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Fighting Uphill (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 4 - Fighting Uphill[]


* Wac Over The Head *[]


Invasion of New Aragon[]

28 February 3008
Near New Aragon
Capellan Confederation


"Colonel, it looks like they were expecting us."

That was hardly a surprise, Jaime thought. The Dragoons had hardly made it a secret in the past months that they were planning a major operation involve almost their entire fighting strength, and there weren't all that many worlds in the Capellan Confederation that was worth hitting with five regiments of mechs and several Warships, but at the same time could plausibly be taken and held by that much force.

There weren't any Davion forces accompanying the Dragoons beyond a few liaison officers. They were all preoccupied elsewhere in other theaters of war. Five regiments of mechs may look inconsequential next to the totality of forces commanded by a Great House, but Successor States covered a lot of star systems. Five regiments can make the difference between a stalemate and pushing an offensive. Which the Dragoons were doing right now.

And even if this operation failed – which Jaime had no intention of it doing – the simple the distraction of pulling forces from other fronts to defend against the Dragoon push could be worthwhile in and of itself to House Davion's ambitions.

Four of the Dragoons' mighty Warships bore down on the planet New Aragon, the Aegis class Cruiser, Alexander, the two Lola IIIs Destroyers, Darius and Nelson, and the Vincent class Corvette, the Mars. Jaime had decided to leave the Athena and Beowulf back at New Valencia, both to guard the planet against counter attack and because those two ships held the bulk of their reserve advanced tech, including Clan tech weapons and Omnimechs.

Jaime had done the best he could since Chesterton V to surreptitiously update the Dragoons with his Star League refits and some of the more interesting Inner Sphere innovations in order to level the playing field with Inner Sphere forces, but pulling out exclusive Clan technology would likely cause his employers both present and future to start asking even more pointed questions about the Dragoons' origins than they already were.

Also, the Dragoons were the best damn warriors in the Inner Sphere. Jaime was convinced of that now after two years of campaigning on behalf of the Federated Suns. The Dragoons didn't need to tilt the technological playing field the other way to prove that.

"Talk to me." Jaime said. He was sitting in his Archer. His Archer sat in its mech cubicle aboard one of the many Dragoon's Dropships being escorted by his Warships. "What's it look like out there?"

"Lots of Dropships and aerospace fighters, Colonel." came back the reply. "Half the Dropships appear to be dedicated assaults, and the other half are either conversions or just regular Dropships pressed into the assault role. Captain Armin is confident his Warships can handle them and recommends the rest of us hit the planet ASAP."

"Understood." Jaime acknowledged. If the Dragoon Warships and aerospace fighters couldn't handle the Liao aerospace defenders, then it was going to make little difference where Jaime's mech and troop transports were when the remaining defenders came after them. "Keep me updated."

Aegis Class Heavy Cruiser (3D by psicore)

Alexander

Jaime should be on the Alexander's bridge. That was after all the proper place for the invasion leader. But Jaime was a mechwarrior and knew almost nothing about how to fight in space, so he would be nothing more than a useless decoration on the Alexander's bridge at best while Armin Harper ran the actual space battle.

"Colonel, Captain Armin is detailing half of our fighters to cover us, the landing force while retaining the other half to cover his Warships."

Jaime nodded to himself. So far, Armin was following his pre-battle plan. Now the question was how closely he could follow it. Even after two years of campaigning, the Dragoons kept being surprised by some new technological wrinkle. Not that they had let those surprises stop them before, but this was going to be their first major aerospace engagement as their previous planetary assaults had been light on aerospace defenses.

"Warships have opened fire and... Stravag! Liao Dropships are firing back already!"

"I do not understand, Captain." Jaime replied. "Why would the Dropships firing back be a surprise?"

"Colonel, the range is still to long for normal weaponry. Many, no most of the defending Dropships appear to be armed with naval grade weaponry and that should be impossible. Well, not the missiles, but many of them are firing lasers and autocannon and are landing reasonable hit rates for the range. That is what is impossible."

Stravag, Jaime thought. The Dragoons had received reports that many Inner Sphere assault Dropships carried energy and ballistic weapons far heavier than the ones mechs and aerospace fighters normally carried, but his aerospace combat experts had dismissed them as major threats despite the lack of performance data. After all, the weapons were big, but nowhere as big as full up naval grade weapons. How dangerous could they possibly be?

It seemed the Dragoons were about to find out.

"Our aerospace fighters have engaged theirs, Colonel. Liao assault dropships are dying as we would expect they would to true naval grade weapons fire. Their weapons appear to have naval grade range but lack naval grade firepower. Still, there's a lot of them... Colonel, a bunch of them are focusing on the Mars."

Vincent Class Corvette (blockcade run) (by Colourbrand)

Vincent Class Corvette, Mars in it's final moments.

That was bad. Jaime might not know much about aerospace combat, but he knew the Ares was the smallest, least armored Warship in his fleet. He depended on his Warship and Dropship captains' and aerospace fighter commanders' recommendations when it came to his aerospace force composition, and he hoped that they hadn't made a...

"Colonel, we've lost the Mars."


Battle at El Diablo Pass[]

1 March 3008
El Diablo Pass, New Aragon
Capellan Confederation


Zeta Battalion pushed into El Diablo pass. Recon intel had said that the pass was defended only with light forces from Waco's Rangers, another mercenary unit, but those light forces consisted of not just light mechs, but quite a few mediums and even some heavy mechs, all of which seemed to sport jump jets, and all of them speedier than Zeta's assault mechs to boot.

