Black Omen

Operation: Red Prophecy (Conclusion)

Part 1

Lieutenant Shaun Franklin watched as the last Word of Blake Purifier crashed to the deck with a smoking hole through its face plate. With the operator dead, the suit switched itself off and the mimetic armor covering it went from its chameleon like camouflage to a dull grey.

Franklin was pretty sure it was the last one. The Black Omen battle armor squad had swept through the entire facility and methodically eliminated whatever resistance they had encountered.

The Word of Blake had made a large tactical error in the positioning their remaining forces. Instead of grouping up to focus their firepower, they had positioned their remaining troops into squads of one Purifier and a handful of infantry. These squads had then set up in separate locations in an attempt to ambush the attackers and whittle them down.

Needless to say, it had not worked. Franklin’s battle armor squad simply barreled through the facility and eliminated each Word of Blake squad with overwhelming firepower, one by one.

Still, the Word of Blake troops had fought hard and all of his trooper’s suits were significantly damaged. Everyone would need to be treated for bruising and flash burns when they got back to the drop ship.

“Wasp actual, Stinger one. Level cleared.”

“Copy that Stinger one.” The Commander replied. “Bravo team will arrive shortly to double check for traps and civilians. Sit tight for now.”

“Copy.”

Now that the fighting was over, Franklin could relax a little bit and get a better idea of where they were. The Word of Blake troops had shut off all of the lighting on this area and his squad had to rely solely on their infrared scanners, which didn’t show the greatest amount of detail.

“Ober, police these bodies and get their weapons secured. Cole, find the electrical panel and get the lights on.”

A moment later the overhead lights flickered on.

“What the…?” Franklin suspected they were in some kind of med bay, but what he saw now didn’t look like any med bay he had ever been in.

“Wasp actual, Stinger one. Sir, we’ve got something weird down here.”

“Stinger one, define “weird.”

“Tech I have never seen before sir. We had better mobilize the boffins.”

Part 2

“What are we looking at Reynolds?”

The Commander, tech Jean Reynolds, and Mechwarriors Bill and George stood around the small holotank, trying to decipher the 3D holographic schematic slowly rotating above it.

“Based on what our techs are pulling out of the Wobby and Red Prophecy ’mechs upstairs, I would guess that these are schematics for some kind of neural interface system, and this med bay is where they install it.”

“Something like the Clan EI system?” Bill asked.

“Perhaps. I can ask some of our Clan techs if they ever worked on EI. It might be similar.”

George chimed in, “Sir, there were some rumors a while back that a Fedcom research group was developing something like this, but they couldn’t get it to work. Apparently it drove a test pilot crazy and the whole project was scrapped.”

“Enhanced Imaging has been known to cause mental instability in the user, so the theory behind this tech is probably the same.” Reynolds said as she tapped some keys on the holotank and manipulated the image.

The Commander pinched the bridge of his nose, as if he was attempting to ward off a head ache. “Alright, so Word of Blake got this technology to work and is recruiting mercenaries to help test it. Fantastic.”

“But sir, who would ever volunteer for this?” Reynolds asked.

“Mechwarriors will take any advantage in combat they can get. Combine that with hefty compensation…would you turn it down?”

“Yes! If it made me crazy!” Reynolds answered incredulously.

“Maybe the Red Prophecy didn’t have a choice,” Bill opined gravely.

“We will figure that out during interrogation.” The Commander said. “Okay. This is what I want to happen next. Reynolds, get a crew down here and box all of this stuff up. I want this entire area stripped down to the paint. George, get tech team together and start downloading everything from the control room mainframe. Bill, head back upstairs and see where we are at with the salvage operations. We boost in 24 hours. This damn planet gives me the creeps.”

Part 3

With all of the activity surrounding the capture of the Word of Blake base, Operative 212 had managed to slip away from his ‘mech and get into the facility’s control room easily enough. The Commander had ordered all of the Black Omen mechwarriors to park their machines in the the Word of Blake ‘mech bays and get started on field repairs, just in case any other hostiles showed up. (The Word of Blake wouldn’t be needing their ’mech bays anymore, so why not?)

This had given Operative 212 the perfect opportunity and proximity to gather some choice intel, and he had probably struck gold on this mission. Based on all the coms chatter, the Wobbies were using some kind of new tech; tech his handlers at MI4 would definitely want to know about. And they were developing it here! This wouldn’t just be some scraps pulled off salvage. He would have access to databases, schematics, test procedures, and all the rest.

He just had to be careful to not get caught.

Not that he was worried too much about it. He was very well trained and had been doing this kind of stuff for a long time. Covert ops were his specialty. He had also been with the Black Omen as a trusted mechwarrior for years! He had clearance to areas that typical jobs spooks liked to infiltrate (like janitors or admin assistants) simply didn’t have access to. And mechwarriors typically weren’t questioned about their comings and goings. Win win!

He plugged his noteputer into the main terminal and got to hacking. It wasn’t too difficult as the hacking program did most of the work. The wobbies were running outdated software that hadn’t received any recent security updates (not hard to believe being isolated on this creepy crawly world). His cutting edge DMI hacking algorithms blew right through it like it was tissue paper.

Within minutes he had downloaded everything he was looking for. Now for the coup-de-grace!

He hated to do this to the Black Omen, but he couldn’t let this data fall into Chandrasehkar Kurita’s grubby little hands, let alone any other Drac organization. Tapping out a command on his noteputer, he initialized a special virus that would trigger as soon as another user tried to access any of the data folders he had just downloaded. The virus would cause a power surge in the computer system (forcing a reboot) while simultaneously causing the drives to rewrite certain areas with junk data several hundred times to make the whole thing impossible to recover. When the computers rebooted, all those files would be nowhere to be found.

With that done, Operative 212 stowed his noteputer and egressed back to the ‘mech bay, easily avoiding the random tech or soldier moving about the facility. His timing was impeccable. Not five minutes later, he saw George and a few of the Omen’s computer specialists head up to the control center. They were in for a rude surprise, but ultimately, no one would get hurt. Win win!

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Operation: Red Prophecy - Briefing 1

Incoming Video Transmission
Source: Hachiman Taro Electronics Coms, Masamori
Time: 0600 Local

[It is Chandrasekhar Kurita!]

Hello Omens!

