“Second star to the right….

And straight on till morning”

Nichelle Nicols passed away last night at 89 years young.

To this young man, Ms Nicols was a goddess on the screen. Intelligent and well spoken, she was someone to admire for who she was AND what she represented on the small screen. For little girls and women of any color.

Even though it was a small part of an ensemble cast, she was still a major part… and much like a few other folks I know, as a young man I had a bit of a crush on her.

Lots of folks had crushes on the actress who played Janice Rand- And yes, Grace Lee Whitney is/was a fine looking woman. But no where near as exotic to this poor boy in the ‘burbs. And far less interesting a character.

To me, Uhura was cool. And some of the better stories in the novels and in the TV series had her a key part of the story. One of my favorites was “Uhura’s Song” and I really wish I could find my copy (long buried in a box somewhere).

There was some controversy towards the end of her life over her guardians post Stroke/Dementia issues… but now its no longer an issue. She is in a better place now, having joined Leonard, James, DeForest and all the others who have gone before.

Rest In Power, ma’am… You have more than earned a rest and have served as inspiration for so many young women over the years. And likely will even after your death.

December 28, 1932- July 30, 2022

Legends and Myths Thirty Six -Rebirth of a Legendary Regiment

Tech Services Vendors Section

Galatea Hiring Hall Building Delta, Galatea City, Galatea

2102 Hours, 26 July 3080

  The tall mechwarrior, clad in a flowing cloak over his Arabian garb strode through the hall, looking for a specific vendor.  On his hips were two weapons, an ornate saber in a frilled scabbard and a large slug-thrower.  No one blinked over the weapons, being that Galatea was still a dangerous place despite the Republic doing a killer job at reigning in troublemakers over the last few years.  Dumb shit happened though; only a fool would think it was really that safe this late in the evening… and Khalid Bin Zalas was no one’s fool.

  The former Knight of the Inner Sphere, one of the few survivors of the fighting on Arteus during the Jihad and Marik Civil War, was here with a purpose. That purpose… was to find an organization that was willing to help him and his handful of surviving Knights rebuild. He had a handful of machines and a double handful of pilots.  What he didn’t have was many truly functioning machines… Everything he had was damaged in some fashion with the majority in desperate need of skilled technicians.  With nothing he or his few contacts within the Marik Military that he trusted finding any group or service willing to work with him within Marik space, he and his troops pooled resources and booked passage to here.

 And it was a big gamble. While Outreach might have been better choice, that planet was still recovering from its Blakist occupation and the near destruction of its patrons (Wolf’s Dragoons), Galatea was deemed the better choice.  Add in that the recommended vendor of tech services for units like his maintained an office here, all the better.  Travel to here wasn’t cheap… and this adventure could end in failure if he could not secure a deal.  But he had to try, if only for the memory of the Knights that had fallen back on Atreus.

  Coming to the office front of what he was looking for, he glanced down at a business card then up at the signage. “Lancer Mekworks Technical Services, a division of Centaurus Industries,” He read aloud and noted the lights were still on within.  Adjusting his gun belt, he strode to the door which opened without effort.  A small bell jingled as the door opened, amusing the former Knight.

  Behind a counter, a young raven-haired woman stood with a terminal keyboard in front of her.  Looking over at him, she called out. “Evening sir. May I help you?” She flashed him a smile as she turned to full face him.

  Kahleed bobbed his head once. “I Certainly Hope so, My lady,” He answered in his accented English. “I come representing a group of Honest Men and Women who are down on their luck through the results of Treachery and Religious Vermin… and your Establishment was recommended to me as a Haven and a source of Help.”

  The woman took in Khalid’s manner of dress and noted the symbol on a small patch, that of a hand rising from a lake bearing a gleaming sword, in place over where one’s heart would be, were the cloak closed. “Ummm… Treachery and Religious Vermin?” She asked. “I guess you ran afoul of Blakist agents?”

 A sad smile. “You would be correct, My Lady,” Khalid replied.  “Them and those who bought into their Lies.”

 The girl nodded to herself as she muttered, “Oooh boy.”  Grabbing the keyboard, she looked at the screen, typed a few keys then back at the man. “Well, considering the state of the Inner Sphere, you did well to survive their peculiar hate of everything Not Them. And you managed to get here too.  No small feat… Now, how many machines are we talking about refurbishing and what level of rebuild are we looking for?  Depending on the work load, we can likely help you though it won’t be cheap nor will it be super fast.  The more extensive the work, the longer it will take.”

 Khalid nodded. “I and my people understand, and I appreciate the honest warnings on cost and time. We are prepared to enter into contract should we be short on funds for the work needed… And unfortunately, there is a large amount of it to be done.”

 “Like how much work?” She asked. “Are we talking about a complete redesign, systems upgrades or just refurbishment and replacement of damaged components? And for how many machines?”

 Khalid reached into an inner pocket on the cloak and produced a note paper.  Unfolding it, he presented it to the woman. “I estimate a full company of battlemechs, of which a handful are minor refurbishment jobs.  These were victims of extended campaign and slap-dash repairs to keep the mounts functioning.  The other eight… are unfortunately in a sorry state.  At least three will need internals decontaminated.  They were cleaned up for transport but I suspect there is still remnants of chemicals within their inner workings.”

  The woman took the paper and looked it over.  Letting out a low whistle, she took in the extensive detailed estimates of work the machines listed needed.  “Chemicals you say?” She glanced up at him and noted the patch once more. “Where were you?”


 She blinked as the connection of the patch worn and the location jogged her memory. “Ooooh… ok, I know who y’all are and yeah….” She paused a moment as she glanced at the heavy work the note showed. “Sir, I think we can help you out…  Could you give me a minute? I need to make a call to verify ability to do some of the work needed.”  At the concerned look that came over his features, she continued. “Don’t worry… I am pretty sure we can take y’all on as a customer.  Just some of what’s goingto be needed is some rare services.  And not likely available here.  Hence the call…”

 “Of course,” he replied. “I shall await an answer.”

The woman smiled and pointed at a beverage dispenser.  “Please avail yaself of something to drink and I will be with you in a minute.”  She stepped into the back areas of the office and closed the door.

Khalid stepped to the dispenser and punched up the selection for strong coffee and awaited its being brewed into the cup available.


