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.”
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…”