Port of Rahway, on the edge of the Kaladonia Range
Continent of Sage
The sleepy port town of Rahway had long been a destination for the cruise ships that plied the oceans of Centaurus. It was a quaint place, with gorgeous views of the Mountains as they descended to the waterline and no few forests with vision as the land rose and fell as it left the coast line. The residents of the area were geared towards Agrarian living as compared to the other small continents of Johnson, Bush and Cross. As a matter of fact, outside of a few small industrial areas that were dedicated to maintaining the standard of living- after all, it was a resort town- the busy metropolis life was not a normal thing here. In short, there was very little here that anyone would consider a vital Industry or major military facility
Unless you counted the long empty SLDF Outpost Castle, which was little better than a museum prior to the Word of Blake assault in 3069. Then, it reverted to being more than a curiosity, becoming a steadfast fortress for the Resistance, along a few other facilities around the world. Since the eviction of the Word six years ago, it had slowly returned to being a museum but with a more critical eye towards emergency use. The Provincial Governor of Sage had not liked the idea of it being more than a museum but having lived through the Occupation, knew it was necessary… and it was via her efforts that the landscaping around all the defenses went back to obscuring them. Out of sight, out of mind…
With the return of the Wolverines to the Inner Sphere with what they still had; their being sent to Sage was something of a no-brainer. The province needed people- so many had died during the three years the Blakists were here- and this was a facility well designed to take them.
The comm-call Governor Diane Sodher-Schaller had received two hours ago had woken her from a sound sleep. And when the reasons for the call were explained, any thoughts of going back to bed were shot. Indeed, shot and eviscerated…. She had kicked her engineer husband awake and after telling him the Castle was being activated, his sleepiness went away as well. They had a plan of action for such an event… but reality, never expected to be using it. Granted, the local Civil Defense Bunkers had been open for the last week as the fighting on Cromwell and Ashton had occurred but no major prep plans for the Castle had been made active. And now, it was time to get it rolling.
Geoff, a retired Technician and Engineer, started calling the various technical teams scattered all over the small continent (the size of present-day Australia) and alerted them to the activation of the Castle. He then contacted the Museum Rangers and had them start the primary power plants. That done, he then finally started getting dressed- though not in the comfortable clothes he had planned on.
Diane, herself still in her sleeping robes, was working on the logistical staff call up (her initial calls to her assistants getting them in motion) when Geoff entered the home office in his old Lancers Uniform and gun belt. She blinked. “Honey… do you think that’s necessary?” She said as she tapped away on her computer.
Geoff answered as he walked to the small weapon safe they maintained within the office. “If we are activating the Castle, this is more than just a minor military affair… and our guests are soldiers as well as Clansmen. All of this,” he said as he motioned to his uniform and gear, “is appropriate. And perhaps a level of trust. After all, soldiers know soldiers. Even Technician ones like me.”
When the first of the Drop-ships began to arrive under Lancer Fighter Escort, the entire affair became all too real for those who had been woken up to get the facility ready. The nearest landing field (a half mile away) to an Entry Door was already lit up with flood lights, the hard clay and dirt surface large enough for a quartet of inbound Mules to land. And Geoff was on hand- as was a company of Guardsmen with their APCs- when the hatches opened up and the first of the civilians began to exit.
Geoff walked up towards the lead passengers exiting the ships and noted a trio of persons heading for him. All were clad in versions of SLDF uniforms he’d seen in books and in the museum. Heck, even the Lancer uniforms were only minor deviations from them- but they were a deviant. Not the REAL thing currently walking towards him. When they got to about twenty feet apart, Geoff motioned his aides to stand put and he continued walking forward. His counterpart from the other group copied his action about two seconds later.
Meeting in the middle, the two men eyed each other, and Geoff spoke first. “Good morning and welcome to Rahway…” He began. “I’m Chief Warrant Officer Geoffrey Schaller, acting deputy to the Provincial Governor. I am to be your initial guide in getting established in the area and at the Castle”
The newcomer replied. “Good morning in return; I am Loremaster Jerome Kosh; on behalf of all of us, thank you for all this.”