  The woman glanced at the video screen that showed the outside waiting area and shook her head. She had heard about the Knights of the Inner Sphere and their efforts to be the Chivalric Warriors of History and Legend.  That they had managed to gain a rep for such in their history was impressive… and the reports of their being gassed in the early days of the Jihad had come out a couple years ago.  Most reports had them destroyed as a result of the gassing and subsequent campaign to eradicate them.  But one thing she had learned working here and living through the Jihad with her mom… is sometimes reports of demise were greatly exaggerated.

  It would appear that adage applied to at least *some* of those Knights.  At least this one and whomever was with him.  And she wanted to help.  Call it misplaced romanticism, crazy altruistic thoughts… or just cause the man had some awesome taste in clothing.  No matter the reason, Amelia Yoder knew what it was to survive in a bad situation and well, if these guys were who they said they were, maybe she could help another good bunch to recover from a shitty hand. The Knights of the Inner Sphere had been dealt one shitty hand, if the reports from a few years ago were true.

 Wasn’t often they got the truly deserving as customers. Most were mercs looking for simple affordable tech work and upgrades or sometimes units looking to find an edge for their machines (the Centurion and Enforcer packages were solid upgrades).  And there was a deal to be had here- she doubted Khalid and his people had the amount of C-bills necessary to fix some of the mechs on that list. And of them, at least the Albatross was easy to fix. The Decontamination work, not so much, as Mechworks didn’t have those resources here.  No one did really. Lifting the comm unit, she dialed a number from memory.

 “Richards, Its Amelia; hey… how badly does Uncle John need small units to do border work?”  A pause. “Would you believe I may have a Down on his Luck Knight who might go for it?” Another pause, this one longer. “Yeah, I know.  He seems like the real deal. He has a Dozen machines, some that should be scrapped but he wants them fixed.  We are talking about serious C-bills…. Easily 75 million in work will be needed.”

 A pause again.  “I know he could buy new… but we both know sometimes you gotta fix old stuff for principle.  Or just because who had it.  We both know Uncle John still has that Highlander for that very reasonand if these are former Knights, I want to help them….. Stop giggling, Jon.  I’m serious.”

  A lengthy pause. “Yeah well… If they are, and I think so, I am pretty sure I can negotiate a side contract for paying their bill.  Depends on how desperate they are… and if they are willing to trust us.  Get here when you can- I want a witness.”  A six second pause and  the person on the other end brought up some information for her. “Good… I will have something agreed to by the time you get here. Later!”

 Amelia hung up and after grabbing a few forms (somethings are still done in hardcopy), she exited the back area.

“Sir Knight?” She called out. “I think we can do some business here…”

 Khalid looked over from his position by the window looking outward. “Ah good…” He replied and came over to the counter. “I trust we can come to some sort of agreement”

 She nodded as she motioned to a booth location for discussion. “I don’t see why not.  And my name is Amelia…” holding out her hand, Amelia used her other one to set down the documents on the table in the booth.

 Khalid took the hand and gave a polite shake. “Khalid bin Zalas. My lady.” He sat down in the booth opposite her and awaited explanation on what was being discussed.

 Amelia sat and laid out the documents.  Pulling up a monitor screen from the end of the booth, she produced a keyboard from under the table and began to type, pulling up several screens.  Over the next twenty minutes, she laid out the exact services that were available on Galatea and what had to be done elsewhere if said service was requested.  Costs were enumerated by machine and by type of service. Of the machines in the list, the Black Knight would be in question.  While it was an older machine that had come back into use, she wasn’t aware of anyone making parts for the Classic BL-6 design. At least original specs.  Numerous upgrade packages out there- mostly to make the Royal versions of the machine.  But those were generally factory refits…

 In taking a good closer look at the list, she noted which machines were reasonable jobs and highlighted those.  The heavier damaged designs got a different highlight… and a detailed explanation as to why they would be difficult to fix or decontaminate, as was the case with Crusader. The sheer damage on that machine meant just about everywhere would require a thorough decontamination prior to a rebuild.  And a specific package would be needed as once chosen, there was limited ability to change it.

All told, after Amelia went over every line item, the final tally had come to less than she thought but not by much.  Final tally, with all the decontamination and labor, came to just under 70 million C-Bills. Add in transit costs (if they had a drop ship) and the cost rose to just over 70 million.  And she explained this to Khalid.

 Jon Richards had arrived while this was going on.  Richards, a mech pilot turned technician turned businessman, ran the office here on Galatea.  His background as both a merc and a former Solaris competitor allowed him to know what was what with the machines they saw; his background with the less-than-sterling folks on that world and elsewhere, helped him with checking on stories he was given and also leads on potential jobs. Or issues; if nothing else, the dirty side of places like Galatea, Solaris and other planets like them had some serious built-in warning systems for when odd trouble was to come calling. 

  He had used said network of contacts to verify the Knight’s story while on his way in… and to his surprise, it checked out.  They *were* survivors of battle on the former Marik capitol world and had recently managed to gain transport to here.  Based on what he was told, these guys were in some bad shape but were still carrying themselves with discipline.  At least one fight had broken out over on the C Zone pads where their Union dropship sat. What over, he wasn’t sure… but Marik boys were not terribly popular around here… but even with the hate on half of everything Marik because of the Word, the Knights should be alright there as they took it in the teeth fighting the bastards.

Operative term being ‘Should’.

Anyways, he was present here in the office as the last of the breakdown of costs were discussed and he watched the body language of the Knight.

Khalid was very calm and stoic as Amelia went over the pricing and costs associated with the repair and reconstitution of this company of Knights.  As the estimate rose, the mechwarrior had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.  Collectively, he and the survivors had managed to scrape up about half the amount of the estimated repair bill.  A substantial amount of money, none of them had factored in availability of services nor the cost of reputable labor.  And Lancer Mechworks was a well-regarded company with a deep pool.  Affordable services but for the amount of work necessary, it was proving to be a bit much.

  It would mean either sell some of the machines or go with a lower rated service.  And he had doubts on how fair a deal he would get.  Saying no really was not an option.

  Amelia enumerated the last pieces of the information.  “… so in order to completely refurb all of the machines, final cost with trusted Jump ship transport for your drop ship, you are looking at 70,9703,437 C-Bills.” She paused. “There is trade-in opportunity for gear… or financing via Contract Work.”

