The Cattle Raid
The holovids are full of stories about mecha garrisons bravely battling dastardly pirate raiders. It's a pretty picture for the propaganda films, but its a long way from the truth of the pirate raids.
If we can find the men, I have a good job for them,' Maeve said, lightning a smoke as she stared at the telescreen. There was some lag involved when the signal had to go though hyperspace. The face on the other end was quiet and then spoke, 'We could use some work, something nice and fat.' He was lean and wolfish, with a beard and shoulder length hair. Maeve pushed her short hair back, an affected habit, 'I'll tell you the world, but not the details, not until we've got more to stand on,' she scowled as he tried to give her his best scoundrel grin.
'Fine, what's the planet?' he asked.
'Mandoumir, its in the Tavolini Cluster, about 45 light years from the starbase at Kamora,' she said. Leno rubbed his beard, pondering this information. Kamora was a large starbase, easily a dozen capital ships, and likely an entire sector worth of firepower. Not something he would want to touch, or even sniff around. 'That's dicey, I don't like hitting targets that close to big starbases. You know how hard the Colonial Fleet drops on pirates. They shoot first and then shoot again rather than waste time asking questions.'
'I have a way in, and its far enough away that they won't be able to show up for at least a full week from when the distress call goes out. Part of my trick is that I have a way to shut down that signal. Maybe for a week, maybe longer,' Maeve said with a knowing dark grin that showed too many teeth. Leno leaned back, taking a drink of something in a black can. 'So how long is this window of yours open?' he asked.
'We'll need to hit sometime in the next four to six months,' she said. 'The planet only has one hyperspace communication system and I can shut it down, temporarily,' she said. 'You make a convincing sell Maeve,' Leno said, 'We've done well before, I only have one other question before I say yes or no. What is your in? What's your angle?'
Maeve stopped smiling so largely, but answered, 'Because I'm from Mandoumir.'
The Cattle Raids
It is a common story. The pirates jump into a star system, and their ships come in hot and fast with guns blazing. They land and disgorge squadrons on mecha that make a straight line for the garrison forces to smash them to bits. Then they scoop up the bits and run away home with them. A few stories will have the raiders rob a military depot, or a shipment of military equipment. The truth of the matter is that this seldom ever happens. Pirates who raid have little to no desire to tangle with garrison forces. Their machines are rare and hard to maintain and they would rather avoid a fight than win one and then deal with damaged or crippled machines.
Maeve had been on Mandoumir for almost two months, her documents had been in order and it was an easy matter finding a job placing her near the hyperspace communications array near the capitol of Allos City. She planted several bugs in the computer systems, ferreting out information and planting viruses in vital systems that only waited for her signal to activate. Over the weeks she had compiled logs of the Plantary Garrison forces and their locations as well as general training schedules. It was just a matter of time before she would be ready to make the call back to Leno.
Leno had also been very busy. Three ships had been hired onto the raid, pledging their crews and cargo holds for a cut of the loot. It was expected to be a large haul, given the amount of time the ships would have to linger over the planet. He had gathered nearly a full battalion of mecha and nearly 2000 men and women to do the boots on the ground type of raiding. The ships were meeting nearly 60 light years from Mandoumir, and over 100 light years from Kamora. He had a one week window where the ships would wait. If they didn't receive a go signal, the ships returned to their points of origin and all bets were off. It was dicey, but the payoff was promised to be huge.
Few planets are undefended. The most common mode of protection is obviously the garrisoning troops. The bulk of these troops are infantry and armored vehicles with mecha comprising less than 5% of the typical defending force's total strength. But this is not the first nor last line of defence. The first line of defence is in space, with early warning satellites and it's own ships in orbit. Few worlds are wealthy enough to maintain their own fleets of capital ships, all but the poorest planets can support a squadron or two of aerospace fighters and monitor type non-FTL ships. These ships mount armor and firepower at the expense of largely being unable to leave the general orbit of the planet. Beyond this layer major targets like cities, military installations and the like will have some sort of anti-fighter and anti-landing craft defences. In some cases these are powerful but conventional aircraft, batteries of anti-ship weapons and missiles, or interceptor squadrons of flight capable mecha. Once on the ground, the attacking pirates will then deal with the garrison troops, or the militia units that defend the population centers and infrastructures.
