Kolovraty, Lyran Commonwealth
3 September 3038
The irony of the situation wasn't lost on Cera. After almost four years of fighting together in the arenas of Solaris, Garadun wasn't at her side for the first battle to be fought as professional mercenaries. She couldn't blame him, not really. It was simply bad luck that he'd been out on patrol when the alarm sounded.
It had been a civilian pilot who'd alerted them. She'd been en route to the town of New Bregenz when she spotted the Union class DropShip on its landing vector toward the north of the capitol. She immediately radioed in, reporting the ship's position to the civilian air traffic controllers, who passed on the report to the Innsbruck Militia.
Colonel Phillips called for an immediate scramble, and the Fusiliers had gotten kitted out in double-time, mounting their BattleMechs and getting the fusion engines started as quickly as safety allowed. Cold-starting a fusion engine was never safe, nor good for the engine. Once all systems were on-line, Alexandra led her warriors from the hangar. The command lance of 1st Light Armour Company joined them, as well as three squads of troopers in APCs, driving ahead of the Fusiliers and clearing the way along the highway. The Innsbruck PD also lent a hand, closing off streets leading to the highway and getting existing traffic off or to the side of the road as quickly as possible.
The combined forces travelled at best possible speed down the highway until they reached the north end of Innsbruck, where they abandoned the road and moved onto open farmland. While the BattleMechs simply walked across the landscape, the Strikers and APCs had a bit harder time with the terrain; the vehicles were wheeled, not tracked. Thankfully the fields were fallow, so no crops were damaged.
The pirate forces had left their DropShip to march toward Innsbruck where they undoubtedly had plans to loot the city for all they could.
The Fusiliers had no intention of allowing that.
Alexandra didn't have time to come up with any sort of complicated battle plan, so she simply arranged her forces in a skirmish line, the Command and Battle Lances spread over a few hundred meters. The tankers were told to hang back and wait for a chance to flank the invaders. Each Striker carried a Valiant LRM-10 rack and a Valiant SRM-6 rack; the long-range missiles would be good for harassing fire.
Dammit, Gar, this isn't fair, Cera thought, feeling a mixture of irritation and fear. You should be at my side for this. You should be leading the lance, not me.
With her partner off on the other side of the city, command of the Battle Lance had fallen to her. She felt so alone. She'd fought most of her battles on Solaris at his side. Even during her one-on-one matches he'd been in the nearby bays of whichever arena she was fighting in, sitting in his Hunchback and watching the match, ready to come to her aid if it was needed. She'd done the same for him during his one-on-ones.
"Okay, girls, here they come," said Cera, using her Orion's laser comm system to talk to her lancemates. "Marie, you stay on my right. Laura, you're on my left."
"What's the plan, Cera?" The nervousness in Marie's voice was plain to hear.
"Laura and I will start hitting them with our LRMS as we close," said Cera. "As soon as they're in range, you and her will add your large lasers. We get in close and blast the hell out of them. We watch each other's backs. Don't let them get behind us."
"You got it, boss," said Laura confidently.
"And if you get the chance, Marie, get in somebody's face with that hatchet of yours," Cera added. "It's a hell of a weapon."
"Will do, Cera."
Cera's regular comm system activated. "All right, Fusiliers, this is it," said Alexandra. "Keep it tight and watch each other's backs. Fire when you get a good shot. Acknowledge." When everyone had replied, she added, "Right, here we go. Good hunting."
The battlefield was literally that: an open field. The pirates had emerged from a long row of trees at the opposite end. There was nothing between them and the Fusiliers but empty ground. Cera knew this would be a straight-out slugging match.
The Command Lance was over two hundred meters to the right of her position, and her monitors showed the Striker light tanks breaking into pairs behind her, splitting the lance up to lend support to both 'Mech lances.
Coming across the snowy ground toward her was a lance of enemy BattleMechs she knew were going to be trouble. Facing her from right to left were a Centurion, a Dervish, a Hunchback and a Scorpion. The last 'Mech was the most noteworthy because it was a four-legged design, trudging along like some sort of giant robotic insect. You didn't see a lot of Scorpions on the battlefield. They were so unpopular among MechWarriors that to be assigned one was considered punishment, because the 'Mech's gait bucked the pilot around violently. The 55-ton machine was dangerous, however, because it packed a PPC and an SRM-6 launcher.
