Legends and Myths Sixteen- Guest Author!

(Here is the Guest Contributor’s story on the battle fought.  The personalities mentioned in his company:

Command Lance.                                Strike Lance.                                   Recon Lance
Maj. Frank Clyburn – Wolverine.      Lt.Carl Burns – Centurion[X/O]  Lt. E’asbeth Tabayama –Wasp II
M/O Alan Johnson – Hellhound.     SM/O Larry Karlsan – Wyvern   SM/O Cara Davis – Wasp II
SM/O Beth Spelman – Starslayer.  M/O Misty Collins- Spector        M/O James McKay – Jenner
M/O James Mckay – Enforcer.         M/O Karl Liu – Clint.                      M/O Johnny Montgomery- Stinger II


Phoenix Lancers Regimental Quick Response Holding Area
Lancer Command Compound, Auburn Mountains
0638 hours (GMT+2), December 25th 3079. (Alert plus 2 minutes)

   Major Clyburn snapped awake at the sound of the Quick Response Commo Alarm.
He was bunked in his office, after all it was Christmas Day. Drawing Quick Response Duty was a minor pain but who attacks on Christmas.  He turned to the view screen and read the orders.

                 >>>>>> Flash>>>>> Flash>> Emergency Orders 60493859kLs7<<<<<<<
                         This is NOT a Drill        This is NOT a Drill           This is NOT a Drill
                     At 0000hrs an unknown dropship entered the Atmosphere at the Coordinates
                  transmitted to your command data pad. Trajectory suggests the ship was
                  released from a jump ship at a pirate point.  Civilians still in the area have
                  reported seeing battlemechs from a distance in the area.

                      Bravo Company is to move to contact, Identify the Bogies in this sector.
                  If needed Bravo will engage the Bogies and stop their advance.  A support
                  unit of a platoon of battle armor [2 squads Longinus, 2 squads of
                  Achileus] are enroute to your general location in two Maxim hovercraft
                  transport estimated arrival 2 minutes after you reach your general search
                  area. Set your scrambled homing beacon to 6674.2305 and support unit will
                  contact prior to linkup. >>>>>>>>> Command Out<<<<<<<<

    The units transport to the area were three Leopard class dropships, engines already in standby mode for launch. His command and strike lance had preferred to stay in the mechbay rather in the confining conditions of the small mech carriers. The recon lance took the opposite approach. All four members opted to be on board the dropship, planning to hit the bunks and sleep the ready status away.

 Even as he came out of his office, dressed in his mech gear, he saw that the rest of his company was already on the tram hat would take them to their respective dropships.  As they rode to the dropships Senior Mech Officer Beth Spelman leaned towards him. “This really sucks!  What sort of amoral Visigoth attacks on Christmas Day?”

 Major Clyburn looked at her with a half-smile. “Someone who apparently doesn’t have a calendar or a sense of propriety.”  Spelman was of African descent with very dark skin ,but somewhere in her family she inherited pale, almost pastel, grey eyes.

Each tram dropped the lance teams to their respective dropships. As soon as they were aboard, they went to the battlemechs and strapped in, awaiting take off and orders. As soon as Major Clyburn mounted his mech, a Wolverine, he began the power up sequence, typing in the the initial passcode. A computer voice then responded, Initial passcode received, awaiting audio password. The Major responded, “The only easy day was yesterday.”

 There was a pause then the computer spoke again, “Audio password confirmed, startup sequence engaged.”
  Sitting in the command couch he could feel the fusion plant coming to life. The battlemech shuddered as if coming out of a deep slumber. As monitors sprang to life, he could feel the rumble as the Leopard lifted off.  First he went to the internal channel, “Captain Delafave, Do you have both landing and drop coordinates for my unit.

  Delafave was quick to respond “Yes I do…. Major, you’ll just have to give me the heads up on how you want to hit the dirt at the ten minute mark.  It’s a 50-minute air time to there…  Will shoot for 45.”

  Clyburn smiled. He’d worked with this Captain and squadron before, back when HE was a captain during the Occupation. Captain Sal Delafave was a stickler for tradition and aboard his ships there could only be one “Captain”. Those that understood that could expect the utmost respect and help from this squadron and these captains.

 At one time when there was a fear that his company and the support units they were with were going to be overrun, this squadron, which consists of three Leopard mech carriers and an Aurora outfitted as a gunship, made several strafing runs breaking the back of the opposing force.  He received reprimand and a commendation for his actions.  His only response, “Sometimes you just have to tilt at windmills.”

“Aye, Aye Captain, understood.” Clyburn then went to his terminal, transmitting orders to his two lance commanders. The orders were simple. If possible, the company was to soft land at a predesignated landing zone that was capable of handling the dropships. The Aurora gunship was on standby, flying a circuit to cover the landing.  If successful, all four dropships would return to base for their next pickup.  If enemy units were discovered, his company would make a low-level combat drop while the gunship provided cover fire.  Clyburn was receiving telemetry from the ship’s sensors. So were his lance commanders. As soon as they reached the ten-minute mark, He would give the decision on how they would hit the ground.

Sayre River Delta, Continent of Sage
0941 hours (GMT+4), December 25th 3079. [Alert plus 1 Hours]

   No enemy units were discovered enroute, so the soft landing was made. The Leopards circled one by one, landed and dropped off their cargo. First the strike lance which moved out to the four cardinal points to make a perimeter. Next the recon lance, which after disembarking formed up and began moving in the direction of possible enemy contact. Last was the command lance; Major Clyburn hated for his lance to be last in a soft landing, but he discovered quickly that in the heat of a firefight on a hot LZ, it was easy to lose command of your company when outgunned and outnumbered.

  Each drop ship joined the Aurora in its circuit, prepared to give fire support if the landing became “Hot”. Finally, his lance was down, out and formed. The last dropship was lifting off. He received one last wry transmission from Captain Delafave. [Major Thank you for flying Air Chance. I hope you enjoyed the flight. Good Luck and Good Hunting.]
   Major Clyburn replied with something that he knew Delafave would appreciate. “Thank You for the lift, Captain. May you have fair winds and following seas, Clyburn Out.”
The recon lance would be about a half a kilometer ahead by now, so the command and striker lances moved out.

 Sayre River Delta, Continent of Sage
 1059 hours (GMT+4) December 25th 3079. Alert plus 2.5 Hours

   It was just over two hours into movement that the first sensors readings showed signs of the bogies. Lt. E’asbeth Tabayama reported in quickly and any recon unit with ECM gear activated it. It was hoped that the company could close without giving themselves away.

   At this point they were approaching the base of the delta, noted for multiple lakes and deep narrow streams that impeded the movement of non-jumping battlemech, infantry and non-hover/vtol vehicles.  If he could get to the plains ahead, his company would have the bogies caught flat footed in the delta, where their movement would be slowed if not restricted. Major Clyburn brought his Command and Strike lances into a quick trot to catch up with the Recon lance at the base.

Base of the Sayre River Delta, Continent of Sage
  1130 Hours (GMT+4) December 25th 3079. Alert plus 3 Hours

    The three lances formed up on the far end of the river delta base. A large lake on the far-right flank prevented the enemy from making side attacks from there. The delta extended far into the left flank and wold slow the bogies down, giving him time to evaluate the situation outside the delta were two small deep lakes to the right and left that would funnel the enemy into the center.

   As sensors picked up traces of what was coming out of the Delta, Major Clyburn deployed. He placed his recon team on his left flank to counter the sensor information of a light lance moving in from that direction. Lt. E’asbeth Tabayama was in command of two 25-ton Super Wasp, a 25 ton Super Stinger (both machines made on Centaurus) and a 35 ton 3025 era Jenner that had Ben modified with double heat sinks.  She used her lances speed and upgraded streak missiles and pulse lasers to fight quick, down and dirty fights with other light lances.