Camadsen's Crusaders were a small pirate band, most were former Alliance military, a few were special forces. They had all been screwed one way or the other. Abandoned on a mission, declared criminals or actual criminals they all had a grudge against the Alliance, the Colonials, and all the shiny happy people who ate the government lies. Camadsen was a hard woman, and kept her band of miscreants and criminals in tight order. They didn't have tanks or mecha, they had lots of guns, trucks, and the discipline to kick down doors and sort the chaff from the wheat. She field stripped her carbine again, and then went and inspected the rest of her company. The Crusaders were just one of six infantry units that had signed onto the Mandoumir raid. They had drawn lots and the Crusaders got the first pick of target, and she had picked the third largest city on the main continent, it was three hours from the proposed landing zone and was serviced by a major highway.
Charlstons Curassiers and McGillicuddy's Land Raiders had both picked the capitol city, but were going with the bulk of the armored vehicles. Camadsen shook her head after the two started arguing over wanting the same target. The capitol was going to be the biggest and best defended and both units were going to take heavy losses. But that was part of the deal, someone had to be stupid and it looked like the Crusaders were going to get to be smart.
Boots on the Ground
The holovids always show mechs slugging it out. The biggest part of any raid is the footsloggers. The real valuables in a raid are quite simply, valuables. The foot raiders go in with guns and trucks and pillage. Precious metals, famous artwork, jewels and jewelry and fairly obviously, money, are prime targets. The mecha stand guard, or intimidate defending forces to surrender their goods rather than stand toe to toe with massive war machines. It is in truth a relative bluff, the defenders don't want to die, and the raiders dont really want to damage their machines, or expend ammo that is sometimes hard to replace.
Most battles between pirates and garrison troops take place in the street, between bands of conventional infantry. The garrison forces typically have the upper hand, with more access to ammo, local knowledge and the support of the general population. The raiders will typically mass their forces at a small number of targets, using the weight of their mecha and support units to persuade the garrison troops to retreat rather than stand and fight. Like pirates of old, relatively few raider bands indulge in wanton rape, murder, and destruction for the sake of destruction. This engenders a huge amount of outrage in the local populace and that can have a nasty trend of bringing in larger scale military assets to hunt down and destroy the raiders responsible. There are certainly cases of all of the above in almost every raid, but these are isolated to a relative few incidents. Casualties are unavoidable, and it isn't uncommon for attractive women to be abducted by the raiders.
Targets for Raiders:
Banks and monetary repositories: raiders like to steal money, its light and high value, obviously. Aside from cash, they will target depositories holding precious metals, jewels, and other luxury high value items. Armed with military weaponry, and mecha, busting bank vaults is easy.
Food Stock: raiders are often hungry and on shoestring budgets. Raiders will eat everything they can find and steal what they cant eat at the time. Luxury consumables like tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and medical supplies also garner large amounts of attention. Raiders generally avoid destroying hospitals or medical complexes, preferring to run a racket on them, give us supplies and we leave nicely.
Military Equipment: ammo and parts depots are popular targets for raiders. It allows theme to rearm and repair their damaged machines. These targets are high risk as most are well defended.
VIPs: raiders will attempt to abduct people of importance to ransom back to the planet they have raided, leaders, celebrities, and the like are the preferred targets.
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? Responses (5)
This is fun. We could write this up as a pulp story and you publish it in the Battletech fiction zine.
You could turn it into a Battletech or Battleforce campaign module. With you character vignettes fleshing out the story.
I look forward to the eventual conclusion.
Update: Three years in the In Work bin.
Even 'incomplete' I like the little story that is threaded through the write up.
What is really great about this, and what gives it so much potential in my wee mind is that it is both extremely general (a planetary raid is the go to Battletech event) and extremely specific with bits of world building and characterization. Thanks for writing this up.
So where are all the cows?
It is a great piece of world building. In just the little amount of time there is an understanding of the pirates, motivation and reality of raids. I thought 2000 people seemed a lot, but I am of the Firefly generation and wasn't into Battletech too much. I see the ease of fast movement around would make planet raids very risky...even if all they had to deal with was the planetary defense. Hit and run and get beyond where they can follow.