In 3022 the Blackjack command finally succeeded in securing the units first major contract in two years, the client was Governor Chandragupta, the administrator responsible for the planet Kirchbach in the Rasalhague district of the Draconis Combine. The one-year contract was for counter-insurgency operations, a guerilla war had been running for over a decade at this point as the separatist movement on the planet had turned violent after a popular political leader was executed by the governors predecessor. The Blackjacks were to provide a fresh influx of battle-hardened troops with heavy equipment to spearhead offensive operations and crush the main rebel forces in the field, the local garrison was demoralized and infested with separatist sympathisers and could not operate efficiently any more, and the governor was loathe to ask for more reinforcements from sector command as it would be a show of weakness and probably lead to his own replacement.
After a month in transit the mercenaries arrived in the Kirchbach system and deployed in their own dropships near the capital Hohenburg, at Fort Irina, the main Kurita army base on the planet. The battalion built up a defensive base separate from the garrison, to make sure their own troops guarded the HQ and the dropships, and immediatly sent a detachment to the second major city of Kirchbach, Port Zimmerman. This important port city was the economic hub located on the larger of the two continents, and its garrison was in desperate need of reinforcement as guerilla activity had reached a new peak. After two weeks at sea in hired civilian freighters the detachment arrived.
The detachment consisted of a company of mixed Battlemechs, a platoon of highly experienced infantry with a handful of armored vehicles, an artillery battery with two self-propelled guns, a recon unit with a few hovercraft and light helicopters, a logistics platoon and some intelligence officers. The unit was greeted on the pier by a company of garrison infantry, and the mercenary battlegroup commander Captain Yamamoto walked out to meet them. The greeting was cut short when a rebel sniper killed Captain Yamamoto and chaos ensured on the docks, with enraged mercenaries rushing to unload their Battlemechs from the ships and Kurita troops swarming around looking for the sniper. The garrison arrested three suspects but could not secure a gun and the mercenaries marched off to their new base bridling with frustration. The rebel welcome commitee had left a deeper impression than the goverment one, but the mercenaries were determined to accept the challenge they had been issued. This was now personal, as the Captain was rather popular with his men.
The new mercenary commander was Burt, a fat and jovial man who had a very informal way of commanding, very much different from Yamamoto. He was good at delegating responsibility to people who could get the job done however and soon the unit had settled in the new base, a abandoned factory pre-selected by the mercenary Intel group as a suitable location. They immediatly began securing it, hiring local workers to quickly erect a high fence with barbed wire and protected by a ditch in the broken up asphalt. The perimeter was surveilled by observation posts with heavy machineguns on the factory roof as well as an improvised CCTV system set up by the logistics troop and various sensors. A security platoon consisting of recruits from the capital provided extra manpower for patrols, the personell had been selected and thoroughly vetted by the mercenary intel officer Cortez during her prep work in the months preceding the main units arrival.
The new company commander decided that the sniper attack demanded a forceful response to show the rebels that such tactics would carry a high cost, and while the construction was underway he ordered a full sweep of the delta surrounding Port Zimmerman, something the local garrison had not done for many months. The battlemechs marched out with cover from the recon helicopter and conducted sweeps of the small forested islands for the following week. The fire lance observed a civilian helicopter apparantly following their progress from afar, but lacking air support or long-range weaponry at the moment they could not do anything about it. While following a motorboat wich attempted to flee Lillian and Louis walked straight into ambush.
The rebels were waiting with two river assault craft and a captured attack helicopter and immediatly opened fire when the mercenaries entered the killzone. Lillian pushed on and obliterated the bait motorboat with a salvo of rockets while Louis engaged the armed rivercraft, a deadly cat and mouse game ensued where the rebels made swift drive by attacks trying to wear the enemy down. The mercenaries were getting hit time and again, but with only minor damage, and kept their cool, trying to corner the enemy boats and keeping the helicopter at a distance with suppressive fire. Finally one of the rivercraft made an error and manuevered too close, and the mercenaries immediatly used their jump jets to surround it and destroyed it with close range fire. The flaming wreckage persuaded the remaining rebels that discretion was the better part of valour and they retreated in a hurry.
All in all the sweep was a success, the mercenaries had taken no losses and managed to destroy or capture a couple of suspicious vessels and a small stockpile of weapons. The prisoners were handed over to the local police, but the most important result was a lucky break when Shiv, a veteran from the mercenary infantry unit, found a logbook floating amidst the rebel wreckage. The logbook reveled that the rebels had a assembled a fair number of naval forces in the delta under led by Commander Ross, and that the civilian freighter “Marion” was operating as a resupply ship for the rebel ships. Furthermore, a rebel base was concealed somewhere in the delta acting as a staging point for their navy.
While this intel was being analyzed the mercs were celebrating in town, spending a good amount of cash at the “Scorpions Den”, a less than reputable bar. Two days of hard drinking prompted the company commander to issue a ban on leave, in preparation for the next operation wich he had formulated using the captured intel.