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Aurigan Dreams (Chapter Cover Art)

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First Mission

Chapter 12 - Aurigan Dreams (BattleTech CYOA)

Pushing the Enemy[]

I fire off a volley of LRMs and my AC/10 at the Galleon Light Tank just before it comes into close range. A couple of missiles explode against its armor as it slows down to open fire, but the vast majority of my shots miss their mark and the autocannon shell goes wide. Moments later, a green beam burns against my torso armor while I focus on getting ready to fire my own medium lasers.

Atlas (Firing Weapons -2D 3D Cartoons version)

Atlas Assault 'Mech firing its secondary weapons

As the Galleon tries to dart around my side, I turn around to keep the vehicle in my sights, trusting that the remaining pirates will be too busy with the rest of Paladin Company to engage an Assault 'Mech at the back, even if that 'Mech has its rear exposed to them. Taking aim, I fire all four medium lasers and I miss every shot, leaving me with only a heated cockpit for my trouble.

At least the Galleon also misses with its medium laser and with my autocannon having recovered from its first shot and the Galleon having entered its optimal range, I decided to try my luck with the ballistic weapon again. The shell soars through the air, striking the vehicle in its side.

Had the pirates been properly maintaining and armoring the Galleon, the AC/10 would have still been enough to breach the armor and hit the internal structure. As it happens, the techs responsible for the Galleon have either been undersupplied, poorly trained or just plain lazy as the autocannon shells smashes through both the external armor and internal structure, causing the vehicle to go out in a small explosion.

I feel the thrill of my first kill because it hits me that it is my first kill. And unlike with a BattleMech, there is no hope that the crew of the Galleon were able to eject or otherwise get away. Part of me wants to feel horrified and part of me does, but that part of me is quickly pushed to one side as an autocannon shell passes close by.

A quick glance at the display indicates that the shot wasn't aimed at me, just a stray shell that got uncomfortable close to me after it missed its actual target.

The battle is going well. All of the Marauders are fully intact even if all of them have suffered major armor loss, but none of the internal structure has been breached. While I want to put it down to the skill and quality of my MechWarriors and their 'Mechs, I know a good chunk of the credit goes to the lack of stomach that the pirates have for this fight. A couple of 'Mech lances are falling back towards the Argo, but two lances worth of 'Mechs and a lance of tanks are retreating away, moving in any direction to get away from the battle.

"Where the 'ell did these pirates get so many 'Mechs from?" demands somebody over the comms.

"They must have rounded up every pirate 'Mech in the system for this," someone else answers, "Maybe they hired some mercs of a shadier nature."

"Enough chatter," says Vance, "We're going to take some time to cool off and regroup before making the final push. We are going to smash past their turrets and take out any remaining 'Mechs and vehicles so our infantry can secure the hull for the engineers."

"This is Lord Espinosa," calls the man in question over the comms as we let our heat from the battle clear, "I have finished analyzing the sensor contacts have retreated to the Argo. They appear to be a TDR-5S Thunderbolt, standard Centurion, a Blackjack, JVN-10N Javelin, a Wolverine, a Griffin and a Shadow Hawk. All of them have taken armor damage, but no breaches so far."

"We can take that," declares Vance, "Mariano, your Phoenix Hawk still up for some scouting? We need a spotter for our LRMs."

Phoenix Hawk (Unseen - City Ruins)

Phoenix Hawk 'Medium 'Mech

"I can do that, Major Hermans." reports Mariano, "I can jump about without hitting it or overheating.Things might get a little iffy if you want me to do more than that."

"Scouting is fine, MechWarrior." says Vance, "Hospitaller Company, bring your Manticores up to fire their LRMs on the targets that Knight-Twelve will be spotting for you."

I end up sitting out the next stage of the battle as Vance keeps Paladin Company back so our 'Mechs don't get more damaged before we engage the surviving pirate 'Mechs again. Instead Isaac Mariano and his Phoenix Hawk jumps about up ahead while LRM fire from our tanks takes out half of the enemy turrets before Mariano finds the power generator for them.

Unfortunately, the respite in the fighting gives me some time to focus on the fact that I am now a killer. Not only have I taken a life, but I've taken multiple lives since that Galleon had more than one person in it. Which to be honest, I don't feel particularly bothered about and I'm actually more bothered by how unbothered I am about becoming a killer.