I hope this message reaches a fully intact and operational company! Your last mission couldn’t have been easy, and I regret that I must send you on another so quickly. Time is of the essence!

The Red Prophecy, a mercenary company in which I have invested a considerable amount of capital as a silent partner, appears to have accepted a contract far above their ability complete. For they walked into the jungles of Kuomi IV and never returned! Even their dropship has gone missing! The captain of their jumpship waited several days and then wisely decided to return to Hachiman and inform me of the problem. Their contract is a mystery, as there are no records of it with the MRBC. Very perturbing! And I am very doubtful Commander Parker would take his entire ’mech force on a tropical holiday!

Now I must ask you Omens to investigate and discover the fate of my investment. Please make your way to the Kuomi system at the best possible speed. That means “now” if you need me to be specific. Take the time to recharge your jumpships if necessary, but that is all! As I said before, time is of the essence! The longer we wait, the more likely the jungles of Kuomi IV will swallow up my investment for all of eternity!

Attached to this communique are files containing information on the mercenary company and everything we know about the Kuomi system.

If you do not return in four weeks time, I will assume you have met the same fate as Commander Parker and his troops. Although, please feel free to contact me during that time with updates. I’m guessing that you have that capability! Hahahaha!

We can negotiate compensation when you get back. For now, let us agree to a standard contract for your time and efforts, et cetera, et cetera.

Bye for now Omens. I wish you the best of luck and an uneventful journey!

Transmission Ends. Encrypted data packet appended.

Mission Objectives:

  • Primary: Find the Red Prophecy and encourage them to return to Hachiman for debriefing. If the company has met with foul play or fallen victim of the local flora and fauna, recover any salvageable equipment and/or bodies.
  • Secondary: In the unlikely event the Red Prophecy fell due to combat, track the opposing force and eliminate if possible. Otherwise, gather intel and return to Hachiman for further instructions.
  • Tertiary: Find the Red Prophecy’s dropship.

Intel:

Geography and Climate:

Kuomi is a hot and humid jungle world that is currently uninhabited. This would not normally preclude settlement or colonization, but its extremely aggressive insect and plant life probably would.

There are science expedition records detailing giant blood sucking mosquitoes, swarms of gnats that lay eggs under the hosts skin, which erupt into squirming larvae within hours, and two foot long millipedes that cover the jungle floor. Basically, any uncovered skin will be attacked by some nasty buzzing creature within seconds.

The plant life is also especially virulent. Some of the flora excrete liquid that is toxic to humans. Effects range from a painful rash that causes the skin to blister, to necrosis, killing any tissue it comes in contact with. The plants that release spores can be equally deadly. One particular variety, if inhaled, will cause colonies of the plant to begin growing inside the unlucky individual’s sinuses and lungs. Landing zones cut into the jungle have been known to completely regrow within days. (There are several time-lapse holovids available if anyone is interested). The ever growing and shifting plant life can also make it difficult to map and navigate through.

As mentioned, the climate is hot and humid, with daytime temperatures hovering around 40C most of the year. Night time temps usually drop no lower than 26C.

Needless to say, the environment is extremely hostile. Many scientific expeditions and prospecting operations have been attempted over the centuries, but were quickly abandoned. Sealed environment suits are highly recommended.

It is unclear exactly where the Red Prophecy dropship touched down, but the jumpship captain managed to get some telemetry data before the dropship went dark. The latitude and longitude indicate an area on the northern continent. This area is somewhat mountainous and believed to once have been volcanically active.

OPFOR:

Unknown. There has been no indication of any hostile activity (or even regular activity) in this system.

Projected Timetable of Operations:

The Black Omen will jump to the Kuomi system ASAP. Transit from the Kuomi jump points to Kuomi IV will take approximately 6 days at normal thrust. Two weeks have been allotted for search and rescue operations. The Black Omen are due back in the Hachiman system no later than the end of the month.

Red Prophecy Unit Details:

Unit Commander: Tobias Parker
Unit XO: Sarah Garrard
Unit Strength: One ’mech company, one platoon standard infantry / marines.
Dropship Assets: One Union class dropship. Registered as the Pendleton.

Last known ’mech roster:

  • Atlas
  • Blackjack
  • Cataphract
  • Enforcer
  • Guillotine
  • Lineholder
  • Mauler
  • Nova
  • Penetrator
  • Pillager
  • Rifleman
  • Victor
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Shedding Light on the Mystery, part 1

Captain Cynthia Ito of the 1st Genyosha, Liason officer to the Black Omen, fully expected much of the nature of the events on Hyner to remain a mystery. After all, the ISF were not known for “getting back to you,” even if they said they would do so. In the normal course of events, they sucked up information like a black hole – everything going in and nothing coming back out. Not to people at her level anyway.

They knew something was off with the supposed “Word of Blake” forces that hit Hyner. Aside from the camo, they really didn’t fight like, nor handle themselves like Blakists. When the battle was over, the mystery just got deeper rather than victory providing any sort of enlightenment. For, under the false Wobbie colors and camo, were the emblems of dead men: the 14th Alshain Avengers. That force was thought to have been entirely wiped out by the Ghost Bear after their ill-fated attack on Alshain. The coordinator himself had declared them traitors and placed a bounty on their heads, should they somehow manage to survive that debacle. And in the roughly five years since that event, nobody had heard a word regarding them. Everyone believed they had to have perished, victims of their own over-reach and the resulting wrath of the Bears.

Dead men!
Where had they been for the past five years?
Who was hiding them?
Where had they been hiding?
And what was their true purpose when they showed up on Hyner, pretending to be Word of Blake?

Capt. Ito had resigned herself to never getting answers to her questions.

Then a communication from her ISF contract was received. “We have a priority mission for your team.”

The briefing revealed some answers but brought up yet more questions. Under interrogation by the ISF, a few of the once-noble warriors had broken. The answer of “where” turned out to be McAlister, a planet which had a substantial history with the 14th. During Operation Bulldog, when the Jaguars launched their counterstrike, it had been the 14th who helped defend the planet. But when she had looked into that history, there were noticeable discrepancies.

