"Unbelievable! There we were just taking our mechs down the street to a meeting with out client and some fool of a local mech-jock jumps right in front of Ranger while he's running down the street. So of course there's a collision and the local's Vulcan gets wrecked, but that's no reason for the local shit-heel mech jocks to start firing at us? What's a responsible Mech-Jock to do? I mean, we're in a city. Still, we have to defend ourselves. It's not like we wanted to get into a firefight in the middle of a crowded settlement. But we simply have to defend ourselves. It's the only reasonable thing to do...."- Snr. Lt. Lishka Andronova, Fox Hounds Mercenary Unit
The Fox-Hounds deploy from an Iqbal Industries Leopard Class Drop-ship. With their jumpship parked at a pirate point between the planet and it's moon, they have just twelve hours to rescue their employer and evacuate to the drop point.
Lishka deploys in her Raven, Domino in one of the Javelin's, Vik in his beloved Valkyrie and Ranger in his modified Clint. Hoping for a repeat of an earlier success, they hope to extract the target without firing a shot, ensuring civilian casualties in the crowded cityscape are kept to a mnimum, The 'Hounds plan is for Lishka to move to the rendezvous point under cover of her Raven's ECM while the other three 'Mech lead the defending forces on a wild goose chase through the early morning city streets.
For only the second time in the Fox Hounds year-long existence, the plan does not survive contact with the enemy. So badly, in fact, that just thirty seconds into the engagement [two turns] the Fox Hounds adopt their "Go to Hell" plan: the last-ditch plan adopted when things go so catastrophically wrong, you hadn't made a specific plan for dealing with the eventuality concerned.
|Outworlds Alliance Locust|
Despite their ECM and their cautious approach, the four patrolling Outworlds Alliance Mechs quickly make visual contact with the Fox Hounds and issue the following challenge:
"Unidentified Battle Mechs, you are in violation of a class one Quarantine order. Power down and submit to decontamination and quarantine procedures immediately."
Under their ECM umbrella, only Lishka can hear the message. With a distinct feeling of dread creeping into her soul, Lishka suddenly understands why the streets are so deserted, without even a milk float or delivery van in sight. She quickly passes the message to the rest of the lance via tight-beam microwave laser.
"Oh...," muses Ranger. "So that last garbled bit of the translation probably read sicker by the day then?"
In keeping with their plan, the Fox Hounds do not reply. Briefly, the Fox Hounds consider bugging out. They hadn't hired on to break a quarantine order and risk spreading a plague. But they'd accepted a contract, even without the full details. They've never broken a contract, and they don't intend to. They'll just have to make damn sure to keep Iqbal and his family quarantined all the way to New Avalon and the NAIS.
Lishka (the only one not yet visually spotted) quickly away from the group at speed while the others pound down the deserted streets as fast as they can in the vague direction of the target building, Iqbal industries Corporate Head Quarters.
Meanwhile, a Vulcan Mech jumps straight out in front of Ranger's running 'Mech and executes the the universal "halt" posture. Or at tries it's best iconsidering it doesn't have any hands to raise. Grinning like a lunatic, Ranger responds to the challenge (and keeps to the 'Hounds self-imposed rules of engagement) by charging his Clint into the Vulcan, knocking it to the tar-mac and very nearly destroying it, stripping most of it's torso locations down to the internal structure.
His triumphant laughter is short lived however.
Seconds later, the group receives an omega transmission from Lishka's Raven. The others watch in mingled astonishment and horror as their colleague's ejection seat shoots into the air atop a column of fire.
[I was playing via Skype, and as such I couldn't read the level indicators on the building hexes. It turns out that the building I thought was hiding me from the Locust was actually just a level one. My positioning in BT games is normally spot on so no one thought to question it. Ooops. The fast little Mech walks right up to my left side and unleashes an alpha strike from one hex away. Four SRM's and a Medium Laser hit later and I'm staring in horror at my record sheet. All three weapons hit my left torso location, stripping away all the armour and scoring a critical! With mingled horror and laughter, we watch as the fully loaded SRM ammo bin goes up! Lishka, our fearless leader, just got one-shotted by a bloody Locust! In all fairness though, the other critical hit location (the ECM) would have been just as bad. We'd never have been able to repair or replace it, and without it the Raven would have been so much junk anyway.]