  At the mention of contract work, Khalid looked away from the screen and to Amelia. “Contract work? Of what kind?” He asked.

 Jon spoke up at this time. “Well… the Phoenix Lancers are responsible for Anti-Pirate and stability operations along the eastern borders of the Federated Suns, up near the Outworlds Alliance. Given the discord and instability that the Jihad has caused, along with some tensions that have sprung up from relocation of Snow Raven to Outworlds… and some new residents locally, there is a need for extra help in maintaining the peace.” He smiled.  “Think of it as the Local Sheriff is a bit hard pressed to be everywhere it needs to be, even with AFFS in the area.  Even their militias cannot be everywhere.”

 Khaled nodded. “A sound analogy.  And the Lancers are deputies?”

 “In essence, yes.” Jon said.

 “And how long would such a contract run, based on our ability to pay half of this bill… and what benefits are there for us? I will not bind us as slaves…” the knight replied. “While I do not believe you would run a Company Store action on us, we will not do this without any benefit.  I will sell machines first.”  The man was very calm but both Lancer agents could see a bit of bristling at the notion of being indebted heavily.

 Jon held up his hands. “Whoa there… Ain’t no one said anything ‘bout putting the screws to anyone here.  Contract work is an option; contractors are given appropriate lodging, benefits and good pay plus extensive tech services in lieu of salvage.  In your case, salvage rights will be a bit tight, if there is any to be had but repairs won’t be an issue.  We are mercenaries, even if we are more house than free sword lately.  We know a thing or two about a thing or two… and how much more value technical services versus salvage can be.” Jon paused. “If you are worried about getting the shaft, don’t be.  It isn’t us.”

Khalid took in this information then looked at the screen once more.  Amelia had fully explained out everything to him and the costs that were associated with getting the company back on its feet.  And the terms seemed reasonable, considering what was offered as a service for services trade. “How long is this offer good for?” He asked after a minute.

 “Forty-Eight hours,” Jon replied before Amelia could answer.  “Fast Transport to Centaurus is only to be in system for seventy-two hours… and they have a schedule to keep.”
 A nod. “I need to discuss this offer with the others.  May I have a hard copy of the estimates… and the offer?”

 Jon nodded. “Of course and I get it.  Big decision and if everyone isn’t in the know for this, tempers and all that.  Give me a minute….”  He reached over and tapped a series of keys on the terminal.  He then got up to go retrieve the document from the back printer.

 Amelia smiled at the Knight.  “Khalid, I know it’s a leap to do this, especially with how badly mauled your troops are.  But I am sure the deal being offered is better than all but two other companies might give you with similar risks. Anything less than us… well, it’s going to be a scam tried on you at some point.  Especially here…”

 The Knight sighed. “Agreed.  The other option was Hinto Koto Group; and they do not work on anything heavier than the Tempest without an upcharge…”

 Amelia laughed. “Well, you did your homework on this… smart.  HKG does good work, but they are better with light and medium class machines.  The larger battlemechs strain their crews and facilities which is why the upcharges though I’m surprised the Tempest is not an upcharge; it is a Heavy class machine after all… but eh, you did due diligence and that’s good.”

 Jon returned with the hard copy documents. “Here you go…” He said as he handed them to the Knight. “I hope your council is willing to do this. I don’t think you will do any better elsewhere for what you need and the level of work necessary to get operational.”

“I don’t think so either; so it will be a short discussion, I think,’ Khalid said. “How long is transit time on your Jump ship?”

 A smile. “Thirteen weeks.  Anyone else and you are almost double that.” Jon replied. “Which is why the small window.”

 “Duly noted…  I will be back with an answer by tomorrow morning.”

 “Good to hear,” Jon commented and offered his hand. “If agreed to, we can formalize things then.”

 Khalid took the offered hand and shook. “Very well, my friend…  I will see you hopefully tomorrow with an answer.”  Bowing to Amelia, he turned and left the office, the door chime announcing his exit.

Amelia looked at Jon. “Jon, that there is a proud man.  A somewhat beaten proud man…”

 Jon watched the Knight go and answered Amelia without turning his head. “Yep… and they have reasons for the pride even though being the beaten down.  Not every day your enemies have to cheat to drag you down… and still have to work overtime to do you in.” He glanced at Amelia then. “AS much as I wanna give you shit for the deal offered, I know they could use a leg up…”

  She nodded. “Ya… the decontamination of some of those machines will take days. Gas residue gets everywhere… and some might still be present.”

“Well… not our problem until it becomes our problem.  His fellow pilots could say no.”

“I don’t think they will,” Amelia said. “Pride has already been beaten out of them and if they want to rise again, they gotta take this deal.  I don’t think anyone else will offer better.”

Jon shook his head.  “They won’t… some of the calls were to the other companies that do what we do.  And they wanted a bit more.  Decontamination was twice our rate…  No body got time for that.”


“Yeah…. Ouch.”

Legends and Myths Thirty Five- meanwhile back home…

Lancer Operations Center

Phoenix Lancer Main Compound

Auburn Mountains, Cromwell

23 August, 3080

 Lt Colonel McCormack stood in the Operations Center and read the message for the third time.  Said message was a invitation, of sorts, sent via HPG, addressed to her from Loremaster Tseng of the Ghost Bears.  And its contents… were a confirmation of something she never truly expected- an official Invite for a Year End Celebration upon the world of Alshain within the Ghost Bear holdings in the Dominion for her as an honored guest of Clan Ghost Bear.

 Now, she had semi-expected something as the Ghost Bear Loremaster had extended a Verbal Invite when they were here over four months ago.  A reminder maybe by the end of the year, perhaps a Christmas card (not that they celebrated it but the tradition lived on even today) but not much else.  Leslie had figured the offer had been a polite gesture.  But an actual, physical message of one was not expected. Not expected at all… and here it was, in the hands of the Comstar Precentor who elected to hand deliver it.

 “I know I asked you this over the comms but you are one hundred percent sure it came from their territory?” She asked the Precentor, as she handed a datapad to a technician.  Given she was acting military commander with Tinney gone, her work never really stopped.

  “Cousin,” the precentor replied as the technician departed. “I knew you would ask and I made triple sure that the source of the transmission was verified before I even brought it over.” Precentor David McCormick was a distant cousin of Leslie’s through relations several generations ago… and had arranged posting here just before the start of the Jihad as something of a retirement post.