The three other BattleMechs were the same models piloted by the Fusiliers, but Cera was positive they weren't nearly as well-maintained. The Hunchback definitely wasn't because her thermal sensors showed its engine was putting out a lot of waste heat. It was damaged and hadn't been repaired. The pirates came charging across the field, with the Scorpion on the far left pulling slightly ahead of its comrades. The Dervish was also moving quicker than the Hunchback and Centurion.
Cera waved her 'Mech's right arm as she started forward. "Leave the Hunchback to me, girls. As soon as you're in optimum range, let 'em have it. Laura, target the Scorpion first. Marie, the Centurion is yours. Now let's go kick some pirate ass."
She got her Orion into a steady trot across the field, swinging her targeting receptacle onto the centre mass of the Hunchback. Its heavy autocannon was the biggest threat and she wanted it down and out. When both groups were about two hundred meters apart, the space between them began to fill with the bright beams of energy weapons, tracers from autocannons, and the smoking trails of missiles as everyone opened fire.
Cera started with her LRM rack, and six of the ten missiles struck home, blasting into the Hunchback's torso. The medium laser in Shinigami's right arm missed, but two of the missiles from its left arm SRM launcher hit home. Most devastatingly of all, the Orion's heavy autocannon struck the Hunchback square in the middle of its chest, obliterating almost all the armour. The temperature in her cockpit soared and her 'Mech began to slow from overheating.
Laura dropped her crosshairs on the Scorpion, first firing her LRMs and then following up with her large laser. The missiles exploded on the 'Mech's forelegs, and her large laser nailed the right side, melting away almost all the armour there in one shot. She gave a victorious shout at her success.
Marie was fighting her fear, part of her mind pretending this was all a simulator run in an effort to cope with genuine battle. She took a breath, got the Centurion in her sights, and fired all three of her lasers. All three missed.
Off to Laura's left, the tankers had evidently decided not to wait. They drove along at full speed, bouncing now and then along the uneven ground, beginning a sweep that would eventually bring them behind the enemy. The turrets on the Strikers turned and launched a hail of long-range missiles at the Scorpion. One tank missed completely, but the other destroyed the remaining armour on the 'Mech's right foreleg and blew off some armour from the right hind leg.
Despite the punishment it was taking, the Scorpion stayed upright. The tankers must have pissed off the pilot because instead of attacking Laura as she expected, it shifted slightly to its right and fired at the trailing Striker with its PPC. The cerulean bolt of artificial lighting sizzled just over the top of the tank, narrowly missing.
The Hunchback fired its own Type 20 autocannon back at Cera, but unlike her it failed to hit. The Dervish beside it unleashed both its LRM launchers at Cera's Orion; one volley missed completely, the missiles exploding on the ground behind her. The other hit, with five missiles blasting into Shinigami's left leg and a single missile striking the torso, removing little more than paint.
The Centurion Marie was facing fired its own missiles at her, as well as opening up with the Luxor autocannon mounted in its right arm. The autocannon rounds simply chewed up dirt in front of the Hatchetman, but missiles blasted armour from the right arm and left leg. Marie let out a very girlish scream – and then felt really embarrassed. All right, so she was the youngest and least experienced of the Fusiliers. But she was still a MechWarrior, dammit. And MechWarriors do not scream like little girls.
Irked with herself, she continued forward and yelled, "Fusiliers Forever!"
Obviously now much more cautious, the pirates slowed their advance across the field, going from flank speed to a steady walk. The Scorpion moved forward and turned towards the tankers. Oh yeah, they had definitely pissed it off.
"Laura, cross over!" Cera ordered. "Go for the Dervish! I'll take the Hunchback."
"Jawhol, Oberhaupt!" said Laura with a grin. "I'm on it."
Cera moved to her left and slogged across the field, twisting her torso to face the Hunchback now directly in front of her some eighty meters away. Laura crossed behind her and hurried over to face the Dervish at about the same range. Marie yelled in defiance and got her Hatchetman running across the field to attack the Centurion at point-blank range, lifting up the hatchet in her 'Mech's right hand as she closed. Along the far left flank the two Strikers continued their run at top speed, bouncing along the rough ground as they tried to get behind the pirates.
"I'm not a 'Mech bunny!" Marie shouted and fired her lasers at the Centurion as she charged. The pair of mediums missed, but the large laser vaporised half a ton of armour from the Centurion's right flank. As she got within a few meters she swung her 'Mech's hatchet into the Centurion's right arm, ripping away huge chunks of armour. That blow knocked the Centurion's arm well off target just as it was firing its Luxor autocannon, sending a stream of tracers into the ground. The medium laser in its chest was on target, striking the Hatchetman's left side.
