Legends and Myths Forty Four- Alshain

Ghost Bear Dominion Executive Offices

Silverdale, Alshain

0932hrs 12 December 3080

 Leslie, Shan, Maggie, Andi and Shari exited the official Aircar on to the landing pad on top of the main building that comprised the Dominion Government complex. On this day, the group of them were coming to tour the Official Museum of the Ghost Bears and to view several artifacts from the era of Exodus as well as sit in on a briefing pertaining to the Jihad.  Loremaster Tseng had invited them to do so when they were to be there for a Council Meeting.  Leslie’s presence had been requested as a visiting Dignitary (of sorts), as was the Lore Keepers. The rest… were tag-alongs for this day. Tomorrow would be different, with a trip to one of the training areas.  But that was tomorrow.

 Shari’s identity being known by more than a handful as hoped for was problematic. To the group’s knowledge, news of the Wolverine Keeper had been predominantly kept quiet by the Khan.  That of course did not preclude others from passing the information for various reasons. And of course, it did.

  The plan Kabrinski had was to introduce her during a Council Session alongside of McCormack.  When that plan got nuked out the gate, the Khan simply shrugged and said something to the effect of ‘Well if we can not be quiet, then in the open it is.’ This did create a few problems for their OWN security, as pretty much anyone who was a Lore Keeper tended to be very observant… and well, sometimes folks did not want things seen or known that would be missed otherwise.

 As they moved into the building escorted by a quintet of Elementals which had met them on the pad, the Keeper was very attentive as to their surroundings and the looks of various officials within the building.  As they boarded a pair of elevators for a rapid trip to the upper floors, she made a point to observe as much as possible and relay impressions to Andi Westerling.

 Andi was watching too, though for different reasons. The safety of Hallis was her responsibility and having the big walking slabs of meat that were Clan Elementals as bodyguards was both helpful and a touch stressful.  Kabrinski had assigned a point to them as additional security.  Their leader, Point Commander Greg, had been willing to converse with her the day before on the reasons for additional security.  And those reasons were damn valid, as far as she was concerned.

 It had come to the attention of the Ghost Bear Watch, their version of Intel and internal Security that both the Wolves and the Jade Falcons had interest in their visitors… for reasons that were likely related to the Lancer officer’s role in the repudiation of the Order for Annihilation of Wolverine.  That they knew she had been involved was not surprising, Andi mused, as weird things like an Inner Sphere Merc having sway over a Clan’s affairs was crazy to suggest.

 Then again, that Wolverine even still survived this long away from civilization was amazing crazy too.

 Given that the Wolves had an effective Watch made shenanigans worrisome and the prospect for direct action a concern.  The Falcons were more circumspect or so the Liaison, a native Rasalhague by the name of Bjorn Felthendt, had informed her.  They were more information hunters, with limited direct-action activities.  They could… but as far as Bjorn knew, the vast majority of their work was espionage centric. Then there was home grown issues, while mostly dealt with, that could crop up if they saw opportunity

 All reasons were why she was allowed to carry while in the company of Clan Officers. If nothing else, Andi was another layer of protection for Clan officials…. And as a backup in case the Watch missed someone coming for the Lancers.  Or, most likely, coming for the Wolverine Keeper.

 Andi had her doubts on them trying to snag Hallis; too high profile but decidedly a rich target for prestige.  Talk about a conundrum…  Having been part of the personal protective services scene for a bit, she knew high profile meant nothing when it was a cultural or super pride thing.

And a Wolverine was a target for both. Andi was damn good at her job.  But help was always nice.  Especially competent help.

Once the Elevators reached the destination floor, all parties exited at the same time and reformed into the order they had been upon entering the building as they walked to the building’s small amphitheater. On this floor, Andi spied at least three plain-clothes security sorts on the way to the room. Nodding to herself, she was a bit more confident in things. At least for now.

She just hoped Kristina’s security detail was as good as promised.

Tseng-Jorgenssen Nature Preserve



 About the same time the others were arriving for the Council Meeting, Kris was up in the far north of the continent at a nature preserve.  Back when the Ghost Bears had visited Centaurus, Loremaster Tseng had semi-crashed the promotion party for Leslie.  In doing so, it gave all of them a chance to talk and in some cases, bond some as women and warriors.

 It was during this party that Kris’s main profession was learned of and Tseng had expressed interest in having her also come here to Alshain to see one of their Totem animals… and offer a different set of eyes as to how well the animal was adapting to the new environment.  That they had been here a few years already gave the Science Caste plenty of data to study but having someone of Kris’s formal training in strictly Veterinary Sciences would serve as a check on their efforts.

