Charlie FTL: Harlander
Prior to his untimely death in a traffic accident, comrade CO Bodge had tasked Alpha with sweeping the crash site, Bravo with blocking off the southern escape route, and Charlie with climbing the high hill west of our starting location, from where we could observe any attempts to escape northwards. My job was to drive, alone, a party bus to the summit, since comrade Harlander correctly anticipated a future requirement for mobility.
In the event I reached the summit before the rest of Charlie, so I parked up with a great view south and scanned the valley below for escaping pilots. I saw there none, and soon it was apparent why: the automatic map markers revealed our prey was escaping south, clearly intending to reach the high ground of the ridge line before wheeling east and making for the army roadblock at the pass. When everyone had clambered aboard, I pointed the nose of my love bus towards the valley floor and began a direct descent. I may also have cried out something about 'extreme driving', which used to be the fashion in Folk sessions of ages past ;)
Like a bright blue pendulum of revolutionary goodness, our love bus swung bumpily across the valley and eventually came to rest high up on the opposite ridge. The enemy group was traversing eastward towards the pass, but three fireteams (of which we were the last) blocked their path. Nothing could go wrong.
Except it already had: further south a motorbike, once ours, was making its way toward the pass in a great arc. Comrade Xiathorn and I ran madly to intercept the Steve McQueen character (Comrade Headspace), but our pistols were useless at this range. Fixated with the target, comrade Xiathorn went on to attempt a one-man assault on the pass even after McQueen had reached it, but I disengaged and returned to my FTL, comrade Harlander, who soon became the platoon leader.
As best we understood it, something bad had happened to Alpha further east on the ridge, and the survivors needed our help. After a brief consultation on the hillside, comrade Harlander directed us to converge on the alpha marker. Running for what seemed like minutes, I eventually saw an enemy prone on the saddle of the ridge ahead, exchanging shots with a fellow militiaman who was approaching from the south-west. The pilot popped smoke to obscure his position, but I was able to flank him and eventually spied his form on the ground. I put two rounds in him and the mission ended!
|- Medic: Unaco
Comrade Headspace's plan called for an initial assault on the complex at Nango, to be conducted by two fireteams with support from two BTR-40s (which I adore) and the MMG and MAT attachments. The forming up point for the assault would be a set of large mounds to the west of the complex, which would provide shelter for our platoon as it adopted the attack formation of Alpha in the north and Charlie to the south (Bravo was crewing both BTR-40s).
From the mounds I watched the assault begin, and heeding the CO's orders, seemingly the entire platoon was sending rounds downrange from the start. Against this hail of lead the enemy light machine-gunners and SPG-9 crews withered and fell, such that the entire platoon was soon able to cross the largely open ground, darting between the oil installations for added security. I crossed mostly on foot, with my medic comrade Unaco trailing behind in an unarmed BTR-40.
Initially, we pushed into the northern half of the complex, following Alpha. Before we had reached the far side it became apparent that the platoon had casualties to the south. With Unaco dashing about in his green steel ambulance, we found ourselves being drawn to the centre of the formation, but at the western edge of the complex. Whilst treating a wounded comrade, Unaco and the others came under fire from militiamen that had managed to get in behind us. It was starting to become messy: the assault had not completely cleared the ground through which it had passed, but our numbers meant we had insufficient numbers for all-round security. We eliminated the militiamen, but it was now obvious that Charlie had been wiped out, leaving the MMG team alone at the southern end of the complex.
Level with us, but on the western side of the complex, the CO was under fire but calling for all units to rally at the southern end of the complex (thereby rescuing MMG). Over TeamSpeak I could hear excited chatter about tanks, and heard several rockets being fired by the MAT team - I don't recall the precise targets. Still, the situation was getting worse as our momentum ebbed and the CO was injured. With Unaco and the Bravo team he had been attending to (comrade Xiathorn commanding), I pushed west towards Headspace. We arrived in time to see his lifeless body being dragged into cover. I had the platoon now.
Xiathorn's Bravo - effectively a single BTR-40 - was just to my north, along with the now rocketless MAT element, whilst comrade AstuteCat's Alpha was around me. I wasn't sure if MMG remained alive, but wanted to continue with Headspace's plan of moving south. We had contacts to our east out in the fields, but I was (rather stupidly) still adamant about completing our clearance of the eastern edge of the complex, so had tasked Alpha with moving down along the perimeter quickly, with Bravo/MAT (now one element) in the rear. This decision, which was stupid, made it inevitable that we would be engaged from our side and surely enough we were soon exchanging fire with a patrol in the fields to our east and diving for cover at the first opening in the perimeter wall. The firefight was won, but at the cost of one of AstuteCat's men.
Desperate to continue south, but dissuaded from further exposure to the east, I was personally looking for gaps in the concrete wall when I came upon a nasty surprise. A lone militiaman had remained in the industrial part of complex, his back to the southern perimeter wall, an AK in his hand. He died in the inevitable, frantic exchange of fire, but so did Xiathorn's gunner. We were being whittled away for no appreciable gain of ground.