The Scorpion pivoted on its slim legs and fired at the same Striker it had missed before. Its missiles fell well short of the target, but its PPC found the mark, the charged particle stream annihilating almost half the armour on the tank's turret. The Striker fired back, but the PPC blast had thrown off the gunner's aim and he missed with both short and long-ranged missiles. The gunner in the other tank missed with his LRM launcher, but managed to hit with half his SRM volley. One missile blasted more armour from the Scorpion's right flank; two others blew apart sections of the right foreleg's metal bones and myomer muscles.
Quite aware that her Orion was overheating, Cera left off firing her medium laser and SRM launcher, and she was too close for her LRM rack. She got the Hunchback in her sights and opened up with her Tomodzuru Type 20. She hit the right arm, blowing away every scrap of armour it had and destroying lots of myomer muscles. The loss of so much weight unbalanced the Hunchback and it began to topple over. It managed to fire its own weapons before going down. The laser on its right arm missed; the one on its left hit Shinigami's right arm. Its heavy autocannon blasted into the Orion's left torso, destroying almost all the armour. However, Cera kept her 'Mech upright. The Hunchback spun to the right as it fell and came crashing down hard, first hitting the ground along its right side and then rolling face-down into the dirt with its back to Cera. It lay still for a few moments, then tried to get to its feet.
Laura squared off against the Dervish, holding out her Griffin's Sunbeam large laser like a gunfighter. She fired and hit it in the left arm, boiling away almost all the armour. She followed up with her chest-mounted laser and hit the Dervish in the centre torso. Her opponent fired back with the medium lasers and SRM-2 packs in each of its arms, but only managed to hit with a single missile, chipping armour and paint from the Griffin's right flank.
The Hunchback managed to haul itself to its feet and turned to face Cera. She gave her Orion full throttle and ran right at it. It looked like she was going to ram it; at the last moment she dodged to the left and skipped around behind it, twisting her torso to bring her weapons to bear. Two missiles from her SRM launcher hit home; one destroying more of the Hunchback's right arm, the other blowing armour off the right flank. She tried cuffing it with her right arm and missed. Her heavy autocannon, on the other hand, completed destroyed the right torso, sending what remained of the arm flying through the air. She walked the fire, blasting the centre torso's armour and then eating into the exposed internal structure, almost destroying the engine.
The Hunchback's pilot wasn't suicidal and ejected, leaving the 'Mech to topple over, crashing headfirst into the ground.
As their opponents began backing up, Laura and Marie took a page from Garadun's book and activated their jump jets. They soared up and over their opponents, turning in mid-flight to land directly behind them. Laura shot the Dervish dead centre of its back with her large laser, destroying all the armour and melting some of the skeleton. She wound up with her 'Mech's left arm and punched the Dervish, striking the right torso and ripping away all the armour. The impact of the heavy fist also crumpled some of the exposed and vulnerable framework.
The blow hadn't been that bad, yet it was enough for some of the support structure to breach the LRM magazine, which set off a single missile. That explosion initiated a terminal cascade and in seconds the entire 'Mech blew itself apart; but not before the pilot managed to eject clear of the blast. As the ammunition started going off, Laura quickly began backing away; her Griffin was showered with flame and pieces of flying debris. Luckily the damage wasn't too severe.
Marie's Hatchetman took one step back as she regained her balance from the jump. She fired her large laser and missed. Cursing, she took an extra couple of seconds to aim and followed up with her two mediums. One burned the Centurion's right chest; the other blasted the middle of its back. The Centurion's rear-firing laser shot at her and missed. Pissed off, Marie swung her 'Mech's hatchet back behind her cockpit, and then brought it crashing down into the right torso, crushing the last of the armour and much of the titanium skeleton beneath.
The Scorpion turned in place to follow the path of the two Strikers, but the drivers swung around with the kind of skill that would've made a race car driver proud and doubled back, driving behind the Scorpion, the gunners opening up with their SRM launchers. Missiles exploded all over the 'Mech, blowing off hunks of armour.
With two lancemates down, the pilot of the Scorpion evidently decided that they'd had enough and bugged out. The 'Mech took off for the tree line at the end of the field, its four insect-like legs propelling it along at over 90 kph. The two Strikers skidded to a halt and swung around to pursue, but by the time they'd gotten going again the Scorpion had stomped through the trees and out of sight.
Now completely outnumbered, the pilot of the Centurion lifted the 'Mech's arms in an obvious sign of surrender and shut down its fusion engine. As the pilot emerged from the cockpit and climbed down the 'Mech's ladder to the ground, one of the APCs drove up and let out its soldiers, who started taking the pirates into custody.
