The first battle of Petrolina, part 1

Petrolina was a squalid shithole even compared to the rest of the unpleasant towns that dotted the countryside. It was mostly half-decayed shacks filled with mobs inexplicably angry that the local dictatorship was acting in their best interests by allowing heavy industry to support the local economy. Despite the government’s benevolent intervention, eventually protests led to full-blown rebellion.

The mission seemed straightforward enough, if somewhat urgent. Recon had noted insurgent artillery movement in the rear, and spies in town had reported that a group of men which included a spotter were heading to the hill at the north end of Petrolina. The hill commanded a great view of the rest of town, and, more importantly its approach. There wasn’t much time to spare, or personnel for that matter, so Broadsword squads 1 and 2 were ordered to move out and take the hill before the artillery started dropping. They were paid mercenaries, so they were paid to take the risk, small as the indig government said it was.

Aerial Recon

Broadsword 1 and 2 advanced into the town easily, line abreast, so far as it was possible to be abreast, which meant being separated from each other by a block of ramshackle huts. Two advanced on the west and found the way to the objective blocked by a clumsy yet effective roadblock. It was time to dismount; Broadsword team 2-1 on the west, and 2-2 on the east. 2-2’s task was to move forward and clear the barricade, while 2-1 provided support from the fusion gun.

The Broadsword TOE left not much room for redundancy (or any). 2-1 was only two men strong, because the medic manned the guns and someone had to drive.

Things immediately started warming up; 2-1’s advance on the west brought a storm of fire from a two-storey building straight ahead. While return fire calmed things down a bit, the fusion gun didn’t seem to be as effective as it should be. 2-2’s advance was a little calmer. The advance up the alley was uninterrupted by gunfire, so clearing the barricades should be easy.

The first of 2-1's many problems

On the east, Broadsword 1 could hear the fire from the west, but the indigs were probably too scared to actually fire. Broadsword-1 kept station with Broadsword-2, offering support in case of heavy fire.

A flash message came from HQ — the way ahead was supposed to be clear. Local intel reported no insurgent activity (General confusion card drawn. The enemy now had initiative). Just as this message came in, 2-1 came under a withering storm of fire. The fusion gun was no deterrent and the two men were being hammered in an alley under a punishing hail of lead. A blast from the fusion gun punctured the second storey, and street became slightly quieter.

The situation was no better for 2-2 as their attempts to remove the barricade resulted in a fusillade from a building to the northwest. Removing the barricade would have been suicide in the open, so it was a quick trip to the wall to get behind some cover. The radio was now alive with calls to Broadsword-2 for support fire, but the insurgents had planned their ambush well and no one could see a thing.

Broadsword-1’s team leader realized that if they didn’t take out that hill soon, then the amount of fire they were taking now would look like a gentle spring shower. The APC lurched into motion and advanced up the street. (Note: at this time, it was the OPFOR that drew another General Confusion card).

The west was heating up even more. Returning the fire from directly ahead just stirred up the nest. A storm of fire erupted from the west, and to make matters worse, team 2-1 could hear small arms fire from behind them. There was no choice but to return fire on the west, and while they could see the indigs dying, there was not much slackening of the onslaught.

It was distinct lack of improvement as a second volley managed to penetrate the armour of the fusion gunner, putting the situation from bad to fucked. Dragging a man in battle dress is hard, hard work, made even harder now by fire from the west and sniper bullets coming from the south-east. Team 2-1 headed back to the shelter of the APC, trying to clear the way with one puny rifle.

Fireteam 2-2 could see the nice stone building ahead. If they could make it there, they could get out of the alley then have a choice of shooting at their objective or securing their escape route. It meant leaving the APC behind, but they figured it could take care of itself. As if to underscore their decision, they began taking fire from the southwest as well as the northeast. Under heavy fire, they managed to secure the building with only one casualty. Far from cowering in fear, it just made them pissed off and they readied themselves for continuing the onslaught on the objective.

Finally moving past the last of the buildings into the somewhat open space, Broadsword-1 could see the objective, a stone shack on the crest of a hill. A burst of fire from somewhere cut the bottom of the commander’s ear off. With startled scream and a spray of blood, the hatch clanged shut and the mood inside was a little less confident.

As soon as they rounded the corner, the APC started pumping cannon rounds into the target, a little stone building on the hill. Team 1-2 got ready to get out and run like hell to secure it through a squall of RPG fire.

The day is about to get a whole lot worse

Fireteam 2-1’s journey back to the APC went from bad to worse. As they rounded the corner to double-time back, an RPG careened past them and crashed into the deck of Broadsword-2. Raising their heads up after the explosion, they saw that part of the rear had been damaged, not severely, but enough that it would require a bit of sweat to fix. It would be easier in a repair ship rather than under fire, but you can’t always choose. (Note: the APC took a mobility hit, but just barely. To make my subsequent scenario more amusing, I ruled that it would take two turns to fix it so that could get out again). As if that wasn’t enough, they dropped to the ground as a sniper’s bullet whizzed past close enough to taste.

Making the choice to be incinerated in an explosion rather than being punctured by lead, the remaining rifleman of 2-1 managed to return fire and silence the sniper. That meant there was only death on three sides instead of four. His cries for a medic were being ignored, and he could see why, as the turret of Broadsword-2 ground around to face the RPG launching insurgents.

The current situation

Broadsword-1 had slammed to a halt and started methodically pounding the objective, but time was running short. Screaming imprecations, the squad leader told 1-2 to get the hell out and take that hill before the mortars started dropping. With support from 2-2, they ran like hell through the rifle fire and made it to the shelter of the bottom of the hill. They could hear screaming and dying underneath the assault of their own side.

Isolated 2-1 was still taking fire, but it made more sense to return fire than to move into the almost certainly doomed APC. Screaming for the medic didn’t seem to help; Broadsword-2 kept pumping out the fire. If they survived, 2-1 vowed to bring up a change of organization at the next opportunity. If they didn’t, they hoped death would be quick, but the way they were being shot at there wasn’t even that guarantee.

Fireteam 2-2 and Broadsword-1 continued to pour fire on the target, enough to make chunks of the building fall off. Peering through the optics, there was no more movement, and the squad leader screamed at 1-2 to fix bayonets and run to the top of the hill and take the objective. No matter how dire the threat though, 1-2’s team wasn’t ready to commit suicide just yet.

As 1-2 hid in the shadow of the hill, Broadsword-1 keyed the all-squads channel and told them to prepare for incoming.

 


 

Here’s a brief visual summary:

Note: This was a 7 turn Tomorrow’s War scenario, with a simple objective of going across the map and eliminating the hostiles at the top of the hill. At the end of Turn 7, there was one enemy remaining who would certainly have been killed had 1-2 not so grievously choked on their Quality test. Had they a little more time, they may have been able to eliminate the enemy with ranged fire, but as time was very short, the only option was assault.

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