(Admin note- this is another chapter from our guest author as the wargaming portion begins again after a hiatus of weather and health (rona and heart attack) issues in the household delayed everything. Enjoy the story!)
0631hrs, 13 December 3080
Fortress Class Dropship “Armageddon”
Entering Centarus on orbital landfall approach
All personnel were in landing positions when the Fortress class dropship began to enter the upper atmosphere. Circling the planet in a hi-gee orbit, the Overlord class dropship Apocalypse would follow a short time behind. the plan was simple, the fortress would make landfall with the Regimental Command Company, the Command Lance of the battlemech battalion and the armor and mechanized infantry of the 10th Close Group. Landing with them would be the 861st Fire Support Cohort in the Lion Class Dropship Tantalus.
The Overlord Class Pocket Warship “Valhalla” would remain in space with the 332nd Fighter Squadron as an overwatch, its weapons and fighters ready to cripple a blockade runner and its platoon of battle armored marines ready to board and take control of the vessel afterward. After making the high-speed orbit the “Apocalypse” would the join the other dropships at the predesignated drop zone and offload of first and second companies of the 112th Heavy Cavalry Battalion. Before landing however, there would be a low altitude combat drop of the battlemech assets of the 10th Close Assault Group while the 99th Pursuit Squadron kept the airspace clear from air to ground attacks.
Timing was important, at low altitude the drop time would be approximately 30 seconds. The Assets from the Armageddon had to be in place and attacking as the drop was taking place. The 10th would make the attack while the Regimental Headquarters Company and the XO’s Command Lance would standby as a reserve force added only if needed firepower was needed.
If all went according to plan the rest of the Legion would move in and secure the Spaceport, setting up a perimeter to defend against counterattack. and hold until relieved by Centarus forces. [Commander,] the voice coming into the earphones of his neuro-helmet caught him by surprise.
“Yes Captain,” Pryme replied,
Hauptmann Valerie Barr responded [We will be entering the upper atmosphere in three minutes. Touchdown on drop zone will be seven minutes after. I have received the Go signal from the 99th Pursuit Commander. His squadron has already entered the atmosphere and has done several flyovers of our landing zone. His squadron is now flying patrol circuits in the area.]
Pryme thanked the Captain and punched in the standby code to all units. Once on the Ground his unit had to get moving. He opened up a private channel, “Lori, once we get into range you take the left flank, I’ll take the right the heavy recon lance will escort the Armor to their attack point and get rid of any scout teams that try to delay them. First and Second company will stay with the 861st and secure our drop zone perimeter.” He said as he checked his boards one last time.
“The Grey Bolts have no artillery assets but if they do, then all units will begin movement to contact missions with the rallying point being the Spaceport. All grounded dropships will launch and maintain a low elliptical orbit in case we need to withdraw. When, and I say when… we take the Spaceport, our ships will make landfall, then we go for the dropships.”
[Understood, Kommandant] Was Lori’s business-like reply.
Hauptman-Kommandant Pryme thought of an unusual phrase as they began to enter the upper atmosphere. As Julius Caesar was deciding whether to take his legions across the Rubicon River into Rome he noticed several men gambling near the bank. What he said to his commanders was, “The die is cast”.
Hauptmann Andrew Garland had his mechwarriors mount their battlemechs early to check and recheck their machines. Each battlemech was jump capable, but as an extra safeguard external jump packs were attached. Though normally used specifically on non-jump capable during a combat drop, his company used them as the primary drop system and their own jump jets as a backup system. in his cockpit was an additional panel containing a lighting system keeping him informed of the jump status his entire company. From this control panel he could down check and remove any of his company from the drop procedures.
Nicknamed the “Christmas Tree”, the green, blue, yellow and red lights strips gave him information on mech status, jump pack, drogue chute, and each mechs shipboard drop equipment status. Each mechwarrior had long since made an external check with their tech crew and taken care of any deficiencies. Each on was now strapped in their cockpit, running systems checks of their battlemechs being double checked by their lance commanders and the being reported to him. The panel let him know in advance what they were telling him, but he let lance commander command and simply observed. Meanwhile he reviewed the last satellite and drone overflight images of the drop zone.
Spread across the spaceport were about a company of Heavy mechs with a few mediums thrown in and a company’s worth of armor (heavies and mediums) with a lance of hover tanks. Not insubstantial.
His company consisted of two lances of VTR 10D Victor battlemechs. Armed with a class 20 ultra-cannon, two extended range medium lasers and a Streak 4 missile rack, they were perfect for the type of fighting his company did. Every mech company modifies old mech to fit their need and his company was no exception. His third lance consisted of four modified VTR 9B Victors that were changed to deal with vehicles, battlearmor and infantry.
