"This is Strike One to Capellan forces, we'll help pick up the escape pods. You get the rest of your people off the dropship." the flight leader calls out over the general frequency. We coordinate with the Capellan fighters and are able to pick up and tow most of the escape pods to a stable orbit. Or, stable enough for them to vector a dropship to pick the pods up.
Down on the surface, Delta-Ranger begin their attack, with Beta-Assault approximately one minute behind. Madmarcus reminds everyone in his lance that their only goal is to neutralize the artillery pieces - Beta-Assault will handle the rest.
To add insult to injury, it looks like the bastards have reinforced with a couple of heavy mechs (one a converted industrial), plus gotten our Zephyr back up and running again.
Madmarcus fries an annoying little Ferret VTOL buzzing around while the Zephyr zips in and delivers two laser blasts to our Wolverine.
"Hey, that's our tank!" Freyland calls out.
Archinerd runs forward rapidly, and the artillery shell aimed at our Dervish dings the nearby Archer instead. Our mechwarrior's short range weapons disables a Pegasus hovertank zipping around.
Freyland zaps a Saladin hovertank buzzing around, lasers weakening armor and allowing the streak SRMs to lock on and blast off a couple of drive fans, immobilizing the tank. Our mechwarrior also spares some LRMs for a PPC turret in the base, collapsing the structure entirely.
Madmarcus takes some nasty damage to the right leg, losing armor there as the to-be-disabled Saladin's AC/20 scores a glancing blow. Combined with incoming fire from the nearby Banshee, this brings our mech to the ground. Between some lasers from our Wolverine and a solid stomp from Freyland, the Zephyr is reduced to a crawl as motive elements are removed one by one.
Archinerd and our Griffin move to take on the Thumper to the south, but it gets nailed by a Long Tom round, immobilizing it. Thanks guys!
Archinerd instead turns the Dervish's LRMs on a Liao-variant Vedette, immobilizing it.
Madmarcus gets up and runs to the center of the base, taking out one of the Long Toms by melting the barrel rotation mechanism down (and they'd just fixed it, too!), but takes a hip actuator hit and is unable to keep the Wolverine upright. A Phoenix Hawk takes advantage of the situation to come in and finish the leg off with a stomp.
Freyland moves north, blasting away at a quad SRM turret. The structure collapses, but not before pumping his Quickdraw full of SRMs, one of which detonates the streak ammo. The Quickdraw disappears in a cloud of scrap metal and smoke as our mechwarrior ejects into the sky.
Seems that the artillery were a little afraid of Madmarcus, because a Long Tom shell flies in as our mechwarrior struggles the mech up on its dead leg and nails one of the two remaining Long Toms. Good shooting there, tex. Madmarcus' mech can't take any more though and gives up the ghost as hostiles close in from around and finish it off.
Archinerd and our Griffin are unable to do much to help, having been engaged by a Blackjack and a converted Lumberjack industrialmech, despite doing relatively well in their individual duels, with Paingod quickly inflicting enough damage on the Lumberjack's center torso to cause the "mechwarrior" to decide to retreat.
Our mechs take some damage, and are unable to get at the last remaining Long Tom. With only two mechs left, Archinerd calls for Delta-Ranger to retreat. Beta-Assault will have to finish up the rest.
On his way out, Archinerd blows the ammo storage for an LRM/15 turret.
The opfor decides to create a shortcut through their own base (which is probably not a big loss for them at this point - it's already on fire and half the buildings have been knocked down by our mechs or artillery), while Archinerd dings the rotor on a pursuing Warrior helo.
We continue to pull back, with not much happening for either side.
Beta-Assault lance arrives, and the party doesn't start off very well - LordMortis' aim with the Victor's gauss rifle is thrown off when an LRM from the Archer dings his head.
At least our Griffin in the east strips the armor off an enemy Blackjack's left torso with a PPC shot (with help from Archinerd's LRMs).
Zenn7 is engaged from long range by a Banshee and indirect LRM fire, returning the favor with the Awesome's three PPCs. The Banshee's autocannon winds up melted down, while it scores a hit with a PPC and a laser. This is an older-model Banshee, so it's a bit slower but has a little more firepower. Zenn7 goes down to a knee, but the coolant truck keeps the Awesome nice and frosty.
Zenn7 lurches behind a storage building, which absorbs a PPC from the Banshee, continuing to pump PPC shots in return at the 95-ton mech. A solid shot to the shoulder joint shears the assault's right arm off. No guns there, but it's better than getting punched in the face by a 95-ton mech. The damage forces the Banshee to a knee as well. The coolant truck continues hosing our Awesome down with colant fluid, letting Zenn7 continue to pump out PPC blasts at maximum rate.
Siljanus helps take some of the pressure off, stomping forward with the Mackie and opening up on the enemy Archer with the big guns. Two PPCs weaken the armor, allowing a gauss slug to punch through the left torso and detonate an LRM ammo bin, sending bits of the 70-ton mech sky high.
A Grasshopper also jumps in, training its lasers on the Awesome, but our Thunderbolt breaks north and delivers a large laser to the Grasshopper's head, causing the mechwarrior inside to black out, leaving the mech swaying back and forth in an upright position.
An artillery round aimed at Zenn7 goes way wide and nails three clustered enemy mechs instead, stripping off a bunch of armor.
