Legends and Myths Twenty Four

 Crossroads Military Hospital
City of Crossroads, Continent of Ashton
18 April 3080

 The city of Crossroads was something of an odd duck, as far as cities go.  Overall, its normal population was only a few thousand souls, as there was not terribly much here.  A few small Tech companies, at least one mining consortium and two desert racing companies (the Ashton Two Thousand was a very big deal every year).  Also out here was proving grounds for the Battlemech Upgrade program for Lancer Mechworx.

  The other reason Crossroads still existed was the four times a year surge of Militia and Lancer units for training.  Much like the continent of Outback on Outreach served for Wolf’s Dragoons, Ashton served much the same purpose for the Lancers- maneuver areas for combat training and testing.  A proper hospital had been necessary and was one of the early modern buildings to be built prior to Jihad…. And rebuilt once the Word had been kicked out.

  Crossroads Memorial was a well-equipped facility and due to the military training areas, had plenty of practice with trauma cases.  So when notified the MEDEVAC flights from the area of the Trial were coming, the hospital staff was very ready for them.  Security was also on hand- some of the injured were Ghost Bears and their commander was one of the first ones here.  Admin recognized the dangers involved with hosting their wounded… and made sure protections were in place.  The Word of Blake, despite the best efforts of Lancer Intel, still did have agents on the planet and if they thought to give a go at the wounded clanners, CM staff was going to make it really hard to do so.

  The first craft to land was the flight carrying Star Colonel Lebowski.  He had been stabilized at DS1 then immediately reloaded onto a Ferret for the fifty minute flight here, landing in the late afternoon of the 17th at the facility.  The VTOL was met on the pad by both a Trauma Team and security, with the former whisking their charge away to surgery.   The security troops maintained a watch around the area and were on hand when the other Ferrets arrived with heavily injured Elementals and two other mech pilots.

 These too were met by medical teams and moved into the hospital.  Some of the Elementals were walking-wounded… and had requested being taken to where their commander was going…  This was granted by Lancer Command- it was recognized that having their commander solely in the hands of Mercenary Forces, even well-meaning ones, was a point of contention…. So, sending the wounded power armor troops gave them an additional reason to be healed and a focus- an additional layer of protection for their Star Colonel as he was being helped.  It freaked out some of the facility staff, of course…

 However, the senior security person was a veteran of Bulldog… and had made friends with some of the Bondsmen Elementals the Lancers had.  A few phone calls and the group of retired Elementals that lived up in the Dusal Mountains came to town to help with keeping both the peace and calming the wounded Clan Troopers.

  Some twelve hours after all the activity on the hospital pad, a series of vehicles pulled up and Lt Colonel McCormack exited the second vehicle along with Loremaster Tseng.  Both women then moved for the main entrance to the facility.  As they moved to enter the building, Leslie spotted a familiar face with the Security Contingent off to the side and smiled.  Argyle had made it here and likely already knew who was trustworthy.

  The two were met by a Hospital Administration Staffer.  “Colonel McCormack, I’m June McKay, Trauma Surgery Chief.  Figured I should brief you when you got here…”

  Leslie nodded.  “Thank you, Doctor McKay. This is Ghost Bear Loremaster Laurie Tseng; she’s here to check on the Star Colonel and report on things…” She said with a smile.

  Tseng held out a hand. “A pleasure, despite the circumstances… and many thanks for caring for my clan mates.”

  McKay chuckled as she shook the offered hand.  “Oh no problem.  I have a very good staff and the injuries sustained by your folks are nothing they haven’t dealt with before, unfortunately.  Having Elementals here has been a challenge though…  None of our equipment really fits them.”

 Tseng looked surprised.  “Doctor, had we known, something off our ships could have been flown in,” she glanced at McCormack. “You did not say there was an issue.”

  Leslie looked at Tseng. “I was not aware…”  Looking back at McKay, she continued. “We have equipment out in Landing, if it’s still needed.”