  Among the very practical medical members of the Caste, they knew that they didn’t know everything… and when the Loremaster indicated Kristina would be coming to both learn about and help them with gauging the ghost bear’s adaption to this world, there had been both elation and resistance. The elation of another viewpoint of a well-trained doctor that was separate of the Clan was welcome While perhaps not as good a fit for knowing the nitty-gritty of the genetic side, her practical field experience in the clinical and the field (a brief stint working at the New Avalon Zoo had been mentioned) was something many who specialized in the Nature side of things wanted that perspective.

  The Resistance against it was that she was NOT of the Clan or even one of the Rasalhague Republic civilians that also worked with animals. Some were not happy to have another person looking at their work, especially one who was not from here.  But it was pointed out that sometimes diplomacy and politics were necessary… and maybe she could offer an additional resource.

 The Loremaster had brought up this trip the day before as something to do while the politicians spoke and Kris jumped at it.  She hated dry political and bureaucratic craziness…. And this would be an adventure she could not pass up.  Then Point Commander Greg had introduced her to her Elemental security for the trip, this one blood named and with an unusual interest for a super-soldier.

 Star Captain Cassandra Vong had been a member of the Khan’s Alpha Galaxy and its First Bear Guards when she had been requested by the Khan for special work.  Being the loyal Clanswoman, she stepped up without a thought.  When told she was to be guarding a visiting dignitary, she had been a bit sad at such duty for one such as her.  As more about the visitors became known before they arrived, she was both honored and curious as to why her and not one of the more senior among the Bear Guards.

  It had been the Loremaster who explained the reasons to her.  Cassandra’s interest in animals, her performance in the Clan’s decathlon, her earning her Bloodname…. And also her very successful Clawing Ritual were all factors… but her strength of Character won out.  As the Khan and the Loremaster had explained to her, the visiting dignitary was a Doctor of Animals first and a warrior second… and Cassandra’s side interests would be a point of joint interest and also show there was more to a Ghost Bear warrior than war.

 “Besides,” the Khan had said with a smile, “It may even serve to broaden your horizons. I am told there is an Elemental who is a field medic among their people… and accepted despite who she is. Perhaps Warrant Tinney can help give you additional understanding to go with your own interests.  And If you choose to learn this discipline, I will support it.”

 That the Khan had encouraged her interest and learning from this Mercenary… was odd but it did intrigue her. A Doctor, even among Elementals, was unheard of in the Clans where the Warrior Caste was concerned. But given Ghost Bears try to be more than just what they were, perhaps it was possible here.

The two had hit it off, especially after Cassandra had asked a few questions about veterinary medicine. It pleased Kris to no end to have something she knew about to speak on… and the two hour flight to the preserve had not been boring.  The dogs had taken to the Elemental as well, with Oreo insisting on getting on the warrior’s lap.  Good thing Cassandra was an elemental- mastiffs were not lap dogs to anyone normal sized.

 The reception at the preserve by its scientists had been polite and full of discussion about both the ecology of the area and the specifics of ghost bear etymology and their behaviors. A lot of science was involved in the discussions which admittedly Kris was not super strong in… but when getting to behaviors and health issues, was more than able to hold her own with these specialists. During the discussions, the dogs either followed her around or settled down in a corner out of the way like good guards.


When the arrival of the lancer contingent had happened, various parties had taken notice.  Members of the various rival clan Watches had personnel here on Alshain and all had missions to observe the visitors.. especially with a Wolverine among them.

 However, the commander of the Clan Wolf team, had a different set of orders.

The Khan of Wolf had been furious over the revealing of Nicolas Kerensky’s words from his private book- he would deal with the Exile’s Khan later for that… but without ability to go after the mercenary command that had started the ball rolling where it had gone, he would bide his time and wait for opportunities to strike.  The visit by members of that Group was greeted as opportunity for retribution… and he ordered his Watch to attempt to take one or more of them.  There would be repercussions for the mercenaries… either from Clan Wolf or from another who felt as he did about the entire affair… for what they did. And he knew if it failed, Wolf would pay a price but he was prepared to pay it. What had been done could not go unanswered.

 Once it had been confirmed that these mercenaries were coming, the order had been given to attempt to grab one of them if opportunities were present. Mind you, the Star Captain in charge of the detachment thought this idea was insane at first, knowing the level of security likely… but the feeling was if one of them could be kidnapped, more answers on how the Ghost Bears and the Snow Ravens had been convinced that The Father had duped the Founders would become known. So when news of one visitor was going to be separate of the main party cropped up, he rapidly laid on a mission to capture her.

