Local Space, Gamma 1551 System
In the ensuing hours from notification to now, the inbound unidentified warships became identified on their way in. Per the databases on the Wolverine ships (updated in exchange for navigation records with the Ghost Bears), all three of them had classes identified- and in cases of the two Essex ships, names.
When hails were finally answered, Commander Callahan could only shake his head at the utter arrogance of the inbound flotilla. Attempts to parley with them were met with curses and diatribes, being called dezgra, and a pronouncement of Death before the inbound ships disconnected communications. Smartly, the flotilla’s Jump Ships lagged behind their escorts and as they closed on the planet, detached drop ships in an attempt to end run past the Fleet to the world.
Callahan, noting that he could either go after the dropships with his fighters and the Yukon to deal with them or concentrate all his combat power on the inbound warships and let the ground side deal with the invaders, chose the latter and informed Hollister of the decision. It was the wiser choice, really; Even with the power of the Mustafa (a Black Lion battlecruiser) and the State of Grace (an Aegis cruiser), fighting a relic like a Du Shi Wang battleship was a long day at the office if they could not flank her- that class of ship was designed for the frontal assault with its armored nose. Considering it had a pair of Essex destroyers as helper, getting into position would be a chore.
But one that was doable- the Essex class was not known for taking punishment… and these captains did not seem to recognize that, considering they were not maneuvering to take advantage of their broadside Naval PPCs.
Within minutes of the engagement beginning, it became apparent that the Inbound crews were not well drilled with their vessels. The State of Grace struck first as she fired sequentially during a swooping arc to starboard, her guns stabbing out at the right most Essex, the McGrath, as they came to bear. Naval Lasers and Naval Autocannon Class 10s lashed out at the long range and delivered several hits to the McGrath’s forward areas, stressing the hull hard with the damage. The return fire was ineffective at best, the Naval Class 20’s having slightly less range than the Class 10 guns.
The State of Grace’s bridge crew worked like a well-oiled machine, their performance living up to their ships name. The Aegis cruiser, performing a barrel roll as it shifted off the same plane of the McGrath, began to arc back in to close the distance. She was going to drop the hammer on this attacking warship… and do it with style.
On the other flank, the Yukon traded fire with the Louis, neither ship getting many strikes in with their weapons, though the Louis managed a class 20 cannon strike on the nose of the Yukon. But the Lola III class Wolverine ship was far more maneuverable than the Essex and managed to pull a hard shift to port as it rapidly closed the range, opening up with its collection of Naval Lasers and Class 10 cannon as they came to bear in the rapidly dropping distance.
And that waiting to shift gamble paid off. The Yukon which had been the last ship to arrive at Barbados way back then, was the first one to gain a kill against a foe here. Her gunners, all them just waiting to enact vengeance on *someone*, demonstrated murderous accuracy as their shots struck home in the initial broadside volley. Several Naval Cannon rounds crashed into the front right of the enemy Essex, followed by a trio of Naval Lasers… which proved its undoing.
The Naval Lasers tore through the opening in the warship armor, burning through decks and causing incredible mayhem within ship. The last laser to burn through destroyed the primary Life Support of the forward regions of the ship along with inflicting critical damage to the forward thrusters… which meant the ship was both losing air and was now unable to turn effectively.
The Louis managed to land several hits on the Yukon, but with nowhere near the effectiveness… and this exchange really showed the differences in training the two sides had. The attacking Mongoose craft had the most up to date ship but zero practical experience while the Wolverines had ships only recently refurbished but the crews were well drilled.
In the center…. Callahan ordered a reduction in speed and an orientation shift to a negative ninety facing, presenting his broadsides directly at the oncoming Du Shi Wang. In essence, he was presenting his broadside in purposely crossing the T of the oncoming battleship with his nose pointed downward. Knowing the firepower of the Black Lion battlecruiser, he was certain the Mustafa’s gunners would do their jobs well… and lay into the oncoming battleship with maximum accuracy. It was a gamble, sure… but the large number of Naval Autocannon Class 20 and 30s firing at the monster coming in should do the job. Not much could withstand twenty naval autocannons firing at it… no matter how large the ship was. The question now was could the Mustafa take the return fire damage and get out of the way of a potential ramming attack….
As the Du Shi Wang bored in, Callahan had his gunners fire at will, watching the plot and doing the mental math…. He was aware of the Yukon crippling the Louis quickly, the charge forward and last second shift to bring a full broadside to bear doing the job of rendering the Essex class a non-factor.
