Near Centaurus VI
1404 hours Landing Time
The Word of Blake fleet had advanced towards the Wolverine flotilla, their assault dropships leading the way. Spread wide, the incoming force planned for maximum coverage of forward guns and practically invited the Wolverines to come close and engage them in in a classic fleet pass.
The Wolverines, knowing the danger of a McKenna, declined to take the bait.
Commander Rayson had her fleet execute its turn to port right on time and ordered her fleet to fire as their guns came to bear. The Gunnery drills the fleet had done paid off, with the tactics being used similar to all the fleet practices they had done. Naval Lasers and Particle Cannon from the Bismark connected with the Hammer of Toyama, the Blakist McKenna battleship weathering the early hits well. Answering fire from the Hammer was a bunch of its forward lasers, the only weapons with reach, lashing out at the Wolverine flagship, with some minor scoring on the now visible side armor.
The Gloria, the Wolverine Whirlwind destroyer, managed to land its light Naval Gauss as well as a pair of Naval Lasers, on a Carson, the Sword of Toyama, to its nose. The damage was telling as the ship deviated to port from its course. The Toyama’s return fire scored a medium weight Naval Particle Cannon at the join between forward starboard and the broadside bays of the Gloria, the hit taking out an anti-fighter bay.
The other Carson, the Enlightened Glaive, lent its firepower to that of the Hammer, scoring a few hits on the Bismark and doing little better than peeling some armor from its flank.
The Denali, the Wolverine Lola III, used the superior range of its light naval cannon and lashed at the Glaive, the venerable destroyer striking with all four weapons in the arc. The gunnery practice showed here, as the smaller destroyer shuddered visibly from the punishment. It immediately began streaming smoke and trailing magnesium-fed flames into space behind it.
The Blakist Interdictors raced forward, looking to catch the Gloria in a fusillade of weapons fire. Laying in wait on the far side of the Gloria was an even dozen of Wolverine fighters, all Lightnings and they surged out from the ship’s shadow alongside the Lancer Claymore assault dropship. As the WoB assault ships closed, the Allied ships showed themselves and exchanged fire with the attacking dropships and the punishment was telling, even as capital missiles from the Gloria burned for the Blakists.
Nose weapons of the Bismark also fired at the enemy assault craft, their flight plan taking them within the firing arc of the battleship. The resulting damage was spectacular, as one ship near vaporized from a Naval Autocannon strike. The second Interdictor was greeted by an Avenger and several fighters that surged forth from the Bismark’s shadow.
Of the fighters, a trio had their wings clipped as the weapons of the Interdictor laid into the smaller craft. The sub-capital weapons of the Word dropships split their fire between the Claymore, the oncoming Avenger and the Gloria. While enough to hammer the Lancer assault ship, it was not enough to worry the Wolverine destroyer.
As the Word attack craft raced through the fleet line, Wolverine Gunnery demonstrated how much an error that was as the enemy craft passed into the other broadside arcs. Wolverine accuracy was vicious, as lighter defensive weapons and naval lasers raked the craft, destroying them as they attempted to evade the fire.
The Denali continued to lay into the Glaive as it closed, the Wolverine warship fending off WoB fighters even as allied fighters joined in the assault of the Blakist destroyer. A dogfight developed off the flank of the Wolverine ship as Blakist fighters attempted to bail out their capital ship, masking it from some of the Glaive’s capital weapons fire.
The Denali took advantage, giving the smaller Blakist destroyer a thumping, the barrage of naval laser and naval cannons from the Wolverine warship taken as opportunity shots around the fighter scrum. These served to rip apart the hull and structure of its target, which helped cripple the vessel.
The damage was not all one-sided. The Word Lola III, the Sword of Waterly, broke from its formation and charged forward bringing its guns to bear on the Gloria. The resulting fire lashed it fore to aft and the damage from this assault plus from the Toyama began to show heavily on the Wolverine ship.
As the Waterly ventured too close to the Gloria in a sweeping pass, the Gloria’s Captain ordered maximum thrust in a risky gamble and rammed the Waterly as her guns targeted the Toyama. This ram inflicted catastrophic damage to the Blakist Lola and caused its crew to abandon ship, its back broken and systems failing en-masse.