 Crazily enough, it looked like it would be doable when the destination was learned. The Tseng Jorgenssen facility was not exactly the most secure location, being a Science Caste and Interior Department location.  The Preserve was not a military location and would not have much in the way of defenses or security personnel which meant the team did not have to be large.

 Four members of the Watch detachment were selected and dispatched early in the morning before the storms that usually abused the surface of Alshain started up for the day.  All were capable agents and were armed with tranquilizers and small arms for the possible firefight that could happen. Direct Action was not a normal op for them, especially on a rival clan’s planet. But these were strange times… and each of them were very capable of such activities.

 Given expected resistance would be limited to a handful of guards, this should be a cake walk. No one expected serious resistance from the Science caste on location.


 “… so you are saying the ghost bears have adapted thoroughly here?” Kris asked as she looked over the data on the screen before her. “I mean, I read about the difficulties in domestic animals on new planets and breeding them.  Even during the heyday of the League, they still had questions as to why animals thrived in one place and didn’t in another despite similarity in climate. Like everyone else, I’ve theories that have been borne out a few times and rendered mute in other.  I give you the example of equines…”

 The Science Caste member she was speaking with, Kevin Mulcahy, was a native of Alshain and had become a member of the Ghost Bears science cased early on. “Exactly.  One of the things that Clan Science has managed, something that was initially an outgrowth of the Eugenics crafting of the early days of the League and since with the Warrior programs of the Clans has helped immensely.  I can’t say that we have completely mitigated difficulties with adaptation, but the transplanting of the Ghost Bear to here has worked.  Perhaps better than expected, considering how peculiar our weather is.”

 Laughter. “Kevin, the weather here is insane…” Kris replied. “The flash storms are pretty, but man….”

Kevin shrugged. “I know.  They are fierce and unpredictable…. But they are ours.” The scientist turned and picked up a cup of coffee. “So would you like to see a cub?”

Kris blinked. “What?”

A smile. “Yes… part of the breeding program involved a process similar to how the Elementals and the Warriors are born and raised initially.” Kevin pointed at Cassandra over on the side of the room who had been listening. “As you can tell, they are quite successful in their use. Star Captain, you were birthed from one yes?”

 Cassandra Vong nodded. “I was. I do not regret being birthed in that fashion but I do find the entire process where it can be used for non-sentient animals to be interesting. One would think that there would be differences.”

 Kevin shook his head. “The process is not too different. Humans are still animals, after all… so their use for other than human is not a stretch.” A pause. “So an ‘iron womb’, as its referenced often enough, was used to help transplant and birth the ghost bears here.  We still use them with helping the breeding along… though we tend to go the natural route with animals.  The wombs are used for emergencies with our charges, if needed. We happen to have one nearly ready to be removed from the cradle, if you are interested in seeing.”

 Kris grinned like a nut. “Oh absolutely!” she said. “I’ve never seen such a device and seeing a neonate ghost bear in one will be a treat. I can-“

 The sound of a small explosion from the front of the facility and Cassandra shifted position. The explosion, while small, should not have come from the direction it did.  As she moved to cover the door to the lab, it kicked open.

 In the doorway, an armored figure appeared and snapped shotted a dart gun at the Elemental.

 Cassandra attempted to dodge out of the way of the shot but given the restrictive space of the lab, she was not quite successful. The dart impacted her in the shoulder and after a second of realization, the Elemental trooper knocked the dart out and went to shoot back at the attacker when its contents took hold.  Collapsing in place the trooper fell unconscious.

 Kevin, for his part, acted quickly and snatched up a sprayer. “Ms Tinney, get back!” He hollered and activated the sprayer in his hand even as he produced a lighter.

The attacker in the doorway avoided the gout of flame that Kevin sent his way and fired his dart gun a second time.  This one struck Kevin full in the chest and dropped him within seconds.

 Kris, having ducked down, reached into her small bag she had brought with her.  There was no weapon in it but there was an anti-narcotic injector. It was something she carried as a matter of course because even it worked on animals. She had forgotten it had been in her bag prior to the trip and had left it there after finding it because You Never Knew.

 And now, it was gonna be needed.  As she scrambled towards Cassandra, she called out to the dogs. “Trixie! Oreo! Hujum!!”