The State of Grace was dancing around her foe, the McGrath attempting to bring her to grips and getting zero success while being picked apart. He needed to remember to commend Captain Xi for her crew’s performance and remind her one should not play with their targets… no matter how much they might deserve it.
AS for his own situation…. The Mustafa gunners were not disappointing him, getting solid strikes at medium to long ranges and the return fire, while troublesome, was not critical yet. Best not to let it get there while he could avoid it… “Helm… Maximum thrust and fifteen plus five degrees to port. Full Aspect roll”
“Maximum thrust, Fifteen plus five degrees to port, Full Aspect Roll Aye…”
As the now streaming-fire battleship continued to close, Callahan’s orders started his battlecruiser moving and shifting to its left at a slight angle. The Aspect roll was to present the other broadside at the oncoming foe… and fresh armor. While it would remove the aft side guns from the fire plan, their loss would not affect the situation too much. Especially with what the sensors were reporting on the condition of the Du Shi Wang.
And what they were reporting was not good. Several grav decks were open to space and the entirety of the forward armor was gone. Indeed, the last volley of weapons fire had scored deep into the internals of the nose sections of the battleship, and she began to drift to her starboard- away from the Mustafa. Very little return fire was coming from the gravely wounded warship and Callahan noted this as his ship completed his turn. In fact, he didn’t see ANY return fire at this point. “Gunners cease fire… Communications, try and raise that ship. There is no need for all of them to die out here, no matter how they feel about us.”
“Aye Aye sir”
While the Second Naval Battle of Barbados was going on, the transport ships and their dropships had burned for the world, taking the opportunity to do so while being ignored. Several Union C and Confederate dropships made their way to the planet below and found landing locations around the Expedition’s site. Far enough away to not take fire from groundside but close enough to launch an attack upon the Encampment areas fairly quickly.
It was even money which flank was struck first, really. Colonel Tinney and the Phoenix Lancer Command Company had deployed early, the Dragoon-weight company setting up in the foothills of the East Side of the camp. The veteran commander spread his troops out across the frontage and pre-planned a few locations for fall back if needed.
The Command Company was predominantly Assault Weight machines but all of them were C3 Networked. The prize machine in the bunch was the venerable Phoenix Hawk LAM, a relic of a bygone era and one of the oldest machines within the Lancers. With the advent of new technology, the machine had received extensive upgrades to weaponry, exchanging standard lasers for pulse versions. An ECM unit, double strength heatsinks, and a Network slave turned the Land Air Mech into a very capable spotter… and he’d be relying on it somewhat in the coming battle.
The next lightest mechs were a pair of Grand Dragons– Mark variants of the 7K- and backing them was a Banshee and Command Cyclops. The next lance within the force was a pair of Blackwatch battlemechs that functioned as bookends for the Atlas command mech. A Marauder II finished out the lance and acted as the forward machine of the four.
Finishing the company was the last three machines in his lance- a Norguard Industries Hunter Command Series Variant from Terra Nova, a Longbow, and his beloved Highlander. His machine had been upgraded over the years with salvaged clan weapons and that had made many a foe underestimate him. Add in the Network and it made his company throw-weight that much more potent. Tinney had a feeling what was coming made his force the right wall to run into. How well his wall held up would be another matter; it was still Clan-spec weapons he was facing and that had a way of making odds even.
First, though… he figured he would try a bluff. Not that it had a chance in hell in working… but he had to try. “Charlotte… Scan known clan freqs and see if you can find theirs. I wanna talk to their boss before this gets stupid. And get that drone up- knowing what’s coming is going to help I think.”
Warrant Officer Two Charlotte Rowansberg chuckled. [Gotta try…] she said and got to work. After about a minute, she called over to him. [Colonel. Locked it down. Switch your secondary comset to Zone Bravo Channel 7]
“Zulu Bravo Charlie 7,” Tinney did just that then activated the comset. “Clan Commander… Colonel Tinney of the Phoenix Lancers. Care to talk?”
A response was not long in coming. [This is Star Captain Xavier Garcia of the Reborn Mongoose 31st Cluster, Alpha Galaxy. What do you want, dezgra?] A very young voice was heard, one full of himself.
Mongoose? That’s a new one… “Star Captain,” Tinney replied. “I’m offering you a chance to not get you and yours killed for no good reason. Your fleet isn’t going to leave here unscathed… and neither are you if you push this.”
[What makes you think you can beat the might of Mongoose?] Garcia sneered.