  McKay waved off the comment.  “Colonel, its ok…  we were able to engineer something; we do have about two dozen or so who live up in the mountains that occasionally admit they get hurt and come in… so we are able to treat them.  Just very rare.

 Tseng blinked.  “You have Elementals living here?”

 Leslie confirmed that. “The Phoenix Lancers have had Elementals as bondsmen before.  A handful of them did elect to retire here after mustering out…  And yes, they all fought the Occupation, to my knowledge…”

 Tseng smiled.  “As one would expect.  Fighting is a part of their blood, no matter the clan.  The Phoenix Lancers essentially became their clan and well, one never truly retires.  As you do not have a Solahma, I suppose they would have relished engaging the Blakists.”

  McKay nodded. “Yes they did…  At any rate, members of Dusal Star came in and helped with your people… and have assumed guard duty on Star Colonel Lebowski.  And before you ask, yes, he did come through surgery ok.  Lucky man he is…  concussion, brain bleed, a few fractured ribs, several lacerations and a skull fracture on top of everything…  But he is through surgery and resting comfortably in a room.”

 “May I see him?”

 “Of course.  He may not be awake though…” McKay cautioned.

 Tseng smirked. “Doctor, I understand… but he might surprise you.  I would also like to see his Elemental guards, this Dusal Star.”

  “Right this way, Loremaster.”  McKay turned and led the way to the elevators.

**

  Krog Wolf Dusal stood outside the hospital room where the Ghost Bear Star Colonel lay recovering from his surgery.  He and his star-mate, Mongo Raven Dusal, had drawn the initial duty of watching over the very important guest within.  And it was a weird position to be in too, for him and the rest of the Star.

  The Dusal star was a collection of Elementals who had retired from the Lancers after their Service had ended or those who could no longer use the Elemental Armor due to injuries and mustered out.  Hailing from nine different clans, as a group they had chosen to live off the land on this continent and identify themselves as a mini-clan.  As such, their names were a mix of their given name and former Clan followed by the name of the Star.  It worked for them… and with the number of clans among the forty members of the near binary, it made identifying them that much easier.

Life in the mountains was among the wildest places on the world and there was plenty to challenge ones such as them up in the mountains. Terran Grizzly and Centaurus Lions were challenges to surpass for them and the Star did a good bit of business with hunting the animals… as well as helping maintain the areas of the mountains that the occasional tourist visited…. Or militia unit conducting training.

  When he had gotten the call about helping out with the Ghost Bear casualties, he agreed to come in.  After a quick poll of those within the Hunting Lodge at the time, he had a full two points of his Kin to come help at the hospital.  And it was the ten of them who descended on Crossroads, all in uniform of the Lancers (at least all who still fit- Jorgal Bear Dusal outgrew his) and ready for duty.  More would be down to spell them in the morning.

  It was weird guarding the Ghost Bear Star Colonel and for a few reasons.  Chief among them was the Ghost Bears even being here to fight the Wolverine survivors.  When THOSE people had been accepted by the Lancers, Krog had been one of the most vocal of the former bondsmen against them and had challenged the commander of the Lancers over it.  When the man agreed to un-augmented, Krog had thought he’d roll the commander and get his way.

  The knockout punch the Lancer Mechwarrior had delivered made him realize he underestimated the officer… and made him really listen to their story.  Not that he truly accepted the Wolverines, he just didn’t hate them as he did.  As far as he was then concerned, as long as they did their part with defense of the world he’d have no issue.

  When the Ghost Bears came calling, it was news for everyone… and for those among the Dusal, it re-awoke the question of the Wolverines and their presence here on Centaurus.  However, when the true reasons for the Ghost Bears being here was learned, it again caused a reevaluation of old hatreds… and how ultimately stupid some of it was.

Which is also why he deliberately chose to take the first guard shift.  While he was no fan of the Ghost Bears as a Former Wolf, the revelations about the Trial of Annihilation against the Wolverines, the lies they were based upon… and the Ghost Bear shame over participating in that lie for so long…  won them newfound respect from him.  Anyone who could admit they were wrong after all that… well, he respected the bravery involved.  It also lessened his animosities…

Considering the danger from not only normal threats but from his own possibly being stupid, it made him determined to be part of preventing that.