One set of records stated “under the combined strength of these defending forces, the Clan invaders were wiped out.” But in other records, she found “The SLDF forces couldn’t stop the Second Jaguar Regulars on McAlister.” Which was it? The various records seemed to agree, though, after the brutal fighting there and after the resolution of Operation Bulldog, the under-strength 14th had been tapped to provide a Battalion to bolster the nominal garrison forces of McAlister until the defenders could build themselves back up to full strength.

That Battalion had remained on McAlister for nearly three years until they unexpectedly left without orders, only to join the rest of the 14th in their ill-fated attack on Alshain. As it turned out, they comprised a majority of the survivors of that battle. It also appears they got warning of their status as “traitors”, likely via the Black Dragons in some way. The survivors, a little under two companies worth, somehow made their way back to McAlister, and used their knowledge of the planet and local connections to lay low.

As to who – After the 14th’s abrupt departure, an under-strength battalion of the 2nd Sword of Light had been assigned to take the 14th’s place on McAlister. They were expected to fill out their ranks with “local recruits”. A process that happened surprisingly rapidly, even when you accounted for the attraction of 2nd’s reputation. It all started to make sense now – no doubt many, or nearly all, of those recruits had come from the remains of the 14th. Small wonder they staffed back up so quickly.

That meant the Black Dragons had their own clandestine force, nearly two companies strong. Nobody was looking for them and they had been operating, doing gods knew what, for the last several years… What had they been up to before Hyner?

She suppressed a shudder for, as chilling as the notion of a rogue mini-battalion running amuck was, the revelation that the 2nd Sword of Light was in some way compromised was even more terrifying. One of the premier units in the DCMS, Elite, Fanatical, under influence of these cursed Black Dragons! Was it just this one Battalion? An entire Regiment? The entire Unit? The prospect of a unit this large and well respected, four Battalions of ’Mechs, plus associated regimental-sized units of Aerospace, Armor, and Infantry – ALL of it potentially under the influence of the Black Dragons – brought a sinking sense of dread to the pit of her stomach.

And thus the mission. This particular battalion of the 2nd Sword of Light was to be eliminated. Obviously fully complicit in hiding and providing cover for the remains of the traitorous 14th Alshain Avengers, they would be destroyed. But Combine leadership feared revealing the 2nd’s association with the Black Dragons, lest it lend too much legitimacy to their “movement”. So a cover story was needed, along with credible witnesses to back it up. It had to be 100% deniable and no House unit could be involved. Fortunately the Black Omen were in the neighborhood, were good at keeping secrets, and already had some knowledge of the situation, so nobody new needed be briefed in on the rather sensitive information regarding the extent of the Black Dragon’s corruption.

So far the plan was going well. The 2nd had been ordered away from their base on McAlister under the pretense of a training exercise on the Chupadero. It was an out-of-the-way planet, producing nothing of great military value and garrisoned by a relatively green force. That an experienced unit such as the 2nd would be used as OpFor in order to help train them up played to the 2nd’s ego and was a believable cover story.

In a rather ironic twist, since the 14th had been imitating Wobbies, it would also be Wobbies that decimated the 2nd. “Live as fake Wobbies, Die by fake Wobbies,” someone had said. It was rather poetic justice – Black Dragons pretending to be Blakests had been defeated by the Omen and now the tables were turned 180 degrees. She suppressed a chuckle as the thought that the Omens, with their mix of many Star League and Clan ’Mechs made far more believable Blakests than the 14th had. If the cover story was believed and this also ended up pitting the remaining portions of the 2nd Sword of Light against the Word of Blake, so much the better.

She had to give credit, the leader of the Black Omen was a devious bastard. The idea to extend the “exercises” ruse beyond just getting the 2nd to the planet, and using it to ambush them while loaded with training ammo was a bit of brilliance. Instead of a prolonged series fights it looked as if the 2nd could potentially be swept up all in one neat tidy operation.

Under the pretense of the exercise, the local forces had been tasked with carrying out an ambush, doing a hit-and-run on the 2nd. But when they arrived to setup their ambush, they were in turn ambushed by the Omen in their Wobbie disguises. Loaded with dummy munitions for their ballistic and missile weapons, the local forces had been no match for the Omen. Best of all, the ECM fields had worked and none had been able to raise an alarm, so the 2nd had no clue what was in store for them.

She refocused her attention on the monitors in the Dropship’s C&C where a medium company of 2nd Sword, mostly scout ‘Mechs, was facing a similar fate to the local forces. A Clan ERPPC cleanly removed the entire head from one of the scout ’Mechs, likely vaporizing the pilot in the process. Suddenly one of the other observers called out, "They’re not going for it!" and she shifted focus to a secondary display where the bulk of the 2nd’s forces reversed course and began to make their way out of the remains of the burnt out city that had been the location for the “exercise”. It would appear that this time the nature of the trap had been exposed. “If only they had not legged that dammed Firestarter just outside of the ECM coverage”, she thought. Ah well, Plan A had been a bit optimistic but they had accounted for that. Everyone knew no plan survived contact with the enemy, so of course there had been a Plan B to fall back on. The critical element was to hit the 2nd before they could return to their dropship and load up with real ammo.

Still, the next phase of the fight was going to be a lot more brutal. The enemy ‘Mechs were heavier and nearly outnumbered the Black Omens two to one. Even without live ammo for their missiles and ballistic weapons, the remaining extended company of the 2nd was a force to be respected. And it looked as if only a few of the Omen scout ’Mechs would be able to engage in this phase of the battle, the others being too damaged or too busy running down the remaining ’Mechs and pilots from the 2nd’s scout company.

The remaining forces of the 2nd moved at the full speed of their slowest forces, retracing their way back towards their dropship. Moving faster and more tightly concentrated as they covered known terrain, it would not be long before they emerged onto the open plain. Soon after that they would near the location chosen for plan B, where they would be forced to ford a minor river with tree cover on both sides. She was wondering just how the Omen would use this terrain to their advantage when she heard the acceleration warning and the Omen’s “Battlewagon”, a Star League-era Rhino tug, rapidly descended to a lower orbit in order to drop the remaining Omen ’Mechs into battle.

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Operation: TDS Coma (Part 2?)

Bill gracelessly tumbled into the Battle Wagon’s command center, barely catching the hand hold that would stop him from barreling into the back of ensign Cornell, who was in her seat monitoring some kind of thermal sensor.