 A reasonable and practical man, the Precentor had been on world when the Blakists assaulted and occupied Centaurus.  An old solder, he had assisted the resistance where he could and was one of the reasons messages had managed to get off world to get help- the Precentor knew his HPG station like some marines knew their weapons so finding means to send for assistance had been possible.  It was those actions as well as the safeguarding of refugees in the Knox Mountains using his station’s escaped LvL II that had allowed him a bit of leeway on the world where the Lancers were concerned- indeed, he was one of the few members of his Order that was trusted by the Lancers.

  It was those actions during the Occupation that helped keep him here when the world was freed and as Comstar reorganized post-Jihad. McCormick used his position to ensure secure messages came and went with minimal eyes involved.  And it was that trust that allowed him to even be in the secure areas of the Compound- much less the Operations Center.

 “I can assure you that the originating station is the Alshain HPG and as near as my experts can tell, it has NOT been tampered with.  Can’t tell you if its been read by others- the encryption is Standard Confidential… which means nothing where the Blakists are concerned, of course… but it has NOT been messed with.” He replied.  “This message is unchanged from its initial transmission.  That I guarantee without reservation.”

 Leslie set the message down on the table. “Well this presents a small problem…  John is off world and I have no idea when he’s scheduled to be back,” Looking up, she made sure no one else was within earshot.  What she was about to tell him was big and not known outside a small handful outside the Lancers. “He and the Wolverine Khan are off in the Dark reclaiming fallen.  And have a means of setting up a network to message back.  They haven’t used it yet though.”

  Dave lifted an eyebrow as he reached for his ever-present pipe. “I know he left with some of their ships…. Just not where.  And message how? Those damn Black Boxes?”

  She shook her head. “No.  League Era communications buoys. Just like the Clan ones.”

 The Precentor paused in putting the pipe in his mouth. “What?”

 A smile. “Our friends hung on to the manuals and schematics over the years.  And had a few of them when they came back,” Leslie teased the info. “Not sure if they will work as advertised anymore… but the Clan versions are modeled on these.”

Dave just stared.  “Cousin…  that is dangerous information,” he said at last in a low voice. “Not even we have those and it’s been tried often over the years…”

 It was Leslie’s turn to lift an eyebrow, Vulcan-like. “Fascinating… But if you had them, I would think you would have used them.  But yes… we have some.  And at least the schematics to make more.”

 “You realize how valuable that information is?  And how damn dangerous?”

 A nod. “We do.  Which is also why the assembly site is very hidden and very protected.” She commented.  “I am giving you this information because I trust you to keep it under your hat… and not written down anywhere.”

 “Blake’s blood, Leslie!” He hissed. “You are really stretching security on that…” McCormick knew what his cousin did and who she employed.  That she told him… was either a breach of her own rules… or something else.

 “David… you are trusted.  And also not about to betray that trust.  Even Sean likes you… and you KNOW how much he has a hate for the Word and a lesser extent, Comstar.  If you were a threat to that secret, you’d not know… and likely would have a Feng Brother paying you a visit.”

For his part, McCormick didn’t blink.  He knew who the Feng brothers were…. And how much they were not simple former Cappellans. “Your aces up your sleeve?”

 “Sort of.  Argyle is my primary for removal work… Frick and Frack are contingency only.”

 “Some contingency,” The question on why she told him this… was something else. “And you obviously want quid pro quo…”

 “David… I think I already have it… and I gave you something in return for services rendered over the past few years. I’m aware of what you’ve done for us against Comstar Practices… and well, I also suspect when you retire from the Order, having somewhere to go that won’t hold your old job against you would be a nice thing to have.

  That you can’t tell anyone really about this…  is admittedly mean of me.  But you deserve to know your efforts for us were not wasted.  Nor will you be homeless if you are put to pasture.” She replied.  “We both know another re-org is coming… and despite everything, you might not be retained.”

  Dave listened to his cousin and kept his face neutral.  That she had a good idea on some of the questionable policy changes within Comstar coming was a touch annoying and that quite a few of the Old Guard, no matter their leanings, were being either moved or removed from postings was a thing.  He had used up a few favors in ensuring he was kept here instead of being moved into one of the Guard units.  He also knew it wasn’t going to last… and that there were those higher in the Order who viewed his favoritism for the Lancers with suspicion.  Those threats to his position were getting harder to avoid and he liked it here.

  Damn her….

  He answered her. “Why do I think you are working towards an offer I should strongly consider?” Dave knew his cousin fairly well and he also knew she would not have brought all this up without a reason.  He suspected that he knew the offer and the reasons… but he was not going to assume.

Another of those maddening half-smiles. “Because you know me well enough to know there is always something else in observations and offers.  I’m pretty sure you don’t want to leave here… and I’d like to have you here; outside of the Lancers, I don’t have much family. Because of that, I want you to stay here…”

 She paused. “Not that I am trying to recruit you into the Fold or anything; I don’t think mercenary life is that agreeable to you, but we are an option.

  Add in that cabin you like up on the North Slope could be gotten for a song… and well, I suppose it would be additional incentive to stay. Same goes for your Guard, should they also decide to resign their positions. As one of my juniors might say, they fought and bled here…. So they have skin in the game if stupid comes calling.” A smile.  “No answer needed as of yet… but the offer to you and to them is there.”

He nodded in understanding. “I will take it under advisement… and let the group know.  All I can do right now… and I should think there is a time limit on this offer?”

“For you, no. For the others… there is but not a short one.”

“Food for thought, Cousin.  Food for thought,” He replied after a minute. “I will let you know either way by end of the month.”

“Good enough for me,” Leslie replied. “Meanwhile, I need to figure out if this place can spare me for a few months. Diane is good but she also has her responsibilities. I also need to answer this…” She indicated the message.

“That you do,” Dave commented as he made to leave. “I will encrypt it with Precentor Level security when I send it out.”

“Thank you.”


Ghost Bear Dominion Executive Offices

Silverdale, Alshain

31 August 3080

 Loremaster Tseng looked up from her office desk when one of the Khan’s guards entered the room.  “Loremaster, the Khan sent me to let you know there has been a communication received directed at yourself from outside the Dominion.  She would like you to come to her office to discuss it.”

  “Aff” she said. “Let her know I will be there shortly… I need to finish this report.”

