Sector coding is 0-0 for center, 12 radials, circle-1 is inner defence, circle-2 is outer defence, circle-3 is patrol

Mara Northen Isles, december 3015: Contact!

Wanda sat in her Phoenix-Hawk, checking her arm movement. She could not be sure but it almost seemed there was a kind of 'pulling' there. She had talked to the techs but they told her that a checkout would mean stripping the arms bare, and that would take far to much time as they needed all their time getting the 'Dwarf' operational. An odd name for an odd mech, Wanda mused, very vulnerable on an open battlefield, but extremely dangerous in close range. The techs finished last night, perhaps she could talk to them during lunch.

Those techs, things did not add up: very knowledgable, yes, but they had not the faintest idea how to jury rig something. They were also totally unimpressed by the mechwarriors, but did listen to every whim of ms.Hansen. Where had the captain picked them up? Where did the captain come from? One of the core worlds, no doubt, probably League -

*Bleep* Her tactical display lighted up, and the voice of Misha came through her comm: "Vector 12, mech-lance, vehicle-company".

And they were all so formal, first the vector, then the first estimate, that felt more like Davion Guard or Kurita units. She freed the weapon safeties and moved towards vector-12. On her IFF she saw the Dwarf comming online, the Grasshopper was stationary in sector 4-1 and -bleep- there was the Aurora in sector 0-0: "Dancer, eyes, lure towards 1-2".

Wanda put some speed towards the forward position of Misha in her Apc. The orders of captain Hansen in her Wolverine was crisp as always: close in, take a better look and pull them towards the hidden Demolisher and Interdictor. She checked her IFF again: Yup 1 of the Scorpion-S/Apc pairs was in 12-3, the other pairs were to far away to be any use; Packrats? No to far too, and they had orders to watch for infantry sneak attacks.

"Six mechs, Warhammer, company light vehicles, two commands", again Misha. Nice girl, Misha, but a warrior? Where was Barak in his Scorpion-S? He drove badly, but boy could he shoot.

Then she crested a small hill and saw the OpFor: Warhammer, Dragon, Trebuchet in Kuritan type-3 camo and 2 Phoenix-Hawks and a Javelin in a half sea/half desert camo: they seemed to have run out of paint. Goblins, Packrats, trucks, and some unknown ICE vehicles, most Kuritan and some probably mercenary. The mechs had lots of long range power, with the vehicles for the close in stuff... tricky. She reported her findings and received a confirmation.

*Bleep* "Never fear, Horizon is here!", Oh my, Micheal had started his Wolverine.

IFF check again, the 2 Strikers had arrived at the Grasshopper in 4-1, and the standard Scorpions and Vedettes were in 2-1. 3:1 odds to start with and 3:2 when the others would arrive. Wanda was not surprised when she saw the OpFor speed up. This could be painfull.

With some amazement, Wanda heard the captain order the Scorpions to engage. She wondered why the two Vedettes were kept in reserve: they had better armor and better speed, so they at least had some change to disengage. Then she discovered that one of the unknown vehicles had sped up to over 100 klicks and was racing to break through their line. It neatly took a route between her mech and the visible tank lance, skirted through a bushy outcropping - and came to a crumplig halt against it; then the top of the bush turned slightly to reveal twin ac/20s.

*Bleep* the Grasshopper was activated, and she got ordered to harass the OpFors left flank. She jumped towards her right, taken as much cover as she could: engaging 3 mechs and 3 vehicles, would mean a retreating battle towards the Demolisher and then the fire base of the two Wolverines and Vedettes. The OpFor spread wide, clearly trying to envelope the defenders to make sure that none would escape. That meant that the mercenary vehicles moved around her flank, while 2 PHawks moved strait for her and the Javelin went to the center. Most Kuritan vehicles massed in the center, but the mechs split up and advanced with speed firing at long range at the twin Scorpion tanks. She just had time to hear that the Demolisher had secured its first surrender, and to step over a retreating Misha, and then the 2 PHawks were in range.

Sweat poured of Miriam as she and the 2 Strikers sped towards the battle zone. The Grasshopper was far to hot, and her telltales switched between green and yellow. She could not see the battle on the right flank, but for the occasional azure beam in the dusty air and falling trees. On the near left flank she saw the Warhammer and Dragon firing at the Scorpions, who moved even more left, while the Wolverines and Vedettes crept forwards keeping the centre closed.

