The Youngstown Campaign...Day 4 pt.3 by Rich
Major Sanchez's POV:
Major Sanchez had recieved a call from Hannah Miles, asking her to report back to RBR II for a "sort of briefing", whatever that meant. Tamiko had recieved a call as well, and offered a ride on the back of "her" monocycle. Sanchez noted that the monocycle wasn't built for two, and commandeered a fast ATV instead. The ATV wasn't exactly comfortable, but at least it could stand upright without breaking the law of gravity.
When they arrived back at the mall and proceeded to Hannah's office, she was introduced to a completely unmemorable man named Sir Roger Fitzpatrick, who Tamiko already knew. After they were all settled, Sir Roger began to speak. "According to the vision, or at least what we could understand of it," he said, "the three of us - myself, Doreen, and Tamiko - need to make a journey to 'the place where the ice burns'. We'll carry a package, which we will leave behind us to mark the spot; the vision isn't clear on exactly why we're supposed to do that. There was also a mention of others who must accompany us; 'the ogres exiled for love'. I must confess I have no idea who that might be." The others looked at him, then at each other, then Tamiko began to giggle.
"Sir Roger, how do you feel about country music ?" she asked.
Colonel Youngblood's POV:
The Colonel had only had a chance to speak briefly with General O'Neill. They'd gone over his proposal for the next move, and the General had approved it, before he and Hailey had been called away.
Then the Colonel, the wing commanders, and Lieutenant Colonel Seydlitz had gotten together to plan the details, along with a Colonel from the Screaming Eagles. As that meeting was breaking up, he got a call from Lieutenant Miles. Someone from something called "the Devon Coven" had shown up, and needed to borrow two of the Slayers, and possibly some of their team members as well.
He'd only had a few days to get to know the Slayers, but he liked them and was impressed with their work. During the first few days, the "hunter-killer" and clearing patrols would have been impossible without them, although others had begun to take up the slack. He didn't like the thought of losing them. Still, they weren't really his to lose. They worked for the ISWC, and if the "Watchers" wanted them back he couldn't really complain.
Back at the Mall:
The two people, if they were in fact people, weren't the largest creatures that Sir Roger had ever seen - merely the largest that walked upright and had opposable thumbs (if they were
opposable). They wore the same kind of vests as most of the other people he'd seen around here, and under that they wore light armor and what he assumed were the "jump belts" he'd heard mentioned, and which Tamiko also wore. Hanging from their shoulders were enormous three barrelled weapons with large bores - about 25 millimeters, he judged.
"Sir Roger," said Doreen, "meet Ludwig and Ludmilla. Most people just call them 'The Luds'".
Ludmilla held out her hand, and when he shook it his own hand disappeared entirely (and yes, they were opposable). Ludwig just nodded.
Later, he whispered to Doreen, "Are you sure ..."
Doreen whispered back, "Not
demonic. Just selective breeding run amok."
"The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on."
Ulysses S. Grant
At Noon, troops from the 101st moved upstream along both banks of the river, supported by mechs from the light wing, Jaffa weapons platoons, and two of the Slayers' scout teams.
This took them into the southern fringe of downtown Youngstown, where they ran into heavy opposition. Luckily, the pulse laser rifles were as easy to use as thay'd been told, and they managed to hold on to the ground they took and advanced almost as far as highway 11 on the east bank.
Lieutenant Adams' POV:
His platoon, with a scout team attached, had bypassed the Salt Springs on the west bank and gone on to clear the Toys 'R Us distribution center. That proved to be infested with both Polgara and vamps, and the vamps had guns. They considered calling up a mech and levelling the building, but heat sensors showed the presence of humans. It took over an hour to clear the building. They found over fifty people inside - the vamps had kept them alive as a food source, and had broken or amputated their feet or legs to prevent them from escaping. Medevac choppers got most of them out alive.
Two of the vamps tried to surrender. Adams' men just dragged them into the sunlight and watched them combust. If the Geneva Convention applied to demons, no one had mentioned it to him.
Fetterman's heavies crossed the Mahonning on route 711, and headed up I-680. They hit their first serious concentration of demons at the intersection with N. Meridian road, and the mediums outflanked it on the right, catching the demons in a crossfire and killing over a thousand before pushing on. As they approached the intersection with I-80, they turned southwest, advancing down highway 11 until they reached Silica road.
By now they were being hit from all sides, so they tightened up the formation. They fought off more than a dozen attacks, for more than an hour, supported by A-10s and Apaches from Youngstown-Warren.
The demons attacked as Crook was heading southwest on highway 11. They came out of the wooded terrain on the left, and for a change they came silently; at least as silently as 500 demons could, when charging through underbrush. Crook pulled his mediums onto the shoulder of the right side, giving a clear field of fire to the heavies further back; these fired straight down the almost straight roadway.
Some demons managed to get around behind his mechs, and a dinosaur-sized creature actually knocked down one of his Nightskies. The thing loomed over the mech, which had fallen onto it's back.