 To ensure they could close the distance and not fall prey to active electronics like C3 and streak systems, two of her battlemechs carried guardian electronic countermeasure probes. To his left flank, Lt. Karl Burns deployed his Strike lance. More a support lance than strike, the lance consisted of Lt. Burn’s modified Centurion, a Wyvern, a Spector and a Liao model Clint. Placing them in front of the small lake on the right flank could be problematical.
As they had the delta to their right flank and Lt. Burn’s Centurion, although fast, was the only mech in the unit not equipped with jump jets.  Clyburn thought it best to keep them on the flank easiest to defend where the Centurion’s multi missile launcher and the Wyvern’s long range ten rack could harass and damage any enemy mired in the delta’s many wide running streams.
   His own Command lance would take up a position between the two large ponds. His was the heaviest of the three lances consisting of his Wolverine, a captured clan Hellhound, a Starslayer and an upgraded Enforcer.  He used his units size and speed to draw as much fire as possible, allowing the other lances to strike, sometimes with impunity.

   Although there was some room for maneuver closer to the end of the delta as it closed to the lakes solid ground narrowed making a bottleneck. On his right flank, Lt Burns could harass with missiles and on his left Lt Tabayama’s light lance could stall his opponents light lance with minimal fear of reinforcements driving them off.  Because he was positioned at the far end of the ponds he could shift, using all or part of his lance to reinforce Lt. Tabayama while Lt. Burns shifted left and covered the center.

Base of the Sayre River Delta, Continent of Sage
  1145 Hours (GMT+4) December 25th 3079.

“Bravo Eyes to Bravo Actual, you’re not going to believe this!”  Lt. Tabayama’s transmission made him pay closer attention to the mechs sloshing through the streams and the scrub oak in the distance.  To his left he could see the light lance, a Stinger, two Commandos, and a Jenner.

 On his right, he saw what looked like a modified Catapult, a Grasshopper, a Griffin, and a QuickDraw. Then he looked in the center and realized what Tabayama was so stressed about.  Coming out of the final streams in the delta were a Phoenix Hawk and a new mech they had seen only once, a Fire Hawk. It was a fast moving forty tonner, carrying small pulse lasers (two in each torso) and two plasma rifles, one in each arm. A hit from even one of those plasma rifles not only did damage equivalent to a PPC, it also could raise your heat levels.  Raise them to the point of restricting movement, weapons fire and in one instance causing a shutdown…

 It was what was slowing struggling out after them that caught his attention. A Battlemaster assault mech, bearing many repair scars, was stepping out into the final stream of the delta. It was flanked by something that sent a cold chill through Major Clyburn… An Atlas, one hundred tons of pure death wrapped in a light mechs worth of armor was moving towards them.

 The giant mech hesitated and shifted as if looking around before stepping into the final knee deep stream and began sloshing its way slowly to the opposite bank. [What’s the plan boss?] Beth Spelman’s transmission broke his mental lock on the two assault mech, as models famous for taking on and destroying multiple opponents came closer and closer. He thought quickly on his options and retreating was out of the question. The lands behind them for several kilometers was nothing but open grasslands.

  The long-range weapons of those mech would eat away at his unit, slowly destroying it. Neither was was a close-range stand-up fight, this enemy would use the assault mechs as a base and beat his unit into the ground. There was a saying his old TAC instructor use to use to describe this, taken from an archaic play, “Whether the pitcher hit the stone or the stone hits the pitcher …… it’s always bad for the pitcher”.

 Except in this case, he was the pitcher and had to find a way to crack the stone. Just then the target lock klaxon went off.

   What can only be described as a white glowing blob sped past his mech on the right and hit Johnsons Hellhound even as a gauss rifle round blew by his Wolverine at the speed of sound. “Everyone jump for cover!” He shouted orders even as he worked out the details of the plan in his head. “Keep Moving, Make yourself as hard a target as possible until they get into our optimum range. Bravo eyes close and attack their light lance- keep that small lake on your right flank. This is that same company we fought to a draw five months ago. Bravo Strike, keep shifting your position-use the available cover. Johnson, report! What’s your damage?”

  Alan Johnson was the most junior member of his company, at twenty years old. He had only been piloting a mech in a line unit for the past six months. To everyone else he was treated like the little brother they never had. To the Major it seemed that they coddled him and covered for him.  He saw that as a mistake; sooner or later he’d make a grievous error and get himself or someone else killed. To solve the problem he made him his wingman and then they trained together. Johnson was at first offended, feeling that the Major had no faith in him. Major Clyburn spoke bluntly to him, ”You’re here to cover my back. If I’m hard on you when we train together it’s because I want the best out of you. You’ve got great potential and I don’t want it ruined by backsliding.” After that, Johnson trained harder than he’d ever seen him do before. The downside was that Johnson was now his self-appointed bodyguard, not always visible but never far away.  When asked about it, Johnson would smile and reply “Just practicing.”

    Johnson’s transmission came through [Cap, lost a little armor on my leg. I’m good though.]   Johnsons Hellhound and his Wolverine broke right, moving into a heavy thicket of trees. McKay’s Enforcer jumped right, landing on a small hill giving him a view of the battlefield. Spelman’s Starslayer moved right along with the Wyvern, Centurion, Spector and Clint of the Support Lance. From this vantage point, Clyburn could see his recon lance close with and battle with the light lance on his left flank. Two Commandos a Stinger and a Jenner faced his own two Super Wasps, the Super Stinger and Jenner. The two units closed and shifted, a knife fight with energy weapons, quick and dirty.

 Another group of mechs, a Griffin, Catapault, Grasshopper and QuickDraw was swinging far right to deal with the five mech team he had shift to his far right flank. Sporadic long range missile fire could be seen as the two groups maneuvered for position. The Atlas, Battlemaster, Phoenix Hawk, and FireHawk seemed content to use them as target practice, closing the distance and using inaccurate cover fire.

  At least part of the plan was working. This company out massed his company and had more firepower.  If they had come straight down their throats en-masse, they would have rolled over his troops. By spreading out he’d forced them to do the same, buying the one thing he needed most, time. Hopefully enough time for reinforcements to show before he’s cut to ribbons.

   As the distance closed both units began to fire in earnest. Each side had scored some minor hits. Clyburn went to the second part of his plan. “Execute the double shift now”, He ordered.

The Major took advantage of the one of the few advantages he had, every mech in his unit save Burn’s Centurion was jump-capable.  His Wolverine and Johnsons Hellhound jumped across the narrow portion of the lake on the left flank and joined the fight with Tabayama’s light lance. At the same time Burns Centurion, McKay’s Enforcer and Spelman’s Starslayer formed together in the wooded areas in between the lakes- providing harassing, and hopefully distracting, fire against the assault mechs in the center. The Clint and the Spector moved to the far side of the lake on the right flank with Karlsan’s Wyvern moving slowly to support. If this worked, it would draw the enemies second heavy lance away long enough to destroy their recon lance.

   During the next minute the plan worked perfectly. An enemy Commando was the first to go hit by multiple mechs. The damage was so severe, its pilot punched out his ejection seat rocketing him clear of the battlefield area. The second Commando suffered the same fate a few seconds later, a hit in its SRM bins destroying it from within. The enemy Jenner, after suffering several critical hits, was run to ground and destroyed by Clyburn and his wingman.

  The Stinger trying to escape found himself surrounded by the entire light lance. The mass fire of the light lance destroyed the mech in a pyrotechnic light show. The Lake had cut off any chance of reinforcements and allowed Bravo Company to mark short work of the light lance with only damage to armor.

