Legends and Myths Sixteen- Guest Author!

(Here is the Guest Contributor’s story on the battle fought.  The personalities mentioned in his company:

Command Lance.                                Strike Lance.                                   Recon Lance
Maj. Frank Clyburn – Wolverine.      Lt.Carl Burns – Centurion[X/O]  Lt. E’asbeth Tabayama –Wasp II
M/O Alan Johnson – Hellhound.     SM/O Larry Karlsan – Wyvern   SM/O Cara Davis – Wasp II
SM/O Beth Spelman – Starslayer.  M/O Misty Collins- Spector        M/O James McKay – Jenner
M/O James Mckay – Enforcer.         M/O Karl Liu – Clint.                      M/O Johnny Montgomery- Stinger II


Phoenix Lancers Regimental Quick Response Holding Area
Lancer Command Compound, Auburn Mountains
0638 hours (GMT+2), December 25th 3079. (Alert plus 2 minutes)

   Major Clyburn snapped awake at the sound of the Quick Response Commo Alarm.
He was bunked in his office, after all it was Christmas Day. Drawing Quick Response Duty was a minor pain but who attacks on Christmas.  He turned to the view screen and read the orders.

                 >>>>>> Flash>>>>> Flash>> Emergency Orders 60493859kLs7<<<<<<<
                         This is NOT a Drill        This is NOT a Drill           This is NOT a Drill
                     At 0000hrs an unknown dropship entered the Atmosphere at the Coordinates
                  transmitted to your command data pad. Trajectory suggests the ship was
                  released from a jump ship at a pirate point.  Civilians still in the area have
                  reported seeing battlemechs from a distance in the area.

                      Bravo Company is to move to contact, Identify the Bogies in this sector.
                  If needed Bravo will engage the Bogies and stop their advance.  A support
                  unit of a platoon of battle armor [2 squads Longinus, 2 squads of
                  Achileus] are enroute to your general location in two Maxim hovercraft
                  transport estimated arrival 2 minutes after you reach your general search
                  area. Set your scrambled homing beacon to 6674.2305 and support unit will
                  contact prior to linkup. >>>>>>>>> Command Out<<<<<<<<

    The units transport to the area were three Leopard class dropships, engines already in standby mode for launch. His command and strike lance had preferred to stay in the mechbay rather in the confining conditions of the small mech carriers. The recon lance took the opposite approach. All four members opted to be on board the dropship, planning to hit the bunks and sleep the ready status away.

 Even as he came out of his office, dressed in his mech gear, he saw that the rest of his company was already on the tram hat would take them to their respective dropships.  As they rode to the dropships Senior Mech Officer Beth Spelman leaned towards him. “This really sucks!  What sort of amoral Visigoth attacks on Christmas Day?”

 Major Clyburn looked at her with a half-smile. “Someone who apparently doesn’t have a calendar or a sense of propriety.”  Spelman was of African descent with very dark skin ,but somewhere in her family she inherited pale, almost pastel, grey eyes.

Each tram dropped the lance teams to their respective dropships. As soon as they were aboard, they went to the battlemechs and strapped in, awaiting take off and orders. As soon as Major Clyburn mounted his mech, a Wolverine, he began the power up sequence, typing in the the initial passcode. A computer voice then responded, Initial passcode received, awaiting audio password. The Major responded, “The only easy day was yesterday.”

 There was a pause then the computer spoke again, “Audio password confirmed, startup sequence engaged.”
  Sitting in the command couch he could feel the fusion plant coming to life. The battlemech shuddered as if coming out of a deep slumber. As monitors sprang to life, he could feel the rumble as the Leopard lifted off.  First he went to the internal channel, “Captain Delafave, Do you have both landing and drop coordinates for my unit.

  Delafave was quick to respond “Yes I do…. Major, you’ll just have to give me the heads up on how you want to hit the dirt at the ten minute mark.  It’s a 50-minute air time to there…  Will shoot for 45.”