The Nightsky is best known for the armored sleeve on it's right arm, and the four-ton slablike "hatchet" attached to the sleeve. The 6s model, however, is called a "monster" for other reasons * - the seven medium lasers it carries along with the hatchet. As the demon leaned over the fallen mech, the pilot fired all seven full in the creature's face.
Unlike the Puma and Osiris, the Nightsky has usable arms; it was able to assist in it's own recovery up to a point. It took a while, but eventually the mech was back upright - and only half an hour behind schedule. Of course, so was everyone else.
At the Mall:
"I can do a 'don't notice me' spell that should fool most of the demons," said Doreen.
"It's the 'most' part that I'm concerned about, Doreen," said Major Sanchez. "We know that these creatures sense their surroundings in lots
of different ways. It won't be enough to fool most of them - You'll need something that works on all
"If I might make a suggestion," said Fitzpatrick, "what about a glamour underneath
Doreen's glamour ? Something that would deter any demon who did manage to see beneath the surface ?"
"Such as ?" inquired MIles.
"What about this ?" he gestured, and his entire body was sheathed in flame.
The others started back; all except for Tamiko, who extended her hand towards him. "It's illusion," she said, "there's no heat, and no smell - it won't fool anything that gets close."
"Well then, I suppose we'll have to make sure nothing does." said Sir Roger.
Captain Forsyth was scouting for the Colonel's column, north of I-80. He led them south from the Pine Tree Place shopping center, then west along the river bank. A small force of the enemy tried to intercept the column from the south bank as they passed the McDonald Steel Corporation, but they were burned down - most of them before they even made it across the river.
They hit heavier opposition south of Olive street, as they passed the complex of buildings west of Howland Machine. The heavies and assaults dealt with that, while Forsyth's Pumas continued on to the Belmont Avenue bridge - then turned downstream on the other bank, so that they could take the demons under fire from the rear. The entire column was across the river by 1:00 PM.
They turned southwest when they were parallel with the Meander Dam; then headed straight toward the intersection with I-80. There were several demons attacks along the way; progress was slower than the Colonel would have liked, but steady.
They were passing something called "Briarfield at the Ridge" when a large mass of monsters blocked the road in front. Forsyth took his Pumas off to the right down a side street, then turned south again until he reached a high school, before bringing them back to the road and coming up behind the demons. Caught between the Pumas and the Colonel's heavies the demons were burned down quickly.
As a bonus, they found half a dozen people hiding in the high school; along with the bodies of over a hundred others.
At the Mall:
The "quest" party would need vehicles. Tamiko had the monocycle, of course. They borrowed a six-wheeled "Apocalypse" vehicle from Calvert's recon platoon, which could carry up to six passengers in addition to the driver - it had enough room to take the entire party, monocycle (and bearhunters) and all, with room left over for basic supplies. It had an internal combusion engine, so they were a bit worried about noise; then Doreen got a brainstorm. She and Sir Roger talked it over, and between them came up with a "glamour" that would muffle the sound of the engine. They attached the spell to a crystal, and got MacKenzie to attach the crystal inside the engine compartment.
Doreen handed out protective crystals to everyone but Sir Roger - his amulet served a similar function, among others. The plan was to wait until after dark, then seek an opening in the demon horde swarming the Regiment. Sir Roger wasn't optimistic about that, but the others weren't worried. "Trust me," said Tamiko, "these things are not
organized. They don't fight in units, they fight in bunches; there's always a gap, and we've had a lot
of practice at finding them." The Luds nodded in agreement. From the stories Sir Roger had been hearing, he was inclined to believe that they knew what they were talking (or nodding) about.
Lieutenant Colonel Seydlitz had asked Sonya to take point for her recon lance in the advance. It made sense; Sonya knew the terrain and the enemy and her own pilots did not. Plus, Sonya had actually trained with some of Seydlitz's pilots back on New Moab - even if it was years earlier, the connection was there. The problem was that Sonya's Osiris didn't have the same speed as Seydlitz's Piranhas. She'd have to change mechs.
For most pilots, that would have been a serious obstacle; there simply wasn't time for them to become familiar with the new mech before the operation. But Sonya Zhukov wasn't most pilots, and the Lieutenant Colonel knew it. She'd actually considered recruiting Sonya for her own unit, but trooper Zhukov (as she was then), owed her primary loyalty to the Rangers.
One thing the two officers shared was an appreciation for speed, and the Piranha certainly had that; it was one of the fastest mechs ever built. It was armed for raiding. Clan Ice Hellion had equipped this model with 12 extended range micro lasers, two heavy medium lasers, and one heavy small laser. Only the "heavy" lasers would be a threat to another mech, but the micros would decimate unarmored targets; they should be very effective against demons.
By 1:15 PM, Fetterman and the Colonel were well engaged, and the demons were drawing off to attack them. Sonya led Seydlitz's detachment (they hadn't settled on a name yet), west on I-80. The Piranhas went first, followed by the mediums in extended order, spread out on both sides of the road. The Lieutenant Colonel's two lances of heavies followed them in closer order on the road itself, accompanied by the GEVs of the dragoon wing.