Usually gliding down the dropship’s corridors in zero-g was easy for a seasoned veteran such as Bill. However, lingering effects of transit disorientation syndrome left him feeling like he had drank an entire case of Glengoolie Blue the night before.

Normal people typically didn’t have this problem, and described the momentary feeling of travelling through space-time as being harmlessly and existentially turned inside out, or becoming one with the universe. To Bill, it just felt like the worst hangover in the universe. Or one the size of the universe. Or one that began at the big bang and would continue until the heat death of the universe. In short, interstellar jumps sucked for Bill and he hated them.

After steadying himself, Bill looked across (or was it down? He tried not to think about it too much, lest he relieve the contents of his stomach into the command center. That would be embarassing) the room at the primary monitor.

It looked like a battle was just wrapping up and a new one was about to begin. Bill realized he should have been in this battle. How did that happen? Why was he up here, and not down there. Oh, right… A vague memory of The Commander telling him to get his shit together and in his ’mech by the time phase 2 started percolated through the grogginess.

He was vaguely aware of the conversation happening in the commander center. Someone was saying how this battle had gone really well for their side, despite a few of those Alshain Avenger ‘mechs almost getting outside of the ECM bubble. Then, someone else was saying how the Dracs weren’t going to appreciate the Omen coring out three of their ‘mechs. Then, Lieutenant Graff was saying it was worth it just to watch Klaus make that amazing Hail Mary PPC shot to the back of the Avenger Battle Hawk before it got away. Then, ensign Cornell made a comment about how Otto really didn’t need to target the back of that Kintaro, but that it was probably unavoidable. The same going for the Daimyo that just wouldn’t die. Everyone also seemed to be agreeing that Dargo firing all of the missiles at the Urbanmech had been totally epic, despite being totally overkill.

Then the battle damage reports started coming in. Harry’s commandeered Charger had taken a couple hits, and Kim’s Nova was getting thin on leg armor. Klaus’ Lynx hadn’t taken any additional damage and everyone else was just peachy aside from some potential ammo shortages (Dargo!)

Bill was suddenly aware of someone looking at him. It was Ensign Cornell. She was staring at him, like she was expecting an answer to a question. Oh right, she had asked him something about 10 minutes ago…or was it 10 seconds?

He blinked, and could not for the life of him account for the time that had apparently passed. It was like people who said they got abducted by aliens. Shit! Have I been abducted by aliens? Bill thought. No, that’s crazy! Pull it together!

“Can you repeat that please, Ensign Cornell?”

“Sir, the advance team is in position and about to engage. Shouldn’t you be in the ’mech bay? The rest of the company is about to launch.”

“Yes Ensign, I am going there now. Keep up the good work!”

With that, Bill spun on his heel (or whatever the zero-g equivalent was) and propelled himself down the corridor to the elevator. Good thing his Thunderbolt’s ‘mech bay was next to the elevator. He would be there in no time at all! Good thing he wasn’t the poor schlub piloting the company’s Stormcrow. That ’mech bay was like a mile away!

Feeling pretty optimistic and good about himself, Bill floated into the elevator and slapped the button for the ’mech bay.

Phase 2 was going to be great! Good thing they wouldn’t be combat dropping! Bill didn’t think his inner ear could handle that.

“All personnel, general quarters. Two minutes until combat drop. Repeat, two minutes until drop” a voice said over the PA system.

Oh shiiiiiiittttttt, Bill thought.

In the middle of the elevator, Bill curled up into the fetal position and moaned softly. Phase 2 was going to suck!

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Operation Black Dragon Mystery - Interlude, Part 3

Hyner
Luthien Armor Works Facility
Warrenton Township
September 29th, 3067. 21:45 hours

The Luthien Armor Works executive lounge was really nice, Bill mused as he strolled around the room’s perimeter, a tumbler with ice and his favorite spirit, Glengoolie Blue, in his hand. The lounge had everything! Wood paneling where there wasn’t floor to ceiling windows, plush blue carpeting, black leather sofas and recliners, imported Earth-oak tables, washrooms with gold fixtures, a small kitchen, an impressive buffet table, and most importantly, an open bar.

The lounge itself was located on the top floor of the central administration building at the southern end of the LAW manufacturing facility. The structure was fairly standard; three stories, above and below ground parking, locally sourced marble facade, blue tinted windows. It primarily contained offices and cubicle farms, but it also had a cafeteria and small gymnasium. It had taken a few errant laser and missile strikes during the battle, but someone had the forethought to lower the building’s blast shutters, so it had taken negligible damage.

As soon as the battle had ended, Black Omen ground troops had swooped in to clear and secure the facility. After encountering no resistance, word had gone out to the local LAW executives that they could return and begin getting the facility back up and running again. They had responded enthusiastically and insisted on hosting a dinner party for the Omen to celebrate and show their appreciation.

That had sounded great to Bill. Locals usually kept their distance from the mercenary company and didn’t often show such gratitude.

Bill felt slightly ashamed that the bar, with its impressive array of liquor, was the first thing he had noticed. While technically off duty, The Commander had asked Bill to keep his communicator on and tuned to the patrol frequencies. There were still unaccounted for hostiles on planet and it was always a possibility they would try something stupid. Getting drunk and letting The Commander down was not on Bill’s list of priorities, so he decided to take it easy tonight and stay frosty. Just keep it to two drinks and you’ll be fine! he thought to himself.

They were now about an hour into the event. After everyone had gathered, the senior LAW representative, Margaret Saito, had given a short speech, then it was time for dinner. Bill had honestly been a little disappointed with the catering. The catering staff of about 15 had been late, the food was cold, and they seemed a little disorganized. Still, it seemed everyone was having a good time. The alcohol was flowing and there was even some decent music playing over the lounge’s stereo system.

Bill stopped his pacing in front of one of the large windows and tossed back the last of his drink while admiring the view. The sun was setting and the sky looked like it was on fire. Hyner really was a beautiful world. It was a shame they wouldn’t be spending very much longer on it.

He noticed a figure approaching him from the reflection in the window. It was one of the wait staff carrying a tray with several flutes of champagne. Bill turned to face him.

“Another drink sir?” the man asked in a clipped tone.

Bill took a moment to study him. Caucasian, tall, athletic build, dark hair in a buzz-cut. He also had tattoos peaking out from under his shirt collar and his jacket looked one size too small.