 The two mastiffs, having stayed out the way when events started, responded to Kris’ command with gusto. They had been trained to respond to her commands in either ancient Greek or Arabic, neither language being all that common which helped keep their training secure. But both dogs, in their well-trained minds, knew if certain commands were said, it was time to go to work.  Usually, it was Guard or Defend commands.  Only one other time Kris had them attack- it had been a Blakist Assassin that had tried for John shortly after he had returned from the operation on Rio four years ago.  Both dogs had been lavished with praise then…
 Dogs were simple creatures at times… but they did have good memories.  And even though it was four years prior, Oreo remembered that night the fear in his mistress’s voice…. And when he heard the mix of fear and anger in her voice now, he responded with cold feral snarl.  Trixie was right with him- following her brother’s lead.

The attacker in the doorway never saw the dogs coming until they were in midair and was unable to stop the death coming for him.

 Oreo’s initial bite caught the trooper’s arm that had risen to try and block his attempt at the throat. Trixie’s attack caught the other arm and both dogs, their jaw strength more than adequate to puncture the ballistic cloth and light armor worn by the man, savaged the arms they had and moved their slashing teeth elsewhere on the man.

  The trooper screamed in pain and fear as he dropped the weapon he had in hand and tried for the pistol on his side, the two dogs biting and clawing at him as they followed their owner’s command.

Kris reached Cassandra and checked to see if she was still breathing.  Noting that she was, the Lancer produced the anti-narcotic dose and once verifying she had it set right, applied the antidote to the downed Elemental, using the full contents of the double size injector.  Considering how large Cassandra was, Kris felt using the full thing was the best call.

 Picking up the pistol that the elemental dropped, she stood up in a crouch. Seeing the absolute mauling the dogs had already done to their attacker, she called them off. “Oreo! Trixie! Ainqatae! Atrukh!”

 The two dogs backed off after she commanded them a second time.  Their blood was up but their training was sound as they retreated back three feet, low growls being a reminder to the trooper that they were still present. Not that he could do much other than moan in place.

At this point, an alarm was steadily sounding in the facility and there were shouts elsewhere in the complex.  About a minute after the antidote was applied, Cassandra woke up with a start and immediately looked around.  Seeing Kris with the weapon in hand and the bloody attacker by the door, she instantly assessed the situation. “My apologies, Kristina,” she said with annoyance at herself. “They should have missed me.”

  Kris snorted, her emotions running the gamut of elated to have had the right stuff to bring back Cass from her forced snooze and scared as shit if more came through the door- she was no grunt and was only proficient with firearms. “AS my husband would say, dumb shit happens and you can only do so much when it does,” she said to the elemental. “And this…. Is some dumb shit. It’s not like you were expecting to get tranq’d like some bear,” The choice on comparison was humorous and noted after she said it. “You able to fight?”

Aff” the level of anger in the short response answered the question with gusto. “This was bold… and there will be a response here quickly.  The preserve is an important site,” She accepted the pistol back with a nod of thanks. “And there will be repercussions.  For the attack here alone- though I suspect they were after you.”  Seeing Kevin’s form on the ground nearby, she asked. “Do you have anything to assist the Scientist?”

“No…” Kris replied as she shifted to grab a scalpel from a small kit on a table. “I only had that because I forgot it was in my bag until I was on my way here…”

 The Elemental nodded as she moved to check on the moaning attacker and removed his pistol from his hip. “Unfortunate….” Was her comment. Cocking an ear, she continued. “It sounds like there is no more shooting…”

 Kris listened too. “Yeah… though is it real or Memorex?”  At the quizzical look from Cassandra, she continued.  “Sorry… an idiom.  Means is it really what it sounds like or a fake, a copy.  In this case, is the attack really over or is it a lull…”

Cassandra nodded. “Aff… I get it.  And that is a question.” Reaching into a pouch on her weapon belt, she produced a communicator. “Time to notify the local authorities where we are.”


Ghost Bear Council Chambers


 “… Our files from back then are complete,” Shari Hallis stated as she spoke on historical matters to the Council, her voice clear and confident. “One of the directives was for preservation of data and knowledge as it was understood that a return to the Inner Sphere would possibly needed.  We are aware of the raid into Combine Space in 2825 by what may have been a splinter fleet of our Clan and despite their last known location in 2826 in Federated Suns space, we never saw them and have no idea where they may have gone.”