Cera smiled, feeling proud of herself and her lancemates.
Alexandra had never been so nervous or frightened in her life. Worrying about Garadun when he'd fought his duel on Galatea had been bad enough, but this was worse. Her own life and the lives of her warriors were at risk, to say nothing of what would happen to Innsbruck if the pirates got past the Fusiliers and the Innsbruck Militia.
She closed her eyes for a second, taking a deep breath, then opened them with grim determination. She'd spent years of training and millions of kroner to get to this very moment: leading a mercenary company into battle. Her training had covered far more than simply knowing how to pilot of BattleMech. It had included tactics, leadership, and how to master her fear so she could do her job.
You can do this, Alexandra, she thought. Make Elizabeth proud of her big sister.
"All right, Fusiliers, this is it," she said, trying to sound confident. "Keep it tight and watch each other's backs. Fire when you get a good shot. Acknowledge."
One after the other, the Fusiliers said they were ready.
"Right, here we go. Good hunting."
A couple hundred meters to her left Cera was leading the Battle Lance, minus one warrior. Garadun was off somewhere on the other side of the city, apparently fighting the rest of the pirates on his own. "I said I'm on it. Kinda busy right now," had been his last words before ending his transmission. Was he actually attacking an entire DropShip by himself? If so, then maybe Ian was right and he was crazy. That, or maybe just very brave. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference.
Alexandra gave her attention to the matter at hand. Arrayed on the far side of the field, from left to right, was a Vindicator, a pair of Wolverines, and lastly a Shadow Hawk. They were solid, medium class BattleMechs and all were jump-capable.
To her right was Ian in his custom Dervish, Bad Dog No Biscuits, and to her left was Sayuki in her Centurion, Bonaparte. On Sayuki's left was Sun-Lao in his vintage Rifleman, Eight Ball. Ian's 'Mech could jump a respectable distance, but Sayuki's could only manage a short hop. Neither Iron Giant, Alexandra's Thunderbolt, nor Sun-Lao's Rifleman could jump, so the pirates had the advantage in manoeuvrability. Alexandra was hoping her people had the advantage in firepower.
Fusiliers squared off against pirates, both lances stomping across the snow-covered field toward each other, bringing their weapons to bear as the distance between them diminished. Alexandra noted with satisfaction that the Vindicator had a pronounced limp in its right leg; the leg actuator was damaged. It was keeping up with its comrades but was building up heat in doing so. At a little over two hundred meters Alexandra shouted, "Fire!" and her lancemates did just that.
Alexandra put her sights on the Wolverine to her left and pressed her thumb down on her joystick's top middle button, firing her 'Mech's LRM-20, and then squeezed the main trigger, shooting her large laser. To her joy and relief both weapons hit, and then some. Every single one of Iron Giant's missiles exploded on target, which was a hellava nice way for her to start her first battle. Three-quarters of them blew nearly all the armour from the Wolverine's right arm; the remainder impacted on the centre torso. Her large laser struck the chest as well, reducing its protection even further.
The Wolverine staggered from the onslaught, firing wildly at Alexandra as it fell. The light autocannon in its right hand shot tracers into the sky and the head-mounted medium laser was equally off-target. Three missiles from its SRM-6 pack managed to corkscrew through the air and hit the Thunderbolt, impacting on its chest and right arm. The Wolverine spun to the right, landing face-down on the ground.
With one Wolverine down for the moment, Sayuki gave her attention to the other, firing her Holly LRM-5 launcher, the only weapon she had that could reach it. To her dismay, though, she missed. Ian targeted the same 'Mech with his LRM-10 launchers. One volley overshot; the second hit with four missiles, chipping armour from the left flank. The Wolverine retaliated; missing with its SRM launcher yet hitting with its light autocannon, reducing the right torso armour on Ian's Dervish. The Shadow Hawk also targeted Ian, firing every weapon it had. Its Holly SRM-2 pack missed but its Armstrong autocannon, Holly LRM-5 rack and Martel medium laser all blasted away at Bad Dog No Biscuits, hitting its left flank and right arm and leg. Ian cursed, but was glad to see only armour had been damaged.