“Oh, no thanks. I’ve hit my limit for tonight, but you can take this.” Bill said as he placed his empty glass on the tray.

The man accepted the empty glass but didn’t make eye contact with Bill as he turned and walked away, and his expression held a hint of annoyance.

A little rude, Bill thought. This catering company is not the best! Oh well! Time to hit the head.

Bill made his way to the executive washroom and picked the very last stall. These weren’t the typical open-bottomed stalls, they were little restrooms unto themselves. Very nice! Bill thought. After using the tiny and only semi-private lavatories on the dropship for the past few weeks, this was a treat.

He started unbuckling his belt when a call that came over the radio caught his attention.

“Bravo team, Bravo 1. Anyone heard from Bravo 4? They are overdue for a check-in and aren’t responding to coms.”

Bill had been listening to their chatter all night, but teams not responding to coms was unusual and warranted a little extra attention.

“Bravo 1, Bravo 2. Last we saw, they were headed to the west factory parking garage to check out that catering truck that took a wrong turn.”

“Copy that Bravo 2. Charlie 1, that is close to your location. Can you send a squad over there to check it out? The structure might be interfering with Bravo 4’s coms.”

“Roger that Bravo Lead. Charlie 2 heading to west parking garage.”

A few moments passed as Bill waited for anything else.

“Alpha lead, Delta 1. Activity in the tree line 150 yards west of gatehouse A.”

“Delta 1, Alpha lead, what have you got?”

“Standby Alpha.”

SRM! Everyone down!” Bill heard a bang over the com, and then static. A second later it cut out completely.

“Oh shit!” Bill said to himself as he frantically buckled his belt.

That was when the gunfire from the lounge started.

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Operation Black Dragon Mystery - Interlude, Part 2

Commander Devlin McBain strode briskly from his staff car and made his way across the Luthien Armor Works parking lot towards the facility’s main entrance.

He was not in a good mood.

Captain Cynthia Ito of the 1st Genyosha, and DCMS liaison for this mission was hot on his heels. “Commander McBain, I am well within my rights to alter the contract if the strategic situation changes.”

The Commander stopped suddenly and rounded on her. "This is bullshit Captain. You knew all along that this wasn’t Word of Blake. How am I supposed to pay my warriors if we can’t salvage any of these ’mechs!?

Captain Ito placed her hands behind her back, took a short breath, and then looked The Commander in the eye. “I suspected, but could not verify the true identity of the raiders until now. This is the first time the traitor units have used this gambit. You will be compensated for your efforts here, but I cannot release any of the ’mech chassis to you. The DCMS considers them stolen property.”

“You could have informed us of your suspicions. We came here to fight Word of Blake, not a veteran Combine unit. If my Mechwarriors weren’t as experienced as they are, this could have been a disaster!”

“I’m sorry Commander, but information concerning the Black Dragon Society is classified. Sharing my suspicions or what I knew before departing Wolcott could have placed important ISF operations at risk. I shouldn’t even be having this conversation with you, but I’m only doing so out of professional courtesy and due to the fact the situation is here is now contained.”

“Oh, come on Ito. Everyone has heard the rumors. Hard liners wanting to bring back the old ways, undermining the Coordinator at every turn? It’s not a secret. This ‘Black Dragon Society’ has their hands in everything.”

“I understand that Commander, but I have orders and protocols I need to follow.”

The Commander sighed and looked off into the distance before turning back to the Captain. “Alright, what are we looking at then? You know as well as I do that a straight c-bill reward for each destroyed ‘mech won’t cover our costs. We need chassis and weaponry to repair and sell.”

Ito looked up and away, as if she was calculating figures in her head. When she seemed satisfied, she returned her gaze to McBain. “Alright Commander. I am prepared to award on top of the 7 million down payment, 250,000 c-bills each for 22 of the ’mechs on the field. You may then select 2 for salvage. You may not select any of the omnimechs. Those are strictly off limits.”

The Commander put his hands on his hips and tapped his foot. “Six ’mechs. Or the Black Omen boost off planet right now and you can clean this mess up yourself.”

Ito’s expression and body language remained stone cold and impassive, but a slight blush rose in her cheeks. “You wouldn’t.”

“Just watch me.” The Commander said with a grin. “We have fulfilled our contract. What happens next isn’t our concern. I’m sure the local militia would be more than happy to help you carry on with your mission, but we’re really not sure about their loyalties right now, are we?”

Her gaze narrowed slightly, accentuating the lines at the corners of her yes. “4 ’mechs. That is my final offer. If you choose wisely, you will find that more than acceptable.”

Before The Commander could protest, Ito interjected. “Or, feel free to leave. You would then need to negotiate with my superiors, who won’t give you half of what I’m offering.”

The Commander sighed and then extended his hand. Ito took it and they shook.

“Bargained well and done, Commander.”

“You negotiate like a Clanner.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment Commander McBain.” She said, a slight smile breaking through her stone-faced facade. “Well, shall we go up and reassure these LAW bureaucrats?” she asked as she straightened her uniform jacket.

“Yes.” The Commander said with some reluctance. “Let’s get this over with. Besides, I feel like a sniper’s target out here.”

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Operation Black Dragon Mystery - After Action Report and Phase 2 Prep

Hyner
Warrenton Township

September 29th, 3067. (All times are local)

10:15
The remaining hostile ’mechs surrender to Black Omen forces.

10:26
The four “Word of Blake” dropships takeoff and boost to parts unknown.

11:30
The Battle Wagon makes landfall. Salvage / recovery operations begin and Black Omen ground troops begin securing the LAW facility.

13:05
A small group of 36 LAW employees (mostly graveyard shift custodial and maintenance staff) are found locked in the facility’s main cafeteria.

16:10
The LAW facility is secured. “Word of Blake” POWs are moved to an empty vehicle hangar on site for later processing / interrogation. The LAW employees are also moved to a more comfortable and secure area for further questioning.

Initial Intel
21 “WoB” Mechwarriors were taken alive. Three were killed during the battle. None of the survivors are talking, but they are complying with instructions and not resisting. They are not wearing Comstar / Word of Blake uniforms. Their clothing is generic and does not have any insignia or identifying marks.

Two “WoB” Aerospace pilots have been recovered. Like the ’Mechwarriors, they are also choosing to stay silent. The remaining four pilots are MIA. Based on gun-cam footage, two are presumed dead.