The Gloria was in not much better shape, the damage to its nose pretty much took it out of the fight as the smaller destroyer suffered immense damage in return. Power to many areas of the ship dropped but enough connections remained to power a portion of the weapon systems. And while some of her broadsides could still engage, the Gloria wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. She essentially became a drifting gun battery; still dangerous but only just.
The Bismark had managed to remain crossing the Hammer’s T, as the Blakist ship closed the distance. The superior gunnery of the big ship took a severe toll on the enemy battleship and the results were really becoming apparent. The Hammer began to turn to hopefully get its broadside to bear but in the wrong direction as the Bismark turned with it, keeping its own broadside crossing the T of the Blakist ship.
The Hammer’s captainrealized his error too late, and the ship performed an emergency steering burn in an attempt to reverse course. Doing so applied extensive stresses on the warship and the heavy guns of the Bismark capitalized on this. Maximum fire was directed at the Word Of Blake warship and fury of the weapon strikes saw the enemy ship suffer massive damage. Several small explosions rippled along its hull along with one massive blast as some of the strikes bypassed armor and struck a naval cannon magazine.
The sheer power of the internal explosion caused even more internal damage as power couplings to energy weapons failed in a cascade of blow-outs and fatal damage. All of this caused the ship’s drives to cut out, emergency shut down protocols draining the Hammer of any ability to continue the fight or steer; she would drift on her last course away from the battle…
The Toyama, its opponent distracted by the Waterly, attempted to end around the Wolverine battle line and rand straight into two companies of waiting Eagle fighters, the Wolverine heavy fighters having bided their time for a chance to jump someone. With the Toyama providing that opportunity, the waiting fighters took advantage of the gift, and the aerospace craft lashed the small destroyer with multiple strafing runs peppering the Toyama. Anti-fighter defenses took out several fighters as they made their passes but what it took down was not enough to save her as the cumulative damage crippled the warship.
Some escape pods left the stricken vessel… but no where near what would be a full crew abandoning ship.
Waiting Lancer and Wolverine Avengers, having returned from dealing with the last of the Interdictors and Blakist fighters, now raced into the fray- lending their weapons to the effort to bring down the Glaive and free up the Denali to support the Bismark.
At this point, the Bismark didn’t seem to need the help. The error of the Blakist command in not turning sooner and in an opposite arc cost them dearly. As the Word of Blake battleship drifted off, the Bismark now turned its attention to the remaining ships and one volley at the Toyama caused the last enemy ship to strike its engines and surrender.
Commander Rayson assessed the carnage on the screens and listened to the reports coming into her. Outnumbered, she had managed to win the day but at a cost.
Of her starting command, the Bismark had taken some severe punishment, but the ships heavily armored flanks had weathered the enemy fire well enough to keep the ship capable. She wasn’t in shape to fight anything bigger than a cruiser, but she was not alone.
The rest of the warships of her command ran the gamut of damage. The Gloria would not be going anywhere soon, her damage too severe to be anything but a picket at best. She still had power to her guns though…. But that was about it.
The Denali was listed at 50% capacity, having weathered the fire of the Glaive and some stray shots from the Hammer. She was performing recovery operations of both Word and Wolverine pods and ejected pilots. They would be joined by the available dropships in this effort.
There was a large amount of ejected pilot beacons out there. More Blakist than Lancer or Wolverine… but still, quite a few.
The Word of Blake warships were on the losing end of this battle. Both of the Carsons were done, one destroyed and the other a surrender. The Lola III, the Sword of Waterly, had been abandoned after being rammed by the Gloria; it was unknown if it would ever fight again for either side.
The big ship, the Hammer of Toyama, was completely crippled and marines from the Wolverine flagship were dispatched to board the vessel and secure it.
Rayson looked at her communications officer. “Lieutenant, inform Lancer Command I intend on sending the Denali to run down the transports. They can’t have gotten far.” She spoke. “I also intend on relieving Station Agnes if possible.”