 “Bravo Actual to all units, execute second shift now.”  At his command the Wolverine and the Hellhound jumped back over the lake. The Centurion, Starslayer and Enforcer shifted to the left flank to join them. The Wyvern continued to cover the movement of the Clint and Spector. The recon lance jumped deeper into the delta, using jump jets to move from solid ground to solid ground flanking and moving in behind the enemy center.

   The battle became a chaotic mess after that, with both side moving and lots of misses, but more hits on his company than Clyburn would have liked. HIs light lance reappeared out of the delta and mass attacked the Atlas, using speed and jump jets to avoid the damage that would destroy them in one volley.  Montgomery’s Super Stinger didn’t fare so well in the ploy. A hit from a gauss rifle round and a medium laser ripped away all of his right torso, the arm dropped from the body. His lance mates continued to harry the Atlas, allowing his mech the time it needed to stagger away into a copse of trees.

 Meanwhile on the right flank, the Griffin, Catapult and Grasshopper seemed to have sensed the ploy and were swinging around to move back to the center. The QuickDraw pilot seemed determined to turn the flank against the Spector and the Wyvern. Karl LIu’s Clint was trailing the three right flank opponents, firing and trying to draw them away from the center.
 After scoring a few minor hits, the Grasshopper and Griffin turned their attention to him and now it was a game of run, jump and dodge for Liu. As both mechs chased him with a vengeance. Liu was fighting back, but it was a losing battle, and he was too far away for anyone to help.

   At about this time the enemy FireHawk roamed into the crossfire of the Enforcer and the Starslayer. The large lasers flayed armor from the body, but it was the PPC hit striking the head and the cockpit that dropped the mech to the ground.  But the cost was high- the enemy Phoenix Hawk laid open the armor of his wing man and the light lance’s Jenner lost an arm and most of a torso. Clyburn swept through the sensor data. Many of his company on this side of the field had little or no armor left. LIu’s Clint was down, so was Montgomery’s Stinger. The enemy was slowly forming in the center and if they made the push there would be a fight…… one he would lose. Collins’ Spector and Karlsan’s Wyvern were fighting with the enemy QuickDraw which had ignored the others and broken into the right flank rear. Just then his headset came to life. [Bravo Actual, Bravo Actual this is Caveman One. I’m on your Beacon, time to you is one minute.]
   His reinforcements were arriving, but even with them he wasn’t completely sure he could hold this position.

That’s when it hit him. “Caveman One- enter hot using evasive maneuvers.” He got the Affirmitive from the reinforcements. Then switched to a broad beam channel.  “To the enemy forces,” he said “You have lost almost half your force. If you look behind me, you’ll see my reinforcements arriving. I hold this ground as per my contract. Withdraw now and there will be no pursuit. Pickup your men as you will, but salvage rights are mine.”

  He had chosen his words carefully. By using the word “contract” he’d announced himself as another mercenary and that he wouldn’t throw his men away simply to prove a point. The Atlas’s head was scanning the area behind him, doubtlessly noting the rising dust of an approaching unit. The Atlas backed slowly to the edge of the delta. And those mechs still standing moved toward the delta.

 “All Bravos this is Bravo Actual, hold your fire. Hold your position and standby.”  The seven mechs left of the opposing company, some heavily damaged, moved into the delta to disappear. The Atlas, last to move into the swampland, faced his Wolverine, raised its right hand as a salute, then turned and disappeared into the moss, fog and scrub oak.

 [Cap, what was that all about?] Johnson asked over the lance channel.

“Well”, Clyburn said, “It was a salute to the victor and something else.” The Major stared into the delta as if looking for something. “We just got put on notice”, he said in a low voice, “He’s s not done with us.”

Myths and Legends Fifteen

(sorry for delays- life sometimes gets in the way of fun and getting battles that stories are based on…. done. Guest contributor story soon; its being written but for now, here is the latest.)

Outskirts of the Port City of Rahway
Western Coast of Sage
1415 Hours (GMT+4) 25 December 3079

  With the defeat of the mech portion of the attacking forces and their retreat towards a believed landing zone (and Major Kassing with his company waiting there; they were rushed over from Forbes to back Major Clyburn), it left the Lancer Armored companies stationed on Sage to hunt down the invader conventional forces.

And there were quite a few that came out of that Condor.  Several sleek hover-tanks and five IFVs along with their platoons disgorged from the ship and had made their way towards the city when they got word of the defeat of their mech brothers.  At that point, the invaders scattered as Lancer Aerospace had gotten into the air and shot down the Union dropship as it attempted to land closer to the Outpost Castle to collect the retreating attacker mechs.

  It was pretty apparent the raid had gone from bad to worse.

Captain Jenna Murray, the Lancer Scout Armor commander, glanced at her watch as her track roared along.  It had been a half hour since her company had formed up and raced out into the surrounding hills and no contact yet.  Recon drones had revealed the enemy was still trying to figure out where it was going and as of a comm call two minutes ago, they had decided.

  There was an industrial complex- one of the very few on Sage- located on their line of march that the enemy machines were heading toward.  Mostly underground, the concrete slabs served as landing pads for the various dropships that came and went from the facility, a rations packaging and storage site.

  It was going to fall to her reinforced Galleon company to deal with the attackers and their infantry until help arrived.  That she didn’t have grunts of her own was problematic… but that would not last long.  Being Christmas, no one was really ready for a raid and someone errored on who was covering the holiday.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself, she thought as she looked through the commander’s viewfinder.  Bastards wrecked my Yule.  Clicking on her transmit button, she called over to the lead Galleon. “Green Two, Green One…  anything?”

[Green One, Two…  I got nothing so far] Came the response.  [I think we beat them to the comple- waitaminute!  Contact- six hundred meters line of advance!]

“I copy, contact six hundred out… “ Jenna answered as she looked out in the direction Green Two was heading.  “Confirm it…”

[One, Two…  Confirming Contact.  Approximately one company Mixed grav armor- half dozen Bradley IFV, a pair of  Orca heavies and a trio of Sharks]

“Green Two, Green one…  confirm report.  All Lancer elements…  Section formations, weapons free.  Sierra Victor element, overwatch,” Jenna ordered as the company began to maneuver into pairs.

[Sierra Green One, Sierra Victor copies Overwatch.]  The company long guns, a pair of Vedette tanks, maneuvered to take advantage of their weapon range.  The Ultra-class cannon didn’t hit hard for an autocannon, but it could dish damage in a pinch and was murder on hover or grav tanks at range.  And here, the two tanks would be busy…


And busy they were.  Murray’s Galleons spread out and created a series of interlocking fields of fire in an effort to limit any breakthrough.  The enemy armor, seeing the net being woven, attempted to plunge the lines with the intent of using their armor and speed to mitigate the possibility of being stopped.

  Unfortunately for them, Lancer Armor Gunnery was ready for them.

  Green Two was the first to strike down the incoming armor, its pulse laser finding the drive of a Shark and shredding it in a blaze of laser energy.  Other Galleons lashed out with their weapons, hammering the ducting fans of several of the gravy tanks and causing grounding of half of them quickly.

  It wasn’t all one sided though.  Enemy laser fire was telling, with their heavier weapons hammering the armor of the Lancer Galleons.   Indeed, Green Four suffered a complete engine failure, a laser from an Orca catching the pack in the right spot to wreck the engine.  White Two and Green Two both suffered track damage, slowing them down but thankfully not stopping them.

But the threat of breakthrough was there and Murray saw it.  “Red Platoon!  Watch the left!” She called over the network, even as her track took fire.

Red platoon adjusted their advance and emerged from the light woods to catch an enemy Bradley attempting an end-around.  Two of them gave chase, knowing the hovercraft was driving into a cul-de-sac of trees from which there was only one exit; the way it came.  The other two moved to support the center, the threat of the hovercraft breaking through with something still a threat.