An inspection of the downed “WoB” ’mechs reveals they were hastily painted in Comstar colors. Some armor panels that were found with paint burned away indicate the ’mechs belong to a DCMS unit. Specifically, the 14th Alshain Avengers.

Initial conversations with the LAW employees indicate they were press-ganged by the invaders and spent three days moving completed artillery vehicles and ammunition from the factory to the waiting dropships. After that, the employees were moved to the cafeteria where it would be harder for them to observe any further activities. They estimated there were about 200 “WoB” personnel on site, with perhaps 60 of them being soldiers and the rest various technical personnel.

No hostile forces were encountered in the LAW facility. However, several vehicles were observed leaving the facility just before the Black Omen ’mechs landed. It is believed they contained the “WoB” personnel that initially took part in the raid. They took several routes and were lost track of due to forest canopy, or driving into the dense urban area of Warrenton. Local police are investigating but so far have no leads.

A number of locals that live near the facility have come forward. They say that the invaders would rotate four to eight ’mechs out on patrols west of Warrenton, near the ruined town of Chinn. The purpose of these patrols is unknown.

The local militia has continued its general unresponsiveness and has not moved out of its base in the town of Wessen. The militia commander has not returned recent communications.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have now, or we can discuss at our next session.

Now – 20:45

We will begin transitioning to Phase 2 of The Black Dragon Mystery!

To prepare for Phase 2, I need everyone to…

Step 1: Setting the scene(s)

Choose one of your characters currently participating in the campaign to head back to the dropship with their ’mech to oversee repairs, help with salvage operations, take a nap, whatever.

Choose one of your other characters to head on over to the LAW facility executive lounge. There will be a meet and greet with Black Omen staff and the local LAW executives. Dinner will be served and the lounge supposedly has an excellent open bar. (Bill is going!)

If you had a third character, he or she will be on perimeter patrol in their ’mech (I think this only applies to JC and Chuck. Maybe pick the ’mech that suffered the least amount of damage? Its up to you and The Commander).

Shawn, The Commander must be present at the meeting. I’m sorry that this limits your choices!

Also, does anyone besides Callie and Conrad have Sixth Sense?

Please reply to this e-mail with your selections. If I don’t hear back from you by Friday, May 19th, I will make the selections for you (or make you play an NPC!). :P

Step 2: Get your kit squared away!

What gear did you bring on this trip? What gear do your characters have on them at the moment? Do they carry their sniper rifles around with them 24/7? It might be good to know ahead of time! Having a couple of gear lists ready will help out a lot and save us from having to do impromptu shopping trips.

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Operation Black Dragon Mystery - Interlude, Part 1

In the command room of the Battle Wagon, Bill drifted cross legged in front of the large 4’ by 6’ screen that took up nearly a third of the room’s wall. It showed him a birds-eye view of the battlefield of the area surrounding the Luthien Armor Works facility, complete with tactical and strategic overlays, approach vectors and everything else necessary to oversee and direct a combat operation from orbit.

In his left hand he held a datapad which contained all of his checklists, timetables, unit call signs, and personal notes. His right gripped a comms router strapped to his belt. With the press of a button he could communicate with just about any unit or person involved in the battle.

The Commander had wanted to attend to this mission personally, and volunteered Bill to oversee operations from the dropship. That essentially gave him overall command and control authority unless The Commander decided to step in and override him.

Everything was going well so far, and according to plan. At times, directing all of the disparate elements was like herding cats, but everyone knew their role and carried out their tasks with little fuss.

Stationed around him, belted into acceleration couches were the support staff; intel analysts and sensor operators that were monitoring the Battle Wagon’s plethora of scopes and communications gear and imputing the relevant data into the battle computer, which could then be called up on the wall monitor.

The DCMS liaison, Captain Cynthia Ito of the 1st Genyosha had insisted on being present and was now drifting near the command room’s elevator bank, one hand holding an overhead gripping point for support. She watched the proceedings impassively.

Standing a little over 150 centimeters tall, with short black hair, and classical Asian features, she appeared outwardly unassuming; the girl next door that really didn’t draw too much attention. However, something in her eyes and the way she carried herself gave Bill the feeling that she could break him in half without breaking a sweat, and not really feel bad about doing it.

Since joining the Black Omen task force 9 days ago, Captain Ito had been courteous and professional, but not overly friendly with any of the crew. Choosing to take her meals by herself in the cafeteria and not participating in any of the typical amusements dropship crews used to pass the time.

That wasn’t particularly unusual under these circumstances. The DCMS had a long history of despising mercenaries, and despite the Black Omen’s good working relationship with the Combine, some in the DCMS ranks longed for a return to the old ways.

Still, something was off about her. Bill suspected she was an ISF agent of some kind, but he didn’t want to share that thought with anyone, lest any rumors get started. However, maybe he would speak with Jack about it after the mission. Jack had run in those circles and might have some insight.

Bill’s attention was quickly diverted by a flash on the satellite image, about 5 kilometers north of the LAW facility.

One of the sensor operators, ensign Cornell, noticed it too and called it out. “Possible missile launch in grid B16.”

“I see it Sarah,” Bill replied. “Arrow IV artillery?”

“Speed and trajectory matches, sir.”

“Okay, mark it. Lieutenant Graff, get an infrared scan of that area. See how many units we are dealing with”

“Copy that sir.” he replied.

Bill keyed the button on the router that would allow him to address all 14 of the Black Omen battlemechs currently in the field.

“Squirrel Group, Eagle Command. Possible missile artillery launch detected north of your position. Watch for TAGs.”

“Copy that Eagle” Barrett replied. “Squirrel 5 was just TAGed by that Dire Wolf, but it has a bad angle and there is plenty of cover to break locks.”

“Received Squirrel 4. We will re-task an element of Blue Bird flight to take that battery out as soon as they mop up the Wobbie aero. Shouldn’t be more than a minute or so.”

“Copy.” Barrett quickly sent back.

Overall, the battle was unfolding pretty much as Bill expected. The Black Omen had combat dropped their ’mechs only 1 kilometer from the Luthien Armor Works facility and it appeared that it had taken the Word of Blake forces somewhat by surprise.