"That's it." Foa grumbles. "Weapons free."
The ensuing melee is a confused one. Trying to keep civilian casualties down as much as possible, the 'Hounds get in close and only fire when sure of their shots. Domino avenges the Raven by destroying the Locust with an point-blank alpha-strike of her very own [poetic justice: she hit with 11 out of 12 SRM's and caused an ammo explosion]. Ranger meanwhile tangles with the Black Jack, keeping it busy but taking major damage in the process.
With the Locust down and the surviving enemy Mechs either too slow or out of position to pursue her, Domino makes a break for the target building.
Lishka ran through the darkened streets, dodging from doorway to doorway, horrified by the number of yellow "quarantine" posters and fatality markers plastered to doors and windows. Not so far away she can hear the sound of pounding Mech feet. Dodging into an alley, she watches the Urban Mech plod down the street where she stood only moment ago, streams of tracer fire erupting from it's stubby auto-cannon. Steam rises from the surface of the over-heating machine. She notices an old mop handle out of the corner of her eye and briefly considers bluffing the pilot of the machine with an "inferno launcher" but dismisses it. That would be a stupid idea, she reckons. The damn things were so new he might never even have heard of them. Besides, a satchel charge would be more threatening. Quickly, she searches through a nearby dumpster for a discarded satchel, school bag. Even a shopping bag. But she can't find any. Pity. Capturing a mech, even an Urbanmech, with a bit of rubbish would have been a real salve to her ego. Shrugging, she watches the Urbanmech ascent to the roof of a nearby building on jets of fire, and jogs on towards the target building.
[Yes, we actually considered doing this in game.]
"Urbanmech at hex 1720, heading north" she comms.
Domino reaches the target building without incident, disabling a handful of large laser turrets on the way. On the roof, a portly, coffee-skinned gentleman waves for her attention.
"Mr Iqbal I presume?" she issues via loudspeaker.
The portly gentleman steps onto the Javelins hand and, after being settled onto the Mech's shoulder, soon finds his way to the cock-pit. Below, an unmarked van pulls into the street, leaving the underground parking garage with all lights extinguished.
"That's it", Ranger exclaims, "we've got the package. Keep these guys busy Vike. I'm going to extract Lishka".
"No, no, you big lug." comes the Russian-accented rebuttal."Don't you realise there's a civilian driving that vehicle? Into a 'Mech brawl? In a crowded city? Have them rendevous with me at Hex 1194. I'm driving them out of here."
Ranger ignores her, "no Mech, no vote." is his reply (much to Lishka's fury! All the more so because she's still the boss -as she see's it- and partially because she still has another Mech back on Galatea. No way is she letting anyone imply that she is dispossessed!)
While Vike performs an altogether impressive display of holding off the Blackjack AND the damaged Urban Mech on his own [the Vulcan has long since withdrawn] Ranger tries to scoop up Lishka. However, she dodges his Mech's sweeping hand and dives into a building. Shortly thereafter, both she and the van arrive at the new rendevous point more or less simultaneously and Ranger gives up. Lishka pushes her way into the drivers seat.
"Hi Kids. Who likes fair-ground rides?"
She immediately takes not of how sick and pale the family looks, and very much hope's it's due to fear rather than disease. Even so, she resigns herself to a long period in Quarantine, and takes off down the road at break-neck speeds while Vike, Domino and Ranger cover their escape.
Plain sailing from here on in.
|Death of a Javelin|
"Sweet Christ what was that!" exclaims the family chauffeur, a huge explosion lighting up the sky a hundred metres or so to their left." For a moment, Lishka can't answer. She's too buys listening to the angry shouts in her com-bead. In a quiet voice, she mutters back to him
"That was daddy's ride!"
Not far away, Domino, with a fat man buckledon her lap, shoots into the air in her ejector seat, straining not only from the G's, but from the added weight of the fat man on her lap, magnified several times from gravity's pull.
