OOC: Pre Clan sourcebooks loved to have mechwarriors or other people reminisicing war stories,fleshing out Btech fluff while drinking a PPC in a tavern of some sort. As a homage to that twenty year old tradition, here we go.
It was generally too early for the crowd. At twilight, most people would be scarfing down dinners in the mess hall or scurrying about to complete any routine paperwork. In the hangers, techies would be shutting down generators and storing tools, handing over work to the night shift whose job it would be to run inventory checks and repair broken down parts in the workshops.
"Evening McNally. A Steiner if you please."
Geoffrey pushed his way past the bar stools, reaching a booth where 3 other men were seated.
"Who's the new kid?"
"Geoff, meet Tarn. Lance commander, Blood Angels."
"Oh, yours Adam?" Geoff turned to watch the kid as Adam grunted. Periphery of course. The new crop of leaders generally were, even the officers. It was supposed to be hard to tell. Still, somehow, maybe his unfamilarity with crowds, technology and life as a Spheroid in general seperated a Peripheral rat from some farm kid from the Outback. That or the kid simply looked too green, too young while showing the kind of leathery build that spoke of hard labour and exposure to the elements, of having seen hard times while keeping a sense of optimism and naviety.
"So, how's life as a lance kid?"
"We took out McNeil." Tarn spoke in a quiet voice.
"Woah. Hold your horses. McNeil? 2nd coy, Hell on Wheels? I'm impressed kid."
Adam snorted. " He went kapow on her. Close up fighting, physical combat. Lucky punk."
Tarn asked, " You don't approve, boss?"
"Kid. You were thinking entirely of a mech on mech battle between two lances. Campaigns aren't won over single skirmishes like that. You got to think of the big picture."
"We took out an entire heavy lance! A Marauder and that Warhammer."
"And in a real fight, you could had lost us a battle. Look, first of all, great job. You managed to coordinate fire and attack runs to mission kill the Marauder, sidestep that Archer firepower. I particularly liked the way you alpha striked that Ostol. He was a rook sure, but you seized that opportunity and K.O him. And I'm not saying you shouldn't go for physical attacks. BUT. You got to think of the bigger picture. Force preservation."
"I took back 2 mechs and scrapped 3 of theirs!"
"You're not thinking straight. When you're RTB, do you think an umpire would fire a signal flare and signal exercise cut? You got the basic tactics right and you know how to use your lance. But get as damaged as you did in a real fight and its over. Even if we did get your mechs back, they're still stuck in the repair bay for a week or so. Longer if we can't get mech arms or engines up in our forward base. Meanwhile, Hell on Wheels will turn about that Archer and Marauder in just 4 days or less, depending on how the battle flows. Prepacked logistics for gyro are easier to keep than arms or engines."
Geoff was impressed. Some part of the kid mind must had been working, for the next words out of his mouth was "So, what should I had done then?" And the kid clamped down on any scarasm like the word run.
"Run. We're a strike lance. You got the speed and firepower part of those tactics down pat. Now, you got to know when to use it. The commander likes to use us as cavalry and god knows, we now have the weight and firepower to pull it off. But you and yours are still medium mechs on the light side. Using speed to evade firepower is only part of the deal. The other is that of endurance. Keep using your long range firepower to peck away at their armour, and since they're heavies, avoid committing taking out their mechs if it means exposing yourself to short range fire. Its much harder to hit you at range and at speed than it is up close. Now, if they had more long range mechs like the Archer or the Marauder, things might had been more dicey. The MAD S features a gauss rifle and ER PPCs, get tagged by two of those and its game over. "
"Avoid getting hit. While hitting them back. Seriously. Look, those mechs can withstand 3 PPC strikes or so. That means you need to avoid getting hit more than 3 times while your Talon PPC ping away their armour. Meanwhile, any of their PPC hitting you equals to red zone on your armour.
Only commit yourself when you reckon you can take out a mech. Its as simple as that.
If not, out on the actual battlefield, what we do is to simply skirmish with them, soak up some LRMs. waste more of their coolant spewing PPCs at us before moving on. There's always heavier firepower support available on our side. That's why the Angels are so well supported. We get first draw on artillery, airstrikes and aerial support. We can break through, but we can't really break out. That's what Hell on Wheels and Grudgebringer is for."
"So, you're saying Strike Lances aren't supposed to take out mechs?"
"No. I'm saying Strike Lances fight like wolves. Run them dry, run them down, take the kill and move on. If we can't do that, we run through them. If our mobility gets cut down, we die. Yah, I know, speed is life. But the best pilots know how to use their superior awareness to avoid relying on their superior skills to survive. Think about that."
"I... I just don't understand. Hit and run, avoiding superior enemy firepower.... that's what I did!" Tarn moaned.
The last man in the group, McAlister snorted.
"The old fogger is simply saying that assault belongs to us assault mechs. You lighter kids, run around and play. Play with your prey. Leave the massive orgy of destruction, to us."
With that, he finished his snapps and stood up.
"I gotta go. Some night time demonstration for the local nobs on this planet. Next time folks."
The last words before the group scattered was Tarn and Adam arguing over what it meant to commit to take out a mech.
Geoffrey smiled. The kid was new. He would learn that kills wasn't as important to vets as much as time spent on the battlefield, that snap judgement calls and instinct based on what's workable counted more than textbook tactics talking about weight disparity, movement and fire and angle of attack and that the real key to victory wasn't fighting. It was winning.
Tarn whined "I 'm just so confused."
Geoffrey laughter set the kid blushing as the newer patrons entered the bar. Fellow Angels only smiled and greeted them back. Hazing the new recruit was routine. Executing impossible, conflicting and contradictory tactics was the norm. Isn't that what battle is all about?