Galleon Tank (Crusher Joe) in Combat

Galleon Light Tank

"Hey Liz," calls Vanessa over a private comm channel, "are you okay?"

"I got some armor damage, but nothing serious." I answer before pausing, "I definitely killed some people. Blasted a Galleon with my autocannon and none of the crew made it out."

"Ah," says Vanessa, "How are you taking it?"

"Better than I feel I should be." I admit, "Part of me is upset at taking a life, but it is just a part of me. Maybe it just sunk in yet, but it doesn't feel like I've killed anyone. I know intellectually that I took a couple of lives and I feel bad because of that, but it doesn't feel like anyone has died at my hand."

"It can be like that with 'Mech combat according to Grandpa." says Vanessa, "You're in a big machine of war and you're fighting other people in their own big machines of war whether it is a 'Mech or a vehicle. Taking out a machine doesn't feel like killing a person even if you do because to your brain, you didn't kill another human being, just metal and myomer. That's what Grandpa told me anyway. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert when I'm not."

"Still, the help is appreciated," I tell her.

Preparation for Battle[]

"Hey, Colonel," says Vance over a private channel as we approach the entrance to the pirate fortress that is built around the Argo.

"Yes, Major?" I reply, wondering why my nephew is using our ranks.

"Most of our Marauders are pretty beat up at this point, but our Atlases are mostly untouched," says Vance, "The best option would be to let our lance take point when we pass through the gateway, but…"

"But I am both the boss and the weak link." I finish as I give the situation a quick run through in my head.

Vance has a point about the armor on our Heavy 'Mechs. There have been no breaches so far, but a few Marauders are just another hit or two in the right spot from suffering one. Only Buster's ride is untouched and her Archer is a fire support 'Mech. Meanwhile our Atlases both started with more armour and, thanks to lagging behind, they didn't suffer too much damage in the main engagement.

From a purely tactical perspective, it would be the right choice to let the Atlases take the brunt of the fight. But I am currently in one of those Atlases so I would be risking my life. That said, if I do let our lance take point, nobody can accuse me of being a coward.

"Do it," I answer him, "I'm not confident in my ability to win against an enemy 'Mech, but I can soak up some damage. Just make sure that the rest of Paladin Company is right behind us."

"Of course," replies Vance and he begins to give orders while a shiver runs down my spine at the thought of deliberately risking my life like this.

Our other 'Mechs slow down to give our lance a chance to pass them by. I try to keep my nerves in check as we turn around the corner. The enemy opens fire as soon as we get within line of sight, focusing on Vanessa at the head of our lance.

I pause to open fire upon the closest pirate 'Mech, the Centurion that is about two hundred fifty metres away. Targeting it with everything that I have, I wince as my cockpit flushes with heat as I fire a full Alpha Strike.

I want to say that my volley ripped into the enemy 'Mech, but the truth is that more than half of my shots missed. A handful of LRMs strike the Centurion while my AC/10 smashes aside what frontal armor it has remaining on its left torso and a medium laser burns away at its central torso.

Centurion (Winter Forest - Farseen Version)

Centurion Medium 'Mech

Then a PPC shot slams into the exposed side torso and the Centurion goes down in explosions. The remaining LRM ammo must have gone off as the left torso goes boom, sending the attached limb flying. While a hefty blow, it wouldn't normally be enough to take the Centurion out of the fight, but it was apparently the last straw for the pirate piloting the 'Mech as they eject from the battered Centurion.

"Traitor!" roars a man's voice over the general comms, one that my Atlas identifies as belonging to Blackmane, drawing my attention back to the rest of the battle.

"Screw you, sharkmeat!" calls another voice, a female one on the younger side of things, originating from the pirate Shadow Hawk that has just attacked Blackmane's Thunderbolt in the back.

Wait, what?

The pirate lord attempts to turn his 'Mech around to face the new threat, but the pilot of the Shadow Hawk doesn't give him the chance. Having just exposed Blackmane's rear center torso with a well-placed melee attack, the Shadow Hawk unloads a pair of SRMs into the Thunderbolt.