 “Since we have returned to the Inner Sphere, I have worked extensively with the various Lancer Archivists and with assistance, hunted through what data they have maintained since their settling of Centaurus and operations in the area.  Their records, while remarkably complete, also do not have much in the way of additional informa-“

 As she spoke, the various security personnel within the chamber began to move as one leaned over to the Khan. All within earshot clearly heard her mutter some choice invective as she stood. “The building is being locked down- there has been an Incident up at the Tseng-Jorgenssen facility…” She reported as she stared directly at Colonel McCormack. “Unknown casualties at this time and Security forces are responding. I will know more as soon as it comes in.  Meeting is adjourned until more is known.”

Leslie looked around at everyone in her party then back to the Khan, saying nothing.  Kristina had been slated to be up there at this time and having an incident there… was not good.

 Point Commander Greg stepped up next to Leslie. “Colonel, if you and the rest of your companions would come with me…” He said and motioned them all to follow.

 Les stood as did the rest of the group.  Falling in behind the Elemental, they were led to a side door which took them to a Service elevator where they were whisked upward to a floor some ten above where they had been.  Exiting, they were met by a full Point of armored Elementals who boarded after they got off and took the lift back down.

 Greg led the party through the hidden passage to a well-appointed office where he turned to the Lancer officer. “Ma’am, the Khan informed me prior to the start of the meeting to bring you all here should anything odd happen during the Council meeting. She had a feeling something would happen, based on the chatter the Watch had discovered before you arrived on the world.”

 She looked over at Andi, who shrugged. “Greg and I discussed… and this office is about the most secure in the building next to Environmental and the weapon lockers.”

 “I see.” Leslie commented then looked at the Clansman. “How long?”

“I do not have that answer… but hope to have something shortly.” Was his reply.

Shan, who’d been quiet the entire time finally spoke. “May the gods help those mother fuckers if she got hurt… cause I damn sure won’t.”  The dark-haired pilot, the most violent of the four of them, let her anger show. “And I need a smoke…. Gah!”

Greg pointed at an ashtray on a side table.  “Khan Kabrinski entertains smokers on occasion. I believe she will allow it, under circumstances.”

Without a word, the woman moved to the seat next to the table and promptly lit up.

Leslie who did not smoke… was contemplating it herself.  Maggie stood over on the side of the room looking out a window, fretting quietly while the Keeper took everything in.

And the wait began.

Legends and Myths Forty Three – Alshain

Ghost Bear Military Landing Field

Silverdale, Alshain

0921hr 10 December 3080

 The Sebastian Everest glided in towards the landing field at Silverdale flanked by a pair of Kirghiz heavy Omnifighters.  As the ship readied to land, the fighters banked away and left the aerodyne drop ship to finish its low power landing routine.  As the transport finished touching down, a small hovercraft came racing out and positioned itself ahead of the ship, a Follow Me sign on the craft’s rear.

 As the two vehicles moved towards the main hangars, the passengers of the Everest could see the security measures in place around the facility as a whole.  And they were substantial.

 “Dunno, Les…” Shan Yoder said as she looked out. “Think they are looking to impress you? Seems like a lot of ass showing for a simple visit.”

 Colonel Leslie McCormack thought on that. “Maybe…  In theory, this could be construed as a State Visit of sorts.  That, they may have had problems as of late with saboteurs or this is a normal state of affairs.” She commented. “If this is to impress me, I’m kind of flattered.”

Kris Tinney petted her mastiffs who were in the open transport cages next to her room’s jump couch. “John has said the Clans are a pretty martial bunch- its who they are. So this could be normal. If its to impress us, seems a bit over the top.”

Maggie Farquharson, ever practical, commented. “Who cares? If its normal, cool. If its supposed to flatter us, cool.” She said. “All I know is I would like off this ship and access to REAL food… I can do only so much with the provisions we had.”  The woman was an excellent chef and having to work with military fare had tested both her ability and taste buds.  The chorus of laughter that answered her gripe brought a smile to her face- she meant what she said but had hoped it had come across as funny as it seemed to her when she said it.

Andi Westerling was already up and moving in the passageways. “I’m with Ms Farquharson; I would like something more tasty than what hot sauce can spice up,” she said straight faced. “Colonel, this is your reminder about security arrangements; don’t know how well they will tolerate my being armed around their commanders.”

 Les answered Andi. “I will address it as soon as I can. Considering clan martial proclivity, I don’t think it will be too much an issue, but I will make sure. Shari, I’m pretty sure no one will say much about your sidearm but then… it’s a museum piece and they might think it is for show.”

 Lieutenant Shari Hallis, the Wolverine Lore Keeper with them, laughed slightly nervously. “Seriously?”