Listed as the VTR A1c, the changes added enhanced its profile. Leaving the standard engine in left plenty of room for modifications. First, five heatsinks were removed and the rest are upgraded with double heatsinks. A class 20 LBX autocannon replaced to Pontiac 100 normally found on the Victor B and an extra ton of ammo was added. This gave the battlemech the ability to fire as a standard autocannon as well as cluster rounds. The two medium lasers are now upgraded to extended range versions. The Holly Short Range 4 missile rack was left in, but the abundant space and the extra tonnage allowed for several new weapons systems to be added.
Each leg now contained an anti-battlearmor pod [B-pod], the left torso has a flamer to contend with conventional infantry and two clan antipersonnel gauss rifles with a ton of ammunition to attack battlearmor. Doing this allowed the four Victors to be modified without removing the armor needed for protection from other battlemechs.
His company had one specialty: combat drops, either to seize and hold a specific objective or to be a reaction force to provide immediate reinforcements. During operations where combat drops are not warranted his unit acts as either a reserve force to exploit breaches in the enemy lines to shore up friendly lines as well being used as a flanking unit. Garland spent his time going over plans and contingencies, observing his mechwarriors and occasionally offering a word of encouragement or advice, just enough to let them know that the “Old Man” was there. Soon this dropship would begin its burn for the surface, dropping him and his company over their drop zone. He took one more look at the ready board which showed all telltales green and then he relaxed in his command couch and waited for the drop alert klaxons.
Fortress Class Dropship “Armageddon”
Lion Class Dropship “Tantalus”
Landing Zone Alpha, Centarus
Reentry and landing went without incident and both dropships offloading their charges, The 861st was moving to setup a defensive perimeter around the dropships while the Regimental Headquarters Company, the Xo’s Command Lance and the rest of the Close Assault Group moved to a rally point just outside the perimeter before they would begin movement towards the spaceport.
The Regimental Headquarters Company consisted of a Headquarters Lance with his ZEU 11S “Zeus”, a Star League era VNT 1A Ventilator, a ZEU 9S Zeus and a Victor modified to the specifications an alleged VTR 9K2 model that had been terrorizing the Taurian Concordiat. His Heavy Recon Lance consisted of four CGR 1L “Chargers” remodified to fit their new role. The large 8cm Laser and two medium 5cm lasers were removed. Double Heatsinks replaced the standard ones.
Taking a cue from the Victor in the Headquarters Lance, each has a Supercharger installed. The chassis had long been replaced by an endo-steel one. The new weapons loadout is now a set of clan medium lasers. A clan heavy medium laser in the right and left torso, a clan extended range medium range laser in the right arm and a clan medium pulse laser in the center torso. The rest of the excess tonnage is used to replace most of the armor removed by the Capellans.
The battlemechs are now more effective as pathfinder and scout hunters. The Scout Platoon is made up of odd combination of modified tracks to fit the need and older scout battle armor. Like most of the modified equipment in the Legion, the vehicles are rebuilt from battlefield salvage.
The Hi-Scout II is a perfect example. Built from the salvage of a Hi-Scout and a Devastator class Demolisher, the Hi-Scout II is a scout command center. The 8o ton vehicle now uses a standard 320 fusion engine giving it a top getaway speed of 61 Km/Hr. The Sure Shot II Short Range Missile system has been replaced by a five shot multi-missile system, a Guardian ECM Suite has been added to help conceal the lightly armed vehicle. The remote drones are still carried, two Napfind hover drones and three Pathtrack tracked drones. The rest of the storage space is divided into 5 and a half tons of sensor and Communications Equipment and a specially built battlearmor bay for a squad of six Infiltrator Mk I scout suits. With only the original Hi-Scout’s five and a half tons of armor, this vehicle will “scoot” rather than “shoot”.
The escort vehicles consist of two salvaged Partisans rebuilt and rearmed. Six Light class 5 autocannons are now in the turret along with two clan antipersonnel gauss rifles and a pair of Anti-Battlemech Pods [M-Pod]. The direct fire weapons are all linked to an inner sphere targeting computer. The Scout Platoon had already moved out using its drone to search the route ahead. Anything that seemed suspicious was given an “Eyes On” investigation by the Infiltrator squad, operating in teams of three.
Following closely behind was the Heavy Recon Lance, ready to surge forward and deal with any enemy recon units. Kommandant Spector’s Command Lance consisted of two VTR 10L Liao stealth Victors and an RFL 3N-2 Rifleman-II an eighty-ton variant carrying a Beagle Probe and armed with two class 10 LBX cannons, two 9cm large pulse lasers and two standard 5cm medium lasers. The Kommandant’s mech, captured during a raid on Solaris VII during the Jihad is a custom build. Designated the BLZ 1X Blazer, it still resembled the old 3025 Battlemaster from which is probably built. Sheathed in almost twelve tons of standard armor, the Blazer is not an easy kill. The weapons though are rather mundane, a binary laser in the right arm, a clan short range streak six rack and four inner sphere medium lasers, two each in the right and left torso.