When the secure wing doors opened, Krog quickly looked at them, a hand on the sawn-off shotgun he carried as a side arm.  Seeing the Lancer officer and Ghost Bear member with the Surgeon made him relax slightly.

  As they got closer, Krog called to the doctor.  “He has been up for about five minutes, Doctor.  Maeve Falcon Dusal mentioned this to me as she went looking for a protein drink for him.”

  McKay nodded.  “Good… he’s awake faster than I expected then.  One moment,” Stepping in the room, she shut the door behind her, leaving the Clan and Lancer officers in the hall.

  Tseng noted the uniforms the two elementals wore, a variation on the Multicam that Lancer Security troops wore.  Seeing the name tag, she inquired.  “Wolf Dusal?  Might I ask the significance of the name?”

  Krog smiled.  “You may…  Dusal is our family name, we as a group chose the mountain range name as our surname.  The clan we hailed from is our middle name.”

 Tseng pulled a datapad and quickly scrawled a note.  “I see.  And of the family Dusal, how many clans are among you?”

  “Nine.  Among us, we have four former Ghost Bears.  None are blood-name, if you are wondering.” Krog replied.  “There is Wolf, Falcon, Ghost Bear, Snow Raven, Diamond Shark, Viper, Hellion, Adder and a single former Jaguar who was bondsman to me at one time.  That one is still kept on a leash.”  A chuckle at that last.  If his bond-mate heard she was described such, there would be a strenuous discussion later.

  Tseng looked thoughtful.  “Fascinating…  And your freedoms are no less than they would be in Clan Space?”

  “I would say greater… as we would all be Solahma, and thrown into battle for no good reason.  Here, we live in relative peace and choose to fight if necessary… or remain aloof, choosing when and where to be involved.  It is a good life for us old men and women…” Krog replied with pride.

  Mongo added from the side.  “Do not get him wrong, Loremaster.  The Dusal can and will fight.  We just want to do so on something resembling our terms.  Being among the Lancers, we have learned quite a bit about force commitment… and fighting smart.”

  Tseng scrawled another note.  “You are?”

 “Mongo Raven Dusal.”

 “Thank you.”

  McCormack was silent as the brief discussion was had.  The Dusal were a prickly bunch at times… and Krog must have been in a very good mood to speak on matters.  That or age has mellowed him.  Noting McKay approaching the door, she coughed once.  “Loremaster…”

Tseng looked over at McCormack then noted the door as it opened.  “Is he able to have visitors?”

 McKay opened the door wider. “Yes, he is…” She said and motioned her in.

  Tseng moved to go in. “Thank you…”

  McCormack held off.  “I’ll be in in a minute,” she said.

  When the Loremaster disappeared into the room, Leslie focused on Krog.  “Spill…” She said quietly as she tapped his chest with a finger.  “Real reason… you could have sent any ten.”

  Krog smiled as he rubbed his jawline.  “Let me say, the Ghost Bear reasons for being here were and are compelling.  If one adds in the physical discussion I had with your colonel six months ago, even an Elemental can learn to widen his perceptions,” he replied to the Lancer Officer. “Dragon Mother… I believe.  As much as it may gall me as former Wolf Clan, I believe the Ghost Bears and their reasons for their actions makes sense.  And even the rest of the Dusal support The Choice now, for more reasons than my command….

  And a good commander sends no one to do something he would not do himself.”

**

  In the room, Lebowski was sitting up, his head with some bandages wrapped around his head where some of the lacerations were.  “Loremaster,” The Star Colonel said in greeting.  “It would seem I lost.”

 Tseng smirked. “You did, Jeffrey, you did… but not for lack of trying,” she said.  “They were prepared and fought well.  Khan Kabrinski will not be happy, of course, but she was not here…Quaff?

 He chuckled. “Aff. Indeed.  She left it to me to resolve all this and up until the Gauss exploded, I thought I was doing alright.  Tell me, how many were lost.” A pause. “On both sides.”