The lieutenant at communications acknowledged the messages. “Ma’am, messages to be sent.”
Sensors spoke up. “Commander! Blakist Transports have just jumped….”
“What? They only got here…” She exclaimed. “Unless they have LF batteries like ours do, there is no jumping so soon.”
“Ma’am… of the group, two departed.”
“Get the Denali moving… just in case those others also can jump again.”
Gates space port
Captain McCauley climbed out of his crashed Highlander and went to edge of the stand of trees he was in, his machine’s damaged gyro having hindered his ability to retreat away from the main battle. Knowing he could not get away; he chose to look out at the ruins of his attempted assault on the port and try to figure out exactly what went wrong. He could only shake his head, the answer to that question being pretty apparent. In the battle that was now ending, he watched his just arrived light lance cover the escape of what remained of his command.
A Blackjack, the Jagermech and the Vindicator retreated as fast as their actuators could move the machines away from the port. On the far side, the last Enforcer also scrambled away from the port in the opposite direction. The defending Wolverine battlemechs chose not to pursue, the heavy and assault machines being nowhere near fast enough to pursue his surviving mechs. Small blessing, that was… at least his men could be a pain in the ass for the planetary defenders until caught or relieved by the planned Word of Blake invasion force that should be arriving soon.
It had been a disaster, this battle. Well over half of his reinforced company lay in ruins on the port and as he looked out, McCauley lamented on the enemy machines his forces had faced. The enemy machines were all Inner Sphere designs, but their weapons had been a very eclectic mix of normal and Clan-spec strength. The biggest surprise faced had been that damn museum piece, the Mackie. Someone had taken the time and effort to upgrade the ancient battlemech and it showed. Oh my god, had it showed… and while it had been pummeled by his men, the monster machine had weathered it like a champ.
Shit… I think I experienced what the first troops did when THEY faced one back in the day, He thought to himself. He could see the damage his men had done to most of the defending machines and was at least consoled in his loss by the fact they had done better than he had any right to have expected. Medium battle companies generally didn’t fare too well against a Dragoon formation, the firepower disparity usually being pretty bad. That enough of these machines had clan-spec weapons… was a huge surprise.
Bad enough he had not expected much here. But this? Jeeze, his employers had fucked him hard with bad intel.
As the Wolverine machines took up overwatch positions throughout the port, he could see several utility vehicles come racing out of the fortified compound at the end of the strip and spread out towards his downed machines. Port Security was coming out to collect enemy pilots who were pretty much helpless to avoid capture. Knowing he was not going to get away either, he pulled his sidearm and cleared the weapon. No use in being a hero, he thought as he replaced the weapon in its holster. Dying for no reason is not on my list of priorities…
As a pair of the security vehicles came to a stop near his hide, McCauley raised his hands and stepped from cover carefully. He didn’t expect to get shot by the security troops but considering what had just ended, the prospect was there. “Don’t Shoot!! I surrender!!” He called out as he slowly moved from cover. “I give up!”
A trooper, clad in the SLDF-styled combat uniform worn by the Lancers, covered him from a pintle machine gun as two others advanced on him from the side. Once they got to him, they pulled his pistol from him and then had him go to his knees. “Hands on head, buddy… Stupid games win you a stupid prize,” The female trooper said as she slung her rifle and began to secure his hands.
“No danger of that,” McCauley replied. “I know when I’m beat.” The trooper said nothing in reply and once done securing McCauley’s hands, helped him to his feet. Moving him to one of the vehicles, two other troopers took control of him and placed him in the cargo bed area of one. As soon as he was aboard and seated, the two vehicles drove back towards the compound.
The other utility vehicles, with their prisoners from various points of the field, also headed back for the compound. A pair of Striker light tanks exited the compound and headed in the direction of the escaped Enforcer. McCauley noted this and knew that mech’s survival was pretty much done- the Striker being a very capable light armored vehicle and a pair being enough to tangle with a damaged Enforcer.
In the distance, a pair of light aerospace fighters were seen burning for space. The Battle for Centaurus was still happening in earnest, but McCauley’s portion was now done.