Xenophon (New Detroit 1037 – Outer Veil) – 2159
Lt. Commander Graup, Federated Nations of Humanity (FNH) Navy, and captain of the 300-ton Feilong-class Patrol Frigate 486 knew something was wrong. After grounding at Xenophon’s Class C starport, the Marine Squad led by Gunnery Sergeant Pencol had left on foot to visit a small research station and download data tapes. Why his orders were to send his Marine Squad was not for Graup to question; but given that Xenophon was basically a corporate world he was sure it had something to do with industrial intrigue. He was even more surprised when he got an urgent comm from Gunny Pencol announcing the Marines had taken casualties and were returning quickly.
Graup broke open the ships locker and armed the crew. One of the gunners manned the dorsal laser turret while the engineers began the pre-launch routines. He debated if he should launch his Caracal Assault Boat. It had been on stand-by since the squad left, but the op was supposed to be so easy there was no air support called for. Guess that was wrong….
Graup was at the breaching tube airlock as Pencol and his squad returned. Four Marines where there should of been seven. Graup could feel the nervousness of his crew growing; they knew that Marines didn’t leave their own behind. To return with half a unit was not a good omen.
Graup became even more concerned when Pencol got close. He had seen that look before – Combat Panic. Pencol was breathing fast and looking about wildly. Graup could also see the anger in the eyes of the two Privates and the fireteam gunner, a Private 1st Class. The gunner was bringing up the rear, walking backwards and looking at the way they had come.
“It must of been an entire company of regular troops!” Pencol was nearly screaming. “They ambushed us! Zeta Squad was wiped out. We have to lift now and get word to the Corps!”
Pencol pushed past Graup and went straight to his quarters. He was definitely not in a good way. Graup waved the medic to follow Pencol. Graup then turned back to the members of Theta Squad. The team was kneeling in a defensive circle just outside the airlock as the squad gunner continued to look back.
Situation – A Squad of FNH Marines from a Patrol Frigate has been ordered to enter a small research station and seize data tapes. This is a Snatch & Grab mission with 2x Operational Momentum Points. The Marines are led by Gunnery Sergeant Pencol who has been on the frontier a bit too long and is not a good leader (-1 Leadership). The Marines are organized into two fireteams each with 2x Rifleman with FEConA Model 2146 Advanced Combat Carbines and a Squad Gunner (Theta has a FeConA Model 2138 Advanced Support Weapon – TL3/Lt AP:1 while Zeta has a FeConA Model 17 Squad Assault Rocket Launcher – TL3 Med AP:2/AT: 2(M). The Marines are Troop Quality D10, Morale D10, Confident, Normal Supply, Overall TL3, not on the Grid, and wearing Hard Armor (2D).
Facing the Marines is a mercenary squad from a Kaban-class Assault Frigate. The Mercs are also searching for the data tapes, and got to the research station first. They have a Consolidate & Hold mission with 2x Operational Momentum Points. There are 12 mercenaries. The leader is charismatic (+2 Leadership). There are two fireteams of 4 riflemen armed with TY-AM-28 Assault Rifles, one gunner with a TY-AP-89 light machine gun – TL 1 Lt AP:1, a computer tech armed with a TY-88M machine pistol (Close Assault only) and a medic seconded from the ship. The mercs are Troop Quality D8, Morale D8, Confident, Normal Supply, Overall TL 2, not on the Grid, and wearing Hard Armor (2D).
“We were almost to the station,” the gunner started. “We were split left-right along a road. The station had several dense woods on either side. Sarge ordered us to flank the station on both sides. As we moved to the left with Sarge we took fire from some bad guys in the trees. Not much, only small arms but Sarge had us drop right there. Zeta Squad was moving to the right; they also took some fire – sounded lighter but faster than ours – I saw them keep moving.”
