ELH vs OA - Recon in the Swamp

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ELH vs OA - Recon in the Swamp

Post by Firemane » 24 Jul 2003, 18:59

Sgt. Firemane
Combat Diary

Epsilon Eridani
South Swamp
12 July 30xx

The humidity had to be 90%, and every bug from that miserable swamp was somehow getting into the improvised Mechbay. It shouldn't have taken three hours to clean the muck off the heat sinks. But the bug hunt for the Marsh Tarantula shot everyone’s nerves, and it took awhile for every to get back to work. If it weren’t for Vege squashing that thing with the empty LBX casing, we'd still be jumping every time we brushed against something that felt like that damn spider.

About two weeks ago, the Outworlds Alliance dropped a force in the swamp and tried to recon our facilities located on the coast. Fortunately for ELH, we had a dropship in orbit that day. I personally didn’t think it was lucky at the time - I was on that dropship. Our hotshot captain did a G and a half burn in so he could put us in front of the OA force. With no solid ground to set us down on, he just dumped us out of the cargo bay right into a bog. Buff6 was leading us and OA caught him hard with their initial volley as he broke through the mist. The rest of us hit them hard from their right flank and OA never got organized. We ran them all down in the swamps before they could reach their objectives.

But even with the victory, ELH decided that a temporary base was needed here, at least until the threat of a planetary assault was past. This base, an old fossil fuel exploration site, was chosen because it was the highest ground for hundreds of kilometers. I was in the first rotation that was only supposed to last for two weeks. The first five days in the heat have been miserable but we turned the place into something that resembled a base of operations. It wasn’t until today that we had the facilities or time for servicing the Mechs. Someone decided that we need more cross-swamp country practice, so we had to pilot the Mechs all the way here instead of getting a dropship ride. With the heat exchangers finally cleared we finally had the Mechs fully serviceable. We could at least head back to our quarters to get cleaned up and relax. I heard we finally got a holovid uplink connection, and the last hovercraft in reportedly contained an iced cargo. Time to kick back and…

The speaker over the door began a ragged wail causing me to nearly jump out of my skin. Then the sound abruptly stopped with an earsplitting squelch following by someone’s cursing voice…it was Stache, out in the Command Hovercar. "Mount up, people" he exclaimed. "It looks like OA is trying it again. Intel picked up a Leopard burning out of the swamp about 75 kilometers away. We have to assume they've dropped another recon raid. Buff- take 'em out on a course of 100 degrees. We'll beam you more intel while your're enroute. The groans went up and I heard the obligatory "Woo-hoo!" from Tach. Everyone turned to their Mechs, pulling on cooling vests and heading up the ladders.

At least the reactors were still warm so everyone fired up on the first try. Buff lead us out of the bay in his Scat, while Hound pounded out behind him in the Hunchback. Tach, Puft and I sped out behind them in the Wolfhounds, but quickly passed them and took the lead in arrow formation. The trip was agonizing...the swamp was an alternating expanse of marshes and muddy islands that was either too deep or slippery to allow anything close to normal running speed.

Stache cut back in several times, correcting our course. It appeared that we were lucky, the OA force was turning our way and the distance closed. The visibility began to worsen as the cool night air thickened into mist. Stache warned us to check our targets, as some ELH scout hovercraft were in the area shadowing the OA mechs. The last report indicated that a Chimera, a Bushwacker and 3 Wolfhounds were in the OA force. We slowed the pace when we reached about 1300 meters from their last reported position. Buff called for our Wolfhounds to stay passive and ease ahead. I followed Puft and Tach across a lagoon where we pulled up onto the bank of a steep, muddy island. The purchase on the slope was slippery, and I had to consciously punch the Wolfhound's "toes" deep into the bank. We scanned both ways, anxious to pick them up before they got the drop on us.

Buff's voice cut through the tension- he had radar contact. He made several OA mechs moving around our right flank. I picked up a passive radar return that flickered then vanished...the steep hill before us was cutting into the signal. I turned, eased back down the slope and into the dark water. It was too crowded up there for three Wolfhounds, anyway. I turned left and worked around the end of the small island, scanning the last reported OA position. Just over the edge of the island, I spotted a dark form moving right about 500 meters out, barely visible in the mist. Another movement following it...the Bushwacker! I called out the contact and Buff called for the Wolfhounds to pull back. He didn't want us caught in the open if OA outflanked us.

Red flashes illuminated the mist and my Mech's left arm suddenly wavered. I swivelIed left and looked along the line of small islands- nothing. I glanced at the arm to see the scorched surface of the reflective plates. I didn't think I was exposed to those on the right, but this mist made it tough to tell. Someone else called out they had been hit. We started to move the Wolfhounds in a circle, trying to spot the sniper. Buff order us to charge right, to get out of the closing trap and hit them.

Tach and Puft spun right and charged over the right shoulder of the island. I chased after them, nearly flying over the crest of the ridge. I came over the top just as Puft and Tach splashed into the next lagoon. The spray and steam washed over my canopy and then I spotted them...the Bushwhacker was crossing the lagoon, wading right towards us. At least two of their Wolfhounds were speeding around him and making toward us. The humid air suddenly lit up with laser fire and LBXs boomed. I fired all 8 medium lasers as one of the Wolfhounds flashed past me. I turned to follow him, trying to keep my speed up and avoid taking any concentrated fire. He was fast, and one of my volleys vaporized a muddy shoreline as he out-turned me. I turned to follow and managed a solid hit on his left torso. He turned hard and I followed up and over another small island. We splashed back into the water and I found I was back at the lagoon where it all started.