Geoff smiled. “No worries, Loremaster. And with the amount of work to be done, you might not be thanking me all that much; the facilities are capable but will require some work- we had about a three-hour notice.” He replied. “Its not a facility for civilians… but we can deal with that question when all of you are down here. There is a good amount of civilian housing on Sage so getting real lodging will not be hard. Just time consuming…”
Kosh nodded. “Understood. While it is a substantial amount of time for some things, I suppose in trying to accommodate so many, it would not be enough. And I agree, a Castle is not a place for civilians to live.”
“It is what it is- more warning than we got ten years ago, but it was a different time then and for far worse reasons,” Geoff allowed. “I admit there is a hope some of your technicians have a better understanding of some of the systems in here. We’ve maintained them as best we can… but how some operate? Well, we don’t have manuals…”
A laugh as the Loremaster watched his people come off the dropships and walk over to various trucks and trams for the ride to the Castle. “Well… we have a fairly large collection of such; I am certain we should have something to help with that.”
Mountain Retreat Compound
Knox Mountains approximately fifty kilometers from Zathras
0601hrs (GMT), 3 October 3079
Trinity had arrived a few hours ago to the sight of at least two guards at the entry arch on the driveway by the road. After they had verified who she was, she was admitted to the driveway and after a three-minute ride up it, she had come to the large two story building and parked her SUV outside a ramp that led to an underground garage.
Getting out, she looked around the area and noting at least two people who seemed to be just sitting on the large deck. It was when she got closer that she noted their submachine guns. Impressed by the light security, she entered the house with her duffle and packs.
Inside, she was greeted by a robed individual and after pleasantries were exchanged, she was shown to her room on the second story. After entering the room, she set her things down and sat on the bed. She had been told breakfast was in two hours and with nothing else to do, kicked off her boots and napped. She’d be meeting the Precentor then so it paid to be rested some.
When she awoke just before six, she quickly changed into a light combat jumpsuit pulled from the duffle and a light jacket was donned afterward. Boots on, she left her room and ventured into the central room where she saw about five others.
The central room was recessed slightly lower than the surrounding floor area and possessed a large central table with a holo-projector on it. Showing at this time was a section of the planet far to the east of Zathras, off the coast of Cromwell. Several icons glowed in gold in the area of the Castle she knew was on Sage and in the areas surrounding it.
Other screens were on the surface of the table and they showed other spots on the planet, notable among them the heavy industrial areas of Forbes. That one showed numerous icons in green and at least one gold. Other screens showed similar- especially the area on Ashton where the Desert Strip was. That was a mix of Green and Gold icons.
Entering the room was a few servers with various foods in trays; these were set to the side on a side-table where some bowls and plates were. Just after this came in, an older gentleman entered clad in the robes of a Precentor. AS he entered, the others who were in the room came to attention and Trinity copied their actions.
The Precentor stepped down to the end of the table and tapped a few commands into a panel. The Holo dissipated and he began to speak.
“Welcome to The Villa,” He began. “I am Precentor Jules Drackman and will be coordinating attempts to extract the compromised and or shift some of you to new positions. You are all valuable to His Light and Wisdom and with His Blessing, you will all continue to serve as you can.”
He paused as he scanned the room. “Some of you will have no issue with being placed in new positions to gather intelligence. For others, extraction off planet will occur so you may serve The Word of Blake elsewhere where your talents will be valuable.
Please eat and relax- discussions will be ongoing all day as to where you can or should serve,” he continued. “Be assured, the situation that has been developing over the last few days is being monitored… and everyone’s status will be adjusted accordingly”
Trinity listened. She was pretty sure she was someone who could not remain here unless it was here in this place. Her family and its friends… made her stay here a bit precarious. As she watched everyone go to get food, she joined the line to do so. Just after she obtained a bowl of oatmeal, the Precentor appeared at her shoulder.