"I'll have your-aagh!" starts Blackmane before being violently cut off as the missiles set off a chain reaction amongst the LRM missiles stored in the mid torso.

The Thunderbolt topples over, its fusion engine having been destroyed along with the internal structure of the center torso. Blackmane almost certainly died with his 'Mech, but it is possible that the pirate is still alive in the cockpit.

"Dammit, Corinna!" shouts the pilot of the Wolverine, one of the few surviving pirate 'Mechs left, "Hey! We surrender!"

"Power down or be fired upon!" snaps back Vance as the pirate Blackjack goes down while the Javelin's pilot ejects.

Wolverine (In Combat)

Wolverine Medium 'Mech

"Powering down," calls back the pilot of the Wolverine, "That means you too, Corinna!"

The Wolverine powers down and so does the pirate Griffin. The last of the pirate 'Mechs, the Shadow Hawk, hesitates for a moment before doing the same as Paladin Company targets her. With those three 'Mechs dealt with, the battle is over with the rest of the pirates having died, ejected or fled.

""Wolf Company, this is your show now," says Vance, "We're taken out the enemy 'Mechs, tanks and turrets. Now it is up to you groundpounders to secure the DropShip hull."

Well, that went about as well as could be expected.

Victory & Salvage[]

While we wait for the Wolf Company to secure the Argo in case something goes wrong, things go smoothly. With their 'Mechs gone and their leader dead, few of the pirates are eager to fight my soldiers, preferring to agree to a peaceful surrender in exchange for being allowed to live. More than a few of my people grumble about that, but that is settled with a reminder that our goal is to safely secure and retrieve the Argo and getting into firefights inside the hull isn't productive to that goal.

In the end, I fob dealing with the pirate prisoners off to Lord Espinosa as I return to the Joyeuse once the Fortress-class DropShip relocates to a closer spot to the Argo for easier back and forth between the two ships. From there, it is a matter of parking my Atlas in a Mech Bay for reloading and replacement armor before going to get a shower. The quick, short showers of a ship aren't the same as the nice hot showers of home, but they are better than nothing after getting sweaty in a 'Mech.

Upon drying off, I get changed into something more casual. While it feels weird to be wearing civilian clothing on a military DropShip, the Rimward Sentinels lack a uniform like a House unit or some of the more successful mercenary units. It is something that I could correct and I have the C-Bills to pay for such an endeavor, but it doesn't feel right when I'm not a proper military person and I'm not treating it like a professional military unit. Maybe I'll reconsider once I've learnt the ropes and know what I'm doing, but at the moment, we aren't professional enough for a uniform.

In any case, I'm wearing a casual set of black trousers with a red and gold shirt as I meet with Lord Espinosa and Captain Duarte on the bridge of the Joyeuse.

"I'm starting to regret agreeing to spare these pirates, Colonel Nora." says Lord Espinosa as he notices my arrival, "I understand the importance of avoiding further damage to the Argo, but at this point, I'm very strongly leaning towards just ditching them here to fulfill our obligations."

"Think we could get away with it?" I inquire.

"It is that or a choice of either bringing them back to Aurigan space to stand trial or dumping them on Alloway for the locals to deal with them," answers Lord Espinosa, "A shame we had to agree not to kill them. I don't suppose you would be willing to mar your reputation by having them shot anyway?"

"No," I answer firmly, "reputation is key for a mercenary and as a moral person. I won't be party to murder if I can help it."

"Unfortunate, but understandable," says Lord Espinosa with a sigh, "Now that you are here, perhaps I should just put the fate of the pirates aside to deal with some of the other matters that need attending."

"Like salvage?" I ask.

"That and the non-pirate prisoners," replies Lord Espinosa, "Beyond those, ah, mercenaries who surrendered, we found a dozen or so slaves that the pirates were keeping aboard the Argo."

"Oh." I say.

"Still unwilling to just have the pirates shot?" inquires Lord Espinosa.

"Yes even if they do deserve it." I answer, "What are we going to do about the slaves?"

"Bring them back to the Coalition with us." answers Lord Espinosa, "We may need to pick up some more supplies from a trader along the way, but we can afford to bring them back with us and it would be wrong to just abandon them after liberating them."

"I can agree to that." I say, "What about the mercenaries? Did anything come up while I was busy?"