FNH Marines have the initiative on Turn 1. Theta Squad declares Rapid Movement. Mercenary Orange Team is hidden in trees and tries to ambush Theta Squad. The Marines spot the mercs and stops movement short of the trees to take the mercs under fire. IN the Round of Fire the Marines fire first, seriously wounding one of the mercs and pinning the rest of the merc team. On the other side of the road, the Merc Gunner and Merc Leader successfully ambush Zeta Squad as they move towards cover. Zeta chooses not to React and reach the cover of trees. Meanwhile, the mercenary Red Team inside the Research Station fires on Theta Squad. Being beyond optimal range it scores no hits against, but in the reaction fire one of the mercs is wounded. The team calls for the medic, who slaps a bandage on the lightly wounded merc.
“We started taking some more fire, and Sarge pointed to a cluster of trees to the left of the enemy – we made a dash for it. I could hear the chatter of that machine gun again across the road. Zeta told us on the comm they were going to charge the machine gun because it looked to be all by itself. They were cursing when it faded back into the woods as they charged.”
The mercs gain the initiative and try to take Theta Squad under fire. Theta reacts first and races for cover suffering no casualties. On the other side, Zeta ignores the pings from the machine gun and try to Close Assault the gun. As Zeta dashes across the gap between the trees, the gun seeming fades into the forest (a successful defensive Close Assault check allows it to move back to the Research Station).
“Zeta called out they had the station in sight and were going in. We actually couldn’t help them; we saw a team of four bad guys crossing from one group of trees to another in front of us. I guess we had hurt them because they were carrying one of their guys. Keening there started to get up to go after them but Sarge stopped us. I guess he was listening to the comm as Zeta went screaming into the station. We could hear a whole ‘lota firing then silence. One of our guys was moaning and we could hear a bad guy order him to drop his gun. Then the comm went dead. Sarge didn’t do anything for a long while. Then he ordered us back here.”
Orange Team tries to Rapid Move to another stand of trees but fails their Casualty Penalty Check, moving only at Tactical Speed. Theta Squad reacts and tries to Close Assault but fails their quality check. On the other side of the battlefield, Zeta Close Assaults the building but the three Marines run into seven mercs inside the building. In the exchange of fire one merc goes down – but so do all three Marines. The merc who was hit bounces right back up, but two of the Marines are seriously wounded and the third has light wounds. They are taken prisoner.
Graup nodded gravely. “How many bad guys do you figure there are,” he asked the gunner.
“It seemed like a reinforced squad, maybe a dozen or so bad guys.” The gunner spoke as he kept scanning the horizon. “Not too heavily armed, but we walked right into their trap. I don’t know why Zeta didn’t use their rockets to knock down the building a bit or why Sarge didn’t call for the boat. I don’t think he realized how many bad guys were out there.”
Graup punched the comm panel on the bulkhead beside him. “Bridge, quick launch. Once we get up we will launch the Caracal.” The whine of the ship’s engines started growing louder.
“We can’t leave them!” The gunner was shouting over the roar of the engines. He also looked like he wanted to turn his big support gun on Graup.
Graup leaned close to the young Marine to be heard. “We’re not leaving. We are going to get up where we can see what’s happening. There is not too much traffic on or off this rock. We will interdict anything that launches, and use the Caracal to search the area of the Research Station. Any ship we clear will carry a message to FNH forces requesting support. We got one month of fuel; by then we either have them or help. We need to be patient; but we ain’t leaving them.”
The gunner and Graup stared at one another for a moment. The gunner then used his eyes to gather up the two Privates and board the ship. “Promise me this, skipper. When we find them, I get the first shot.”
Zeta Squad got too cocky; after taking several rounds of ineffective fire they figured they could Close Assault the building and quickly knock down the mercs. Unfortunately for the Marines, the mercs got an awesome first set of die rolls and wounded all three Marines who were captured in turn.
The poor leadership rating of the Marine Gunnery Sergeant also hurt the Marines, whereas the outstanding leadership of the mercenary commander more than made up for poorer training and inferior technology of his force.