Gienah orbit, April 3015, Recovery
The burn in of the Buccaneer was a slow affair: although the engines were rated on 1.5G standard burn, the captain prefered to keep the acceleration below the 0.8G. Ariben watched the radar screen on the bridge, where 2 blips were rapidly closing in. The radio crackled to life: "Identify yourself, Trader".
The captain answered, "This is Buccaneer the 'Traders Pride' with wheels and suspension parts for Gienah automotive, Plextor location."
"That is within the battle zone, captain, you are adviced to detour.", the Seydlitz pilot replied.
"What is the nearest allowed LZ", the captain asked. It was silent for some time. Then the answer came: "Gustaff airbase, we will accompany you." Ariben nodded, so far, so good.
"Why did you insist that I named my ships type? They must have recognised it from my engine emission."
"Actually, I did not. I just wanted you to tell them what our mission was. That they misunderstood it is not your fault. By doing so you declared yourself a legal combatant, so they can not object to your actions."
"What if they enter atmosphere with us?", a rather worried captain inquired.
"They won't", Ariben sounded as confident as he felt. "Both sides have a huge shortage on aerospace fighters and dropships. Why risc a failed re-entry when you don't have to. Both sides use dropships for supplies and neither side dares to risc their few space assets to attack the other. Don't worry, we're just another antique freighter."
The captain was upset by Aribens description of his beloved ship, but thought better of replying. Instead he said: "I hope you can get those two fuel pumps and new altitude truster!"
"Captain, we showed you the HPG confirmation that we have placed the pumps in escrow, didn't we? Only fifty years old and well taken care of. Don't worry, we'll be fine."
Re-entry was fine, if you counted the fact that the fighters left them. It was less well on the stability front. The damaged truster and the sputtering fuel pumps resulted in a very bumpy ride. Ariben was tossed in his safety harness, for once happy with his bulky cooling suit. He wondered how the other vehicle crews were coping. A sudden jolt and the engines winded down: they had landed. Both doors were already opening. "Go, go, go!", Ariben yelled.
Gustaff Airbase was a typical example of the necessities of war: because both sides lacked transportation capacity, they built temporary airbases close to the front. Because they were close to the front, each consisted of a few landing beacons, a makeshift control tower, a landing pit and runway, and a few simple sheds. Nothing was stored here permanently, goods in transit were moved as soon as possible.
"Go, go, go!", Ariben yelled. Vedette-2 and the Scorpion were quickly out of the doors, techs diving to the side after they had punched the quick release clamps, but it took the next pair far to long to line up. A query from the control tower was ignored by the Traders Pride captain, and Ariben knew that they needed to disembark fast. The Scorpion-S '1' and '2' finally managed to get on their ramps. Outside the Lyrian defenders reacted with a pair of rapidly closing Packrats. The Vedette-1 and Scorpion had climbed the landing pits walls and opened fire, but their shots went wide. The Packrats swerved and went for the landing pits access route.
"Mech sighted, repeat mech - Shit Two mechs sighted, big ones!", signaled Samson in the Vedette.
"APCs, you're next", it was a gambit to go out last, but it took time to release his tank and the chances were he would get stuck in a cargo door, blocking others behind him.
"Two more Packrats, mechs are a Rifleman and a frigging Charger - It is running towards us", came further information. The Pride shuddered a bit as it was hit by the distant Rifleman. The Steiner forces clearly focussed on the vulnerable dropship.
Both APCs had little problem getting on the ramp. Their use would be limited, but at the least they could run interference and block infantry crossing the open tarmac. Ariben wished they had better equipment, even more Vedettes would do. "AC/5s attack the Rifleman, others engage the Packrats."
The two Scorpion-S tanks started an srm battle with the first Packrats, superior fire power against superior maneuvrability as the Vedette and Scorpion swerved around the Charger, who clearly wanted to run into the Buccaneer's weakly armoured aft section.
"Incoming fire vehicles, attacking Rifleman", radio'ed Samson, as Aribens crew carefully aligned the huge tank and their last unit, a Packrat, sneaked outside.
"Ariben, the Charger is here", Barak yelled from his Scorpion-S as he managed to blow out the wheels from one Packrat. Hearing this the Thunder wrenched itself outside, scraping the cargo doors rim. Already aiming at the Chargers vector the twin AC/20 let go at the Charger at point blank range. One hit the left leg, the other the center torso. Although neither breached the armour, the unexpected impact blew the Charger of its feet and instead of ramming the Dropship it fell and skidded stoping only meters from the Dropship.
"Look out", came a desperate cry from cavalier Helborn, as she blocked a incomming firefighters vehicle. The front scoop just folded the APC's side armour as the crew stood no chance of escaping. A twin blast from the Demolisher destroyed the second firefighter truck, while the war of attrition went on between the two Scorpion-S tanks, the APC and three remaining Steiner Packrats: a Scorpion-S and the APC got their tracks destroyed, but a Packrat exploded and a second Packrat had lost all forward armour.
An explosion near the control tower focussed Aribens attention on the fight between the Vedette, Scorpion and the enemy Rifleman. Knowing the weak rear armour of the Rifleman, the Scorpion had managed to get a rear shot and penetrated the center rear armour, scoring a critical hit on its ammo magazine. The pilot of the mech was extremely lucky as he was ejected half a second before the explosion consumed his cockpit.
Quiet descended on the airfield as the remaining Steiner Packrats fled, and their Packrat raced to the sheds. "Release the Grasshopper and it's pilot or we will continue hostilities." Ariben pushed his Demolisher on the brink of the landing pit, showing the full might of his tank to whatever units remained in the sheds and control tower, while keeping a good look on the stunned Charger. After a few tense seconds the reply came: "We will not surrender the Charger!"
"So it shall be", Arbiben said, as he waited for Miriam and her mech.
TO&E after Gienah battle
Wolverine Aurora captain Deborah Hansen (4/3) -- Grasshopper Vulcano lieutenant Miriam Ami (5/4) Wolverine Horizon cadet Micheal Ironford (5/5) Dervish Efreeti corporal Gabriel Balawski (6/4) Trebuchet Rocky cadet Peter Ronson (6/5) -- Spider Rusty lieutenant David Everan (6/4) Locust BlackBelt corporal Cato Barasda (5/4) Stinger Jester corporal Galil Elajeh (6/4) PhoenixHawk Dancer cadet Wanda van Buren (5/4)
Galleon Controllieutenant Joshua Goldbau (4/4) -- Demolisher Thunder sergeant Ariben Arbi (6/4) APC -5 cavalier Misha Shen (5/5) Vedette -1recruit Renier de Labol (5/5) Vedette -2 recruit Samson Bukatin (6/4) -- Striker -1 cavalier Eli Lwanbak (5/5) Striker -2 recruit Alfred ter Haar (5/5)Scorpion -1 recruit Steve mcLadin (5/5) Scorpion -2 recruit Pepe Dadona (6/5) -- Scorpion-S -1 cavalier Sheba K'Tangl (6/4) Scorpion-S -2 cavalier Barak Barasda (6/3) Scorpion-S -3 cavalier Simon Petrovski (5/4) Scorpion-S -4 cavalier Achmed Hablad (5/4)-- APC -1 cavalier Hamal Gudeon (4/4) APC -2 recruit Suzy Helborn (5/5)APC-W -3 cavalier Joab Alison (4/4) APC-W -4 recruit Henry Rawwings (6/5) -- Packrat -1 cavalier Joshi Mazim (4/4) Packrat -2 cavalier Levi Strauss (6/4)