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Chapter 72 - What Could Go Wrong[]

18 December 3041
Joshua (Former Outworld Alliance System)

Master Sergeant Harry Caldwell studied the newest problem to face their operations, the downed Battlemechs blocked the tunnel leading outside the Depot. Without any sort of way to recover downed Battlemechs, they were left with very few options. The first option was to play shuffleboard with the hundreds of vehicles inside the Depot until they got 4-6 Merkava Heavy Tanks up close enough to get a whole bunch of tow cables on the Battlemechs and try to pull them out of the way, at least would need to be moved to clear the tunnel enough to get some outside.

Generic Main Tank

Merkava Heavy Battle Tank

The second option was to try using the Mining Mechs to use even more tow cables to try and drag the Battlemechs down the tunnel and then outside. The third option was to chop them up in some fashion so they could clear a path of some sort. He saw many problems for every option he could think of. Tow cables could snap and become deadly flying objects, they could tear the transmissions out of the Merkavas, a Battlemech could get wedged something ugly in the tunnel and then they would really be screwed, he doubted they had near enough cutting torch fuel to chop even a single Battlemech up. It was a real head scratcher.

Without Chief Vincent Zuniga on the surface and still 4 days from even reaching the captured Merchant Jumpship, they had roped the Intrusive's chief engineer into looking at the downed Lion Dropship. The main issue was that 7,000 plus tons was lying at a 33-degree angle. No way anything or any combinations of things on hand would be able to lift that kind of weight. Plus, it would need some sort of pulley system to even pull the Lion Dropship upright. The busted landing gear was the least of their problems. Even with all if his experience and years in the AFFS Navy, he had no knowledge of anyone attempting to even try and launch at that kind of angle, nor did he know if the Dropships computer would even allow them to make the attempt. The AFFS had a maximum lean of 4 degrees for a safe lift off, he figured that was padded some for safety by those writing the regulations, so maybe 8 degrees could be done, but he had no clue and personally did not want to be inside that Dropship if it was tried.

Leftenant Colonel David Mitchell was pissed at himself, not so much that he was not here quicker which cost lives, but that he had not planned better and had the unit properly equipped for any sort of opposition they might face out here. He was so used to being able to call on heavier forces or knowing reinforcements from the AFFS/AFFC would arrive sooner or later. The reality had slapped him good and hard; this was a very dangerous place and that no help would be arriving to bail them out if they got into trouble. He had been overconfident in his abilities and those of his command. This was punctuated by the line of body bags waiting to be buried on this forgotten world. He had a bunch of letters to write informing family members of their loss. He hated the thought of leaving HIS people out here.

Mentally, he was already making a list of things that HAD to be done before they moved to another mission site.

1) Battlemechs and MechWarriors, the best counter for enemy Battlemechs<br> 2) Proper recovery equipment for anything they might find or salvage
3) Enough cargo capacity to haul anything they might find or salvage
4) Enough people to crew everything they fielded and extra bodies just in case
5) Specialists in every sort of specialty anyone could name
6) Spend whatever it takes to make the above happen

He was still sitting alone thinking when Sergeant Nathan Davis plopped down beside him. "Sir, your beating yourself up over this and its doing no one any good. We gave as good as we got. After this haul, we will be better off for the next mission."

"That does not change the fact that I could have had us better prepared Davis. I was too confident even arrogant about our ability to handle whatever came our way. Too many people warned me that this area was very dangerous." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell replied

"You and all of us sir. I said it myself; no pirates would be able to defeat us. Well, if we had gotten caught in the open or tried to fight them in the open, they would have handed us our ass. We know better now; we will be better prepared next time." Sergeant Davis said

"I hope there is never a next time." Leftenant Colonel Mitchell replied

"Hope in one hand and crap in the other, see which fills up fastest. I am convinced this sort of operation is always going to bring some sort of conflict. Either before we find what we are looking for, after we find it, and someone comes to try and take it away from us or even some buyer that tries to screw us over. As much as I love the Federated Suns, the stuff we are finding, I half expect them to screw us over the first chance they get. It is just going to have to be a fact of our business and be on our guard at all times. Simple as that, sir." Sergeant Davis said

Leftenant Colonel Mitchell looked at the young Sergeant Davis. Young but wise beyond his years, smarter than I will ever be. "Thanks Davis, I am going to sit here a little longer and work out in my mind what all needs to change. Go see if Master Sergeant Caldwell has come up with some sort of solution for all that wreckage inside the Depot."

"Sure thing, Sir. Don't sit up here too long, the troops are getting worried." Sergeant Davis said as he stood up and walked down the low rise towards the Depot.

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