"We've been able to confirm their story." replies Lord Espinosa, "Small-time band that was down on their luck and took a gamble here on Axylus out of a desperate need for more money. We found where their support crew were being held captive and by going through both their logs and those of Blackmane, we have found strong evidence that they didn't know what they were getting themselves into before it was too late. I've also checked their MRB record with the ComStar compound on Alloway and it checks out. Their record isn't great, but it is a valid one and there are no major red flags."

"Any thoughts on what to do with them?" I ask.

"Undecided," answers Lord Espinosa, "On the one hand, we have caught them fighting alongside pirates. On the other hand, they did turn on those pirates mid-battle and their story of being coerced against their will to help those pirates is provable. It could go either way without too much fuss and despite their financial straits and lackluster record, they do have some skilled fighters and meaningful hardware."

"I might have a chat with them." I say, "Get a feel for what they are like in person."

"I have no objections and they are your prisoners." says Lord Espinosa, "Now the matter of salvage."

"My contract gives me a quarter of the total salvage plus three priority items," I answer, having memorized my contract or at least the important details of it.

"By the definitions of the MRB, which are used in your contract, three priority salvage picks is equal to functional BattleMech." says Lord Espinosa, "I presume that you wish to claim one of the more intact 'Mechs?"

"I do think I will need to take a look at which pirate 'Mechs survived the battle," I reply.

"A CN9-A Centurion, a PXH-1 Phoenix Hawk, a JVN-10N Javelin, a WSP-1A Wasp, and a STG-3G Stinger.", lists Lord Espinosa, "Those four are the only 'Mechs that don't need a major overhaul to be functional, just a limb or two to be rebuilt."

"The Phoenix Hawk," I say, "The Centurion would be nice, but I'm lacking light, agile 'Mechs for scout work and the Phoenix Hawk is ideal for that." she comments.

"It is a good choice with your high ratio of heavy tonnage," agrees Lord Espinosa, "I'm afraid that will be the only one of those 'Mechs that you'll be getting. Intact 'Mechs are rare enough that I won't be giving up the other four by choice. As for the other downed 'Mechs, I'll be keeping the Thunderbolt, Locust,and Stinger because we have a few of those in the ACM so they can be used for spare parts and since the Taurians make those models, it might be possible to repair them to functionality. I can give you the Blackjack for what it is worth."

"Is that because you won't be able to get much use of it?" I suggest wryly.

"Exactly so," says Lord Espinosa with an approving look, as if I've figured something out or passed some kind of test, "The Aurigan Coalition doesn't have much need for that Blackjack so we'll grant it to your mercenaries to get some goodwill from willingly conceding a 'Mech."

"That makes sense," I say, "And I presume that you are explaining this to me because you want to cultivate me as a long-term asset?"

"Correct," confirms Lord Espinosa, "Now onto the vehicles. Most were destroyed, but a few were salvageable. Two Scorpions Light Tanks are intact enough that they can be repaired with some effort while a Galleon, a Hetzer Assault Vehicle and that Maxim Hover Transport were ditched by their crews before too much damage could be done to them."

"Which do I get if I get any at all?" I inquire.

"Since I am being conservative with the 'Mechs, I'll concede the Maxim and both Scorpions to you," says Lord Espinosa, "The Maxim should serve you well as a transport and Scorpion tanks are common enough that getting the parts to repair them to functionality shouldn't be too onerous. Though the reports indicate that the more badly damaged one has suffered severe enough damage that you may wish to scrap it to get the components to repair the more intact tank."

"If it is that shot up, that might not be enough of the right parts left to use." I say, "Is that all of the salvage?"

"All of the major items," answers Lord Espinosa, "We got some loose components left on the battlefield and we captured some infantry equipment and spare parts along with the Argo. You'll probably get a decent haul of those given their salvage value relative to the 'Mechs. That said, we should wait until there is a final tally before dividing up that section of the salvage."

"Sounds good." I say, "If that is all, I'm going to go back to my office and look over the reports myself."

Author's Chapter Notes[]

Word from the Author
End of the battle of Axylus and just the aftermath to deal with, such as sorting out salvage and prisoners and getting the Argo functional again. Or at least functional enough to get it to a shipyard where it can be properly fixed up.

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