  Clyburn smiled. He’d worked with this Captain and squadron before, back when HE was a captain during the Occupation. Captain Sal Delafave was a stickler for tradition and aboard his ships there could only be one “Captain”. Those that understood that could expect the utmost respect and help from this squadron and these captains.

 At one time when there was a fear that his company and the support units they were with were going to be overrun, this squadron, which consists of three Leopard mech carriers and an Aurora outfitted as a gunship, made several strafing runs breaking the back of the opposing force.  He received reprimand and a commendation for his actions.  His only response, “Sometimes you just have to tilt at windmills.”

“Aye, Aye Captain, understood.” Clyburn then went to his terminal, transmitting orders to his two lance commanders. The orders were simple. If possible, the company was to soft land at a predesignated landing zone that was capable of handling the dropships. The Aurora gunship was on standby, flying a circuit to cover the landing.  If successful, all four dropships would return to base for their next pickup.  If enemy units were discovered, his company would make a low-level combat drop while the gunship provided cover fire.  Clyburn was receiving telemetry from the ship’s sensors. So were his lance commanders. As soon as they reached the ten-minute mark, He would give the decision on how they would hit the ground.

Sayre River Delta, Continent of Sage
0941 hours (GMT+4), December 25th 3079. [Alert plus 1 Hours]

   No enemy units were discovered enroute, so the soft landing was made. The Leopards circled one by one, landed and dropped off their cargo. First the strike lance which moved out to the four cardinal points to make a perimeter. Next the recon lance, which after disembarking formed up and began moving in the direction of possible enemy contact. Last was the command lance; Major Clyburn hated for his lance to be last in a soft landing, but he discovered quickly that in the heat of a firefight on a hot LZ, it was easy to lose command of your company when outgunned and outnumbered.

  Each drop ship joined the Aurora in its circuit, prepared to give fire support if the landing became “Hot”. Finally, his lance was down, out and formed. The last dropship was lifting off. He received one last wry transmission from Captain Delafave. [Major Thank you for flying Air Chance. I hope you enjoyed the flight. Good Luck and Good Hunting.]
   Major Clyburn replied with something that he knew Delafave would appreciate. “Thank You for the lift, Captain. May you have fair winds and following seas, Clyburn Out.”
The recon lance would be about a half a kilometer ahead by now, so the command and striker lances moved out.

 Sayre River Delta, Continent of Sage
 1059 hours (GMT+4) December 25th 3079. Alert plus 2.5 Hours

   It was just over two hours into movement that the first sensors readings showed signs of the bogies. Lt. E’asbeth Tabayama reported in quickly and any recon unit with ECM gear activated it. It was hoped that the company could close without giving themselves away.

   At this point they were approaching the base of the delta, noted for multiple lakes and deep narrow streams that impeded the movement of non-jumping battlemech, infantry and non-hover/vtol vehicles.  If he could get to the plains ahead, his company would have the bogies caught flat footed in the delta, where their movement would be slowed if not restricted. Major Clyburn brought his Command and Strike lances into a quick trot to catch up with the Recon lance at the base.

Base of the Sayre River Delta, Continent of Sage
  1130 Hours (GMT+4) December 25th 3079. Alert plus 3 Hours

    The three lances formed up on the far end of the river delta base. A large lake on the far-right flank prevented the enemy from making side attacks from there. The delta extended far into the left flank and wold slow the bogies down, giving him time to evaluate the situation outside the delta were two small deep lakes to the right and left that would funnel the enemy into the center.

   As sensors picked up traces of what was coming out of the Delta, Major Clyburn deployed. He placed his recon team on his left flank to counter the sensor information of a light lance moving in from that direction. Lt. E’asbeth Tabayama was in command of two 25-ton Super Wasp, a 25 ton Super Stinger (both machines made on Centaurus) and a 35 ton 3025 era Jenner that had Ben modified with double heat sinks.  She used her lances speed and upgraded streak missiles and pulse lasers to fight quick, down and dirty fights with other light lances.