  The right ride of the Lancer lines was doing pretty well, the sharp eyed gunners of White Platoon placing lasers on the right locations to immobilize the hovertanks quickly.  However, a Bradley didn’t get the memo and managed to haul fan through their lines-  with one of the Vedette’s shots missing by mere hairs.  Said hover IFV raced away and towards what it believed was salvation, along with two other IFV’s that had managed to get through the laser net though not without hits.

Jenna’s Galleon scooted out from the rear of the Orca she had just hammered- the tank immobilized but not dead.  “All elements able to pursue, have at it.  Sierra Victor and Sierra White- collect prisoners as able.” She called over the net even as her track rocked with hits from the immobile Orca.  “And be smart about it!!  Some of these guys ain’t happy…”

[Golf One, Victor One…  Receive.] Came the reply from the Vedette team.  [I think a few taps at range will help- especially as I outrange ‘em]

[Golf One, Red Two…  two IFV’s down to one; send medivac…]

Jenna blanched.  That message meant a cargo hit or a minor explosion in the infantry bay.  Having done medical before becoming a tank commander, she knew the mess that was going to be.  Just then, the Command Net chimed and the speaker began squawking.

[Sierra Golf Command, Geronimo Flight]

“Geronimo Flight, Sierra Golf One…. Go ahead”

[Golf One, Geronimo Flight…  Inbound your location with six Daggers, crunchies aboard… where you want us?]  Geronimo Flight was part of the Air Cav squadron based up over in Sayreville, about a half hour from the Port.  That they made it to the fight was a good thing, considering the prisoners and wounded.

“Geronimo, Golf…  I have one escapee being pursued by elements of Sierra and plenty of prisoners back at the incident site.  If two of you can support my Red Section, appreciated.  Channel Sierra One Three Niner…”

[Golf, Geronimo…  Two heading that way, frequency relayed.]


Within ten minutes, the battle had concluded.  The two Geronimo VTOLS had arrived just as the pursuing Galleons had managed to corner the last Bradley and force it to give up.  The rest of the flight came in as the Lancers forced the crews of the hovertanks to give up, the Vedette main gun convincing the various immobilized tanks they didn’t want to be martyrs.

  Geronimo infantry surrounded the lone platoon of enemy infantry that had managed to get to cover and via some creative negotiation, convinced them to give up.  It helped that the surrendering troops were not properly equipped for the inbound snow squall and being notified of its approach was a deciding factor.  No one wanted to freeze to death… and no leader lets their troops do so.

As the Lancer troops gathered the enemy personnel up and away from their vehicles, Jenna sat on top of her track with a smoke and pondered what had been hoped to be gained here.  Between the losses in battlemechs (news of Kassing having made the last of them surrender had just come over the net) and the mess that this battle was, she just couldn’t figure out the why?

  Centaurus was a fairly well defended planet; raids happened, and they tended to be stomped hard… but since the Warships arrived, such events had stopped.  No one other than the Blakists had that kind of firepower to run that kind of force and to her knowledge, what they had left was busy dodging Coalition patrols hunting them.  No, this raid and its apparent target was something else.  Considering these guys faced were known to have been bankrolled by the Word of Blake before, she suspected that there was a connection there.

What it was… was for the intel weenies to figure out.

More musing on Ukraine.

Where we’re at, a month in.

Kyiv- still not surrounded.  For a stated goal going in, that it still is not taken a MONTH into this war speaks a few volumes about a good many things.

Mariupol…  surrounded and defiant (“Russian Warship, Go Fuck yourself”- the land version) but running out of food/water and places not bombed.

Belarus still not in (“We might, we might not…  Depends if we got an Army to use or if they have deserted)

The Vaunted Chechen Force hunting Zelensky…  bulk of them Killed (“liquidated” was the term used) and the rest left to go home.

The Russian Army…  still suffering supply issues as well as severe morale issues.  No secure Coms, no reliable supply chain, and no real reinforcement.  And being held in check by a force comprised of mostly infantry…. With the Ukrainian Farmers taking ANYTHING not guarded or really disabled. (DUDE!!!!)

Its not all bad news for the Russians though.  They still (sorta) control the air, still know how to bomb civilian targets really well (hospitals, schools, theaters marked as Shelter for Children, etc, etc…) and their Artillery Corps are still pretty good with Mariupol being turned into a pile of small rocks like Grozny and Aleppo….


Ok….  Real talk.

  The Russian Army is in shambles at this point.  Yes, they have made serious headway in areas (mostly out of Crimea) but even that is stalled now.  Hell, the long-expected push at Odesa just happened- and was repulsed… with reports of the defenders actually pushing the Russian forces back.

  The attempt at Kyiv…  has also suffered.  As per recent reports, the towns of Makariv (west of Kyiv) is back in Ukrainian hands (though not safe for Civilians to return yet) as well as parts of Irpin.  Some effective counter-attacks… not as successful as the Ukrainians would like or have you believe… but its far more than what the RUSSIANS claim they are doing.  Its another sign the Invaders are on the back foot here.

  Recent reports just in and confirmed are the capture/find of a Krasukha-4 Mobile EW System.  Mind you, it was not the entire system, just the command module… but this is a big deal.  A very big deal as there is likely some serious intelligence to be found in its databases and documentation. 

  Add in the capture of one of the mobile command post carriers from a week ago and these are substantial setbacks.  When the Enemy has access to important data like command frequencies and plans, your ability to engineer success takes a hit.

And the Ukrainians have gotten two (known) windfalls with these. 

Russian Troop morale is in the toilet…  with reports of troops turning on their officers, extensive medical problems from the environment (frostbite) and inadequate gear…  its affecting performance and ability to fight.  I’m pretty sure there would be a higher rate of desertion (always an issue in Soviet armies) were there an ability to get away reliably.

  But outside the columns, there are lots of Ukrainians who they (the Russians) are told would just as soon shoot them (not completely wrong- the Ukrainians just might but they are also big on showing compassion for the common grunts)… and of course, if caught by their own, there would be a bullet waiting for them.  Tough choices.

Then there is the ongoing issue with Russian Secure Coms… as in they have almost been non-existent per a good number of reports.  Between compromised networks, non-functioning equipment and use of commercial gear, the Russian ability to pass information and orders securely… is a mess (and that’s being kind).

  Ukraine has also been pretty successful with taking out senior Russian officers through these compromised networks, it seems.  Six General Officers and one Naval Officer have been killed in this war.  Granted, one was an Airborne officer who was killed in the fighting at the airport… but the rest?  All targets of anti C-n-C efforts.

  Its said that senior officers are balking at being sent to Ukraine now because of these successes.  And to be fair, can’t blame them too much- I’d be worried about being assassinated by an enemy you were told in the beginning of the “Special Operation” that they couldn’t hold a candle to your Army- but apparently has.  That has got to be a big worry…

  Other items of note in all this-

  The quality of Russian Gear.  I had initially noted the shabbiness of the armor and vehicles…. But those with a more critical eye really noted it… and what has been pointed out to me (and is only hitting media now) is the very shoddy maintenance of their equipment. 

Rusty, paint-flaking, bad tires…  All signs of a force that has NOT been maintained.  Both a consequence of bad morale (if you don’t wanna be there, you aren’t cleaning/maintaining gear) and a sign of the lack of discipline within their armed forces.  Maintenance requires a measure of discipline and professionalism- both items in short supply along with the shortages in actual supply.

  Dude… that the Russians have even managed what they have so far with all these issues…. Is damn amazing.

  The Ukrainians maintained their equipment and if they had more of it….  I think the embarrassment of the Russians would be higher.  Like it isn’t high already.

 Another item becoming apparent is the cracks developing behind the lines.  Putin is channeling his inner Uncle Joe and instituting serious efforts at culling “traitors” and “undesirables” from the Defense Ministry as well as his Intelligence Apparat.  You know… all those folks who told him that this Military Adventure was a sure thing and the West would fall apart as Ukraine was overrun.