“The fact I have stepped on both Huntress and Strana Mechty…. And lived to tell about it,” was Tinney’s very dry reply. “What have you done?”
The pause in reply was telling. When he did answer, the trace of Anger could be heard in Garcia’s voice. [So you are one who defiled Clan Space with your filth… and I shall enjoy ending your life!]
“If I had a credit for every time I heard that from a Clansman, I would have enough to buy a warship…” The Mercenary Colonel retorted with a laugh. “You know… those ships that are probably burning hulks right now?”
A snarl was the only reply as the communication channel was ended. In his headset, Tinney heard the voice of Bobby DuBois, the pilot of the Hunter. [Colonel, I think you might have struck a nerve there, eh?]
A sigh. “I might have… Sounded like a young one, Bobby. Could be an advantage….”
[It could, yah, it could…] Bobby said. [If you got on his nerve bad enough, eh, maybe he comes in old school stupid, yah?]
“Bob, if I got in his head that easy, I think I’m going to be doing Clan Mongoose a favor.” Tinney replied. “We will see what we see.”
About five minutes passed as the Lancers, aided by the recon drone visuals, positioned themselves for the oncoming Clan Machines. And it was a fairly robust force coming their way too- a pair of Dire Wolves of the twin gauss rifle variety, what looked like a Star league era Maelstrom, a Stooping Hawk, a Mad Dog, the very odd-looking Predator, a Black Lanner, a Turkina Prime, a Stormcrow and a Phantom- which was the oddest Omni in the bunch, being usually a Clan Wolf machine.
Tinney knew most of the machines coming, the Predator being the real oddball to him. And all were fairly deadly. Especially that twin Gauss Dire Wolf; he’d seen bad things happen to anyone in its way… If Garcia paced the advance to the speeds of the two Dire Wolves, this would be a very bloody affair as the Damn things were walking hunks of Armor and Guns- designed to be centered around. If he didn’t keep pace with them though, the odds went against them as the three monsters could be ignored. At least for a little while.
“Ok boys and girls…” Tinney said across the company net. “Pick your targets, coordinate fire and lets show these guys we are no ordinary Mercenary force… Priority that Lanner and the Phantom- those are the ones likely to give our network fits….”
Acknowledgements came across the network and within a minute, the battle was joined as both Grand Dragons and the LAM moved up, the hybrid battlemech using its speed to race out and provide targeting information as well as some good sensor data on what exactly was being faced.
Within the first ten minutes of the battle, suspicion of how new his opposing commander was became evident. In the rush to come to grips with the Lancers, the Clan troops left the three Assault machines behind, which suited Tinney’s battle plan just fine. One of the Dire Wolves happened to skyline itself in an effort to support his fellows and earned large amounts of LRMs from the Lancer Longbow, which staggered the big Clan machine.
The Phantom came racing in, making an attempt to break the Lancer lines and was subsequently gunned down by Mika Sakura in her Grand Dragon, the Heavy Particle Cannon tearing through a wounded leg and forcing damage up into a torso. The quick Omnimech’s subsequent fall finished the job as it plowed into the ground and shredded the remaining torso structure.
Mika would not escape punishment for that act, as the Predator, the Maelstrom and the Stooping Hawk would go hunting her and their combined fire would put her down. Doing that would cost the Predator, as targeting data from the Grand Dragon would allow multiple Gauss hits as well as laser fire to carve the machine to literal pieces.
The Maelstrom, obviously a smarter pilot, would use terrain to his advantage, avoiding too much attention as he traded fire with Charlotte in her Cyclops. This cat and mouse game would end when Bobby moved up with his Hunter and laid into the clan machine, drawing its attention.
On the Lancer Left, it was no less bloody an affair but more so for the clans. The Stormcrow had raced forward with the Black Lanner and was getting ready to find the end of the Lancer line when both Black Watch mechs turned their sights on it. Using targeting data from the Marauder II that had moved up some for a better angle, the twin assault machines dumped a full volley of Medium Range Missile fire into the Clan Omni as well as multiple Ultra Cannon shots. This fusillade proved to be far too much for the medium weight Omni to weather and it more or less collapsed in a pile of scrap metal and myomers under the punishment.
In the center, Tinney had moved to a point just ahead of the Third Lance Atlas and the two of them would lob shots downrange at the advancing Clan Assaults to keep them honest. The Black Lanner, caught unsupported by the demise of the Stormcrow and hesitancy of the supporting Mad Dog, attempted to use his MASC system to race from the position he was in and take a better location to hammer at the mercenaries. It was at that point, the clan equipment failed… and caused the legs of the Omnimech to lock up immobile. This was noted by Mika’s sister Asia, who used her LRMs and Heavy Particle Cannon to slam the internally crippled machine.
