Well that was a complete mess.
Where to begin? Okay, so thanks to the efforts of McKinnon and Baden we knew where Mad Mabel was hiding out. It was the ruins of Santiago, a dead city that’s been half buried in ice and snow, giving her some shelter and infrastructure while allowing her to blend in. And thanks to Tudor, we knew that they were at home. Now we needed to go in there and root them out.
After his initial screw up on the landing, Captain Nexx wanted to be the one to end the Grim Grinners. He was smarting over Mabel making him look like a fool, and saw this as his chance to make up for it. So with as little turnaround as possible – and without calling in support, I might add – the whole company charged on Santiago. We approached form the south, crossing a frozen river into the city proper. The intel was spot on about the terrain; the place was buried, with the tops of buildings sticking out of the ice and snow.
It was also spot on about the Grim Grinners, as we immediately picked up hostiles as we approached. The weather had closed in, making long-range shots difficult, but there was no question as to their intent as they opened up on us. Nexx ordered recon lance to head into the city to try and pin down the enemy, which is where it got really hairy.
Vince found that the Grinners had hidden more ‘Mechs and tanks inside the buildings. He found this out when a Hetzer nearly took his Jenner’s legs off. Seriously, it looks like the shots passed between the legs as he ran. That guy has the devil’s own luck. There were a few others, including a rocket-armed Hunchback and a Whitworth, as well as some infantry. All of a sudden, we were outnumbered. It got even worse when we lost two of our own in quick succession, a Hunchback that had its cockpit shot out and a Centurion who’s ammo went up.
Nexx wasn’t going to give up. It wasn’t just his ego speaking, though. He knew that if he withdrew then Mabel would just escape. Naw, we needed to end the Grinners; even if Mabel was killed, somebody else would just take their place. He had the heavies form up on a ridge, with Tudor and Guthrie raining down PPC and laser fire on the pirates. The rest of us were advancing, using jets where possible to try to break up the Grinners’ formation.
They had ideas of their own; a Firestarter, Chameleon and the same Griffin that Tudor’s lance had nearly decapitated before tried to flank us. Several more lights peppered Guthrie’s Wammer with rockets; he was taking a pouding, but he refused to fall. My own Cadaver was disabled when its reactor shielding failed. All I can say is thank the lord for CASE II, otherwise I might not be here to write this. That and I can’t imagine who’d get Recon Lance without me.
Their efforts to flank us didn’t work out so well; the Firestarter went down hard, while the Griffin was left with a burning hole in its chest. That gave us an opening, which saw Lancaster and McKinnon jump their Cronuses into the middle of the enemy rear and try to disrupt their heavies. It worked to a degree; they managed to badly damage a JagerMech and Marauder, but Lancaster got the shock of her life when a Crusader nearly took her arm off with a hatchet. I guess we found Mad Mabel.
We were wearing them down, but they were doing a number on us. The Griffin went down when Jan crushed its chest, while the Hunchback lost a leg and its entire left side. An ammo explosion took out the Marauder, which was both good and bad; we lose the salvage, but we also were facing one less heavy. But there were still several more of them then there were of us. Guthrie’s Warhammer had lost an arm and was basically naked from the waist up, and Lancaster’s Cronus had lost its PPC and much of its armour, and that was just the start of it.
And that’s the moment that it all turned around.
Captain Ash Coffin wheeled her command lance into the battle on Mabel’s flank. Quite literally in her case, as Coffin opened up in Mabel’s rear armour. At the same time, the Chameleon went down, followed by a Commando that had been spraying rockets at the heavies, then the JagerMech who lost its head to one of Coffin’s men. Mabel found herself surrounded and without an escape route, so she instead made a kamikazie charge on Nexx’s Ostroc. It didn’t work, and Coffin cut her down from behind. She didn’t even try to eject.
With their leader dead, the commander of an immobilised Manticore tank popped his hatch and offered to surrender. It turned out that he was the highest-ranking member of the Grim Grinners left alive (save for the unconscious Chameleon jockey). By accident we’d managed to gut their leadership, and it was largely fear of Mabel herself that was keeping them in the battle. The rest of them also gave up, save for one Locust that tried to make a run for it. Baden cut him off, suggesting that a crippled Locust against a nearly fully functional Jenner was a bad idea.
It should have been a big win for us; after all, we’d killed Mad Mabel and got the rest of the Grim Grinners to surrender rather then fighting to the death. Nexx, however, was fuming. Coffin basically throw him a backhanded insult, saying that he’d done a great job of distracting the Grim Grinners and getting them into place, and thus allowing her to get the kill (and the glory). Personally, I didn’t care either way. I just was glad to be alive.
Either way, we still had a fair amount of salvage to sift through. We’d lost three ‘Mechs, but could make them up. My Cadaver was reapirable, and we could Frankenstein a full Hunchback out of the two disabled ones on the field. Nexx laid claim to the mostly intact Chameleon, which meant that we’d be back at a full company once we did a lot of repair work, and pulled a couple of new MechWarriors from the pool.
Speaking of, it looks like the surviving Grim Grinners are going to be vetted to see if any of them are wanted for anything specific, rather then just general pirate-ness. Those that are ‘clean’ will then be given the choice of joining us or swing form the nearest tree. You have to love Periphery Justice.
We descended on the Grim Grinners’ base like a plauge of locusts, seeing what we could take. They’d repurposed an old factory, and redecorated it to their tastes. So you know, skulls, flayed bodies, knives, drugs and whatever else. The sorts of things that pirates like. We rounded up Mabel’s remaining support staff, including her chief tech and something that could be very generously called a doctor. Besides the techs going to work on salvaging what they could from the Grinners’ stockpiles, there was a lot of souvineering going on.
Baden really shone here, though. He managed to find a hit list of worlds and sites Mabel was targeting, including a list of possible allies.
So that’s it for the Grim Grinner Gang and Mad Mabel, the Cannibal Queen. Can’t wait to see what hellhole we get thrown into next.