 “Loremaster, Khan Kabrinski said you would say that and whatever you are working on can wait,” The guard replied. “Said you would be annoyed at delaying when you learned of the contents.”

 “Oh, did she now?” Tseng commented. “Very Well then… a minute.”  The Loremaster then quickly typed in an entry and saved her work before locking her terminal. “Lead on…” She said as she got up. “Unless it is a declaration of War upon the Clan, why she needs me for a message is beyond me.”

 Tseng followed the Elemental through the halls to the Khan’s Office and was ushered in.  Within, the Khan sat at her desk and saKhan Magnusson seated off to the side.  On the desk was a hardcopy message document. “My Khan,” Tseng said as she entered the room. “You wished to see me?”

  Kabrinski nodded and lifted the message up for her Lore Master to grab. “Indeed… It would seem you have a celebration to plan, Tseng, as well as deciding what drink I owe you,” she said as the Loremaster read the reply. “Your assessment of the Spymaster of the Lancers is fairly accurate in that she would accept the invitation though she does not wish to come alone.”

  Tseng read the message then glanced up to her Khan. “Indeed.  And I am not surprised by her asking after if others may be in attendance with her.  You will recall that one of her Command Lance pilots, the wife of their commander, is a veterinary doctor? She did offer to help us with acclamation of the ghost bears we brought with us… and perhaps, assist with teaching.  As per conversations during the celebration I attended, I learned she had been a doctor for a long time.”

 “I recall,” Kabrinski replied. “And you think this would be one of those she would want to bring with her?”

 “I do,” Tseng replied. “I expect her to come with her command group; they are very tightly bonded team and work well together.  I do not believe any of them are among her spies, if that is what you are concerned about. The one who escorted me to visit with her might have been… but not her command group.”

 A nod. “I believe you,” The Khan commented as she looked over to her saKhan. “Your thoughts? Having guests of this nature is a bit unusual but we live in such times… I mean, this time last year, the Wolverines were still an ancient myth and we were still trying to resolve the after effects of the Motstånd bombing.  Which reminds me, the Watch reports that what is left of those miscreants have gone underground.  One hopes they stay there.”

 Ragnar Magnusson was quiet for a moment. “I think we need to take great pains in making sure of their being put to ground.  While your guest is not a scion of any Great House or Family, they are a ranking member of a major military command and planetary government, if I understand how the Phoenix Lancers operate on their world. Harm coming to her would be pretty serious political faux-pas… and if their commander’s wife is a victim?  I’ve read up on those mercenaries… having them as a mortal enemy would not be a good idea. And that would do it…”

 He paused. “And they have access to warships, based on the reports from Star Admiral Devon; her meeting with the Wolverine Admiral was very informative. No… if they are coming and this Kristina Tinney is in attendance alongside Colonel McCormack, we are going to have to be pretty sure of security.”

 Tseng looked at the saKhan. “I can see a desire to exact vengeance if such an event were to happen… but I do not think they would hold us accountable…”

 “No… but we are trying to build trust and alliances. I am leery of her attending due to potential cases of stupidity;” Ragnar said as he held up a hand. “I know she’s a mechwarrior and harm can happen.  But if it happens on the battlefield, that is far different than at a party when a bomb goes off. It is my only concern with their coming. If her husband was along, I’d want to ask him about a few things… I know he was part of the fighting on Strana Mechty along with portion of the Lancers during the Great Refusal; I think he was apart of a loan to the 3rd Drakons to bolster them against the Hell Horses; I’d love to verify it.  But according to that message, I do not think he is to be part of the contingent coming here.”

 Kabrinski shook her head. “Why would you send both your leaders to one place?  That his mate is to potentially be here…  I think that is solid representation enough.” She looked at Tseng. “Is she part of the decision making there?”

Tseng shrugged. “I do not think so… but she is very knowledgeable on personalities among the leadership of various elements on the world. Fairly good judge of character, as near as I can tell.  She also said if a dog does not trust a person, there is usually a very valid reason for it.  According to her, animals know perfidy.”

 A laugh. “I like her already,” Ragnar chuckled. “Too bad the Founders didn’t have one handy back then; so much trouble could have been avoided…”

Kabrinski sighed. “You are not wrong, Ragnar.  You are not wrong.”

Legends and Myths Thirty Four

Local Space, Gama 1551 system
2331hrs 30 October 3080

 As the boarding craft from the Mustafa connected with the crippled Clan battleship, the marines within them readied for stupidity.  Suits were sealed and weapons charged, the boarding parties stood by awaiting the hatch to open or bulkheads to be dropped.  That they had taken no fire on the way in was a blessing… It was highly probable that the defensive systems were down on the Du Si Wang class warship and they were incapable of stopping them.

 Or they were waiting for the boarders to invade so they could destroy them…. Then spring some sort of trap for anything afterward.  Either was possible, of course…. But with the punishment the clan warship took, the latter was highly unlikely an event.  Paid to be alert though.

  Garcia’s craft had connected with a loading door for a major cargo bay next to a fighter dock.  That no fighters had entered the battle had been a small blessing (it would have made this boarding attempt a non-starter) but that none at all had been deployed was strange.  Did they have any?  Or did the doors malfunction?  Who knew… but he and his men would find out soon enough.

  As they got closer, the craft’s engineer activated a servo arm with a specialized end on it- it was a device for hacking ships electronics for popping hatches.  Developed by technicians with the DCMS DEST commandos, said item had proven itself during Operation Bulldog and in the battles of the Jihad; Combine commandos having pulled off several hostile boarding actions of both Jump ships and at least three warships during those times.  SO it was a proven technology.  How the Lancers got it… was only guessed at.

  Garcia knew Tinney was a drinking buddy of the current commander of the Third Pesht… and likely the source of this little doo-hickey.  Either way, damn neat item that made getting on a target vessel damn easier.  And perhaps less messy.

Senior Electronics Technician Bannister was the picture of concentration as he operated the device to pop the lock.  And chuckled as he managed to open the seal.  “Ok fellas, we are in.  Get ready to go to work,” He said as the hatch opened and the assault craft moved in.  Elsewhere, other craft were hitting  their targets- beit lifeboat bays or other hatches like this one. And in most cases, the units gained entry nearly at the same time.  Once their ship was in the bay, Bannister, who now had remote control of the hatch, ordered it closed.