A Black Watch added to the misery as did the Marauder II and the Omni collapsed to the ground. The Marauder II’s shots removed a leg and arm from the clan mech, effectively rendering it combat ineffective…
Mind you, the carnage was not all one sided. The Clan troops in their advance were scoring damage to Lancer Machines, but not enough to counter what they were absorbing. Eventually, Garcia determined there was something special about the LAM and tried to have the Mad Dog kill it… but the speed of the LAM prevented much more than a lone lucky hit to land. The Turkina and Dire Wolf advancing up the middle finally reached the Lancer lines, and their firepower was felt. Asia, who had stuck around too long in one location, absorbed the full firepower of both clan omni-mechs; that there was anything left of her Grand Dragon was a minor miracle… but the damage was far too heavy to remain in the fight and it forced a punch-out.
By the time the two Assault machines had closed, the jaws of the fire sack trap Tinney had set up for the center had begun to close. The Right of the Lancer lines had managed to put down the Stooping Hawk in a hail of laser and SRM fire, ripping out its torso and scoring damage to the core internals enough to destroy a gyro. The Maelstrom went toe to toe with the Banshee and the big Inner Sphere machine withstood the punishment from the former Star League battlemech and delivered its own hammering to it.
This, with some strikes from the now re-positioned Hunter, proved to be the final straw for the battlemech and it fell to the ground from the raw damage dealt to it, never to rise again this battle as the pilot struck his head, knocking him out.
The other Dire Wolf continued to support the advance of his brother machine and the Turkina but it would become very apparent in the next two minutes that he should have been down *with* them on the advance and not playing sniper. They might have done more than they would do…
As the two clan assault machines entered the trap, Tinney shifted his lightly damaged Highlander to a more appropriate location and after seeing the planned repositioning of both spotter and gunner on this flank, triggered all of his weapons as his gunsights settled on the heart of the Dire Wolf in front of him. This was an all-or-nothing play… And not a single weapon missed….
Andrea Smithson in the Atlas stepped her machine forward, letting the direct fire weapons pummel the Dire Wolf along with the fire of the Colonel. Her LRMs went sailing for the trailing Turkina, which was now earning the combined fire of the remaining Black Watch (the other having retired as the damage became too great) and Particle Cannon fire of the Banshee to the Lancer right. Between everything being fired into the trap, both machines dropped, with the Turkina succumbing to massive cockpit assembly damage and the Dire Wolf having both a leg and center torso region removed in the carnage of fire.
[Colonel… the last Dire Wolf is retreating…] Andrea called over the company network as she lifted the arm of her Atlas to point.
And it retreating it was. The big assault machine turned tail and was running away as fast as it’s lumbering gait could carry it. The other nine machines of the Binary that had assaulted this front (the Mad Dog had over committed itself in trying to kill a Black Watch and paid for its mistake a minute before) lay in ruins or so much scrap all over the battlefield… and for almost no real gain. Two Lancer mechs were down and one crippled (Asia’s Grand Dragon almost armor-less and her sister’s machine needing both a gyro and an arm. One Black Watch had lost both arms in the battle) but the rest were all combat capable. The level of one-sided carnage slowly dawned on Tinney as he looked around the battlefield.
He’d fought in some one-sided affairs before… and usually the side that lost really wasn’t on the level, power wise, of what beat them. This… this was an almost equal fight in raw power… and the results were not expected. The Clan Troops did come at them somewhat stupid… and this vexed him. Were they that blind or did they really think Inner Sphere machines were not capable?
Tapping a key on a console, he spoke into his microphone. “Expedition Ops, Lancer Six.”
After a pause. [Operations. Send it.]
“Operations, Lancer Six. Send some security troops and medical. We have prisoners.”
[Understood. Security and Medical. Lancer Six, how is your operational condition?]
Tinney paused. “Send munitions. We are down two machines and a third is crippled… but are otherwise needing just ammunition topped off. I estimate we are 70% strength overall.”
[Operations copy. Will have assets sent as soon as possible. Expedition Command requests you to be advised Southern sector currently engaged. North and West are under warning orders.]
The Lancer Commander pondered this. It sounded to him like the Clans had tried for a coordinated attack and didn’t quite manage it… Thank god for small favors. “Understood; will be waiting for assets…. Lancer Six out.”