 To ensure they could close the distance and not fall prey to active electronics like C3 and streak systems, two of her battlemechs carried guardian electronic countermeasure probes. To his left flank, Lt. Karl Burns deployed his Strike lance. More a support lance than strike, the lance consisted of Lt. Burn’s modified Centurion, a Wyvern, a Spector and a Liao model Clint. Placing them in front of the small lake on the right flank could be problematical.
As they had the delta to their right flank and Lt. Burn’s Centurion, although fast, was the only mech in the unit not equipped with jump jets.  Clyburn thought it best to keep them on the flank easiest to defend where the Centurion’s multi missile launcher and the Wyvern’s long range ten rack could harass and damage any enemy mired in the delta’s many wide running streams.
   His own Command lance would take up a position between the two large ponds. His was the heaviest of the three lances consisting of his Wolverine, a captured clan Hellhound, a Starslayer and an upgraded Enforcer.  He used his units size and speed to draw as much fire as possible, allowing the other lances to strike, sometimes with impunity.

   Although there was some room for maneuver closer to the end of the delta as it closed to the lakes solid ground narrowed making a bottleneck. On his right flank, Lt Burns could harass with missiles and on his left Lt Tabayama’s light lance could stall his opponents light lance with minimal fear of reinforcements driving them off.  Because he was positioned at the far end of the ponds he could shift, using all or part of his lance to reinforce Lt. Tabayama while Lt. Burns shifted left and covered the center.

Base of the Sayre River Delta, Continent of Sage
  1145 Hours (GMT+4) December 25th 3079.

“Bravo Eyes to Bravo Actual, you’re not going to believe this!”  Lt. Tabayama’s transmission made him pay closer attention to the mechs sloshing through the streams and the scrub oak in the distance.  To his left he could see the light lance, a Stinger, two Commandos, and a Jenner.

 On his right, he saw what looked like a modified Catapult, a Grasshopper, a Griffin, and a QuickDraw. Then he looked in the center and realized what Tabayama was so stressed about.  Coming out of the final streams in the delta were a Phoenix Hawk and a new mech they had seen only once, a Fire Hawk. It was a fast moving forty tonner, carrying small pulse lasers (two in each torso) and two plasma rifles, one in each arm. A hit from even one of those plasma rifles not only did damage equivalent to a PPC, it also could raise your heat levels.  Raise them to the point of restricting movement, weapons fire and in one instance causing a shutdown…

 It was what was slowing struggling out after them that caught his attention. A Battlemaster assault mech, bearing many repair scars, was stepping out into the final stream of the delta. It was flanked by something that sent a cold chill through Major Clyburn… An Atlas, one hundred tons of pure death wrapped in a light mechs worth of armor was moving towards them.

 The giant mech hesitated and shifted as if looking around before stepping into the final knee deep stream and began sloshing its way slowly to the opposite bank. [What’s the plan boss?] Beth Spelman’s transmission broke his mental lock on the two assault mech, as models famous for taking on and destroying multiple opponents came closer and closer. He thought quickly on his options and retreating was out of the question. The lands behind them for several kilometers was nothing but open grasslands.

  The long-range weapons of those mech would eat away at his unit, slowly destroying it. Neither was was a close-range stand-up fight, this enemy would use the assault mechs as a base and beat his unit into the ground. There was a saying his old TAC instructor use to use to describe this, taken from an archaic play, “Whether the pitcher hit the stone or the stone hits the pitcher …… it’s always bad for the pitcher”.

 Except in this case, he was the pitcher and had to find a way to crack the stone. Just then the target lock klaxon went off.