All those things… that have NOT happened.

Vlad is mad.  Vlad is nervous… and those combined are not good things.  I did note his attire during that big Rally he had conducted and caught part of his speech.  I didn’t listen to its content- it was reported on as well as the glitches in the video feeds.  What caught my eye was his body language… and what he was wearing *under* that parka.

What I noticed was the artificial bulk under that coat.  Putin, in all of the pictures I’ve ever seen of him, even in a damn winter coat, has never worn anything bulky that could hide a vest.  Until now.  His movement around that stage and stiff-ness of motion…  To some, they might think it was the cold affecting him… or age.

Vlad is a fairly healthy dude… and has NEVER shown any impediment to ambulation.  He also never has shown the cold to affect him over much.

So him possibly being encased in a ballistic vest- is an important detail.  And as much a sign of worries internal on potential civil strife as the purges for Loyalty…

I really think this is all over by Easter.  The only real questions… is will Putin still be in power by then, will he still have an army to speak of for whatever other plan he has in mind?

(for readers of the stories… they are resuming sometime in the next 24 hours.  Maybe sooner.)

Ukraine- Two weeks in and where I think things are… and may go. By the gods, I hope I’m wrong.

 Day fifteen….


 The resistance by Ukraine to the Russian invasion has been pretty epic… and has decidedly defied the experts on how everything was going to go.  Just wow.

 What helps is the apparent ineptness of the Russian effort, their piss-poor logistics and the outright unexpected poor performance of their ground & air forces across the board.

 As things moved(?) along, there has been much written within the Media and as much or more talked about behind the scenes as to what drove this invasion.  And no one has a sure concrete answer… though there have been some major findings and developments no one expected.

The following is my takes on all of it.  I am by no means an expert on ANY of this.

  What I am, though, is someone who does pay attention, reads up on situations/subjects and tries to have it make sense…  An Informed opinion, as it were.  And some of my observations made early on have been far more accurate than *I* expected in some cases.  I really didn’t expect to be this right on some things.  And even where I was wrong, I was not wrong by much.  Wow moment for me, lemme tell you.



 Early on, discussion with friends who are and were in the Analysis Biz has debated on that question…  One of the theories is a desire for a return to the Cold War….  Because traditionally, the Russian mindset and people unite around the concept of “Everyone Is Against Us” otherwise known as Siege Mentality. Its fact that Putin’s hold on the country has been slipping and a rise of a questioning of his position has reared itself in Russia- and using a real or imagined belief in Us Versus Them can strengthen one’s rule.

 Can.  Not always…. But it can.

  Some may disagree as to how prevalent it is… but with all the poisoning of Opposition Leaders and or Critics of his regime, there is strong support for the notion that he’s not as secure as he may have been.

 So, it was my thought that he was combining both his Known Desire to re-establish the Glory Days of Russia with a return to a Cold War mentality along with using the inherent Nationalism of the Russian to rally around the flag.  It was also thought that this invasion would help splinter the West even more, so skittish as they are about pain/personal suffering and the possible amplification of its internal divisions.

Instead…. What this invasion as done is pretty much the opposite.

 It galvanized the West into working together truly for the first time instead of splintering them.  I mean, The Germans, considered the weak link in NATO due to the Pipelines and their reliance on Russian Gas; declared they would take the pain in order to help stop Russia.  They also have reversed major policies on Defense Spending and shipment of Lethal Aid…  This is pretty damn huge for anyone who paid attention to their self-disarming semi-pacifism of the early part of this century.  The Germans had a proud military tradition once.  And Vlad’s shenanigans have reawakened something in the Krauts.

 Another unexpected event is in that it’s had traditional Neutrals pick a side.  My god… the SWISS have not picked a side in any major European Conflict since the 1500’s…  That’s FIVE HUNDRED YEARS.  The Finns and the Swedes are looking at Nato membership; while a big deal, its not as big as Switzerland no longer remaining its traditional Neutrality and picking a side in all this.

Might be a sign y’all messed up huge if they are against you.

The only countries who seem to be on his side… are places with dictators (Syria) or who pretty much are puppets (Belarus). And even among the Dictator Set, there are not terribly many supporting this invasion.

No one knows what really is driving this. Whatever the true reason, it is costing Russia far more than what he and his advisors likely expected.


Vlad’s military has shown that it apparently ISN’T all that as many thought- and may be less able then believed.  It has me a touch surprised about things I never expected to be surprised at.

  Remember, so many experts thought 200k troops would roll over the Ukrainian army like they weren’t there…. And that three to five days would be enough to take the entire country.  I disagreed vociferously against my analyst friends on this…  I didn’t see it, as this was not the Ukrainian military of 2014 and their will/morale/desire to resist was far higher than experts were thinking.  The Ukies were not going to roll over… and in my opinion, were going to do far better than anyone expected them to.

To say I was a minority opinion on this would be an understatement.

   As events have shown, despite being outgunned, the Ukrainians have not only given the idea of Russian Might a black eye, but you could also say they have utterly wrecked it.  Again, Russian errors have helped in this matter…. But as the saying goes- Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics.  Based on what I am seeing, its is very much Amateur Hour in the Russian High Command.  And this is surprising as hell to me- at least initially.

  Further thought…. Did not lessen the surprise but it did allow me to clarify the WHY it happened.

  Analysis/discussion of their tactics show them using methodology that was Doctrine from the mid 70’s to 80’s for a European War… so you are talking about war plans that were considered adequate or good for enemies and equipment then.  This war has shown their shortcomings…. And really solidified the shortcomings of Soviet Era Equipment.  And I say Soviet Era because for the most part, the armor and gear in use dates to the heyday of the Soviet Army which was (drum roll, please)…  1960-1985.

  This is not to say the equipment isn’t capable; it is but the strategies and battlefield plans/doctrine being used has proven not to be in the CURRENT Era.  Things in a modern western army that are down at the troop level (night vision!!) and squad level (reliable communication) are NOT found in the Russian forces attacking Ukraine.  Hell, as hodgepodge as the Ukrainian resistance is with gear, there is decent reliable comms along with some Night Vision capability among them…  And these items are proving to be giant advantages against the Russians.

The strategy and doctrine might have worked in the 1980’s (and I emphasize MIGHT…) but given all that has been learned about the old Soviet Doctrines, the equipment being used and adjustments to Western Fighting styles, Putin’s Generals thinking they were going to use Tried and True to stomp on Ukraine was fantasy.
  Some of these strategies were used in Hungary and Czechoslovakia back in the day.  But you also had a bit more pliable populous in those countries…  especially compared to Modern Ukraine.

  Change is Scary.  And to the Russian High Command, it would seem any deviation from Doctrine or attempt to Make New Doctrine was ignored or stomped out.  The current Defense Minister- Sergi Shoigu- is/was supposed to be a lead figure in the modernizing of the Russian Army and its Doctrinal Thinking…  but right now, either all the money that was spent to do so went into the hands of those other than enacting modernization or it was all a sham.
  What is being shown in terms of plans/procedures…  is what may have been current 40 years ago.  Hardly modern, if you ask me.  If I recall correctly, the US Military has undergone at least two doctrinal changes as to how it fights wars… and is in the middle of a third (more like a reversion to a modified earlier version but still, change)

  Some of what I have read via media (non US media- American sources are far too biased in odd directions) is that Putin was told by his Generals that the Army was Ready and Able to meet the expected timetables (taking of Kyiv within three to five days) and from what was predicted by them, the expected capitulation of Ukraine not long after.

Events have proven that they sold him a bill of goods.  Sergi’s still alive so far… so Vlad, a purported Stalinist, has not gone Uncle Joe on him.  Yet.  Time will tell.

Another aspect of the Military Analysis is the sheer unreliability of the forces being used.