Suddenly, it looks like Ranger might get to rescue someone after all.
|Outworlds Alliance Urban Mech 13|
Lishka yells into her mic:
"Ranger, you're on extraction duty. Vik, kill that bloody Urbanmech. Don't worry about us. You're just attracting fire to us. I don't want any stray shots hitting us, so just keep away!"
Slamming the accelerator pedal to the floor, she takes corners at insane speeds, driving with all the skill of a professional racer. Street-lights whiz by, and from behind her she can hear the sounds of retching, smell the foul taint of vomit in the air.
Suddenly, streaks of tracer light up the air either side of the civilian model van. Impacts shake the back end of the vehicle, and she nearly loses it, skidding as she takes a corner..
"Those f***king sons of B**** are shooting at us! That bloody Urbanmech is trying to kill us. Toast the b******".
Several hundred metres away, Vik disengages from the Blackjack, launching himself into the air on a bed of jump-flames. He immediately switches fire to the murderous Urban-mech on the roof-top, his missiles peppering across it's chest. But it's the last of his ammunition. Now he's down to his medium laser alone. Not far away, the Urbanmech ignores him, sending round after round of autocannon fire towards the fleeing van with it's precious, vulnerable human cargo.
Releasing a berserker roar, Vike leaps atop the Urbanmech's roof! Too late the other pilot see's the danger, trying to turn his ponderous Mech to face the Foxhounds Valkyrie. With a casual gesture that belies the pilots, triumphant rage, Vike's pushes the murderous bastard and his machine off the building's roof, to tumble brokenly to the street three stories below.
As the red-smear across his vision clears, Vike hear's Rangers relieved shout through the comm, "I've got Iqbal in the cockpit with me. Dom's fine too. Crazy little Marik b***h is strapping herself to my Mech's left leg!"
Relieved, Lishka takes another corner and sees a long, straight highway in front of her. A quick glance in the mirror and she knows she's in the clear. She grin's wildly.
"We're clear boys. Just a long straight at high speeds and we're home free. Disengage and oh F***K!"
Desperately, she wrenches the steering wheel, cutting down a side street while the long, deadly hull of a Rommel tank swings onto the highway from an off-ramp.
"Jesus boys, they've got tanks now! Frikking tanks!"
The 2nd Alliance Armoured has arrived.
[3 of them, in fact. All in nice, heavy tanks: a Rommel, a Patton and a Von Luckner!]
|Battle Rages over the City|
Once again, Vik is forced to switch fire. He's managed to damage the Urbanmech sufficiently to force it's withdrawl from the field, helped in no small part by a few well placed shots from Ranger's large laser. But with Domino strapped to his Mech's leg and their employer in his cockpit, the other pilot is understandably reluctant to expose his Mech to further fire.
While Ranger performs the bug-out boogie, Vik loos for the Blackjack. He knows it's around here somewhere, but these damaged buildings and twisted re-bar are playing havoc with his mag-scans. But it was here, and it was hunting Lishka and the kids.
Not far away, Lishka shook her head to clear it of the budgies singing in orbit around it. She craned her neck over her shoulder, looking at the wife and kids in the back seats through the corner of one eye while keeping the other fixed firmly on the road. She didn't have time to ask if they were all-right. She'd barely avoided that third tank, and clipped the side of a tree in the process. She'd lost the mirror then, it's shattered glass speckling her face with small cuts. She could feel the blood beading on her skin even now. Still, better the rear-view mirror than the windshield.
"Hold on!" She stamped her foot to the floor again, las-fire and tracers lighting up the night around her, and the car raced off towards the welcoming darkness of the forest ahead.
"We're in the woods. We're in the woods. Bug out, bug out! Objective complete!"
Behind her and to her left, half-a-mile away, Ranger lumbered into the woods, Vike's Valkyrie marching backwards alongside, trading fire with the crippled enemy Mechs and slow moving tanks all the way to the dropsite.
She should have felt elated, but instead, she just felt troubled.
They'd lost two Mechs, including her precious, irreplaceable Raven, and "rescued" a diseased family from a Quarantine zone. Was keeping faith with the contract worth placing the whole Inner Sphere at risk? What would this do the Fox Hound's good name?