Bregman had been allowed to follow Seydlitz's column in a scout helicopter, giving him a bird's eye view of the action.
As the Heavy mechs drew even with a large open area on the right, he saw the ground heaving. Then dozens of holes open up, and hundreds of demons came pouring out. The Heavies pivoted and waited, while the Gurkhas GEVs drew up in line in front of them. Bregman thought that he would have opened fire immediately and couldn't understand why the mechs didn't.
Then he saw half of the mediums, already well ahead, peel off to the right and loop around, coming in on the demons' flank. He hadn't quite gotten it when MacKenzie had described these as "fast" mediums. He got it now.
Unlike heavy mechs, these could run, and run well. The Lieutenant Colonel had selected mediums which were as fast as most lights, and they closed on the demon's flank faster than Bregman would have believed. Between them and the heavies on the road, the monsters were caught in a crossfire; and they couldn't run fast enough to get out of it - not that most of them tried. They just kept coming, until there were no more left. None of them got within a hundred yards of the mechs, who just continued with their mission as if nothing had happened.
Looking down the road, Begman could see the complex of buildings around the intersection with highway 46. He could also see Fetterman's heavy column closing on it from the south. Looking north, he could see the Colonel's column closing in as well. All three columns were driving demons before them.
As the helicopter climbed, Bregman had a good view to the west, beyond the intersection. Roughly a mile away was a reservoir - and the area in between was carpeted with monsters.
At the Intersection:
Sonya led the piranhas through the intersection, and took her stand between a car dealership on the right and a restaurant on her left. Her micro lasers could only fire accurately for a few hundred meters. On the other hand, she'd configured her trigger to cycle through them in groups of four, allowing them plenty of time to cool between shots. She figured she could keep shooting until her hand got tired. She'd save the heavy lasers for emergencies.
'And here we go again,' she thought. As she opened fire, the fast mediums of Seydlitz's "wing" moved up alongside. The heavies were only a minute behind them.
The Gurkha GEVs began peeling off - to a motel north of the intersection, and a freighting company and truck stop on the south. They took fire from the truck stop, so tossed in a smoke grenade, followed by flashbang grenades, and went in with their weapons ready. It was the standard CQB drill. They needn't have bothered; vamps are a lot
more sensitive to loud noises and bright lights than humans. The flashbangs had left them writhing on the floor, trying to cover their eyes and ears. The Gurkhas didn't let them get up again.
In the motel, they found three groups of humans, all of whom seemed very nervous. The Havildar in charge checked his heat sensor and smiled - then he walked up to one of the people, and shot him in the eyes with a water pistol. The vamps face ignited, and the havildar took it's head off with his kukri.
Fetterman's column moved past the complex to the south, then turned north on the Ohltown road, with Crook's mediums guarding their flank. They came in on the flank of the demons surging up I-80, deployed in line, and opened fire.
Colonel Youngblood's column deployed in a double line north of I-80, and began moving westward in a 'fire-and-movement' advance; the front rank fired, then the second rank moved through the first and fired, then ..repeat as many times as necessary. When they were parallel to Sonya's position they stopped. Forsyth's Pumas went wide on their right, moved through a patch of woods, and ended up facing across their front. The woods blocked their line of fire towards the road, but the woods wouldn't be there for long.
The Gurkhas were moving into the rest of the buildings now. There were a dozen people hiding out in a Bob Evans restaurant, along with a pair of Bracken demons. The Gurkhas would have killed these but the people vouched for them; evidently the Brackens didn't like vampires much, and the feeling was mutual. The Subadar in charge contacted Major Sanchez by radio, and on her advice put the Brackens under guard until the ISWC could talk to them.
Those two would later enjoy a unique distinction: they were the only prisoners taken during the entire operation.
From the air, Bregman could see the whole thing, the mechs deployed in a rough line, like toy soldiers on a table, with fire rippling all along the front. When the helicopter ran low on fuel, the demons were still coming; and the mechs were still firing. He thought of something he'd read, attributed to the Duke of Wellington: I don't know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me.
The action finally petered out around midnight.
the party had moved up to the intersection during the evening, and Tamiko had started short probing patrols at about 9:30. At 11:00 she reported that the demons were thinning out and that she'd found a gap, but they waited another two hours before they moved.
At 2:00, they reached the Meander Creek Reservoir, and slipped across the causeway as quietly as possible; At 4:00 they detoured to avoid the GM Assembly plant. By dawn, they could just make out the northern suburbs of Warren over their right shoulders. Somewere to the northeast was Mosquito Creek Lake. Somewhere to their north lay the Hellmouth.
* It actually is called a monster, by the people at BattleTechWiki, here: http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Nightsky
This one was a bear; I've been trying for days to find a plausible way to get the 'quest' started.
Please let me know how I did.