We use a house rule that a crew of a destroyed vehicle gets 2d6 hits, giving them some chance of survival (10/36)
For the stats of the Rhino, see here.
Gienah HPG, April 3015, Gienah Automotiv research lab 12
5 AM, the first light of dawn appeared at the horizon. There was something odd about it, untill Deborah realized that the oddness was perfectly logical: she was no longer on Earth. She was on Gienah to complete a mission. Behind her she could see her unit, but she did not see any reaction in the compound almost half a mile away. A minor research lab, but one with a top quality computer division. No materials and the mainframe was reputedly stored in a deep vault. Hardly an interesting target... until now. The memory banks had been brought here. Three at only 200kg each, it should fit easy in the packrat.
Again she looked at the tactical picture. The compound lay next to a small river which meandered through a this valley. No bridges, but it looked fordable close to her position. A small town lay in the distance but the SOP told them to stay clear of any urban environment. A barbed wire fence, but no defensive turrets and no indication of mined areas. Solid four to six storey buildings, scattered over the terrain: handy against airstrikes or artillery - less usefull against a ground assault. Still she did not find the nasty surprise she was sure was waiting for them.
Scorpion One rev'ed its engine to climb a hill, but Steve was quickly checked by Joshua in the Galleon. Deborah was sure that the compound had discovered their presence, but still nothing happened.
"Quiet isn't it, captain?" Galil remarked, bringing his Stinger close to her Wolverine, "Perhaps they're hoping we will pass them by."
Deborah took a deep breath to steady her nerves, her second raid and this could break her command: "Split, Rocky, Fire One and Two to G4, other Mechs and retrieval to E3."
The two vehicle lances and Peter Ronson in Trebuchet 'Rocky' stayed on the far side of the river, moving towards a hill opposite the compound, while 'Main' consisting of four mechs with the Packrat and Galleon forded the river and went for the compound proper.
-- 3 hours before --
The Warriors camp should have been in total rest. They were 40 kilometers behind the 'front' and designated to be shipped out as soon as dropship space would be available. Technically they were still in Marik employ, but it was clear that their contract would be cancelled as soon as they had jumped. Even with their rating the FWL liason did not want their contract to be picked up by the Lyrian Commonwealth. Deborah knew this, as did lieutenant Joshua Goldbau and sergeant Ariben Arbi.
They sat in Deborah small tent next to a tiny radio extension, having crawled from the command tent: Deborah had won to many combat simulations by using head hunters, so she was not planning to fall for that herself. She was glad it was dry and above zero - their billets were a disused refugee camp, with two taps and one cold shower as main conveniances. If they stayed here longer she might want to rig something to keep morale up.
"Joshua, can you wake me and Ariben when anything comes up? It might not happen tonight."
"Of course, capta-", as the radio started issuing command codes. The quality of the signal was bad, as usual. Each party did their utmost to interfere with the others transmissions, so messages were sent over multiple channels with repeats. Still gaps in commands occured.
Deborah listened, while Joshua made sure the commands were recorded and Ariben took notes. Afterwards they checked each others results.
"I can only conclude that we're ordered on a silent raid to retrieve the missing memory cores.", Ariben concluded, "our call sign was a bit mangled but the code for secondary mercenary unit is clear."
"Shouldn't we check? I'm not a hundred percent sure it is our call sign", Joshua said.
"No", Deborah answered, "first because the FWL communications protocol forbids acknowledging silent raids." She did not continue with the second reason: she could feel Rho's far reaching hands.
"Shall I wake the whole unit?" Joshua proposed.
"I don't think so", Deborah mused after some thought, "we need units for plan B. Ariben, you can have 8 vehicles and the Dervish, Locust, and Spider. Joshua and I are going to comply with the rest of the units."
-- Dawn is breaking --
Wolverine Aurora captain Deborah Hansen (4/3) Wolverine Horizon cadet Micheal Ironford (5/5) Stinger Jester corporal Galil Elajeh (6/4) PhoenixHawk Dancer cadet Wanda van Buren (5/4) retrieval: Galleon Control lieutenant Joshua Goldbau (4/4) Packrat -1 cavalier Joshi Mazim (4/4) fire-1: Trebuchet Rocky cadet Peter Ronson (6/5) APC -5 cavalier Misha Shen (5/5) Scorpion -1 recruit Steve mcLadin (5/5) Scorpion-S -3 cavalier Simon Petrovski (5/4) Scorpion-S -4 cavalier Achmed Hablad (5/4) fire-2: Striker -1 cavalier Eli Lwanbak (5/5) Striker -2 recruit Alfred ter Haar (5/5) APC-W -3 cavalier Joab Alison (4/4) APC-W -4 recruit Henry Rawwings (6/5)
The first rays of the sun cleared the hills and lit the top of some buildings as the four mechs closed on the fence. The Stinger 'Jester', Galeon and Packrat lagged behind as they had had some problems with the ford, while Micheal in his Wolverine 'Horizon' and Wanda in her Phoenix-Hawk 'Dancer' flanked her Wolverine 'Aurora'. Her mechs sensors suggested vehicle startups and even a few tremors of heavy units. Still, her tracking and targeting system stayed empty.
"Reached position", Eli in Striker-One reported. The two Strikers and three Scorpions would be useful, the three APCs... well, they could defend firebase from infantry attacks. Again Deborah wished she had better equipment or that Mu had vetted an infantry platoon.
"Clear for firing, this is a valid military target", Deborah replied a little frustrated: Peter Ronson, as the mech pilot, should have informed her, but, charming as he was, he had no discernable leadership qualities - nor tactical insight. Not that she rated Eli much higher, but Eli had managed to flush all the rust out of the waters mains, and enthusiasticaly took the lead in any physical excercise. Comstar tought people to work.