Sun-Lao had the limping, enemy Vindicator directly in his sights. With a flick of a switch he set his autocannons to ultra mode, dropped his crosshairs right about centre of the Vindicator, and pressed his thumb down on his joystick's big blue button, firing every weapon Eight Ball had at the same time. On Solaris this tactic was commonly known as an "Alpha Strike," and the vintage Rifleman was designed for it. The autocannons fired what seemed to be a non-stop stream of tracers into the pirate's 'Mech, blasting away huge chunks armour from its flanks and stiff right leg. One of the large lasers vaporised more than half the armour from its right arm; the other cut into the centre torso, slicing through a weak spot as it melted armour, damaging the engine. Its heat output increased dramatically.
The Vindicator was blown off its feat, the PPC in its right arm discharging a blue beam of charged particles high into the air; the medium laser in the head doing the same. Three missiles from its chest-mounted LRM-5 rack managed to hit the Rifleman's left arm, but that was nothing. The Vindicator staggered and crashed onto its back. Sun-Lao winced, imagining how that must have felt to the pilot.
The Wolverine Alexandra had knocked down got to its feet again, turning to face her and backing up at the same time. The Vindicator managed to get off its back and hobble to its feet; though it didn't move any further than that. The Shadow Hawk and the second Wolverine stood their ground with their lancemates. Sayuki charged her Centurion at full speed, desperate to close the distance so she could bring her main weapon into play. Alexandra and Ian followed her, running on the diagonal and turning their 'Mech's torsos to face the enemy. Sun-Lao simply trotted forward, keeping his guns locked on the Vindicator as he closed to short range.
The Vindicator swung its PPC into line as quickly as it could and managed to hit Eight Ball dead centre of its chest, obliterating over half a ton of armour. Its medium laser shot wide. Sun-Lao cursed, shading his eyes as every electronic screen and holoemitter in his cockpit was scrambled for a second or two from the PPC's discharge. He fired back, his lasers blazing and autocannons blasting. Armour was shot off the Vindicator's left leg, and the centre torso's armour was almost completely vaporised. Even worse, laser and autocannon fire combined to blow its right arm and PPC to smithereens.
With its right arm and main weapon gone, a badly overheating engine, a bum right leg that made running next to impossible, and facing a Rifleman of unheard-of power that was turning the machine to scrap, the pilot of the Vindicator (who had a painful shoulder wound thanks to the 'Mech's previous fall) knew they were hopelessly outmatched and shut down their machine, a clear sign of surrender.
Sayuki dropped her crosshairs on the Shadow Hawk and fired the heavy autocannon in Bonaparte's right arm, as well as the medium laser in its chest. The laser missed; the autocannon hit the Shadow Hawk dead-centre, its armour-piercing rounds ripping apart almost all the armour there. The 'Mech staggered, although its pilot kept it upright and gave back as good as they got. Bonaparte had two-thirds of its armour stripped from its right side and a small chunk of armour blown off its left leg.
Now facing the second Wolverine, Alexandra fired her large laser and then all three of her medium lasers. The large laser went wide, but the trio of mediums hit home, blazing into the Wolverine's right arm and leg. The Wolverine shot back, missing with its autocannon but hitting with four of six missiles from its SRM launcher, exploding all over the Thunderbolt's chest and left leg.
Ian engaged the other Wolverine, bringing up his Dervish's arms and opening up with the 'Mech's four medium lasers, hitting with all of them. One laser melted almost all the remaining armour from its centre torso; another took more armour from the right leg; a third boiled armour from the right flank; and the fourth destroyed the last of the armour on the right arm and destroyed much of the arm's skeleton and myomer muscles. The pilot kept the Wolverine standing and successfully blasted Ian with all its weapons. The autocannon and laser struck the Dervish's chest. Missiles from its SRM launcher blew even more chest armour away, as well as on the right arm.
The Fusiliers were caught off-guard by what the pirates did next – at least for a moment or two. The three 'Mechs actually turned their heads to look at each other as humans would, then activated their jump jets, landing behind Ian, Alexandra and Sayuki. This was the same move Cera, Laura and Marie were executing down the field on their opponents. Unfortunately for the pirates they underestimated how the Fusiliers would react. They expected panic, but the Fusiliers had been training for this kind of situation. Ian spun in place and backed up about thirty meters or so, Alexandra did the same, and Sayuki turned around and stayed right where she was. Most dangerous of all, Sun-Lao simply turned to his right and ran his Rifleman at full speed across the field to wind up behind the pirates, turning the tables on them.
The Wolverine facing Ian fired all its weapons and missed completely. Ian shot back with his medium lasers, hitting with three out of four and melting lots of armour from its right arm and right flank. The other Wolverine shot its autocannon and SRM launcher at Alexandra; the autocannon missed but the SRM blasted the Thunderbolt's left arm and right torso. Annoyed and angry, Alexandra struck back, hitting with her large laser and two of her mediums, melting armour from the chest, flank and left leg.
