The Rangers were at this point overextended in the expanse that was the Outback, and Brice was limited in who he could bring along. Opting for a fast group of mechs, his lance consisted of a Spider, a Hussar, a Jenner, and to anchor the speedy mechs, a brand new Crusader to go along with his own family's Grasshopper.
"Lt. Brice," said the voice of the dropship commander, watching the engagement from orbit, "we can confirm five enemy mechs on the far side of the city. It looks like the Dogs of War, by their colors."
Brice let out a private sigh. The Dogs of War, one of the most disreputable bands of mercenaries in the Inner Sphere, had been a thorn in the side of the Rangers since they were reconstituted by Colonel Laval. And while the Rangers had typically done well against them, including killing the notorious war criminal Major Bludd, there had been too many close calls for comfort. Brice himself had once faced down a Dogs of War Grasshopper in a duel.
Brice ordered the light mechs forward to flank the enemy, while the slower heavies used buildings as cover to move up.
Sgt. Schmidt in his Jenner took command of the lights as they moved up. Like Brice, he'd been with the Rangers since their recent revival, when they were barely a company, not the Battalion-sized force they were now.
The heavies started taking PPC fire from the enemy Awesome almost immediately, none of which was accurate.
With the awesome shooting at the heavies, the lights harrassed them from the sides.
The fast moving Spider caught fire when it poked its head around the building from an enemy Commando and Urbanmech.
"Hey," the Spider pilot said over the radio, "They got an Urbie! I haven't seen one of those mechs in ages. What the hell is one doing here?"
"Cut the chatter," Brice said, killing the chorus of chuckles from the rest of the lance.
The Hussar drew long range fire from the enemy's Jagermech, but nothing connected. Turning it's torso to fire back, the Hussar struck the mech in the center torso with it's large laser.
By some bizarre chance, the laser struck a fault in the armor causing it to buckle and ignite the Jagermech's ammo stores. The mech exploded, sending pieces raining down everywhere.
Pressing the unexpected advantage, the lights converged on the enemy formation, forcing some hard decisions about target priority.
While the lights danced around the enemy, Brice led the charge down a narrow alley. The Urbanmech sat on the other side of it, covering the opening. As Brice advanced, the mech opened fire with it's formidable Autocannon. For a moment Brice blacked out, before awakening to the red warning lights blazing around him. He'd taken a hit to the cockpit, in the head of the mech, and the cockpit was in shambles.
"Lucky shot", he mumbled, as he regained control.
Both sides were now fully engaged. A variety of enemy fire blew an arm off the Spider, sending it into retreat. The enemy Victor mech jumped to the top of a building to pursue. Seeing an opening, Brice jumped his own mech up behind the Victor. Intending to unload all of his weapons into the mech's rear armor and possibly punch or kick it off the building, Brice allowed himself a small smile as his HUD displayed an easy targeting solution.
Sgt. Schmidt saw this only out of the corner of his eye, as he had his hands full. He'd tried to dart around the enemy Awesome while it was busy shooting at the heavies, but instead the beast turned its guns on him. Thankfully at such close quarters and with such a fast target, the Awesome just wasted his energy.
The enemy commando, chasing the Spider cleared the building to find itself surrounded. Unfortunately, the Rangers were moving too fast to shoot as straight as they'd like.
And then the unthinkable. As Brice unleashed all of the weapons systems of his Grasshopper on the enemy, the Urbanmech, barely bothering to move its bulk, took its time to sight in on his mech. A second autocannon round connected with the Grasshopper's already damaged head. The round barely exploded, instead just sheared the head straight off, ending the life and career of one of the Rangers' finest pilots.
The Rangers screamed wordlessly in grief and despair, rushing heedlessly in to melee range with the enemy.
A kick from the Victor tore the left leg and half of the attached torso off the lightly armored Hussar.
Now taking very one-sided fire from the enemy, the Commando began to retreat back. Suddenly fearful of the humble Urbie, Sgt. Schmidt gave the order to withdraw into the city, hoping to draw the faster moving enemy out ahead of the rest.
While the other mechs withdrew, the Hussar managed to somehow right itself, and fired off its payload one last time before being finished off by the Awesome's PPCs.
So far, so good. The enemy pressed the attack, allowing the Rangers a chance to overwhelm their fast movers. The Urbanmech and the Awesome were still on the other side of the buildings.
The spider didn't last long in that heat, and an autocannon shell from the powerful Victor damaged the Crusader's hip joint, halving its movement. Sgt. Schmidt in his Jenner tried to keep moving, doing his best to draw some fire, but the Dogs of War are relentless.
The Crusader was unable to get clear and forced to face off with the Awesome and Victor while the Commando harassed his rear.
Sgt. Schmidt took care of the Commando, but things were not looking good.
The Awesome was in optimum PPC range, and there was no way the Crusader could close or retreat. All he could do was shoot back and pray.
Schmidt's Jenner, still up and running fast as ever, circled the block yet again and found the Victor's rear.
Unleashing everything he had, and overriding the flashing overheat warnings, the Victor finally exploded.
Unfortunately, at nearly the same moment, two PPC blasts from the Awesome flashed into the Crusader's center torso, blasting right through its reactor. Schmit could see the pilot eject as the mech went down, skidding along the street helplessly. He could do nothing, as his Jenner had no hands.
"I'm sorry friend," he said, his radio off, as he turned his mech around and fled.
A nasty, brutal battle, one that the Rangers will remember and avenge.