'To soon', Miriam almost shouted out as the Interdictor left cover to target both the Trebuchet and a fast vehicle. Its barrage inflicted some damage on both but neither was taken out. 'Such a waste of an alpha strike' Miriam thought as she saw the Trebuchet back of, while the Warhammer changed course to attack the Dwarf.

From seemingly out of nowhere Barak popped up in his Scorpion-S. He used the space available by the course change of the Warhammer to stop directly behind the Dragon and he let loose a volley of SRMs. Almost immediatly the Dragon exploded, one of the missiles had penetrated one of its ammo magazines. Miriams happines was short lived, however, as her malfunctioning cooling system burst a pipe in her upper left leg, blocking the main strand of myomer.

Engaged on all sides, Wanda was forced to shift even more to her right, one of her right arm machine guns had blocked on the first salvo, so she had switched all six offline - she had known it! The vehicles turned out to be 2 packrats and a Hetzer, an unexpected and unwelcome surprise. She did little damage, but received little as well, as both parties were using jump, speed, and cover to its utmost. She was lucky, Wanda decided, Kuritan units would have gone all out, but the mercenary clearly did not want to loose equipment. When she got time she looked to her left, but the Demolisher was to slow to give her support and it already was to far from fire-base. The Kuritan vehicles poored to their center, and 4 AC/5s were not enough to stop them, as the Warhammer and Trebuchet fired on the Interdictor who tried to block the rushing vehicles.

The mercenary group suddenly changed targets and engaged the Demolisher, and Wanda was just to far to help it. Attacked by a Hetzer, Packrats and the PHawks it soon was forced to surrender, although it did heavily damage one of the PHawks. Ariben probably knocked wood: almost all mercenaries accepted surrender as a good way of doing business, Kuritans were known to kill surrendering personal.

Better late than never, as Miriam limped past the Strikers who stopped and started an lrm barage on the kuritan vehicles. She saw a mercenary Javelin engaging both Scorpions and noted in the passing that it was a Fire-Javelin, but her mission clearly was the mech battle around the Interdictor. The Warhammer pilot saw her coming with her reduced speed and decided to shorten his range to 180 meters from the Dwarf to give a killing blow with his twin particle cannons. He clearly was not letting himself being influenced by the loss of a Dragon and an unknown design, but had forgotten that she had jumpjets and that the Dwarf could do something else than retreat. Shortening the range to less than 100 meters both the Interdictor and the Grasshopper opened up with everything they got. The Warhammers armor had been fairly pristine, but lasers, missiles and an autocannon hit ripped it to shreds coring both the gyro and the engine. As heat spiked in her cockpit, Miriam almost calmly accepted the retaliation by the Trebuchet. Yet her decision to go for the Warhammer was bitter when she saw the Javelin destroy one of the Scorpions.

The loss of their CO had a clear effect on the Kurtian units. The Trebuchet and 2 vehicles were on the outside of the battlefield and started to retreat, while the center vehicles went beserk and went full against fire-base. She decided to help the remaining Scorpion against the Fire-Javelin. It evaded and went towards the complex, but the 2 PHawks and Packrats used her move to quickly encircle the Dwarf, while the Hetzer kept the Dancer at a distance. She saw 3 missile hits on the cockpit and the Dwarf was down, but the second PHawk was no longer undamaged.

Wanda cursed the heavy front armor of the Hetzer. 3 large laser hits, and still no penetration. Her armor was still in pretty good shape, even a 2 on 1 against the other damaged PHawks would give her a fair chance, at least one had an engine breach.

She heard the captain order the Vedettes to hound the Javelin, as the Wolverines and Grasshopper crunched the 6 vehicles in the center by weapons and kicks, helped by another lrm salvo of the Strikers. Of course, she remembered a remark of the captain, 'what use is a reserve if it can not be at the right place in the right time'. The Vedettes where quick enough to make life difficult for a single Javelin, the Scorpions would have been to slow.

"Mercenary Attackers", Wanda heard on the open comm frequentie, "retreat off-planet and we will allow you to leave". She was amazed at the captains audacity, then she checked her IFF: 1 kuritan mech and two vehicles retreating, the mercenary had 3 mechs and vehicles. On their side 4 mechs, with the Wolverines and her PHawk in pretty good shape, and 7 vehicles with 4 more incoming.

The CO of the OpFor must have done the same math, because he quickly acknowledged. One by one targetting systems were switched off. Wanda stretched her arms, a move reminiscent of her stretching the Dancers arms before the battle. Those techs had better listen this time.