 “Seriously,” Andi answered. “The Colt Firearms Company went out of business in 2987… Outside of the Clans and the Wolverines, you don’t see many of them anymore. Much less fully functional.”

Shari thought on that. “Is that why you want to buy this when we go back?”

“Absolutely. I’m not McCoy with his luck at looting museum pieces,” Andi’s honest answer caused some chuckles from the others who knew of the Blood Spirit Spectre officer. “And if I can get one for a reasonable price, I will do so.”

“I see…” Shari mused. “Captain Westerling, I might be able to help you with that; my actual brother is the Arms Master for the clan. I’m pretty sure he might have a pair of them that could be acquired.”

“That would be sweet.”

A voice came over the dropship soundsystem. [Colonel McCormack, we will be stopping shortly. Looks like a reception party is waiting for you. Not terribly formal…]

Leslie answered Chief Smith, knowing he would hear her. “Chief, then we are overdressed. I’m not worried and it won’t be the first time I’ve worn the wrong uniform.”

[Understood Ma’am.  Disembarking in three.]


 On the ground outside the military hangar that the Everest rolled to a stop in front of, the five figures who stood just inside the door stepped out and waited.  Khan Aletha Kabrinski stood clad in the clan’s Working Uniform alongside her Loremaster Laurie Tseng and Star Colonel Lebowski. Two unarmored Elementals also stood with them as visible security.

 Unseen in the area was several teams of Hunter Class Elementals, who were responsible for making sure nothing up-ended this meeting.

 It had come to the attention of the Ghost Bear Watch that the pending arrival of their guests had leaked to various parties here within Dominion Space and at least to the Jade Falcons.  None of that was good news where security was concerned but it did remind the Ghost Bears that not all was well here, despite how well integration was progressing.

  The next four weeks would be an interesting time for them all, the Khan thought to herself as the passenger door opened up on the now stopped dropship.

 Exiting first from the Lancer Dropship was one of its Crew, who ensured the ship-deployed passenger ramp was fully extended.  About thirty seconds later, the first of the Lancers exited their craft.  In the lead was the one she was told was Colonel McCormack, the instigator of the events that led to the Repudiation of the centuries-old Order for Annihilation of Wolverine.  Following her, based on the images the Loremaster had provided, was McCormack’s Exec, Shan Yoder followed by the wife of the Lancer leader Kristina Tinney. She was flanked by two beautiful Mastiffs, who showed their immense discipline in seeming to ignore their new surroundings.

 Following them was Margaret Farquharson then one she did not know. Bringing up the rear was the commando that had been Tseng’s escort on Centaurus, Captain Westerling. All wore the Lancer Dress Uniforms she had seen pictures of, close variations of the former Star League uniforms that sat in Clan museums.  As they got closer to the Clan contingent, Kabrinski was able to make out the difference in patches upon the unknown member of the contingent and was surprised.

 “Tseng…” She growled lowly and the Loremaster answered.

 “I expected one of them. I did not expect who it was to identify themselves openly.”
 Kabrinski nodded. This was either a challenge to her and Ghost Bear Hospitality… or showing complete trust in the Word of the Bear.  One was rude, the other an honor…. And she elected to think the latter. In any event, it was time for niceties. Discussions between Warriors would come later.

 Stepping out in front of her Officers, Kabrinski waited until the Lancers were ten feet from them. “Greetings Colonel McCormack, and welcome to Alshain.” She called out to them.

 Leslie paused in her stride and responded to the Khan. “Many Thanks, Khan Kabrinski,” She replied, seeing the rank on the uniform which confirmed her suspicion. “I and my companions are honored to be here for your End Of Year celebration. Granted, we are a bit early for it but the trip went easier than expected.”

 The Khan smiled. “And a Long Trip it was too; Please come enjoy our Hospitality inside…” She said. “While we of Ghost Bear are not used to receptions such as you held for us on your world, we do know their importance and function as Ice Breakers…”

 Leslie chuckled. “Khan Kabrinski, I will confess we had to scramble hard to accomplish what we did for Loremaster Tseng and company. Helps we had a bit of practice with Regimental Dining Outs so I suppose we had an edge there,” She said. “I am sure it will be fine; the reputation of Family that the Bear has will more than make up for a lack of practice.”

“Then let us get out of the open air and into somewhere a little warmer,” The Khan said and motioned for the Lancer Contingent to follow.  As they moved, Kabrinski queried her visitor. “Do those monsters by Warrant Officer Tinney require anything specific?”  The name drop showed that the Bears had done their homework.