Granted, its 3rd hand reporting in some cases, but according to the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) experts, morale among the Russian forces is pretty low.  Reports of many not even knowing they were going to war are rampant and there are many stories of troops being told they were on a three day maneuver on the border as a show of force.
  Some of the higher officers knew, of course- though (according to reports) the orders to cross the border were given mere hours before.

 As such, reports of desertions are plentiful.  And the Ukrainians have been able to make some hay out of those units that Surrendered to *them*.  Denials by Moscow, of course…   but the evidence is absolutely there.  It also explains WHY, to some degree, they didn’t have the supplies for more than three days of operations.  No one trusted those below a certain level with plans for the op, which is indicative of how much Russia trusts its smaller commands.

Which, to me, says not at all.


  This is not my strongest area and I had to do more than a bit of reading to understand a few items.  But the potential effects on Russia of all the sanctions was understandable.  To say that Vlad’s country is in danger of insolvency is an accurate statement and potentially an understatement.

  Russia has been cut off from Export Revenue of its products, is having Sovereign Assets frozen in international banks and the Energy Sector is now getting moved on.  They have lost the ability to perform international money transactions and secure funding due to being booted from SWIFT… and their elites are rapidly finding all their assets being seized all over the world. Based on my reading of various economist articles and the informed opinion of one of my analyst friends, Russia’s economy is d-o-n-e done by next week.
  Default on loans, inability to pay for goods/services and a lack of ability to GENERATE revenue via international means… will destroy their economy and potentially collapse their government.  There is many schools of thought on who really holds power in Russia- Putin/the Party or the Oligarchs, those very rich men/families who provide a large amount of support to the Government via patronage.  Money Talks- especially over there.

  With the Oligarchs being threatened with loss of assets, it threatens their positions and their power.  None of them are going to like it much and I believe that they fully are aware of the threat to their lifestyle, assets and power stems from the actions of one man.  And if he doesn’t come up with a means to arrest the freefall of their situations (along with the country’s- some of them are loyal Sons of Russia), they may act.
  Vlad knows this… and may preemptively act to remove a potential threat to HIS position.  The Oligarchs know this could be a thing.  And in my mind, this could cause a Civil War there of the likes not seen since 1918.

Every Day that Ukraine holds out and fails to give up, its another day of damage to Russia and added impetus to remove the Architect of this War who is also the reason the West has completely turned on Russia- which in turn increases the possibility of Insurrection in Russia.


 There is no Political “Out” for Putin from this invasion.  The West has solidified its nerve and its stance, reinforcing it all the time with additional measures designed to make Russia (and its power base) cry “uncle”.  And that day is closer than one might think- though how close no one really knows.

  Militarily, there are two options that are available to Vlad.  The first… is adding more troops to the effort.  A large amount more.  Yes, the efforts in the South of the Country have been more successful in their objectives than the North and East.  Still not incredibly successful as it took too long to capture certain places, Like Kherson, but moreso than in the North/North East.

  And in that vein, that some locations STILL have not fallen in the South is incredible.  As of this writing, Mariupol is still not taken.  Surrounded, battered extensively but not taken.

  How much longer they can hold out… is a big question.

North and East, Some important cities have been surrounded but again, not taken. And every day they don’t fall… it’s a morale boost for Ukrainian resistance. 

More troops would help Russian Efforts…. But as far as I can determine (public source- not the most reliable but major movements show up there), no more Russian troops have been earmarked for the invasion.  Which is mixed news- the Russians seemingly cannot support properly what’s in play NOW, so more would make it that much harder to do.  The thought of Belarus committing troops looked probable a few days ago and their being committed would increase pressure on Ukraine.

  But it would seem that the desertion and morale issues that has affected the Russian Effort has also hit Belarus’s military- and a lot harder.  There are reports of mass desertions (ten to fifteen percent or more) in the units earmarked for use, as well as a general resistance to being committed against a country that was a friend until a few months ago.  So the More Troops angle has some major hurdles to enact.

  The second option is the big unthinkable one- and it’s a Military as well as a Political Decision to boot.

Deciding to Use a Weapons of Mass Destruction on a Civilian Target to try and force the West to back off their measures… and make Ukraine surrender is absolutely not a good idea.  Doing so is an act of Desperation.  It is an Unthinkable Act.

  There are many who think he’d never do it, never use Gas or a Nuke.  But then, there were many who thought he’d never invade Ukraine at all, many who thought he’d never go for more than the eastern third of the country (I was one of these) so the thought of the use of WMD is on the table where he’d concerned.

  I brought up the prospect he might a few days ago in a roundtable discussion….  Was told I was nuts.  Then about a day ago, Putin raised the spectre of their being used….

To my mind, they are only gonna get used if he can’t break the Ukrainians through standard means.

Right here, right now, the Ukrainian Resistance is showing the world that they will not fold, they will not break…. And the recent striking of a Children and Maternity Hospital via artillery along with the breaking of Humanitarian Cease Fires…  is only strengthening resolve to not give in.

  Using a WMD on them, in my opinion, will not achieve the cracking of their resolve that Vlad needs… if anything, it will likely strengthen it.  Putin already said a great many things pertaining to his belief Ukrainians are not who they are and are really Russian. That’s not the way to win friends and influence the populous to come to your side…

  It also may absolutely be the Red Line that brings the West into this war on a physical troop level.  NATO and the West have held their hands so far for political reasons…  But gassing Civilians would be a step too far and be the Political Cover needed to Do Something more than what they have.

Oh sure, Russia will claim it was the Ukrainians.  But there will be far too much evidence otherwise that would debunk Putin’s assertions- as hiding such an act is a lot harder here than in Syria.  Add in Ukraine doesn’t have any makes such a claim even more absurd.

No…  I well and truly think the longer Ukraine holds out, the higher likelihood of a Desperate Act…. And an act that would get NATO to intervene, causing the war to widen.

By all the Gods in existence, I well and truly hope it doesn’t happen… that the sanctions cause an upheaval there and ends this.  But it needs to happen soon as the prospect of World War Three is very much a possibility…

No one knows what is driving Putin to do this.  Lots of theories…  from Mania to Glory Days to some sort of Mad Prophecy to him having some sort of malady that is killing him and he wants to take everyone with him (sounds crazy but its possible!)….  But whatever the reason, something has to give before this gets worse in a way everyone loses.

Legends and Myths Fourteen

Outpost Valley Access Road
Kaladonia Mountains North East of Rahway
0931hr (GMT+4) 25 December 3079

  Diane stood Aiskon on the road in for a second before angling off of it into the woods. As she had crested the slight rise before the downslope to the valley, she had spied the enemy machines as they made their way up.  Sensors and eyeballs confirmed what she faced- all fairly fast machines and all of them lights.  A Quartet of Stingers, a pair of the up gunned Hinto-Koto Stinging Spiders (copies of the Spider but better weapons) and what looked like a pair of Jenner IIc’s  with some wrong lines.

  After a minute, her battle-computer identified them as the Hinto-Koto knock off of the clan machine.  Armed similarly and just as fast, the HK version of the clan machine was pretty good for what it was. And dangerous as hell in a Non-ECM environment.  Considering she was now in one, well, they needed to handicap her somehow.

Pausing her stride long enough to acquire a target, she cut loose with her machine’s Gauss Rifle.  Watching the round whiz past one of the Jenner II’s, Diane muttered an admonishment to herself. “Steady, my dear… you got this.  They are just light mechs and this isn’t the Western Knox Mountains…” Taking a deep breath, she shifted her Battlemaster around and moved up in an attempt to draw them in.

This worked a little too well, as five of them closed in… but in turn, it gave her a better firing solution to which she capitalized on.

