Day 5 of Proserpina Raid (3rd Action)

Commentary: Capture Kurita!

After the raid on the Mining Center, we rested for a couple days. Company HQ kept an eye on the large troop concentrations slowly making their way across a couple thousand Klicks toward the two battalions of Steiner raiders. They were much bigger than we were. We thought about what we should do to trap them. We could:

  1. Have the Steiner's stand to make the Kuritans form up for battle and then have our company commando onto their leader, the heir of Kurita. We figured he'd be pretty well protected, so we weren't too keen on that (after all, this was day 4 of a scheduled two week raid);
  2. Drop behind one force to give the Steiner troops time to board ships and attack the close-to-empty capital;
  3. Let the Steiner troops meet us at the capital.

We had air superiority, and could fly with impunity, while the Kurita 'mechs had to walk, wearing themselves out.

Early on Day 5, more ships jumped in system (opposite our jump point) and immediately launched fighters screaming toward our jump ships in deep space. We wouldn't get back to our ships first. We needed a bargaining chip, preferably a large one....

Lord General Theodore Kurita, Heir of House Kurita, commander of the Legion of Vega was thought to be a big enough chip. The plan made enough sense. The Steiner troops would form up and begin to engage Kurita, whose regiment was chasing it. As they deployed for battle, they would spread out, with the command element a bit behind. The Harriers would hit that element (considered to be two lances, but all large 'mechs) and hopefully capture Kurita alive.

Quinn himself suggested the airdrop method of attack right on the Kuritan command element. Rather unheard of; usually the drop ship lands beyond the action and 'mechs disembark, form up, and go. Quinn suggested dropping jump-capable 'Mechs right overhead. A classic air-envelopment; jump-capable 'mechs appear from nowhere, heavier, slower 'mechs show up while enemy is engaging jumpers. The company's TO&E was temporarily re-organized. Gifted was attached to an adhoc jump-capable lance under the command of Lt. Bear.

As heaviest 'mech in advanced assault, Gifted was to press the assault on Kurita's Battlemaster assisted by the other members of the two airdropped lances, keep it pinned down until the others arrive.

Per plan, the advanced force airdropped between Kurita's command and security lances. This was extremely exciting to Quinn. His first operation order actually executed in the face of the enemy.

Gifted dropped in the center of the line facing the security lance as they were closest. Quinn felt that he could partially draw fire away from the lighter 'mechs in the drop force, which he did. When the ground lance appeared, Quinn stopped paying the security lance any attention. Not his problem.

Gifted closed range with a Warhammer. One-on-one, and the Warhammer would get the worst of it. Kurita himself walked southwest, toward the weaker (southern) group under the cover of the Warhammer. Quinn's plan was to quickly damage the Warhammer enough to put it out of action, and then deal with Kurita. Therefore, when the Warhammer foolishly came in range, Quinn charged it.

The charge was as far as Gifted could run, meaning that he would hit going as fast as he can. The Thunderbolt could fire back at close range, but hopefully only once. Quinn became the center of attention, and took a devastating amount of fire that would have disabled any other 'mech. The fusilade took a large toll on his armor, but did not penetrate. Quinn began to get the idea he night be in trouble.

Gifted struck the Warhammer cleanly, the blow being distributed mostly about its torso, crushing the small laser on the right side. Both the Warhammer and Gifted fell - perhaps his anxiety took the edge off his piloting ability. Gifted had more than 90% damage on 4 surfaces. Quinn got panicky - this was more damage than had been done to him before. He called Steele (in his panic, he thumbed the wrong frequency) and requested instructions, hoping to be told to retreat. He was reminded that his mission goal was to press the attack and pin Kurita. That snapped him back to the fight.

When the Warhammer got up and retreated, Quinn offered Gifted as bait by pressing him close. Kurita took it, and came up behind him. Gifted received very heavy fire again from the Warhammer, the Orion, and Kurita. Gifted replied in kind as well as able, dealing LRM and medium laser damage to the Warhammer, three medium lasers to Kurita, but could only target one of the rear mounted-ones on the Orion. Gifted was kicked by both Kurita and the Warhammer, stripping most of the leg armor off the right leg and penetrating the left, which had taken 50% damage previously. Gifted kicked the Warhammer, destroying its right leg. It fell on its left side facing northeast.

The emergency lights that notified Quinn of the penetrations deeply scared him. He had never seen these lit before (except in testing). Still, Gifted was fully operational, so how bad could it be?

Still, Quinn had had enough of this unsupported playing of target. (There was support, but it was not very strong nor very thorough. Quinn hardly noticed it.) Gifted and Kurita separated some 200-250 meters.

Still, the others in the assault were helping. The security lance was just about destroyed, and the ground force was moving up. The others in Kurita's lance were not in great shape. Quinn stood off and traded shots. Gifted was badly damaged enough that this was a losing proposition. Gifted continued to take internal damage to both legs, and all the warning lights (except the destruction flasher) were lit for the right torso. It was a miracle that nothing critical (like the right missile magazine) was damaged.

The rest of the battle was anti-climactic for Quinn, except that he will probably never carry so powerful, important, or notorious an individual as the Heir of Kurita in his 'mech pilot rescue chamber.

Quinn will find after studying more AARs and/or tapes of the battle, that he was correct, and he was not adequately supported. His fellow mechwarriors maneuvered and fired to defend themselves instead of supporting him on this mission goal. But that will be the minor lesson of the battle.

It was not until after releasing Kurita that Quinn was able to get out of his 'mech and have a look at it. The sea of red lights on his console did not prepare him for the site of his ravaged 'mech. The right torso was hanging by very little. He could see and identify the internal parts (except most of the armor mounts). He could see that the missile magazine was partially ripped open. Quinn turned sheet white. He could have been killed.

See, all through a military education, Quinn had been taught that he had the stuff and was being given the knowledge to stay alive on the battlefield. He did as he was taught. He had felt especially safe inside his huge, powerful 'mech. But in spite of all of that, he had nearly been killed.

Quinn drafted his AAR, checked with his Tech for a repair estimate, included that, delivered the report, and got very, very drunk.

His education had included etiquette courses and he understood how to drink wine. He knew nothing about harder stuff. He took a few bottles of the local vodka, and got very smashed, and then very sick. Then very smashed again, until he was very sick. By this time, the unit had lifted off planet, bound for its jumpship.

It was not until they jumped out of Kurita space that Quinn felt anything like better.

Written and © Copyright 1989 by Mitch Schwartz.
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