Aerospace support was pretty much non-existent for both sides beyond some recon overflights. The Dragoons remaining Warships had won the space battle, but their armor was in tatters with multiple breeches that had been sealed by harjel, and they were sitting out the rest of the battle except for providing orbital observation and serving as a base for the Dragoons remaining aerospace fighters, most of which were sparring with their defending counterparts in the upper atmosphere.

Zeta Battalion was pushing into El Diablo pass in order to flank the defenders' strong defensive positions in the Estacado Mountains. Waco's Rangers were contesting their advance as best they could, using their mobility and the cover of El Diablo's broken to harass Zeta's advance without getting too shot up themselves. But the Dragoons' superior gunnery skills nullified the Rangers superior mobility, giving the advantage to the Dragoons superior weight in metal.

Colonel Frank Wells had yet to do much fighting himself this battle. It was an annoying consequence of having chosen to drive an Annihilator, a mech that was sluggish even by assault mech standards. That left him and his command lance at the rear of Zeta's advance where there wasn't much opportunity for personal glory, but plenty of time to watch the unfolding battle on his battle tracker and think about what was going on.

His battalion was fighting a bunch of fast maneuvers and none of them had attempted to flank them and pick off the trailing mechs? Frank and his lance – all of whom were also driving Annihilators – were more than ready for such tactics, but the fact that even a token attempt hadn't been made yet raised Frank's suspicions. Given the topology of the terrain and the positioning of Zeta's mechs, Frank suspected that the Rangers were attempting to lead them into an ambush. And Frank was letting them because he was sure the Zeta Battalion could handle whatever surprise the Rangers were about to spring.

"Assault mechs right flank! Bravo Company engaging!"

Aha, there it was., Wells thought

"Watch out for that hatchet!"

"Dammit, we just lost Percy!"

Frank angled his lance to head towards the right flank. He didn't push his lance into a run; they'd already been running at full speed just to keep up with the rest of Zeta Battalion.

"Argh! They took out my leg. My mech is down!"

Charger (by forest stream - Firing)

Charger Assault 'Mech, firing weapons in combat.

"What in Kerensky's name are they using for armor? I just saw a Gauss round bounce off the Charger's head and it is still fighting!"

Okay, that was a new one. Two years ago, Frank would have dismissed a Charger as a serious threat. Today, he knew better than to do that.

Frank rounded a rock formation just in time to see the Charger bury its hatchet into the head of a Dragoon Stalker. In the brief instant before Frank laid his targeting reticle on it and opened fire, Frank noticed there was something odd about its armor lay out, but he couldn't put his mental thumb on it before he sent sent four heavy LB-X slugs smashing into the Charger.

The slugs smashed new craters into already cratered armor, but the Charger hardly seemed to notice. Instead, it activated its jump jets and leaped towards Frank from two hundred meters away. Frank immediately put his Annihilator into reverse, and the lumbering assault mech slowed to a stop just as the Charger hit the ground right in front of it. If Frank hadn't stopped running forward when he did, he was sure the Charger would have landed on his Annihilator and smash it to pieces.

With zero time to think, Frank targeted the Charger again as his Annihilator started back pedaling and fired a full alpha strike into the Charger. Four more LB-X slugs punched into the Charger and four Medium Pulse Lasers vaporized and melted more armor, but nothing penetrated. In response, the Charger swung the hatchet in its hand in an uppercut as it straightened up from its landing. The hatchet bit right through the Annihilator's left arm armor, not quite severing it, but Frank could feel the impact through his chair and all the left arm weapon status indicators went black.

As the Charger pulled its right arm back for another swing of its hatchet, Frank fired everything he had left into it. Behind him, the first of his lancemates finally managed to waddle past Frank's mech and get a clear shot on the Charger, adding his own alpha strike. The Charger soaked up the fire like some invincible juggernaut, and was swinging its hatchet towards Frank again when the last LB-X slug nailed it right in the crater left behind by the earlier Gauss strike and caved its head in.


Accusations of a Grieving Father[]

7 March 3008
HPG Station, New Aragon
Federated Suns

"The Dragoons murdered my boy!" Colonel Wayne Waco insisted loudly.

"I'm sorry, Colonel Waco." the local Comstar Precentor said firmly. "But the MRB has reviewed all the battle ROMs of the event and has determined that your son was a perfectly normal casualty of war."

"Colonel Waco." Jaime said with far more patience than he thought he would ever have with fools like this. "Your son died in honorable combat with my people. In fact, given that he had taken down five of my people, two fatally, before being killed himself, I would say he died heroically. Insisting that we 'murdered' your son just spits on his memory and what he as managed to accomplish."

"You're a liar, Wolf." Waco spat. "I made sure my son had the best hardened armor that money could buy! No way you could have shot through it! You must've sabotaged my son's Charger!"

Wolf silently sighed in frustration at this man's idiocy and wished he could challenge him to a Trial of Grievance. But that wasn't a thing in the Inner Sphere. In any case, it looked like Waco's own people weren't buying his accusations, but the venomous looks they gave the Dragoons suggested that they would support their leader regardless of who was right or wrong.

Oh well, it's not like it mattered, Jaime thought. The Dragoons had won the planet. The Waco Rangers and other defenders had lost. Except for Wayne Waco and his immediate party, most of the surviving defenders had already retreated off planet. And Jaime didn't care what sore, dishonorable losers like Wayne Waco thought.


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