  Tseng answered him, not believing the numbers herself but they were accurate.  “No mechwarriors on either side were killed. The Exterminator pilot of theirs lived but she will not be able to pilot a battlemech for some time.  Of the twenty-five Elementals who participated, sixteen were casualties.  Only five dead, which is something of a minor miracle; the Phoenix Lancer medical teams are quite good at their jobs and managed to prevent deaths that would have happened otherwise, armor medical equipment or not.  As such, six may require retirement or assignment to Solahma… unless The Phoenix Lancers would like new settlers.”

 Lebowski lifted an eyebrow.  “Explain, Quaff.”

 She pointed outside the room.  “Your Guards and the attendant are all Freemen Elementals, all mustered out of their forces and volunteering their services for our wounded.” She spoke.  “Perhaps rather than relegating those who no longer can wear the Armor to misery, if honored, at home… Perhaps a chance at new life. Considering everything else that has happened and is happening…  And perhaps I am enamored with what I am seeing here too.”

 The door opened and Lt Colonel McCormack entered with the very muscular Jade Green Mohawked female Elemental Attendant, clad in Fatigues (and medical flash on a shoulder) holding up a protein drink.  “As requested, the drink.  It is a local concoction that we among the Dusal find tolerable.  And I should hope we do as we are the ones who sell it in town.” She said with a smile.  “There is a good business among the militia that comes through here… helps with muscle healing.”

  Lebowski accepted the beverage with a smile of his own.  “Many thanks…” He said.  “I did not catch your name.”

  She stood at attention.  “Maeve Falcon Dusal, Star Colonel.  I am a trained Trauma Medic and a reservist with the Centaurus Guard.”

  Leslie added to the story from the side.  “Maeve has been with the Lancers since just before the occupation… and learned her craft here.” The Intelligence Chief commented.  “And from what I understand, gets fought over by the Marines when they visit.”

  A snort.  “Ma’am, all they want to do is see if I can be body slammed.”

  Tseng asked. “And have they?”

  “No.  One came close…” Maeve replied.  “And he got slammed when he said he wanted death by snu-snu…”  The smirk on the elemental’s face said she knew exactly what *that* meant.

  Leslie chuckled.  “Thank you, Maeve.”

  The Elemental gave a half salute and departed the room.  “Ring if you need assistance, Colonel.  Otherwise I will be back in a half hour.”

After she left, Lebowski looked at McCormack.  “I see you are here.  What of Khan Hollister?” he asked.

 Leslie glanced at the door then back to the Ghost Bear officers.  “He is the one who pulled you out of your cockpit and got you medical assistance.  He felt his presence here before you are up and moving around would be something of a distraction… He has been here looking in on his own pilot but elected to stay clear of your room unless you want to speak with him.”

  Lebowski took in that information.  “Please pass along my thanks at what he did, Quaff…  and that I think he and his people fought well,” he replied. “I should like to speak with him at some point; perhaps tomorrow…  as there is a matter of some of the items we have with us I was given by my Khan to grant as…. A gift, if nothing else, for them and perhaps yourselves as hosts.”

 A raised eyebrow.  “Oh?”

  A nod.  “Aff.  In the supply Mules are spare parts for our machines, food stuffs and items for trade.  Perhaps a chunk of it can be left behind to facilitate repairing or updating weapons systems.  After all, some of the weapons we use are due to their ancestors.  Especially the Extended Range Particle Cannon.  I noted the varied early age weapons on their machines and perhaps… an effort can be made to help fix that issue.

  I am certain other Clans will come calling… and Khan Hollister being better able to support the defense of this word would be a desirable thing by myself.”  A smile.  “It might just make those other Clans a touch mad, Queneg?”

A laugh.  “I don’t see why not… however, what would your Khan say?”

Tseng answered.  “To the victor go the spoils…”

Author: John T

Warrior-Sage and full time healer. Gamer and Arm Chair Analyst (who isn't these days?) who isn't afraid to read up on what I don't know.

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