  Lasers flashed from her machine- both the solid off-red of Extended Range models and the deeper hue of the standard versions biting into a Stinging Spider, ripping nearly half its armor from its torsos.  Her Streak launcher discharged its load at one of the Stingers, peppering it as it sought to flank her.

  More shifting and maneuvering and a different Stinger appeared, its weapons biting deep into her armor.  Mentally, she noted the heavier damage and extra machineguns of the model.  “Custom machine,” Diane commented as she focused her small pulse lasers on it.  At that point, her machine rocked from the combined fire of four of her opponents who got brave enough to close in on her.

  Forced to its knees, she fought with the controls and nearly toppled over.  A very brief moment of panic as she recalled her last mission in Aiskon.   A few seconds of hyperventilation… then the veteran pilot shook herself out of the panic.

Looking at her sensors, she noted four machines coming up to surround her with the intent of blasting her to scrap.  “Mistake…” She said with an evil smile and levered her machine up off the ground as if it was no effort at all to do.  Once standing, she saw the shift in posture of the enemy machines as their pilots realized *they* may have errored.

  Lashing out with a foot as she stood, Aiskon connected with the Stinging Spider that had gotten in front of her and crumpled a large portion of the mech even as her weapons flashed against the collection of opponents around her.  In forcing them to scatter, it created opportunity for her to reposition even as the newly arrived Tokugawas made their presence known.  Both tanks came in on the run and planed Class Ten slugs into machines within reach- the first victim being the custom Stinger.

   This development made her happy- the rust on her skills was leaving fast but not quite as fast as she’d like.  Then not thirty seconds later, her comm chimed.  Thumbing a switch, she answered.  “This better be who I think it is…” Diane said as she snapped a gauss rifle shot off at a Jenner II.  Two bright orange bursts of pulsed laser energy stitched the same target she hit as an answer came.

[I hope so…. Madame Governor, Mind if we help?] The voice of Colonel Hollister came over her headset.  [I understand you are a scourge with your machine…. But I think a statement needs to be made about having friends to these people.  And it would be our honor.]

Diane blinked.  She knew they would get here eventually… but Hollister must have floored his machine to get here…  or she had been fighting that long.  Judging by her armor condition, it was likely the latter.  “Colonel…  I welcome the company of you and your arms man.  The tank crews and I do like to share.”  She replied.  “Feel free to introduce yourselves to our guests, party crashers that they are…”

[With pleasure.]

The attacking machines began to scatter and fall back some, the newly arrived Wolverine machines and the two Lancer tanks inflicting much damage as they came in as her back up.  The Tokugawa crews were murder on the enemy- their main guns inflicting terrible punishment on the invaders and smaller guns shredding structure and critical areas.

Within a minute, the tide fully turned as attackers became the hunted and their numbers began to dwindle.  Light Barrel slug rounds, lasers and short-range missiles found targets at the rapidly thinning ranks of the raiders.  To call it a slaughter would be gentle, but since the raiders were looking to inflict harm on the populace, their treatment was…. Appropriate.

It took less than five minutes… but the raid was broken, with one machine, a Stinging Spider, scrambling away while missing most of his armor and an arm.  Nothing pursued as no one was fast enough to chase but that was fine- a patrol would eventually find the machine and its pilot as there wasn’t much out here that could truly hide a mech.

Watching the last one run, Diane let her machine idle in place.  It had felt good to get back in the cockpit again… and while perhaps not as effective as she could have been, she had been able.  And that’s what counted.  “Colonel, thank you for your help…” She said into the comms.  “They were a little difficult to bring down…”

[Governor, you and your men would have done so without us- just might have taken a little longer, is all.]  Hollister replied.  [Though I would ask for some of your time after we return to the Castle.  I have questions about a few events that I am hopeful you may speak on.]

Diane pondered the request.  Considering what the Colonel had said when they arrived for this fight, she was fairly certain she knew what the questions were going to be about.  And perhaps, maybe, it was time to confront those memories… “I suppose I can find the time, after seeing to both men and machine… I and Aiskon are a mess…”

[Of Course…] Came his reply.  [It is no rush… and readiness should come first.  If you wish to retreat now, we will stand Watch with your tankers until reinforcements arrive.]

“Thank you…” She said.  “I will be waiting when you get back in. Major Clyburn should have dealt with the rest of them by then…”  With that, she turned her machine and headed up the road to the Castle.

 The two Wolverine machines took up posts at the road crest alongside the two Tokugawa tanks and secured the pass for the next three hours when other Lancer elements relieved them.  During that time, Hollister was deep in thought about a great many things… and some of the policies he had inherited when he took over command of his people.

  There was some changes to be made, for sure.  How well they would go over was a different matter… but one that was to be changed was the age limit.  If there was one thing the Lancers had shown him, age in many cases was a number…  As long as one was fit enough, one could serve somewhere.  Many commanders here were older than the standards for being assigned to a Solahma,  policy left over from when they were part of the clans.  Why it had stayed… he didn’t know.  But it was getting rescinded and new assessments were going to be done.

  More and more, it was a good thing they returned… 

Legends and Myths Thirteen

Outpost Valley Access Road
Kaladonia Mountains North East of Rahway
0901hr (GMT+4) 25 December 3079

  The warning from Lancer Command came about fifteen minutes after detection, the landing cone of the raid having solidified enough for orders to be sent out….  And there was some very distinct scrambling being done as a result.

  Major Clyburn’s Bravo Company of First Battalion had RDF Duty for the holiday and they were quick… but would take time to get to Sage from Landing  And that time to respond would enable a portion of the raid to land and possibly cause havoc.  When it became apparent that the raiders were targeting the Outpost, things really became strange.

It was Christmas Morning… and the Governor of Sage was visiting the newly settled Returned in their housing areas near the old Outpost Castle.  Governor Sodher-Schaller had taken to seeing to the welfare of the Returned Civilians to heart, and had been working hard at helping them integrate into the world’s culture and become acquainted with the holidays again of the Inner Sphere.  She had been here with both the Commander of the Returned, John Hollister and a few other local officials for Christmas festivities when her pager rang.

  After receiving the news of the inbound raids she let out a small curse. Damn them to the Nine Hells, She raged internally as she returned from taking the call.  Grabbing one of the Constabulary who was now looking at HIS pager, she began issuing orders. “Captain, get as many as you can to the Castle and as fast as you and your men can.”

 “Ma’am?” He responded as others began to quietly and efficiently began making calls or informing parents of children about what was happening… and what had to be done.

  “It would appear that some folks really have zero respect for Christmas,” Diane replied as he pulled out a personal com-unit.  “And this might get bad.  Please let Commander Hollister know that his people will be safe….”

  A nod.  “Yes ma’am…”  The Captain replied as he went off to help his men and relay the message.

  Diane hurried out to her official car with its driver.  “Micah…”

  Her Driver held the door.  “Governor?  To the office bunker?  We might not make it there fast enough.”

  Diane shook her head as she got in the back.  “No…   to the Outpost Mech Bay.”

  Micah blinked.  “Ma’am, are you sure?” he asked as he hurried to the driver seat.

  Leaning back into the seat, she closed her eyes.  “Yes.  Someone has to buy time and I’m the most qualified…” She replied. “Hopefully some of the vehicle crews can get their machines operational… but it might not be fast enough to matter.”

  The car practically took off from the meeting hall as Micah floored the accelerator.  “Ma’am, if you say so.  Are you sure you can do this?”

  Diane laughed slightly and it was a dark one.  “No one else is available, Micah… and I let Geoff have it be repaired for a rainy day, even if she’s a museum piece now.  My health might be poor but I can still pilot a battlemech…”  Glancing out the window at the rapidly passing terrain, she sighed once.  “Not that I expected to have to again of course…  But sometimes, you don’t get the choices you want…”

Micah angled the aircar to the entry port to the Mech Ramps.  “No ma’am… sometimes the choice is made for you.”

