remaining fighters out of the sky, the Crane exploding in mid-air as its LRM ammo cooks off.
Cylus takes out the last major threat to the north, stomping the Grasshopper's foot through the front of an SRM Carrier, leaving just the Thunderbolt up there.
Our Chippewa heavily damages a Bat Hawk, the smaller fighter barely able to bank away.
The remainder of the hostiles retreat at this point, having taken out a good chunk of the escaping merc techs (having caved in the side of a truck and taken two legs off another quad mech).
We load as much as much salvage on flatbeds as we can before the hostiles come back. Mostly it's a few tank wrecks, but we do bag the legged Vindicator. In the end, we couldn't protect enough of the tech crew, and the mercs have to leave a bunch of what they looted behind in order to get their personnel and intact equipment out.
Scrub's Warhammer is a mess - the left leg is completely gone, and the engine will need some work to patch it back up. Our techs don't even think they have enough spare parts to fix the leg, maybe we'll ask our fellow mercs if they've got any extra legs for a 70-ton mech.
On the plus side, our upgraded aerospace fighters really made hash of the hostile fighters. Beta-Strike's expertise doesn't really lie in air-to-ground work, and it shows. They only got one kill on a tank softened up by land mines, but six aircraft kills (plus heavy damage to the rest).
We're really bad at protecting allied units, that's for sure.
Our next set of operation is going to be pretty tough, we can't afford to pull punches. We'll need to finish taking out nearby militia comms facilities so that our merc buddies have time to switch their encryption out for something a little less compromised. And we'll need to take down a convoy carrying parts for the militia dropships.
The comms facility is the same one we just failed to raid. The garrison (in addition to whatever was present before) has been reinforced by a light and medium mech lance, plus a light/medium tank company, and an artillery battery. We can approach the situation from two possible angles: mount an all out attack with the goal of taking and holding the facility. Or, we can run a quick raid and attempt to disable the critical comms equipment while dodging artillery shells and pissed-off mechs. Either way, our merc buddies have volunteered to feint with light tanks and a lance of mechs to draw some of the hostile forces off.
 Send in Alpha-Ranger or Delta-Ranger for the "smash and run"
 Send in Alpha Company to grind things up
The convoy, we'll think about a bit later, but it looks like we'll need to send in some heavy metal to take it down, as well as a nearby artillery base.