500 yards from the outer perimeter the arc lights over the fence were activated, although that made little difference with the rising sun. "Advan- What?!", as Deborah suddenly discovered multiple blips on the far side of the compound, "Main, sensors, long range, identify"
"League-mercenary IFF", Wanda used her advanced PHawks sensors.
"Confirmed", Deborah acknowledged, "Mech lance, two vehicles. Main: slow down ." She quickly switched to General Tactical frequency, but was interupted on her Private Priority line.
"Plan B activated without alpha assets", Aribens voice sounded calm. 'without alpha assets?' She did not know that code. What was he trying to tell her? She unconsciously slowed down some more and then she got it. 'No mechs'. Damn.
"Captain?", Joshuas voice pulled her back to here and now. She saw that the Lyrians finally took action and that several vehicles came to meet them: three Packrats and a City-Striker. Between the buildings the shape of a Commando could be briefly seen.
"Engage", she ordered and switched to the GT channel, "Why
were we not informed of your unit presense?" - attack was the best
"Silent raid on sensor packages", came the answer, "what's your mission?"
"High command got its orders tangled up again, we're here for a few memory cores" Deborah hoped that it would do the trick.
"Stay away from our objective. Out."
'Ah', Deborah thought, 'paid by mission result - no problem for us.'
Her mech lance was attacking the vehicles, but fire-base was shooting at something in the compound. The Packrats, Striker and Commando tried to close in as quickly as possible to use their numerous short ranged missiles, and Deborahs unit tried to use their range advantage. "Fire-base, what is your target?", while she retured fire on the Commando. Her mechs got damaged, but they succesfully protected retrieval and damaged their lightly armored opponents in turn.
"Two heavy mechs, and some vehicles", replied Ronson. 'Not good', Deborah though as the ordered her mechs to close in. The vehicles and Commando had come to close in their drive to use their weapons, so she closed to point blank and kicked against the damaged leg of the Commando, which folded and the pilot ejected. None of the other pilots had as much control and the Jester almost fell, but a salvo of the Horizons missile launcher destroyed a Packrat.
The vehicles now tried to disengage, seeing that the mechs were to heavy for them, when a lrm salvo and a ppc hit the Jester, destroying one jump port.
"Horizon, with me", Deborah said seeing a Griffin firing, "Others, vehicles". She also noticed that the other Marik mercenaries took their time closing in, clearly letting the Warriors doing the work. 'A Griffin and two unknown heavies, this is gonna be close', as she pressed forwards: the Griffin was dangerous at range, but vulnerable close in. A sudden explosion on the location she just left added to her misgivings 'artillery too': "Units, spread out!"
The Griffin jumped back, trying to keep range on the Wolverines, but positioned itself visible to fire-base. A huge barrage of missile fire resulted in a sudden spike on infra-red: they had breached its engine core.
A second artillery hit landed between the vehicles of Fire-base, but their spread-out placement meant that only 1 Scorpion got some damage.
"We've got one heavy", Ronson cheered as the Griffin retreated. "It's a medium, idiot", Deborah shouted as she mentally changed the list of opponents.
With a thunderous sound a low, squad mech jumped over a building, landing near the Galleon. On one side hung a huge autocannon, which shredded the hapless vehicle in one salvo. The Dancer hit it with a large laser, but that hardly dented its hide. Aurora and Horizon tried to damage it with their autocannons, but the hits did little to impress it.
As the defending vehicles had taken distance, Deborah called all mechs to focus the fire on the unknown mech. Wanda named it: "A Loki Rhino, look out!" A salvo of its cannon removed all remaining armor of the left leg of the Aurora, but the concentrated fire of 4 mechs was a little much, and it jumped back behind a building.
The other mercenaries were still on long range. The seemed to have two Blackjacks, as they shot at the compound on extreme range. The retrieval Packrat stopped next to the wrecked Galleon: "We've got the crew, and they are still alive!"
Keeping together as they were now between the buildings and safe for the artillery, they pressed for the main research dome, while Fire-base dueled with 3 lrm15 strikers. Fire-base crept closer to get within the short range of the lrms as well as trying to evade the artillery. The Rhino jumped in to damage the Horizon, which nearly fell, but was hit seven times in return, now showing damage.
"Retrieval enter!", as the Aurora kicked in the domes main doors, and the SRM-Scorpion-4 exploded in a huge fireball. Deborah wanted to send a mech to hunt the Steiner Strikers, but the Rhino blocked that route and non of her mechs could handle a rear shot from that cannon. She now saw the other mercenaries quickly closing in and entering some supply sheds.
A second explosion meant the end of Striker-2, as retrieval signaled success. "Disengage!", Deborah called, frustrated by loosing men. The packrat sped out of the compound while the mechs used their jumpjets to retreat - firing as the went. The other mercenaries exited the sheds, carrying some cases, and ran. Deborah wondered for a moment - they were hardly carrying their full load - then saw a multitude of blips on her long range radar and her seismic sensors indicated a heavy company.
Regrouping with Fire-base they retreated towards the Leagues position, pursued by eight heavy lyrian mechs, an Archer and Warhammer on front. She managed to keep her unit together and out of range, till a second heavy unit blocked her path. Looking at the map it was clear that most of her tanks would not reach the Marik lines - unless - unless - "Vector 105, full speed", she ordered as they slipped between the jaws of the Steiner mechs. That route went strait towards the main Steiner base, but before that they would see the HPG. They would just surrender to ComStar and be sent of world after paying the fine for 'bringing combat material on ComStar grounds'. And of course she could only deliver the raided equipment after she had been interned for some time.
Why did Rho make her always feel like a puppet on a string? And how was Ariben doing?