Their aerospace fighters had reacted quickly enough, moving out of their CAP zone as soon as the Omen ’mechs had started their drop from the Battle Wagon. It was a risky move to drop ’mechs from the upper atmosphere with hostile aero in the vicinity, but the eight Black Omen Transgressors had done an exemplary job of intercepting the Word of Blake fighters and keeping them off the ’mechs.

They were now engaged in a whirling dogfight above the drop zone. To their credit, the Word of Blake pilots appeared to be fairly competent and were putting up a decent fight. However, based on the radio chatter coming from the Omen pilots, it seemed that the Omen had a bit of a firepower advantage and the battle in the air would turn in their favor shortly.

On the ground, the Word of Blake had scrambled to re-deploy their perimeter guards and had waited too long in recalling two lances of ‘mechs patrolling to the north and west. Bill estimated it would take another minute for them to be in a position to engage. That put their ground speed at about 80kph, which could indicate medium ’mechs or fast heavies. Those two lances could potentially cause problems, but Bill could put The Commander’s reserve lance into motion if things got dicey.

The artillery was a little worrying as well. None of the intel they had received from the local militia indicated the Word of Blake had deployed artillery units. However, it was certainly possible that they had re-purposed some weaponry from the LAW facility at some point in the last 9 days.

The seconds ticked by and Bill continued to listen intently to the radio chatter between the ’mechs on the surface, the aerospace pilots, and the various duty stations on the dropship. He also kept a sharp eye on his satellite view. The area in and around the LAW facility was lit with flashes every few seconds and smoke was beginning to shroud the battlefield.

The Word of Blake artillery battery was firing one missile every few seconds, and several had come close to making contact. The Black Omen ‘mechs had done an excellent job at breaking the laser designator locks, causing the missiles to detonate harmlessly overhead. However, it was only a matter of time before one hit home and ruined someone’s day.

A few seconds later, Bill finally heard the transmission he was waiting for.

“Bogey down! Splash four, splash four.” With the Word of Blake aerospace now safely outnumbered, he felt it was time to re-direct two of the Black Omen Transgressor to take out that artillery battery.

“Blue Birds 3 and 4, Eagle Command. vector to grid B16 and reconfigure for ground attack. Your target is an Arrow IV battery approximately 500 meters north of the sharp bend in the river. Over”

“Copy that Eagle. We have their smoke trails. Commencing our attack run now. ETA, six seconds.”

A few seconds later, the area about 90 meters wide and 200 meters long began to glitter and spark as laser fire rippled off the terrain exactly where Bill had specified. There was a quick flash and then smoke began billowing skyward. A moment later Bill saw the two Transgressors streak into the observable area on the satellite display and then peel off to the east.

“Eagle Command, Blue Bird 3. We have secondaries. They were really dug in, but we think we got them.”

“Copy that Blue Bird 3. Make another pass to make sure, then rejoin Blue Bird flight.”

“Copy Eagle Command. Approaching from the north.”

Bill breathed a sigh of relief. With that threat eliminated, his ’mechs could mop up the Word of Blake defenders unimpeded. The two remaining lances had arrived and were working their way towards the fight and would be in weapons range momentarily. They were badly outnumbered 12 ’mechs to 8, so this would probably be over quickly. Still, Bill admired their resolve. It took some serious kōgan to face off against a group that had just decisively beaten more than half your forces with minimal losses.

As the first volleys began between the two groups, Bill twisted around and gave Captain Ito a smile and a thumbs up.

He was met with an icy glare.

Bill suddenly had a feeling that the easy part of the mission was over, and that the hard part was just beginning.

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Operation Black Dragon Mystery - Briefing 1

Mission Overview:

On September 15th, 3067, Two unscheduled jumpships arrived at the Hyner system zenith jump point. four dropships (two Unions and two Mammoths) deployed and began a 1g burn towards the planet. When interrogated by ground control, the dropships declared that they were from the Word of Blake and that any forces that oppose them would be destroyed. Soon after, a distress signal is sent from the planet to DCMS high command requesting assistance.

Due to the strategic insignificance of the Hyner system, mercenaries (The Black Omen) were contracted to deploy to Hyner instead of regular DCMS forces.

The Black Omen arrived in system on September 24th.

One day later, the WoB dropships entered atmosphere unimpeded and made landfall near the Luthien Armor Works facility on the outskirts of the planetary capital of Warrenton. Approximately 24 battlemechs deployed from the Unions and took up guard positions around the perimeter of the facility. At this time it is not completely clear what their goals are, but it can be suspected that they are interested in the material and equipment located at the LAW facility.

Local militia stationed in the nearby town of Wessen have been unresponsive, and are unwilling or unable to mount a counter offensive to face the WoB ’mechs.

The Luthien Armor Works facility on Hyner has little strategic importance to the DCMS, as it only produces a small number of artillery pieces and vehicle platforms. It also contains a modest ammunition line, turning out limited runs of small caliber ammunition and heavy artillery shells. The loss of this facility would not unduly hinder DCMS capabilities in the sector, but it does represent an unneeded distraction.

Mission Objectives:

Primary: Eliminate or drive off all Word of Blake forces.
Secondary: Collect intel from any captured WoB troops.

Intel:

Geography, Climate, History:

Hyner is a temperate world with three sparsely populate continents. The most notable geographic feature is the five kilometer wide Niederwald impact crater on the planet’s equator.

Terrain is typical for a temperate world and is very “earth-like.”

It is currently late spring with average daytime temperatures around 21c.

The world has changed hands several times since the fall of the Star League. The city of Quantico was reduced to rubble by Lyran Commonwealth forces during the 1st Succession War.

West of Warrenton, in the swamps between the towns of Chinn and New Bethesday, lies a ruined Star League era methane processing plant. Chinn was also the sight of a fierce battle at some point in its history, as it still shows the signs of battle damage. It is rumored to be the sight of a Star League Castle Brian, but no evidence of its existence has ever been found.

OPFOR:

The latest reports indicate only 24 ‘mechs of indeterminate size around the LAW facility. Two to four aerospace fighters have also been observed at various times on CAP above the dropship’s landing area.

The local militia has been reluctant to get close to the sight to provide better intel.

Projected Timetable of Operations:

The Black Omen dropship will reach orbit in approximately 6 days. Use this time to decide how you would like to approach the mission (Combat drop? Standard land and deploy?)