Kris answered. “Other than perhaps actually finding some grass for them to roll in and maybe go potty…” She said as she clucked once at her dogs who maintained position with them. “They can eat normal canine food or something with a lot of protein. These two eat like Elementals…”

 One of the elemental guards raised an eyebrow at that in amusement. It was a big pair of dogs so who knew if she was kidding.

Kabrinski laughed. “Once we are in the conference room, I will have someone fid a suitable spot close for you to take them.” She said. “Actually, I will do that now. Point Commander Greg, please see to this..”

 The elemental who had been amused looked over to his Khan. “As soon as possible, My Khan.”

 The party arrived at the room; a large storeroom that had been obviously converted into a conference chamber within the Hangar. Several Monitors had been set up of to the side of the room, with images of the area surrounding the Landing Field.  On the table, a rather large one, place settings were set up and down the center of the table were several large bowls or platters of food.  It was decidedly a Family Style dining set-up, with two stewards present off to the side. Point Commander Greg left them at the door and began checking on a suitable location for the two dogs.

 Loremaster Tseng took up some of the hosting duty here, as this had been her idea. “My Friend,” the older woman said. “Please be at ease in here.  You and yours are our guests… and I’m hopeful nothing here will give anyone ills. Any questions as to what the foods are will be answered.” A smile. “I suppose one of the benefits of our Genetics is few of those born to the Clans have allergies…”

 Kris piped up here. “Well… I have one.  Lactose.” She said. “Leslie has issue with Pork product and Maggie doesn’t do well with shellfish. Shan has issue with Mushrooms and that’s it.” A chuckle. “Sorry… but being the resident doc in our party, even if usually for animals, I kind check this stuff by reflex. These two… have zero issues.”  The two dogs she referred to had sat next to her like the guard beasts they were.

 Kabrinski smiled. “I see and you do your profession proud, Warrant Tinney.” Glancing to the unknown member of the Lancers, she continued. “If I may, who are you, Lieutenant?”

 Hallis steeled herself.  On the long trip, she had gone over everything she knew about the Old Order of Annihilation, the part that Ghost Bear had played in it and picked the hell out of Colonel McCormack’s brain about what to expect.  While Lancer Archives were solid, they didn’t have a lot on the Clans; just whatever had been able to be obtained over the years…. And that data dump Tseng had given them. Which was *still* being gone over.  But as all of the Lancer officers had said, be honest if questioned.  The Truth was the Truth, no matter what some might say.  And if the Bears were truly following what they say, then she will have no issue. At least with their command structure.

 “Lieutenant Shari Hallis, Ma’am. I am one of the Lore Keepers, or Archivists, of Clan Wolverine.”  There, she said it.

 Within the room, while Kabrinski’s eye twitched, the responses of the other Ghost Bears within the room varied. Lebowski didn’t show anything and neither did Tseng.  The Elemental still in here flinched as did the stewards…. Either at her last name or that of Wolverine, she didn’t know.  But well, it was now out there.

Kabrinski nodded after a moment. “Well Met, Lieutenant,” she said. “Then let me extend a specific welcome to you then…. And convey both Official and Unofficial Sadness at the part our Founders played into the events back then.  Contrary to the belief of some, Both our founders were not happy over what was done… and participation reluctant even when forced. At least that is what is contained in their writings from the time.”

Shari swallowed once. “Ma’am… I will be certain to relay your words to my Khan when I return home.”

Kabrinski stared at the Wolverine officer for a good ten seconds then looked around the room. “Please, everyone take seats and relax some,” She said. “I am also going to recommend we forgo Ranks or Titles for now.  This is supposed to be a friendly get together and not a Diplomatic Conference…. Besides, if it was a diplomatic conference, we would be in a hotel somewhere in the city.  Perhaps more comfortable but less…. Familiar to warriors such as us.”  The words sounded weird to her as she said them, the idea to lose titles being Lebowski’s when they discussed this entire reception.

 He had suggested it after observing the comfort level between the Lancers in their less formal settings and thought it might help lessen the tension that would be all over. Tseng had agreed and had commented how relaxing the promotion party she had attended had been…. And the level of bonding she had attained with her counterpart through that simple gathering.

 So, she ran with the idea.  And strangely enough, even though saying the words had seemed odd to her, it was as if a bit of weight had lifted.  Something to be said for semi-informal parties, she guessed.

 As everyone sat down, Point Commander Greg returned and stepped next to Kris, who had just sat down. “Ma’am… I have it on good authority there is a sizable patch of grass on the far side of the strip of hangars that should work for your companions.” He said with a smile to her.

