On the Southern Front, the battle was well and truly engaged and Captain Daniel Whitfield was thanking the wisdom of the Clan Elders for insisting on coming back to the Inner Sphere.
Whitfield had been a doubter over The Return but he knew their situation was not tenable at the time. With their return, so much had happened in the year since, it was almost unbelievable. He had believed they only needed civil help, that their warfighting skills were fine and would see them win out over anyone. Two battles against the Mercenaries they were allied with had changed that notion… and the ensuing months of hard training had also tempered those thoughts.
The Lancer Warfare instructors had repeatedly gone over mission profiles of their battlemechs and how to get the best out of them. Even odd designs like Hannah Hollister’s Shadow Hawk, a Star League Royal design that more useful up close despite its long range Medium Light Barrel cannon. Far too much of the Wolverine Doctrines had them close against opponents and stay close, no matter the design. The Lancer Instructors really stressed the advantages of maintaining range on certain designs, with the flaw of Clan weapons being their utility at all ranges. As the one instructor put it, too much utility and ability is not always a good thing; leads to mistakes. There was a time to use that utility- and those times would present themselves. You just had to pay attention.
And those lessons were showing themselves in this battle.
Early on, Whitfield had committed his twomodified Excalibur machines forward, the re-gunning to ClanSpec Gauss Rifle, addition of a Clanspec Extended Range Large Laser and exchange of the secondary LRM Missile weapon to a Multi-launcher gave the fast heavy battlemech a much needed improvement in combat performance at short range. But it still was not a brawler. That lesson was driven home by the clan opponent ganging up on the machines quickly.
The detonation of a Gauss Rifle when a capacitor was struck made the lesson stick. Backing the two machines off, he committed himself forward to take some of the heat while his two Lynx machines harassed the Thresher and Blackhawk to his front.
With the Lynxes busy, Whitfield used the Snub PPC of his modified Wolverine to good use, applying damage to distracted Clan opponents as opportunity presented. The other lesson gained in the warfare classes had already shown results on his left flank.
Lieutenant Heather Sobral, in her Royal Griffin, had led her lance containing the modified Phoenix Hawk of Christian Mann, the ancient Star Slayer of Mica Frater and the Royal Ostroc of Paddy Bostic up the left flank, running into a Vapor Eagle and a Thresher. Using the lessons on herding, the four shifted and lured the two Clan machines forward, with Mann maneuvering to take a flanking position.
The exchange of fire between the two sides forced the Clan troops to back off into the woods for some cover. And Sobral took advantage. Spreading her force a bit, they enveloped to two machines and flushed them from their cover with accurate fire pouring into the heavy Thresher. Forced forward out of cover, the heavy clan machine tried to prevent being pincered between the Wolverine machines without much success.
Mann, seeing the other three pounding the two enemy mechs (the Vapor Eagle was desperately attempting to avoid the Royal Griffin, the clan machine’s head assembly little better than tissue paper at this point) raced for the Clan rear, where an Uller was attempting to snipe with a Gauss Rifle. Dodging inbound fire, Mann managed to land shots on the Clan machine…. And in the process, forced it from its perch. The next few minutes would see the Uller run from this side of the field and attempt to consolidate with the rest of his Star Mates, who were being worked over harshly by the rest of the company.
Meanwhile, the Fortunes of the rest of the Clan forces were taking a turn for the worse. A second Vapor Eagle, who had been trying to harass the Wolverine center, caught a collection of cluster munitions from Hannah Hollister’s Shadow Hawk to a rear torso, the damage from the weapon savaging the internals and other armored locations on the fast machine. Between that and a collection of shots from Whitfield, the punishment proved to be too much to take and the Vapor Eagle tumbled to the ground.
Whitfield paid for dropping the Vapor Eagle, a Clan Corvis with its Ultra 10 class weapon hammering his right arm and ripping it from his Wolverine. This damage forced him to back off… but the actions of the Corvis only had stalled their retreat, not stopped it.
While the battle on the Wolverine right had been going on, the rest of Whitfield’s Company had been putting in some work. The modern Griffin, having backed off to provide ranged support, had been letting its LRMs do some talking. Frater had gotten her Starslayer to a good supporting location on the Wolverine left and was letting the clan mechs in the middle know about it. Sobral and Bostic had finished off both the Vapor Eagle and the panicked Thresher, which freed them up to start closing in on the center.
In the center, the Clan troops had managed to drop an Excalibur via engine damage but not before it wrecked the Thresher in front of him. Hollister now moved up, lending her lighter weapons to the battle even while letting her Light Barrel do some talking. Both Lynx machines, bloody from exchanges with the Black Hawk, were now hounding the Ebon Jaguar who had been lending supporting fire the entire time.
Brock Kumar, in his Exterminator, continued his cat and mouse battle with what was apparently the Binary Commander’s machine even as the pale white Lynx of Misty Thomlinson stepped up to exchange weapons fire. Between her and Kumar, the two would force the Clan leader from his perch and help him make the decision to retreat with what was left of his command.
And what was left was not terribly much. Of the ten machines started with, the Clan troops made a fighting withdrawal with their two Corvis and the Ebon Jaguar as everything else lay broken on the field. Wolverine losses were comparatively light, with the loss of the Excalibur. While there was extensive damage throughout the company, with a crippled Excalibur and Whitfield’s Wolverine sans its main gun, they still had enough ability to hold this front.
Not that Whitfield wanted to test that ability but given everything, he was pretty pumped; this was his first non-trial battle against a Clan Foe that wasn’t Bandits… and he directed a win. Time to let Operations know.
“Operations, Charlie Lead.”
A pause. “Operations, Charlie Lead. Wolverine holds the Field,” He said, pride slipping into the young Captain’s voice. “Enemy Forces in retreat with 70 percent losses. Charlie effective Strength is 60 percent due to damage. Request reinforcement and security troops for prisoners.”
[Operations copies 60 percent effectives due to damage; enemy forces reduced to approximately 30 percent effective strength. Will be dispatching a demi-company of Phoenix Lancers as reinforcements. ETA about fifteen minutes.”
On the western side of the Zone, Delta Second Battalion took up positions near the Water Purification sites. A strong Clan force of Medium to Heavy Omnimechs and second line machines was heading that way through a series of foothills per the recon drones. Major Alex Hunter scanned the screens of the cockpit of her Nightstar and shuddered a tiny bit. This was her second major engagement piloting this machine, having upgraded from the Black Knight in Colonel McCormack’s company. And she was not as confident in this role as both her CO’s had felt when she was promoted.
Yeah, she was a good mech warrior and was a good Lance commander, but she didn’t think she rated a larger command. At least not yet… and her last outing had her shot out of her ride. But both Colonels (still weird calling Leslie a Colonel yet) felt she had done just fine- and experience in her new machine would come. Still, she didn’t think that she was all that worthy of both the bigger role and the heavier machine…. But they had faith in her and that was something. Alex knew they didn’t promote without merit.
This battle… was going to test her skills at both, she was sure. “Ok y’all… this ain’t no simulator and this isn’t ordinary idiots,” she said on the company net with more confidence than she had. “Y’all know your jobs and y’all know your strengths. Use them… and let’s cut these bitches… Time for them to LEARN today who WE are and why they done made a big-time error…” She smiled a bit; they were odd words to speak… but they felt right to say.
She was not as good as her adopted dad with pep talks… but he was busy on the East side with his own fight so there was no consulting him for this. But Alex had a feeling he’d have approved of what she did say.
As the enemy came into visual range, she shifted in her command couch. Time to go to work…