“Adept Melton…” He said with a smile. “I need you to come with me; I need a few words with you and you may bring your food….”
Trinity nodded and followed the Precentor. She didn’t know the substance of why he wised to speak but she was pretty sure it was because of her familial ties. She was led up out of the central area off to a side room at the end of the building. Once in the room, the Precentor pointed to a chair for her to sit in and she sat.
Taking a seat of his own, Drackman tapped a key on the computer in front of him on the desk and the screen sprang to life, showing a picture of her (looked like it was taken last year) and that of her father. An image of the desert strip was also on the screen where several wrecks of tanks were seen as well as a few battlemechs. “So tell me, Adept…” He said. “What happened to cause you to run and do you know anything about this…. Debacle.?”
Trin studied the picture. “Of that battle, I don’t know overmuch. I do know that there was a plan to ship the captured equipment off world as well as the prisoners to Federated Suns care… and that what the Lancer’s faced was detachments of what is believed to be members of the Minnesota Tribe. As I was departing, I managed to confirm who they were and some of the assets brought into the system. I’m afraid that information is a few hours old at this point. I would think you might have a good bit more by now.
The Precentor nodded. “Indeed… Warships not seen since the Clans invaded. Decidedly important information- but you were in transit and not in a position to send it. Since you went off the grid, the presence of the Warships has been confirmed and Dropship landings have been confirmed in several places. Notable among them is on Sage and in the Industrial area of Forbes…. Do you have any information on what might be there? Being there is a few of the Dropships there that came with the new Residents… what might they have interest in?”
Trinity stopped and thought about it. “There is a few factory lines there for various types of equipment that the Lancer’s haven’t been able to get running right since the Helm discovery… or so my father said.” She replied. “So, I imagine it might be some of their technicians being sent there to help get it running. I don’t know any other reasons that would say different. I know one was a League Era Engine plant that has bedeviled the Engineers…”
Drackman nodded. “As for your father- he was able to interfere with the operation on Ashton. That it had unforeseen forces was enough an issue but how was he in position to respond and prevent the retreat of our troops? Do the Lancers have medical technology over and above most powers?” It was a legitimate question.
Trinity, surprised at their knowledge of her dad’s injuries, shook her head. “I doubt it. You see, my father is not one to miss a fight against someone he hates. Injury or not… Its why he’s popular with some of his Company… and one of the reasons Mom left him. Its likely he took himself out of the Hospital when the 331st arrived… and likely broke a rule or two in even being there.” She glanced at the holo of the airstrip. “And he will dodge trouble for it because the Lancer’s didn’t fail. Father lives for the fight… and not terribly much else.”
Drackman nodded again. “Understood. Adept Melton, I will likely be asking you a bit more later on. I’m certain you will have much for the Order to learn about pertaining to the Lancers; but now is not the time to go over it. I recommend being available later this afternoon for a debriefing.”
Trinity bowed her head. “Of Course, Precentor.”
“You may go.”
Trinity rose and headed back to the main room area, deep in thought.
Meanwhile, the pursuit had closed.
When McCoy and the rest of the team had arrived in Zathras around three in the morning they were met by an official from Planetary Security. As the Kestrel was being off-loaded, the Spectre team was given an update on their quarry.
A pair of station cameras had caught Trinity when she left the train and as she was leaving the Store Locker franchise. Another camera in the Parking Garage also caught her on the Sublevel as she was heading for a stall. Subsequent feed saw the SUV departing as the camera was swinging through its routine.
A secondary discovery was forwarded to the local command here from the main Landing Complex. With the suspicion of the Lancer family member and the death of the Comms technician, a complete review of who had access to the Lancer and Centaurus Government networks was initiated. It started with who had active feeds or was drawing data from the secure network of Geo-Satellites that were in orbit… and an Unaccounted-For feed was discovered…. And the requested feed was being transmitted to an area north of Zathras.