DCMS Liaison:

Captain Cynthia Ito from the 1st Genyosha has been assigned as a liaison to your unit. She will observe this operation and report back to DCMS high command at its conclusion. She may also coordinate with any remaining LAW representatives.

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Operation Sandworm, Conclusion

Part 5:

Jack guided the Banshee forward about 120 meters short of the copse of trees the Word of Blake Flashman had fired from. He had been bracing himself to take a full volley from the enemy ’Mech’s considerable energy weapon loadout, but to his amazement, the Flashman’s shots had all gone wide. Either the pilot was impatient, panicking, or experiencing problems with his targeting system. In any case, Jack considered himself extremely lucky. The Flashman pilot had rolled the dice, and they had not come up in his favor. That fusillade could have badly damaged Jack’s ’Mech, probably so severely that it would have taken him out of the fight.

A quick glance at his ’Mech’s weapons panel indicated his seven remaining medium pulse lasers had cycled and were ready to fire. Another burst would surely be enough to gut the Flashman. The damn thing had been harassing the Black Omen ’Mechs from long range for the entire battle and it was time to put it down once and for all.

He knew a WoB Tessen was at his 9 o’clock, but he chose to ignore it. It had decent firepower for its weight, but the 70 ton Flashman was the bigger threat.

Settling the crosshairs over the Flashman’s torso, Jack placed his finger on the trigger, but he hesitated for a moment. Steam was pouring out of the Flashman’s cooling vents and the ‘Mech wasn’t moving. Normally a ’Mech was constantly in motion, twisting and turning to prevent an opponent from getting a clean shot.

Flash is shutdown. Probably overheated. Engaging the Tessen.”

Before he could get a reply from his lancemates, Jack slammed the pedal under his left foot to bring the Banshee’s torso around, simultaneously leaning the ’Mech into a turn and throttling up to get the ’Mech to speed. The 50 ton Tessen was running full bore towards the collection of buildings just to the north in an attempt to get away.

He had two choices; lay into it with pulse lasers or particle cannons, or run it down and smash it with the Banshee’s battle fists. Using the ranged weaponry wasn’t a sure thing. The Tessen was nearly undamaged and he would have to get really good groupings to bring it down. On the other hand, crushing it with two triple-strength myomer enhanced fists would end it quickly.

He knew what he had to do.

Jack pushed the throttle wide open and engaged the ‘Mechs supercharger. This allowed the fusion engine to operate beyond its design limits, pouring more power into ’Mechs actuators, increasing its top speed. Coupled with the ’Mech’s triple-strength myomer, it was even faster when the ’Mech was running hot, which it was. It was now potentially 30kph faster than the nimble Tessen. The Tessen pilot had also had to spend time turning his ’Mech a full 180 degrees to put it on an escape vector, giving Jack the perfect opportunity to run it down.

The Tessen wasn’t getting away.

The range closed quickly. 200 meters. 100 meters. 30 meters. The Tessen pilot had twisted the ’mech’s torso and extended its right arm to bring its particle cannon to bear on the charging Banshee. A white hot stream of charged particles sizzled from the barrel. The shot almost connected fully, instead it scored the Banshee’s right shoulder with a glancing blow, doing negligible damage.

0 meters. The Banshee’s fists came down and smashed the hapless Tessen from behind. Ferro armor and foamed titanium structure crumpled. severed power cabling sparked and smoked. The Tessen went down in a heap of grinding metal and stopped moving.

“Devil 3, Devil 1. Stop damaging the salvage,” The Commander intoned sternly.

“Sorry sir. Couldn’t let him get away,” Jack replied.

“Understood Devil 3. Return to formation. It looks like we are done here. The center and right flank are wrapped.”

“Copy that. What is the status of that Flashman?”

“Harry saw a flash in the cockpit. Probably a suicide… as usual.”

“Copy.” Well, that was good news. The Word of Blake Mech Warriors had a tendency to commit suicide rather than be captured. The Black Omen troopers had seen them use kidney bombs, cortex bombs, and pistol shots to the head. Now they could add “grenade in the cockpit” to the list. The techs wouldn’t enjoy cleaning up the mess, but an intact Flashman was a huge windfall. Hopefully the Kuritans wouldn’t try to re-negotiate the salvage contract at the last minute and attempt to steal it out from under them.

The Commander was back on the com, “Angel and Demon lances, I want a five hundred meter perimeter around the LZ. Kurita air cav will be here in 5 mikes. Devil lance will secure the lava tubes and check for stragglers. Move out.”

Jack took a deep breath as he started walking the Banshee back to the center of the field. The adrenaline rush of combat was beginning to wear off and he could feel exhaustion start to settle in. With the battle over though, everyone could relax a little bit and let the Kuritans mop up.

All in all, it had been a good day. Word of Blake plans foiled, some great salvage to be had, and no one had died. Jack couldn’t ask for anything more.

Part 6:

After sweeping the Mt. Logan mining site for intel, it was discovered that the intercepted transmission was indeed part of a ruse to lure the Black Omen into a showdown with the Word of Blake forces. Captured memos indicated the Word of Blake commander was extremely confident his forces could annihilate the Black Omen and remove them from the field. This would allow the WoB to sweep into Palepo and capture the city, solidifying their hold on the region.

Obviously, it did not go according to plan.

With the Word of Blake command structure crushed at the battle of Mt. Logan, the rebel forces they were supporting quickly began to fold under the pressure of Kurita counterattack. In a matter of weeks, order was restored and Garstedt began the process of rebuilding.

Having fulfilled their contract, the Black Omen could return home.


GM Notes:

Great job everyone! This campaign was fun to run. I hope everyone enjoyed it!

Here are the EXP rewards…

Mech Battle 1: Palepo Flats

  • 8 EXP for characters participating in the battle.

Power Armor Defense of the Green Zone Checkpoint

  • 24 EXP for all of your characters!

Mech Battle 2: Mt. Logan Showdown

  • Part 1: 8 EXP for characters participating in the battle.
  • Part 2: 10 EXP for characters participating in the battle.

Campaign Bonus

  • 10 EXP to all of your characters if you were present at all four sessions.

Please let me know if you have any final questions or concerns.

I will also send Shawn the details concerning payment and salvage for this op.

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