"Thanks!" Zenn7 calls out before resuming the PPC barrage as he lowers the Awesome into a nearby pond. The Awesome's PPCs take out the Banshee's main gun, leaving it with two medium lasers and a small laser. Time to switch targets - that Hector's got a few large lasers, and the Phoenix Hawk isn't a slouch, either.
Our Thunderbolt finishes the Grasshopper off by removing the head with the large laser. The medium lasers go wide and our mech heats up a little, but it was worthwhile.
To the south, LordMortis stomps flat an SRM-toting APC, while Siljanus takes out the Warrior helicopter that's been buzzing around and bugging us.
[camera feed damaged]
The Hector continues firing its large lasers at Zenn7. It's a pretty old mech design, dating back to before the Star League and originating from the Free Worlds League. The HOR-1C has a pair of large lasers, one in each arm, and two leg-mounted small lasers. Its heat sinking capacity isn't too great, but it's got pretty average speed and armor for a 70-tonner.
What it doesn't have is the ability to lose an arm to three PPC shots from an Awesome and then take another PPC shot plus a gauss slug from a refurbished Mackie. The gauss slug cracks the gyro and damages the engine shielding, causing the 70-ton mech to keel over and crunch its right side. Siljanus also cracks the leg on a nearby Blackjack, sending that mech to the ground.
Zenn7 is still absorbing a lot of firepower (although a lot less, now that the Hector and Grasshopper are out of action, as is, effectively, the Banshee). Just as he's about to issue some priority orders, though, everything goes black.
Siljanus takes some actuator damage to the left leg from the nearby Crusader's salvo, but knocks the 65 ton enemy mech to the ground with two PPC shots and a gauss slug preventing it from capitalizing on the trouble. A Pegasus hovertank skids as it tries to avoid LordMortis' weapons fire and slams into a building, from which a cloud of dust emerges shortly.
LordMortis puts a gauss slug through a Striker tank, cracking the light vehicle in half, while Siljanus blasts the Phoenix Hawk that kicked in the head on Zenn7's Awesome, a pair of PPC shots knocking the medium mech down to a knee. Our Thunderbolt finishes off the Zephyr that's been slowly plodding along and picking away at Siljanus.
Our Thunderbolt gets revenge on the Phoenix Hawk, removing its head with a laser blast. Siljanus and the Crusader continue trading fire, with the Crusader giving as good as it gets, but it's got less armor. Our coolant truck gets disabled by the Banshee, but with the guy in the downed Blackjack passing out and LordMortis finally getting a hold of the last Long Tom and immobilizing it, that basically leaves a beat-up Crusader and a beat-up Banshee against a 66% armored Mackie and a more or less pristine Thunderbolt.
The two enemy mechs retreat.
Salvage is pretty good - we pick up the Grasshopper and Hector, and get our hovertank back. However, this was pretty costly - Madmarcus' Wolverine is totaled (to say nothing of Freyland's Quickdraw). The silver lining to the Wolverine being totaled is that we can use parts from it to fix up the Griffin, which has a damaged shoulder actuator. Madmarcus made it out, scoring a major concussion that'll keep our mechwarrior out of action for over a month. Freyland was able to clear the field as well, despite having to dodge artillery shells and a tank insistent on running him down.
Salvaging the Hector will enable us to repair Scrub's Warhammer (the Hector itself is a piece of crap, even if it is a historical artifact), as well as the Grasshopper that our Thunderbolt disabled.
Zenn7's Awesome is obviously inoperative for the rest of this campaign. As for the mechwarrior...
Scrub leans against the wall in the Moonraker's medbay, looking at the bandaged and comatose mechwarrior, her hands alternating between clenching and grasping the nearby metal grab bars.
"Sorry." she whispers. "Some great leader I turned out to be. Can't even keep my people in one piece."
The conversation with the doctor is pretty depressing. Our mechwarrior got pretty lucky, relatively speaking, "only" suffering major head trauma that put him into a coma. That, and the numerous cuts, sprains and bruises associated with debris flying around when Phoenix Hawk kicks your mech's head in. But we won't be seeing Zenn7 in action for a while.
Cujo reports a status update to Scrub in her office, which is a little darker than usual. "... so there it is. Alpha Company is ready to go, Beta and Delta are both at about 75% effectiveness. We'll need to continue running defensive patrols around our landing zone, but other than that, with the artillery base gone, the Narrators ought to have everything they need to finish repairs on their jalopy and burn for the jumpship."
"You seem to have this well in hand, Captain." Scrub says with a sigh. "Maybe you should take over for the rest of this campaign, I'm kinda sucking it up."
"Major?" Cujo asks.
"I got a whole bunch of our people killed because I thought mechs could take on those artillery pieces without air support. Two dead mechwarriors, two wounded, one missing in action." Scrub says. "Two concussions, including one that might not wake up. One dead aero jock. How does this make me qualified to run a mercenary company if some podunk Capellan militia keeps getting the drop on me and killing my people?"
Cujo sighs. A little awkward when your commanding officer is about to collapse in a pile of goo, but she's got to soay something.
 Artillery trained skyward can take out aircraft pretty easy using direct flak fire. They wouldn't have helped much. Don't second-guess yourself, learn from your mistakes and do better next time.
 Shit happens, Major, nobody got into this thinking they were going to be cruising around on New Avalon.
 You never led us wrong when you were in charge of Gamma Company. Everyone has bad days.
 Might not be a bad idea to take a break, Major. But, uh, there's not much to do around here in hostile space.