 About nine minutes later, she was exiting the Pilots Ready room, sans cane.  Diane had rapidly pulled off her Official Clothing from the festivities and had pulled on her old cooling vest over a t-shirt she kept in a locker here.  It had been some time since she had even thought about piloting a battlemech.  Sure, she kept her skills up in the simulators since she’d recovered from the Occupation and practiced in actual machines, because once a Pilot, Always a Pilot… but she’d not seen combat in almost eight years.  Hell, she hadn’t been in a Mech Cockpit in over a year.  She hoped her ability hadn’t gotten that stale.

  AS she entered the mech cradle area, she spied her machine, a BLR-4S Battlemaster.  It was her baby, as far as mechs go, and had been extensively refurbished by the Lancers and her husband after Centaurus had been retaken.  For the longest time, it had been one of the most modern machines within the command as she had been the Regiment’s Duelist- a position that had been within the Lancers since the days of the First Star League.  And in that role, she had performed flawlessly…. And had managed to win many a battle, preventing many unnecessary losses.

 Then came the Jihad.

 When the planet had been invaded, she, along with Sean Farquharson, had been key figures within the resistance…. And as the better pilot, she had taken on anything and everything that came their way.  And it was in that role, she became a boogieman to the Blakist invaders. In that Battlemaster, she held off many an opponent and killed many a Level II sent her way.  More than once, it had fallen to her to hold a line against an advancing force and each time, she had stood her ground…. And stood it she did, with proof of her ability in the destroyed machines on the fields before her.

  Her last combat in her machine had been in defense of civilians as Blakist troops had found them in the mountains of Cromwell… It had been her in her very patched up Battlemaster, an old Manticore tank and an pair of SRM squads against what was almost a mech company.   And it was carnage that day.  Between all of them, they had held the line but barely.  The Manticore was destroyed early on through a freak hit but not before it had claimed three attackers.  The SRM troops had managed to bring down one more- a Locust that had ignored them a little too long….  But the rest had faced her.

 And she nearly died in the process.

  Faced off against the last two of the attackers, a Blakist Gurkha and Raijin, the exchange of fire between the fresh enemy machines and her heavily damaged one resulted in a damaged gyro for her and heavy damage to the remaining two.  Unable to transmit anything or get her machine up, she could only watch the Gurkha lift its sword up and start to swing when it was rocked with no less than five Particle Cannon blasts as elements of the 3rd Pesht arrived in the nick of time; their Panthers being a very welcome sight…  before she passed out from pain.

It was when she finally got proper medical attention that she had learned all the injuries sustained in previous fights and this last one… aggravated other health issues and pulled her from active service.  Many arguments during treatments and surgeries to repair badly healed bones were epic- her desire to remain who she was warred with the doctors until a compromise was found…  And she was allowed to remain in the Reserve, cane and all.

  She could teach, she could instruct… but Active Combat Role was done.  No more deployments…  as her health deemed it a Bad Idea.

And now here she was some seven years later, about to climb into her machine once more and in a situation similar to her last battle.  And the irony was NOT lost on her.

  Her comm unit started to chirp.  Glancing at it, she noted the caller and answered.  “It has to be me…” she said as she settled into the pilot’s seat.

  [I know.]  Geoff’s voice emitted from the speaker.  [Hollister and his Armsman are working hard and getting their folks into the Castle now…  He plans on joining you as fast as possible with at least one of his men.]

  Diane concentrated on the startup procedures as her husband spoke.  Stupid gauss rifles… Order of activation or they don’t work right… “Geoff, let him know I understand; his people are his responsibility… and their protection are Lancer Responsibility right now…  which means mine until the Cavalry gets here.  He gets here, he gets here…” A smile.  “I’ll try to save him some to deal with.  Now let me get Aiskon started- it’s been a hot minute or three since I’ve done a combat startup on her and I really don’t want to fry the Model A.”

  [I put in a safety breaker on that,] Geoff answered without a beat. [Not that I expected this but with everything that has happened, I had a feeling…]

  “Thank you, my love,” She said softly as she placed her neuro-helmet on, her machine’s controls lighting up and indicating all systems nominal.  “I’ve got work to do as do you.  See you soon.”

Clicking off the comm, she closed her eyes for a moment, steadying her nerves.  “Get up, Do Work…” She muttered to herself as she opened her eyes and then spoke to her machine.  “Ok Baby; its time to make some people regret their bad decisions…”  Tapping a button on the upper portion of the cockpit, techno music began to play as she piloted the Battlemaster from the cradle to the ramp out.


Hollister turned to the nearest constable as the last of his people began boarding the busses.  All of the Returned were settled all over Centarus; some in built up areas with lots of locals, others in remote places where it appealed to them… and then there was the concentration here on Sage.  Some by the Castle, some in the city of Rahway and others spread all over the continent.

 As such, he wasn’t worried about the overall… and was grateful he didn’t have to try and move ten thousand or more civilians in a short time.  Hell, moving the few hundred that chose to stay here by the Castle was plenty.  And it was why he chose to spend Christmas with this group- they were the older members of the Returned and the Orphans of the fallen; any commander worth his position saw to the families of deceased troops as he could.

  It galled him that he wasn’t in a position to go out and defend his people right away, relying on the Lancers- in this case the Governor of the province and her machine.  In the swirl of activity with evacuation, he learned about her departure and his initial thoughts were unkind.  When he mentioned her departure to one of the constables helping load his people, the security person corrected him pretty quick.

“Sir, Governor Sodher-Schaller’s no joke.  No one in the Regiment is better than her in a Mech; not even the Colonel and he’s damn good.  Don’t let her cane fool you- If anyone can slow them down, she can.”

A fast call to the Governor’s mate confirmed the woman’s role as a former pilot and that of Gunslinger…. And Hollister found himself issuing the sort of promise he almost never made.

“Geoff, I will get out there to help her- she will not fight alone.  And if she is put to the ground, whoever did so shall not live to speak about it…”

  So as the last of his people were loading, he snagged the constable.  “Officer, how fast can you get me to the Mech Bay we have our machines in?”

  The constable blinked once.  “Three minutes maybe?”

  Hollister smiled.  “It will have to do.  I need myself and Captain McEvedy to our machines as fast as possible.  Your Governor should not have to fight on her own.”

 The Constable nodded and turned to another.  “Clarke- take Mr Hollister and one of his men to their Mechs fast as ya can.”

“Right away Sarge,”  Clarke called and waved to Hollister.  “This way sir- that aircar over there.”

Within a minute, McEvedy and Hollister were winging their way to the Castle mechbay, seeing the deep green with gold trim Battlemaster exiting the main doors at a brisk pace as they got closer.  As they landed inside the bay, the two Returned men saw crews of tankers rapidly pulling a pair of Tokugawa tanks from transport trailers.  An industrial loader stood to the side with ammunition cassettes in its handlers, waiting to load the tanks.

  The two pilots raced for their machines as one of the Tokugawa’s began heading for the ramps.  It was going to be a race he was sure.  AS soon as he got into his Pulverizer’s cockpit, he activated the comm unit and tuned to the Lancers combat frequency.

  As the scope of the attack became apparent, he tapped the unit private comm.  ”Jacob, worry about systems checks on the run…  The Governor is faced against eight opponents… and those two tanks might not be enough help.”

  McEvedy didn’t answer at first.  “Right….  Eight on One is not odds I would wish to face.  And she is doing so on her own.” He said finally as he set his Guillotine into motion.  “Gutsy…”

  Hollister agreed.  “Very… and worthy of the Remembrance, were she of the Wolverines.” He said as he placed his own machine into motion.  “:et us make sure she gets the chance to do so.

With that, the two Clan Wolverine Battlemechs reached the exit ramp out, a half- minute behind the two tanks.