  The craft powered to a landing on the floor of the cargo bay and powered down.  As the bay began to pressurize, the assault craft dumped it vents and opened its own hatch to disgorge its deadly cargo.  A the Marines fanned out on the deck via mag-boots, Garcia assessed the area.  In this cargo bay was a large number of supplies… mostly general things like rations and parts for various machinery.  What kind he didn’t care.  What he did care about was getting out of this bay and into the ship proper.

  “Corporal Johns…  get your team to that door.  Cooper, take your squad and back him up.  I want us inside and securing what’s needed in a hurry.” Garcia ordered.  They had something of a floor plan for this beast… and he was pretty sure the clans didn’t change too much.  But with battle damage, who knew if the way to the bridge was intact.  Or if the bridge was in fact intact; this ship took a beating to the bow like nobody’s business.

  The two Marine fire-teams scurried for the internal hatch as the other marines of the platoon spread out to cover them and other areas of the bay.  A few observation domes within the bay could be seen, as well as ladders to hatches.  These would serve as additional means of entry once the pressure matched the internal.  That the systems were even able to pressurize was a small miracle.  It also meant (to him) whoever was in charge of the ship wasn’t right now.  Otherwise, entry into the ship would require more explosives.

  “Master Sergeant,” Lance Corporal Em Cooper called out, her soprano at odds with her armed and armored form. “Ready to breach.”

 “Do it…”

 Cooper nodded to Johns and the two teams popped the hatch and entered the passageways.  They will quickly be followed by two more fire teams.  No resistance yet… but that was not going to last long and the marines knew it.


Command Deck, CWS Mustafa
0101 hours, 31 October

  On board the Mustafa, Callihan followed the progress of the marine boarding teams, a 3-d schematic of the Du Shi Wang (now identified as the Quicksilver Mongoose) being projected in the tactical tank. The other two Mongoose Warships had surrendered to the rest of the fleet and Wolverine Aerospace fighters were deployed to round up the transport jumpships.

 Those ships were guarded by their own fighters, the one Star Lord carrying a handful of craft for defense.  These were overwhelmed by the company of Lightning fighters sent to collect the jump ships.  The Lancer Stukas backing them reinforced the notion of standing down to the Clan vessels. As soon as the fighting dies down on the surface, crews would be dispatched to secure these vessels before they attempted to jump out.  And Callihan expected this to happen…

 Right now, though, he had the boarding actions under watch.  State of Grace and Yukon had their two opponent ships under escort, one ship having surrendered without much fight presented to the boarding crew.  The vessel boarded by Yukon’s marines, the Louis, resisted the boarding parties initially, the stricken ships crew putting up a fight along with their small detachment of Elementals.  A minorly bloody affair, as only the Elementals were armored to fight enemy troops… and the boarding party had come prepared to face Elemental suits.  Shotguns firing sabot penetrator slugs and heavy buckshot did horrible things to armored troops in close range… and on a ship, it didn’t get much closer.

 After about twenty minutes of fighting, the Louis’s captain ordered his crew to stand down when it became apparent that what he had was not stopping the boarders.  Most of the vessel’s crew got the message but there were a few hold outs.  At least they were not in engineering…

The action aboard the Quicksilver Mongoose was slow and steady, with the reports of the vessel’s internal damage being mapped out on the projection.  And that damage was substantial; with collapsed passageways and buckled bulkhead annotations popping up on the projection.  However, it didn’t stop the teams from their advances.  Marine Captain Milkowski reported reaching the ship’s data core and finding it still intact with data was a small miracle.  According to his spot report, quite a few of the relays were damaged connecting it to the ship’s data-bus and it might be the only reason it was intact.

 The boarding party’s senior NCO, Garcia, had just captured the engineering section.  He reported his troops meeting only token resistance and finding quite a few injured on their journey. He also found out that the warship had carried fighters but apparently the bay doors failed.  A fortuitous event, as had the ships had their fighter compliment in play, this might have been a bloodier battle.

  Callihan refused to look the gift horse in the mouth, though.  Either this gets salvaged here or it goes back to Centaurus for it, an answer would not be determined by him.  “Communications…”


 “See if you can raise the Khan; I would like to give him an updated status personally,” Callihan replied.  “While he knows we won, I think the news on the data core is going to be important.  And something of a wrinkle in the operations plans.”

 “Sir…  I will attempt to raise him.”

Fortress Class Dropship Corregidor
0330 hrs, 31 October 3080

 Hollister looked up from the data pad he was reading when Tinney arrived at the operations center on the big dropship.  When the Wolverine Khan had asked him to come in from the line as soon as able, he’d put his Highlander into the longest sustained sprint he’d ever managed with the big machine… and Tinney was certain his tech was going to be mad at him for it.

 Neuro-helmet in hand, the Lancer commander entered the ground operations center to see the Khan point to a side conference room.  Shifting direction, Tinney went into the space and was followed by Hollister.

  Handing Tinney the data pad, Hollister shook his head. “Its an incredible bit of luck, John.  Incredible bit of luck,” he said. “Callihan’s boarding parties managed to capture one of the Essex ships intact enough to bring home and snagged what amounts to three stars of Aerospace fighters on the battleship.  According to what was pulled from the battleship’s data core, a dozen Vandal class, half of that in Sabutai and eight Batu. It seems that their flagship carried all their aerospace assets and wasn’t able to deploy them. Some sort of door fault…” A shake of the head. “Considering the age of that ship, I’m very surprised its in service.  Its close to six hundred years old…”

  Tinney glanced up at Hollister. “My friend, your warships average over three… though you had better maintenance,” He replied. “And this is some serious gear taken, even if the Vandal is a shitty omni fighter.  Still better than nothing… which is what those gents down here have.” He handed the pad back to Hollister. “We figure out a name for whomever is running this show for them?”

A nod. “We do.  The battleship commander was someone named Star Admiral Ciara Young; according to Callihan, the bridge of the Quicksilver Mongoose, which is the name of their battleship, was a giant mess.  A handful of survivors but we don’t know if she was one of them.  Listed as their ground component commander is an Oliver Osis, a star colonel.”

 Tinney blinked at the name. Naaaahhhh can’t be, He thought. “Oliver Osis?”

 “Yes” Hollister replied. “Odd name but there are many within the Clans and your own with such.”