   What can only be described as a white glowing blob sped past his mech on the right and hit Johnsons Hellhound even as a gauss rifle round blew by his Wolverine at the speed of sound. “Everyone jump for cover!” He shouted orders even as he worked out the details of the plan in his head. “Keep Moving, Make yourself as hard a target as possible until they get into our optimum range. Bravo eyes close and attack their light lance- keep that small lake on your right flank. This is that same company we fought to a draw five months ago. Bravo Strike, keep shifting your position-use the available cover. Johnson, report! What’s your damage?”

  Alan Johnson was the most junior member of his company, at twenty years old. He had only been piloting a mech in a line unit for the past six months. To everyone else he was treated like the little brother they never had. To the Major it seemed that they coddled him and covered for him.  He saw that as a mistake; sooner or later he’d make a grievous error and get himself or someone else killed. To solve the problem he made him his wingman and then they trained together. Johnson was at first offended, feeling that the Major had no faith in him. Major Clyburn spoke bluntly to him, ”You’re here to cover my back. If I’m hard on you when we train together it’s because I want the best out of you. You’ve got great potential and I don’t want it ruined by backsliding.” After that, Johnson trained harder than he’d ever seen him do before. The downside was that Johnson was now his self-appointed bodyguard, not always visible but never far away.  When asked about it, Johnson would smile and reply “Just practicing.”

    Johnson’s transmission came through [Cap, lost a little armor on my leg. I’m good though.]   Johnsons Hellhound and his Wolverine broke right, moving into a heavy thicket of trees. McKay’s Enforcer jumped right, landing on a small hill giving him a view of the battlefield. Spelman’s Starslayer moved right along with the Wyvern, Centurion, Spector and Clint of the Support Lance. From this vantage point, Clyburn could see his recon lance close with and battle with the light lance on his left flank. Two Commandos a Stinger and a Jenner faced his own two Super Wasps, the Super Stinger and Jenner. The two units closed and shifted, a knife fight with energy weapons, quick and dirty.

 Another group of mechs, a Griffin, Catapault, Grasshopper and QuickDraw was swinging far right to deal with the five mech team he had shift to his far right flank. Sporadic long range missile fire could be seen as the two groups maneuvered for position. The Atlas, Battlemaster, Phoenix Hawk, and FireHawk seemed content to use them as target practice, closing the distance and using inaccurate cover fire.

  At least part of the plan was working. This company out massed his company and had more firepower.  If they had come straight down their throats en-masse, they would have rolled over his troops. By spreading out he’d forced them to do the same, buying the one thing he needed most, time. Hopefully enough time for reinforcements to show before he’s cut to ribbons.

   As the distance closed both units began to fire in earnest. Each side had scored some minor hits. Clyburn went to the second part of his plan. “Execute the double shift now”, He ordered.

The Major took advantage of the one of the few advantages he had, every mech in his unit save Burn’s Centurion was jump-capable.  His Wolverine and Johnsons Hellhound jumped across the narrow portion of the lake on the left flank and joined the fight with Tabayama’s light lance. At the same time Burns Centurion, McKay’s Enforcer and Spelman’s Starslayer formed together in the wooded areas in between the lakes- providing harassing, and hopefully distracting, fire against the assault mechs in the center. The Clint and the Spector moved to the far side of the lake on the right flank with Karlsan’s Wyvern moving slowly to support. If this worked, it would draw the enemies second heavy lance away long enough to destroy their recon lance.

   During the next minute the plan worked perfectly. An enemy Commando was the first to go hit by multiple mechs. The damage was so severe, its pilot punched out his ejection seat rocketing him clear of the battlefield area. The second Commando suffered the same fate a few seconds later, a hit in its SRM bins destroying it from within. The enemy Jenner, after suffering several critical hits, was run to ground and destroyed by Clyburn and his wingman.

  The Stinger trying to escape found himself surrounded by the entire light lance. The mass fire of the light lance destroyed the mech in a pyrotechnic light show. The Lake had cut off any chance of reinforcements and allowed Bravo Company to mark short work of the light lance with only damage to armor.