With only thirteen double heat sinks to control heat dissipation, the Blazer can run hot during prolonged combat. But it’s the electronics that make this mech a bit of a marvel. Inside this machine is a supercharger, a targeting computer, a laser ant-missile system and an Angel Electronic Countermeasures Suite. With all units out of their dropships and the defensive perimeter set, Pryme and Spector’s lances moved out last, trailing behind and to the outside flanks of the rest of their contingent.
Centarus, One kilometer from spaceport
The scout platoon and the heavy recon lance moved to the forward edge of the final line of departure. Heavy recon stood overwatch while the scout platoon used drones and scout battlearmor to gather information on the range of the enemy sensor net. Inside the defensive perimeter of the attack force heavy armor moved into position to start the assault. Eight “Devastator class Demolisher tanks, four Rhinos and four other legion modified armored vehicles moved into position. Pryme and Spector’s lances slowly moved into flanking positions being careful to stay outside of the spaceports sensor grid. Once in position, everyone waited. for the signal to begin the attack.
Centarus, in orbital reentry flight, high altitude
Hauptmann Andrew Garland took deep breaths as the g-forces lessen from the high-speed reentry. The Hi-Gee orbital burn hadn’t been as bad as he thought it would be. Kaptain Bell had cut his thrusters and entered the atmosphere early tis would put them across the drop zone for a quick pass limiting the time the dropship could be in antiaircraft range. After the deep zone pass making a intense controlled burn will bring the ship into the landing zone.
As they ran in, Kaptain Bell had piped the comms into his net so he could listen in as the Apocalypse made contact with ground forces. [Legion One, Legion One this is Apocalypse enroute, ETA five minutes to drop zone.]
A second later came the reply. [Apocalypse this is Legion Actual; drop is a go I say again drop is a go, Drop the Hammer.]
Garland replied, “This is Hammer Command, received”. Garland got off the command channel and went to the company wide band. “All Hammers, drop is a go, 5 minutes; Get ready”.
In the sky above, an Overlord Dropship was flying in, a fiery tail from the tail section as the fusion drive slowed its descent. The dropship was canted sixty degrees from the horizon, falling tail first across the sky.
Garland began the jump sequence, “Three minutes, check systems.” At this point he took the time to double check his mechs systems. Satisfied that All systems were Green, he continued the continued the sequence. “Sound off on systems check!”
It was more tradition than a requirement both the Loadmaster and he had panels and could see any problem and down check any mech that had systems problem. The sound off began.
“Twelve OK!”, Eleven OK!”, Ten OK!”, Nine OK!” and down the line until he heard, “Two OK!”. Then it was his Turn. ”One OK, All OK Loadmaster!”
The Load master now took over, calling out “One minute!”
Garland could feel the dropship shifting for the drop. With a silent prayer, the commander pulled the seatbelts tight as a last second check.
The upper retros fired, and the Overlord shifted its sixty degree cant to a thirty degree cant in the opposite direction. During the shift the main engines during the shift flared briefly to full power before going to a minimum power glow and then nine thousand plus tons of dropship seemed to glide across the sky. As the dropship shifted, six giant doors opened.
From his position at the Jump chute, Garland could see the light as the giant Hanger door opened. They could all hear the roar of the atmosphere beating against the hull of the dropship and roared into the mechbay. Then the Loadmaster called out “Thirty seconds, Stand By!!”
Armor forces on the ground had already begun their movement to contact; Kaptain Alicia Bailey could see the towers of the taller buildings. In another thirty seconds she would be at the far end of the tarmac. Even the Kaptain couldn’t see enemy forces; the sensor system in her Devastator was already marking bogies as possible targets in her heads-up display. The first line of tanks reached the tarmac and the clusters of enemy battlemechs, and tanks were now in view. The HUDs of the Legion tanks were loading with hostile icons and the target lock alarms were screaming in the ears of the crews. ”This is Bailey to all crews, engage!”
The Loadmaster gave his final command. “Go!” Hauptmann Garland felt as if his stomach leapt into his throat and then drop to his abdomen as he was first ejected from the dropship and then had his mech pulled into the upright position by the static line drogue parachute. The parachute did little to slow his descent but kept him from tumbling and held his mech in in the proper landing position. The timer was on, twenty seconds until he released the parachute and activated the jump packs and thirty seconds until he reached the ground… One way or the other.
Anyone looking up would have seen a dropship streak by. As it passed overhead before once again stood on a tail of fire it disgorged twelve objects All falling in the direction of the small spaceport. On the ground a reinforced company of armor was deploying on the tarmac, being met by a combination of battlemechs and armor ……
The die has been cast.