Fortunately for the platoon, not all of our element leaders were as incompetent as me: comrade AstuteCat had a satchel, and proceeded to create a new entrance to the complex at it's south-west corner. We clustered there, and I looked eastwards, planning to move my remaining men into the fields and hedgerows to our south under cover from Xiathorn's BTR-40 (he had 100 rounds left). As I was attempting to arrange everyone for this next phase of movement, something - a rocket? A tank round? - exploded on our position, killing me instantly.
Comrade AstuteCat survived, and led the remaining men on a brave, but ultimately ill-fated advance south-east towards the road. They exchanged fire with enemies to their south and east, destroying at least one technical. But something distant - a tank, I think - cooked up Xiathorn's BTR-40 with a single round and our last few men were shot near the roadside until only comrade AstuteCat remained, legs broken, crawling towards the enemy outpost with an RPK in hand...
Charlie FTL: Harakka
|- AR (extra): Fer
... and post re-JIP ...
Alpha FTL: Joseph/Sulphur
|- R: Fer
Comrade Wolfenswan's plan eschewed any sort of direct route towards the target areas, and instead called for a wide, clock-wise circumnavigation of the AO to be conducted with a particular focus on security and co-ordination. Alpha and Bravo would be the main movement elements, moving in bounds across the southern edge of the AO; Charlie, which I joined as an additional AR thanks to the magic of JIP scripts, would lag a little bit behind and to the north, acting as a screen against enemy patrols from the road.
In the green light of out NVGs, the fireteams moved out through the dense vegetation, barely visible to each other but kept in formation by the efforts of our CO and element leaders. Proving Grounds, with its S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-esque terrain, can be scary enough without the constant dread of an enemy patrolman's flashlight sweeping across the brush, and our advance felt rather atmospheric. Still, we made good progress, and it was not until we were beyond the second riverbed that we encountered our first patrol.
Alpha and Bravo appeared to form an L-shaped ambush without alerting the enemy to their presence, and in Charlie we moved cautiously up to reinforce Alpha's position. When the platoon opend fire en masse, the firefight was completely one-sided. We moved on, engaging an SUV and eventually reaching the road that runs northwards to the gas station. Here, we wheeled north, with Alpha and Bravo west of the road, and Charlie on the road itself, keeping a watchful eye on the terrain we had just crossed, which was lower ground relative to our position.
Again, we spotted enemies before they did us, and now we used the optics on our fancy PKMs to fix and destroy the exposed enemies. At least one full patrol and a lone straggler were cut down in this way, giving us a degree of comfort about our right flank as we neared the raised ground to the south of the gas station. Whilst targets and micro-objectives were divided between Alpha and Bravo, Charlie crept into overwatch positions, from where we hoped to provide supporting fire for the others. The light was changing, and already our visibility without NVGs was beginning to improve.
I wrote this mission, but had forgotten the placement of enemies. A nagging feeling told me to watch our flanks, so I drifted further to our right in a mis-guided attempt to provide security for the rest of Charlie. With 10m between me and my nearest comrade, I was vulnerable. There was a flash of a torch sweeping the trees just metres from me, and then I was dead in an instant.
The assault on the gas station went almost perfectly, such my death was missed for quite a while. I was settling in to spectate when someone pointed out that Alpha had an AI team member due to a disconnect, so I returned as a JIP.
I was back in the mission, but alone at the starting point with an AK. Map markers and comms chatter told me that the platoon was already north of the gas station, heading for the dry riverbed that would take them right up to the western side of the farm complex. To catch up, I would need to make a beeline across uncleared terrain. Keeping low, and taking full advantage of my TrackIR to maximise my situational awareness, I set off. Initially, I kept south of the main road, and was aware of an SUV and some infantry working their way towards the gas station from the south-east (where platoon had been, 15 minutes before). Near the gas station I turned northward, skirting the western edge of the large crater area and reporting on the SUV, which was moving in parallel to me, further west.
As I drew near to the platoon, the SUV's dismounted escorts were already engaging Charlie. Mindful of the danger of being mistaken for an enemy, I asked my new FTL - comrade Sulphur - to announce my approach. I made it to Alpha just in time to join the sweep of the farm complex, we secured the target vehicle. Then, as Charlie and Bravo fought their way back to the gas station complex to recover the fuel truck (because the target vehicle was out of gas), Alpha swept eastwards, dealing with a roadblock and then a patrol.
Eventually, with the target vehicle fuelled for the journey home, the platoon reformed south-east of the farm complex. Comrade Wolfenswan wanted to avoid the road entirely and cut across country, skirting the eastern edge of the crater and making a beeline for the exfiltration point. Alpha was in the vanguard.
We moved without incident until the very end, when we crested the high ground overlooking the enemy's eastern-most roadblock. The platoon opened up en masse, and we were treated to a laser show of green tracers. After this, we had a heart-stopping moment: comrade Wolfenswan had grounded the vehicle on a fallen log. Thankfully, he was able to get free after some concerted manoeuvring, and with other comrades barking helpful guidance ("right arm full down!"), the vehicle was finally on its way to victory.