 “Bravo Actual to all units, execute second shift now.”  At his command the Wolverine and the Hellhound jumped back over the lake. The Centurion, Starslayer and Enforcer shifted to the left flank to join them. The Wyvern continued to cover the movement of the Clint and Spector. The recon lance jumped deeper into the delta, using jump jets to move from solid ground to solid ground flanking and moving in behind the enemy center.

   The battle became a chaotic mess after that, with both side moving and lots of misses, but more hits on his company than Clyburn would have liked. HIs light lance reappeared out of the delta and mass attacked the Atlas, using speed and jump jets to avoid the damage that would destroy them in one volley.  Montgomery’s Super Stinger didn’t fare so well in the ploy. A hit from a gauss rifle round and a medium laser ripped away all of his right torso, the arm dropped from the body. His lance mates continued to harry the Atlas, allowing his mech the time it needed to stagger away into a copse of trees.

 Meanwhile on the right flank, the Griffin, Catapult and Grasshopper seemed to have sensed the ploy and were swinging around to move back to the center. The QuickDraw pilot seemed determined to turn the flank against the Spector and the Wyvern. Karl LIu’s Clint was trailing the three right flank opponents, firing and trying to draw them away from the center.
 After scoring a few minor hits, the Grasshopper and Griffin turned their attention to him and now it was a game of run, jump and dodge for Liu. As both mechs chased him with a vengeance. Liu was fighting back, but it was a losing battle, and he was too far away for anyone to help.

   At about this time the enemy FireHawk roamed into the crossfire of the Enforcer and the Starslayer. The large lasers flayed armor from the body, but it was the PPC hit striking the head and the cockpit that dropped the mech to the ground.  But the cost was high- the enemy Phoenix Hawk laid open the armor of his wing man and the light lance’s Jenner lost an arm and most of a torso. Clyburn swept through the sensor data. Many of his company on this side of the field had little or no armor left. LIu’s Clint was down, so was Montgomery’s Stinger. The enemy was slowly forming in the center and if they made the push there would be a fight…… one he would lose. Collins’ Spector and Karlsan’s Wyvern were fighting with the enemy QuickDraw which had ignored the others and broken into the right flank rear. Just then his headset came to life. [Bravo Actual, Bravo Actual this is Caveman One. I’m on your Beacon, time to you is one minute.]
   His reinforcements were arriving, but even with them he wasn’t completely sure he could hold this position.

That’s when it hit him. “Caveman One- enter hot using evasive maneuvers.” He got the Affirmitive from the reinforcements. Then switched to a broad beam channel.  “To the enemy forces,” he said “You have lost almost half your force. If you look behind me, you’ll see my reinforcements arriving. I hold this ground as per my contract. Withdraw now and there will be no pursuit. Pickup your men as you will, but salvage rights are mine.”

  He had chosen his words carefully. By using the word “contract” he’d announced himself as another mercenary and that he wouldn’t throw his men away simply to prove a point. The Atlas’s head was scanning the area behind him, doubtlessly noting the rising dust of an approaching unit. The Atlas backed slowly to the edge of the delta. And those mechs still standing moved toward the delta.

 “All Bravos this is Bravo Actual, hold your fire. Hold your position and standby.”  The seven mechs left of the opposing company, some heavily damaged, moved into the delta to disappear. The Atlas, last to move into the swampland, faced his Wolverine, raised its right hand as a salute, then turned and disappeared into the moss, fog and scrub oak.

 [Cap, what was that all about?] Johnson asked over the lance channel.

“Well”, Clyburn said, “It was a salute to the victor and something else.” The Major stared into the delta as if looking for something. “We just got put on notice”, he said in a low voice, “He’s s not done with us.”

Author: John T

Warrior-Sage and full time healer. Gamer and Arm Chair Analyst (who isn't these days?) who isn't afraid to read up on what I don't know.

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