The OA Bushwacker was wading in a wide circle, the water foaming and boiling in its wake. I opened up on him and got satisfation as my lasers blasted loose pieces of armor. I saw other fire hitting him from several sides, I think Tach and Puft were also concentrating on him. He snapped back at us with blasts of cannon as if trying to swat away a swarm of angry bees. I felt one of his cannon strikes and his Wolfhound comrades ran in among us. I could hear their lasers striking my armor while my damge readout toned with each hit. We kept on the Bushwacker, circling and circling. After a few passes, he was scorched and faltering. My IR sensors showed a bright red glow on his lower left torso- the failing armor exposed the glowing engine. I dropped the reticle there and let loose all my lasers. The concentrated ruby spears burned through the remaining armor plates. I saw a small flash of white light, and the squat mech stumbled. The mech's long nose angled into the swamp, and the fetid water rushed into the wound. A great flash of light spilled from the damaged machine, eerily illuminating the green waters. A geyser of steam blasted out as water vaporized and superheated metals disintegrated . The mech bouyed up once then sank deeper, a thick plume of steam rising above him.

My repeated laser volleys had spiked the cockpit heat, so I turned the Wolfhound back into the water. Steam erupted as I entered, but the heat level began to fall. Buff's voice suddenly rose in my headset..."That's it guys, my mech's had it! " His transmission filled with static and I heard the roar of his cockpit ejection system. Even through that interence, I could hear Buff grunt against the G's. The emergency beacon toned in my headset so I knew that search and rescue was notified of a downed pilot. I exited the water onto a small island. I began to circle, hoping to survey the area and spot Buff's parachuting cockpit.

Angry red flashes flashed past my cockpit as an OA Wolfhound tore past me. I turned hard and followed acoss the muddy island. I was down to 6 operating lasers but I centered them on his back and let loose. Armor was blasted loose from the Hellhound, adding to a number of dents and scorched gouges already caused by my comrades. He tried to turn and evade, but I hung on him tight, trying to stay out of his arc. He zigged right and up over another island ridge, just as my lasers cycled. I held my fire until I crested the hill behind him, then slapped the reticle on his lower back. The 6 lasers bored into his lower torso just as he made the water's edge. He pitched over violently, making a huge splash as he careened into the swamp. I barely evaded the fallen mech and glanced back in my rear monitor for a second. I could see the heels of the Wolfhound protuding above the steaming water. Only a gyro hit or critical hip damage could have pitched him over so fast.

I hauled the controls around and looked for the rest of the fight. I was tearing across another lagoon, and heading toward the next island. I spotted the square shoulders of a Hunchback silhouetted over the island's ridge, a Wolfhound circling around it. The Hunchback was Hound and he was blazing away at the OA Wolfhound. I tore up the slope and began to circle left. I hit the Wolfhound once, but Hound also came left and I had held my second volley as he crossed my line of fire. I clipped the rear of his Hunchback with a shower of sparks so I swunfg wider to give him more room. I headed down to the shoreline and tried to put the Wolfhound between us. I raised the reticle to track the OA Mech, when it veered sharply to my right. I watched in horror as the Wolhound plowed directly into the Hunchback! I felt the ground tremble with their impact, and both Mechs surprisingly stood very upright, like two rams after a mating collision. I used that second to put all six lasers deep into the right torso of the Wolhound. His damaged armor blasted away in a shower of jagged fragments. I could see a red glow emanating from the tattered mech and I pounded on the controls for my lasers to recyle....just one more hit..one more... At the same instant, both of the mechs unleashed their weapons. A blinding white light grew out from each mech, and I turned away as the two fusion reactors split open. I heard another beacon tone in my headsets and my overhead camera showed two ejected cockpits arcing away over the swamp.

My sensors picked up several ELH mechs nearby and I turned to join them. I heard a victory cry over my headset, then a bright flash lit up the thick air. That was the last of the OA mechs going down. I caught up with Tach as he ran along the ridge of a narrow island. We paired up and eventualy located Puft. We locked on to the emergency beacons and soon located Buff and Hound in their ejection modules. Not a moment too soon according to them, the native crocodiles were losing their fear as we were drew near to them. Puft and I watched over our comrades and Tach searched the swamp for OA survivors. He found three OA pilots still alive, and soon ELH rescue arrived to retrieve the survivors. The three of us headed back to base, cursing the swamp as we nursed our beat up Wolfhounds through the muck.

Tach Deneva
Posts: 2329
Joined: 18 Dec 2002, 19:51
Location: KY

Post by Tach Deneva » 24 Jul 2003, 22:14

BTW, one of the OA pilots claimed that, right before he was rescued, he'd seen a strange hairy ape-man kinda critter riding through the swamp on the back of what appeared to be a mauve pleisiosaur with yellow polka-dots. He must have been suffering from shellshock. Everybody knows that pleisiosaurs are mint green with fuschia stripes!

Anyway, this guy had an almost full flask of Taurian Brandy in his survival kit. Yikes! That stuff is highly illegal pretty much everywhere except for the Taurian Concordat (of course) and the Magistracy of Canopus (where ya can still get decent absinthe, too, btw). I confiscated it, and was going to turn it over to Stache as evidence that OA was involved in some sort of smuggling operation, but by the time we all got back to the base it was very late and everybody was dead tired, so I secured it in my footlocker. When I woke up the next morning, it was gone! I suspect its disappearance is connected to the big pink elephant I saw creeping around the perimeter of the base the night before.

I'm thinking we need to double the guards.

"Shoo! Shoo! Go away! Oh God, he's got a monkey." -- Ms Purple

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