 A shrug. “Yeah,” Tinney replied. “Just odd hearing a Jaguar blood-name anymore; Osis was one of those…”

 Hollister looked at his friend. “The Clans do try to preserve them, do they not, when clans are taken? Obviously, my clan being the exception to that.”

 “Not always; As far as I know, few of the Jag blood names are anywhere.  For all I know, the Home Clans purged them as a way to remove a reminder they all got beat on home turf. Their last Khan, who was ilKhan at the time, was a dishonorable bastard… He tried to stab Victor Davion, the leader of the effort to destroy Smoke Jaguar, in the back after he got beaten by the man during the Great Refusal. From what I was told, Vic cut off his head in reprisal.  Don’t know how accurate that was… but he’s as dead as is his clan.” John shrugged. “My friend, the Smoke Jaguars were a pretty vicious bunch and hated in the Inner Sphere for what they did in places.  From the handful of Clan officers I’ve talked to over the years, no one really was fond of the Jags. Not even their fellow murder hobos the Falcons.”

 Hollister lifted an eyebrow. “Murder Hobo?”

 A chuckle. “Sorry… idiom for someone who likes to kill indiscriminately, in their case, prisoners and captured civilians.  Seems like the Jags liked to kill for almost any excuse.  Some said they would kill a prisoner if they breathed wrong.” A shake of the head. “Really messed up… and almost every single one I ever had opportunity to talk to was an arrogant ass.  A Genetics Bigot, for lack of a better description.”

 “Sounds like it,” Hollister replied. “You say almost all…”

A nod. “Krog Dusal’s mate is a former Jag.  She’s ok and has a warped sense of humor…. Laughed like hell when I broke his jaw defending my decision on your people.”

Hollister laughed as he set the pad down. “I heard about that fight.  I would ask what you were thinking but here’s not the place or time for it.” He tapped the datapad. “What is important is this…This manifest that was pulled is for a full strike force.  Almost a retribution-oriented one.  Supplies to fix machines and the like.  We won’t have what orders they were working under for a bit yet.  Have to capture an officer who is willing to speak or crack the encrypted portions of the core.” A pause. “And why they are here right now.  As we found, no one has been here in any sizable force for two hundred years other than Us. I, like you, do not believe overmuch in coincidence. There is always a reason… even if it is rotten timing, still a reason.”

Tinney shrugged. “Heck if I know, John. But we aren’t going to find out more in the next five minutes.  Come daylight, I think we will have a better handle on things.  We stopped them cold up there and on three fronts,” he commented. “and the fourth front is stalemate.  Bloody one… but a stalemate. How’s our water supply?”

 “Good.  The secondary site is enough for needs with careful management,” Hollister said. “Though I would feel better if we did retake the primary site. I’ve a plan for it but it requires some of our power armor for that.”

 A nod. “I don’t see why not…” He replied with a yawn. “Ah pardon…”

 “No worries…  I have a quick relief rotation set up. I will be sending Major Michaeli’s company to relieve yours shortly. Major Biancone has half of his assisting Captain Whitfield and the other half supporting my Command group while I came back here.” A shake of the head.  “It will be a long few hours until Lancer Armor is in place or we get some of our aerospace down here from Callihan. I am hesitant to do that though… I am expecting more to show up.”

A nod. “Yeah… especially when nothing other than us was supposed to be here. Play it by ear, John. We have the Regimental Scouts yet too…  While they are not exactly a brawling bunch, Captain Belmont is a slippery fella as is everyone in his company. They can keep anything busy until help arrives. Use them- maybe they can find whatever rally point the Mongoose troops fell back to. We know their four groups didn’t land too far from each other so… there has to be some sort of rally point.”

 “It was a plan,” Hollister replied. “Perhaps something can be done as a counter strike… Right now, I want to rotate in damaged mechs for repair.  Faster we get more patched up, the better.”

 “Works for me…” Tinney replied. “If they have a full galaxy at their disposal, we’ve only burned through a cluster.  There is at least two more out there…”

Legends and Myths Thirty Three- the 2nd Battle of Barbados part four

 As the battle was shaping up for Major’s Hunter and Kassing, the battle on the Northern Front had just come to a head and the results plain to see.  That the clan troops saw it and elected to run… was a surprise but a welcome one.

  Hollister had changed the north side force out last second, regulating Major Michaeli’s company to backstop his force if needed as he led his company out to face the Clans.  The Wolverine Khan had realized he would set a bad precedent if he let the Lancers do all the fighting.  Granted, they were partners… and Tinney had willingly put his force on one front from the start.  But this was a Wolverine Expedition… and this was the closest place to being a sacred land for his Clan.  Therefore… sitting on the sidelines was not something that made any sense if he wanted to respect himself as well as keep the respect of the others within the clan.

  Yes, he was the overall leader of the mission… but some things had to be done.

 That thinking nearly got him killed, of course, over the course of the battle but one could not dispute the results gained.  His machine was going to need some gantry time but not as much as the Spartan would.  Or the Battlemaster, for that matter.

 AS the Clan attackers advanced, Hollister used the lake to his forces’ right as a form of barrier, ensuring the attack was only going to come from one axis.  Granted, it limited his maneuver space, but it affected theirs too.  They had to go through him… and as noted in a prior discussion with both the Ghost Bear Loremaster and Lancer tactical folks, anyone Clan was going to come right at them because of Kerensky’s 250-year-old lies.

  And seeing what was coming through the pass, the clans had brought the house. A Dire Wolf, Warhawk and Gargoyle headed up the heavier aspect of the attacking binary.  They were supported by a Summoner, Black Python, Ebon Jaguar and a Timberwolf which made up the powerful heavy core, with a Stormcrow being a roving anchor for the assault.   A Nova Cat and a Cougar made up the attacker right flank troops, the two machines being a decent compliment to one another.  Not that it helped in the end of things, of course.

The Timberwolf had skirted the left side of the clan line of advance, getting lost and tripped up in spots navigating the streams that laced the field in that area.  The rest of the clan forces came up the middle, trading a few shots with his men at range.  The Nova Cat dared him and two of his company machines into engaging him… which they did.  It was then that his own battle nearly ended, with a shot hitting a weak point in his armor and slagging a portion of the gyro.  It’s what he got for leading from the front…

 Flip side of that… was the Spartan catching the Warhawk at range and managing the same thing to it the exception being the complete destruction of that machine’s gyro. This development did not please the attacking forces and they seemed to lose their minds.  The Python had raced in and collected punishment from both Battlemaster and the Spartan.  As it backed off from its error, the Dire Wolf unloaded on the Wolverine Machines, inflicting hellish punishment.