The Shadow Hawk hit Sayuki's Centurion with its autocannon and SRM-2 launcher, blowing off bits of armour from her right arm and torso, but missed with its laser. Once again, Sayuki missed with Bonaparte's medium laser as she fired back, yet also once again she successfully blasted away with her heavy autocannon. This time she hit the Shadow Hawk in the right torso, annihilating every scrap of armour and ripping into the fragile workings beneath. The pilot managed to keep the 'Mech on its feet.
As Sun-Lao came running behind the pirates, he spread the Rifleman's arms, targeting both Wolverines. His aim was dead-on. The Wolverine to his left, the one facing Ian, had most of the remaining armour on its right leg eradicated by cannon fire. Then its back was hit by laser fire, reducing the armour there to nothing. The other Wolverine had the armour on its left rear flank blasted to almost nothing, and then the armour on its left arm was reduced by half from a laser strike.
"Chiu se bei bi shiou ren!" Sun-Lao yelled happily.
It was at this time the two Striker tanks went into action. Unlike their lancemates helping the Battle Lance, they had waited for a chance to flank the pirates. They drove in until they were about thirty or forty meters directly behind each Wolverine and opened up with their SRM launchers. The Wolverine facing Ian had its right arm damaged even further, as well as the right torso. The other Wolverine got nailed in the right leg, but two missiles blasted into the left torso, breaching the armour. The ammunition for the 'Mech's short-range missile launcher was set off, and the pilot ejected before the Wolverine blew itself to pieces.
The two remaining pirates made a run for it, jumping again, this time in the direction of the tree line and landing facing their opponents. Ian, Alexandra and Sayuki turned their 'Mechs around once more to face them, and Sun-Lao turned his Rifleman and ran to catch up with Ian. The two Strikers gunned their engines and raced after the fleeing pirates; one managing to drive up about thirty meters off Sun-Lao's left, the other driving up along Sayuki's right side.
Ian shot the Wolverine with his medium lasers just as it landed. He hit the right torso and left arm, and vaporised the last of the armour on the left leg, damaging the skeleton and myomer muscles. Worse still, the laser blast destroyed the left hip actuator, freezing up the leg almost entirely. Amazingly, the pilot was able to stop the Wolverine from falling over. Alexandra opened up on it with her lasers. Only her large laser hit, but her aim couldn't have been better. She boiled the entire left leg into so many droplets of molten metal and the Wolverine went down, crashing onto its left side before rolling onto its face. It didn't move after that.
The Shadow Hawk fired at Sayuki after it landed, only hitting with a single missile and blowing paint off her left arm. She shot back and for the third time in a row she missed with her laser but hit with her heavy autocannon. She blasted it right in the middle of its chest, disintegrating what little armour remained along with almost the entire support structure and damaging the engine. It toppled over on its back, and when it hit the ground the whole 'Mech simply blew apart. Arms and legs bounced over the uneven terrain, the engine and gyro exploded, and the cockpit section was sent rolling along the ground. It came to a halt on its side, comparatively intact.
Innsbruck Militia APCs pulled up and soldiers hurried out to take custody of the pirates. They all needed medical attention and the pilots from the still-intact Wolverine and the shattered Shadow Hawk were found unconscious in their cockpits. Cera, Marie and Laura came trotting over to join their friends, dismounting and glad to see that none of them were injured. Not only were the Fighting Fusiliers and Innsbruck Militia victorious, but no-one's 'Mech or tank had suffered anything worse than armour damage.
"One of das Schwein got away," said Laura, pointing.
"We could try to go after it," Marie suggested.
"No, none of our 'Mechs are fast enough to catch it," said Alexandra, and then looked around at her warriors with a wide smile. "Congratulations, everyone! Our very first engagement and we obliterated the enemy. We've proven we can do it."
The Fusiliers cheered.
"What about Gar?" Cera asked anxiously. "Is he all right?"
"Why don't you ask him?" said Ian with a grin, looking over her shoulder, and they all turned to see Garadun's Hunchback and two of the Militia's Strikers coming over the horizon toward them. When they finally arrived, they could see the BattleMech had sustained some minor armour damage. After coming to a halt, the hatch was opened, the chain ladder lowered, and Garadun made his way to the ground where he strolled over and met up with his friends.
"So, what'd I miss?"