A recent overflight from a recon drone confirmed the location of the source- a mountain lodge some two hours or so by ground car from Zathras. And at least three armed guards were present to the devices Low-Light cameras.
The decision was made by Captain McCoy to get up and get going- the longer they waited, the more likely their quarry would get away… and he doubted they expected a pursuit so fast. Or even that they’d be found; the lodge was pretty unassuming.
Roughly an hour and a half later, the team was in the woods around the Lodge and now were in position to strike.
McCoy looked down the sights of his Mauser and scanned the area in the early morning light. Noting three guards on this side of the lodge, he tapped his mic active. “Spectre Lead, have three- two walking the grounds north and south, one on the deck overlooking southwest corner pond.”
Cass spoke next. [Spectre Three… I have one on the grounds east side. No others visible.]
[Spectre Two… I have two near the gate by the road.]
[Spectre Four… One for certain north side. Second in my sight is Lead’s north target.]
[Spectre One… confirming Spectre Three count. Add one South East corner.]
McCoy pondered the count. “Lead. I confirm Eight Count. Twenty Five Percent Rule… Expect at least two more unaccounted for. Unknown hostile count inside. Choose your shots appropriately. Move in thirty at my mark- confirm.”
A second later, McCoy transmitted. “Mark. First to go is deck man.” Switching the selector to single fire, sighted down his weapon at the man on the deck. Inside the visor of his helmet, he saw the counter descend towards zero and focused on his targets, plural. “Mark…” he said and fired.
The pulse laser portion of his rifle snapped out a bolt of concentrated energy… which connected with the neck of the guard on the deck, killing him instantly. Quickly shifting his sights, he went for the southern target and within two seconds of the deck target dropping, this one fell too. His northern target dropped as Spectre Four took the opportunity to drop that one.
Shots rang out over by the gate. [Spectre Two. One was able to react… both targets down.]
McCoy was already moving. “Happens… move up and move in. HVT is non-lethal only. Judgement on anyone else…” AS he moved, he switched to the compact grenade launcher on the Mauser. He had a feeling he’d need it next…
Within the lodge, a small red light began blinking in every room…. And the internal staff was already moving.
Trinity was startled by the sudden blinking light in her room and the increased activity. Poking her head out of her room, she saw staffers were now armed with submachine guns. Ducking back into her room, she opened up her rifle case and drew out the AX-22. She had a good idea what was going on and was pretty damn sure it was NOT Planetary Security. They’d have been far noisier.
Charging the weapon, she made sure her backup was in place as she left her room. An internal comm unit spoke up at this point. [Condition Red. All Adepts draw weapons and prepare to repel assault. Unknown assailant at this time… Condition Red…]
Trinity tuned out the notification at this point. She knew who was here… and in hindsight, she should have worn a mask when she got off the train. In any event, unless they were battle armor, the thirty or so Word Of Blake personnel here should be able to handle any group of commandos. Coming out of the hallway, she listened to the Precentor sending folks to various places thoughtout the building when a small explosion was heard from the west side of the house.
“Adept Melton,” The Precentor said. “I suspect you know something about what’s out there. Speak now…” Drackman had two men in robes next to him and indicated them with his next words. “They will be acting on what you know of what may be attacking here.”
Trinity blinked. “Um… I believe they may be Lancer Spectres… Those are the Direct-Action Internal Security troops my Aunt commands. All highly trained; standard kit is Nighthawk suits and usually a mix of weapons. All of them are capable Mech pilots as well as elite infantry- everyone of them has other talents in addition to the martial. There is about a dozen that I know of… or at least have seen. I think there is more than that… I don’t know how many more though.”
The two robed men disrobed, revealing Tornado suits under them. “We can handle them…” The right one said and they headed for the doorway to the deck, each of them drawing a compact Mauser 1200 off their back as they reached the door.
One stepped through the door and disappeared in a series of small explosions…