  Both the Stormcrow and Summoner plunged into his force’s backfield, with the Stormcrow finding out why no one got in front of a Black Knight unless they were in a far bigger machine.  The clan machine earned itself the Knight’s attention as well as the ancient Thunderbolt’s, the two machines destroying the interloper as it brought low the Royal Warhammer it got behind.  The Summoner, being smarter, elected not to go as far into Wolverine lines… which likely saved it from a similar fate.

 However, as the Summoner backed out from its predicament, Hollister had managed to drop the Nova Cat with the assistance of the Thug of First Lance and his out of place Royal Crab.  Once that clan machine had been dealt with, the three of them swung out and caught the Summoner dead to rights as they cleared the trees, the Wolverine’s ignoring the Cougar as they hunted the heavier machine. In the swirling battle that developed, the Thug and Crab dropped the Summoner with a bit of assistance of the Knight.  Hollister, seeing this, then paid attention to the Cougar, making it wish he hadn’t.

  The up-gunned Pulverizer lived up to its name and scrapped the light clan machine, dropping it too in place.  However, as opposed to the damage given to the Summoner, the far lighter machine would never rise again.


  It was the incapacitation of the Summoner that really made the clan troops start retreating.  While the Wolverines had taken punishment, with the loss of the Spartan and Warhammer along with the crippling of the Battlemaster, their own losses were far more horrific.  Losing the Warhawk early hurt them as did the pummeling and repeated falls of the Dire Wolf.  But with the loss of the powerful Nova Cat, vaporization of the Stormcrow and the Black Python being used as a targeting dummy, the clan leader smartly realized he had to fall back. The death of the Cougar reinforced the need to leave.

  While he had combat power still, the numbers were not favorable.  Down six machines and with various levels of damage to the rest, the Star Captain in charge of this effort ordered a general retreat.  A retreat that turned into a rout during the retreat, as the Ebon Jaguar fell victim to these myths. 

  Seething in his machine, the Star Captain tried to figure where it all went wrong.  He would be back on this front and would see this enemy dead.  It would just take time and a Mongoose was capable of patience. Very capable of patience…


  Up in space, Commodore Callihan sat in his bridge chair observing the frenzied activity around him.  Listening to the Damage Control reports and the data being relays from Sensors to Helm, he mused over the warship battle just concluded.

Yukon had mauled her opponent, the Louis, and when it was certain she wasn’t needed to help her fellow warships, began taking on lifeboats and pods from the crippled and scuttled warship, her marines (a mix of Wolverine and Lancer) guarding the prisoners as they were collected.  Medical was tending to them as much as possible- just because one escaped a ship does not mean you are not wounded.  But the Wolverine destroyer made a point to rescue what they could.

State of Grace had mauled its opponent and the symphony of destruction wreaked upon the enemy Essex she faced was very precise.  When it was clear the Mongoose warship was surrendering, the captain of the Grace ordered the McGrath to strike her engines and standby to be boarded.

 The Mustafa came about on the stricken Mongoose battleship, the damages incurred on the big ship being extensive and judging by sensors, had rendered the warship dead in space.  Once it was certain the ship was not able to put up a fight, the commodore ordered boarding crews to man the assault ships and prepare for launch.  The marines of Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion of the Phoenix Lancers Marine Regiment, stationed on board the Mustafa, headed for the small craft bays.

  This was as much a first for almost all of them as it was for the Wolverine crewmen with them.  Only the company’s senior NCO, Master Sergeant Steve Garcia, had any experience in such- having been part of one boarding action during Operation Bulldog and another during the early part of the Jihad- and that was years ago.  But he remembered the events damn well and used his experience to make sure everything was ready.  One of the things learned was shotguns were the preferred weapon for this sort of activity; as a result he had a very liberal issue of boarding shotguns throughout the platoons going.  No one argued with a load of buckshot.

  No one.

  “All-RIGHT devil dogs,” the short senior NCO bellowed around his cigar as the men of the company formed up in the landing bay for loading onto the boarding ships, Garcia pacing the line of platoons. “This is what you been WAITING to DO… and WHAT you are PAID to DO when given the chance!!  LONG history you are living UP TO today, and By God and The Corps, YOU WILL PERFORM!!”

  Looking around at the marines standing at attention, Garcia affixed a steely gaze on all of them, his features set in stone as he chomped on the unlit cigar.  A full ten seconds passed then he broke into a smile. “Well Alright then… Y’all look like you’ll do.  Let’s get this done, eh?  There is some Clan Ass who needs explaining to that they are now Bondsmen and a ship to secure.  No casualties and the beer is on me when we get home…”

  The marines let out a loud cheer as Garcia then motioned to the boarding craft.  “Move Out!”  The waiting troops started to load into the assault ships as the Master Sergeant waited to board last.  When they got there, he would be the first out of the boarding craft on to the Mongoose ship.  Captain Steve Milkowski (his CO) wanted to be first of course…but after losing a best 3-out-of-5 session of Rock Paper Scissors, the company commander was going to be one of the LAST onto the enemy ship.

  That the battalion commander decided not to try and go on this job was good- Colonel Talamini was better than him at RPS and even if Garcia had won, the boss would have pulled rank. Damn officers…  Milkowski could have pulled the O card but he knew it wouldn’t have looked good.

  Garcia smiled at the memory of his captain’s response to losing as the hatch closed up.  Someday, Milkowski might figure out that Garcia had his tendencies at RPS figured out.  But that day was not today…


  On the bridge of the Mustafa, Callihan watched the screens and listened to the status updates.  After about four minutes, his tactical officer looked over to him. “Sir, all assault craft ready for launch.”

  The Commodore looked around the bridge once as several sets of eyes focused on him.  Time for some more history to be made…  With a deep breath, Callihan gave the order, a slight smile on his features.  “Mister Xi, the order is given.  Commence boarding actions.”

  Xi nodded and turned to the communications officer whose soprano tone rang clear through the fleet communications network.

“Attention all hands…  Away All Boarders, I say again, Away All Boarders!”