FROM BEYOND THE PERIPHERY INVADE!!! - Story at 11.
The sensationalism surrounding the invasion of Poulsbo is partly attributable to the lax standards of Poulsbo's media. Combining those lax media standards with Poulsbo's famed violent seas and fishing industry has led to the Lyran saying, "A Poulsbo Fish Story," to describe a tale that sounds highly exaggerated. While public accounts of the "invasion" are very muddled for this reason, the Lyran Alliance does have a major base (Bangor) on Poulsbo used to stage raids into the FWL, and the LAAF units stationed there provided a somewhat more credible account of the "invasion."
In 3066, a jumpship appeared at the L5 pirate point of Poulsbo and its hulking moon. Aerospace fighters deployed on a Leopard-CV from Bangor attempted to intercept the jumpship while planet-based fighters maneuvered to meet the triplet of dropships released by jumpship. After waiting (apparently to monitor the dropships' progress), the jumpship turned and fled the Leopard-CV. This led Bangor aerospace commanders to [crap] bricks because, apparently, the jumpship was warship, though why it wouldn't fight a single, small dropship is uncertain. The Leopard never got close enough to the jumpship to identify its model.
The triplet of dropships outmaneuvered the heavier interceptors, though a company of Seydlitzes were able to harrass one dropship before being driven off by very accurate, heavy weapons fire and 6 Star League-model Ironsides fighters. The dropships bore a superficial resemblance to Unions dropships, though they demonstrated higher acceleration.
The mystery dropships deployed approximately 24 mechs, though the advanced drop cocoons used muddled the picture considerably with various decoys and ECM. Based on reports of "3-meter robots" and "Elementals" linked to most cattle mutilation reports during the invasion, it is likely some of the "decoys" and "chaff" that attended the mech drop were actually battle armors.
The Mystery Mechs deployed by the dropships lead the Bangor garrison on a merry chase for the next four days. The pursuit was complicated by "Clan Elemental" raids on dairy farms and local libraries, surprise groundstrikes by the Ironsides fighters in no discernable pattern, and suborbital hops by the Unions that redeployed the Mystery Mechs randomly (sometimes in the middle of a hop, sometimes after landing, sometimes both). The Bangor garrison eventually accounted for the destruction of 16 Mystery Mechs, but none of the Elementals were ever caught. The dropships left Poulsbo after four days, though the Bangor garrison and Poulsbo Bureau of Investigation were busy chasing down rumors of additional cattle mutilations and rectal probings of farmers for the next 3 months. (In the post-invasion 'incidents,' the method of cattle mutilation was markedly different than during the invasion, often directly attributable to local makes of chainsaws or LAAF models of grenades swallowed by the cows, and in several cases easily linked to local teens. The rectal probings also show none of the signs of the invaders but rather every sign of drunken experimentation and bad excuses.)
The raiding Mystery Mechs were of a single model of light mech, a very nimble little goober that annoyed the Lyran mechwarriors (in their heavy and assault mechs) to no end. The mechs have a superficial resemblance to Panthers. In fact, various internal structure features suggest they are derivatives of the Star League-era PNT-8Z Panther rather than the modern PNT-9R and its successors.
The "Mystery Mechs" are nearly twice as fast as the Panther, though, using a powerful 245 XL of indeterminate make. No manufacturer's numbers or ID was found on the XL (or any other part), just cryptic 2D barcodes. Additional Lexington Lifters jump jets gave a 180 meter jump capacity. The primary weapon is an almost exact copy of the Star League-era Newhart Extended Range PPC showing several refinements to the cooling jacket, a revised coolant feed through the shoulder that appears unlikely to jam, and (again) a lack of identifying marks other than the barcodes. The secondary weapon is a Star League-model Harvester SRM 4 rack (replaced by the Combine during the Succession wars with a Telos SRM 4), with CASE protecting the ammo. Armor was somewhat heavier, particularly on the limbs. Unsurprisingly, the heat sinks were double strength.
Every time the "Mystery Mechs" were "headcapped" or badly damaged, a mix of potent explosives and incendiaries detonated throughout the cockpit. This obliterated (without fail) just about every useful piece of cockpit electronics that might have told the Bangor garrison something useful. The only components recovered with some regularity were targeting and tracking systems and communications, both of which were nearly identical to Star League-era components used by the PNT-8Z. Complicating the mystery was the complete lack of identifying marks on the mechs. They were camo painted but lacked not only unit insignia, but all traces of alphanumeric characters throughout the mechs. Later investigations showed a complete lack of fingerprints anywhere in the mechs, even behind access panels, and no discernible amount of human DNA in those areas.
More baffling were DNA results from remains found in the cockpit - THEY WEREN'T HUMAN!!!
While the Poulsbo public ran around in a panic whipped on by tabloids hungry for sales (Aliens Invade with Star League Mechs!!!), investigators (who also read the tabloids) acted on a hunch about the cattle mutilations. The remains in the cockpits were, in fact, entirely cow flesh based on DNA scans. In fact, several sets of remains were matched to mutilated cows. Why anyone would stuff chunks of beef in a Star League-era "Mechwarrior Combat Suit" and put it in the cockpit of a mech was baffling, unless they were trying to convince investigators without DNA scanning technology that the mechwarriors had been destroyed in the suicidal cockpit explosion. With aliens filling the headlines and making great sales, the big question that really baffled investigators never reached public eye: If there was beef in the cockpit, where the heck were the mechwarriors? No ejections had been observed on Battle ROMs before, during, or after cockpit explosions.
The combat performance of the Mystery Mechs was tempered by an on-again, off-again tactical ability. The mechs were decently piloted, sometimes quite accurate, always fearless, but also prone to making stupid mistakes that (most) green mechwarriors would not. They would charge into close range of assault mechs at unpredictable moments, retreat when they were winning in one battle then fight on fearlessly against heavy odds the next, and some would cleverly use their superior manueverability while others would stand still to shoot. The consensus was that the Mystery Mechs' mechwarriors were green with excellent training and prone to beginner's mistakes in their first real battles. There is also speculation of the use of mind-altering substances by the Mystery Mechs' mechwarriors, given the precedence seen in some Clans.
Aside from collateral battle damage (in mostly isolated areas), some (usually repairable) wrecked mechs, about 3 dozen mutilated cattle, and light furniture and doorway damage in libraries, the "Invasion of Poulsbo" did no damage to Poulsbo. Bangor was not directly targeted, the invaders never made a concerted attack on the garrison forces except (the suspicion now is) to distract or screen the garrison from cattle mutilation and library "invasion" actions by the battle armor units. In fact, the Bangor commander reckons Poulsbo came out ahead as 9 of the Mystery Mechs were salvageable when their cockpits were replaced.