 Kris looked up at the super-soldier and smiled. “Sounds good…” She said and grabbed a biscuit from one of the bowls. Looking over to Leslie, she got a small nod then she stood. “Let’s get this done, I’m hungry but I am sure the kids really gotta go.  Trixie, Oreo…”

 The two dogs, both stood with their mistress and accompanied her as she followed the Elemental. This was a strange place with strange sniffs…. No Bad sniffs on the humans encountered.  A few scared ones but no Bad.  Both dogs knew the scents of someone looking to cause harm to their pack… and even in this place of weird smells, their doggie brains noted similarity to the two legs at home.

As Kris left the room with the dogs, Shari reached into the satchel she had brought in with her. “Ma’am…” She said as she addressed the Khan. “I do have something for you from my Khan and it is hoped you are able to find somewhere suitable for display. If you find it appropriate for such, of course.”  Removing the wrapped item from her bag, she handed it to the Ghost Bear Khan.

Kabrinski accepted the wrapped item and began to unwrap it.  Contained within was a carved from walnut wood statuette of the Wolverine Totem, the creature standing on a rock that contained both symbols of Wolverine and Ghost Bear upon it.  The Khan was impressed by the work on the piece and how well the symbols of both turned out.  She did not know where she would display it… but she did know it was not going to be placed in a box in a closet.  This had to be someone’s Great Work or something close to it; it really was gorgeous.

 “Oh my…” She said then looked at Hallis. “My very sincere thanks for this gift… and I can only say I will treasure this. I have no idea where to put it… but it will not be hidden away. I promise you that.”

 Hallis smiled in relief. This had gone better than expected for which she was very thankful.  And for the first time, she didn’t mentally curse Kosh for sending her.

 Setting the statue on the table in front of her, Kabrinski looked around and noted everyone was now eating and engaged in small talk, with the closest seated to her being the Lancer Commander’s wife (who was out with the dogs) and the Wolverine Keeper.  Considering she knew so little about the former Not Named Clan, she took the opportunity to engage the Keeper in conversation. If nothing else, in addition to broadening her own understanding of them, it should help relax the young Lieutenant.

 Kris eventually returned with the two dogs and the Elemental, joining in on the conversations going on around the table. She noted how relaxed the energy was… and the happiness she could read from the five different spirits she sensed watching what was going on. To her, that was a good sign and cemented the notion coming here was a good idea.

In the back of her mind though…. There was a nagging feeling of trouble brewing. And she just could not shake it. She made a note to discuss it later with Les and the girls; maybe one of them might have an idea why it was there.

Legends and Myths Forty Two

Transient Barracks Delta One at Area Amalisar

 Lancer Combat Training Facility

Three Kilometers North of Crossroads, Ashton

2345hrs, 23 November 3080

  The courtyard area of the Barracks was mostly empty as one of the residents of the building entered it.  The very pale-skinned slim woman, with long jet-black hair pulled into a pony-tail, stepped into the area and looked around.  Noting the emptiness of the area, she smiled and moved over to a point in the center of the courtyard as she took a leather satchel off a shoulder.  When she reached the center of the space, she knelt down and removed a small blanket from the bag and laid it out on the ground.

 Pulling a few more items out of the bag, she set them down next to her and began to put together a small incense burner.  Once assembled, she set it in the middle of the blanket and then proceed to place a bit of incense in it.  Once done, the woman pulled out a small lighter and lit the contents of the burner.

  After the incense began to smolder, she then proceeded to sit down and remove her knee-high combat boots and set them to the side, allowing her feet to luxuriate in the grass.  Loosening the ponytail, the woman shook her hair loose so it fell down across her shoulders and settled down to a cross-legged position.  She then reached into her top and pulled out a necklace with a snowflake obsidian raven pendant attached and began to massage it in her hand, warming the stone of the pendant.  When it was warmed by her hands, she let it fall against her chest and began to meditate.

  She sat there for about ten minutes when the door opened, and another person entered the space. This person, a rather tall male with grey close-cropped hair, took a moment to orient himself in the low-lit area and started towards her.  As he got closer, the woman spoke, her eyes still closed. “Yes, Lurch?”

The man stopped when she called out his name. “Ravyn, are you certain this is the place for this?” He said. “I still am concerned over the acceptance of those here. I do not trust their openness. Not with those Marik Knights about.”

 “We are safe here,” Ravyn, the leader of Ravyn’s Reign, replied quietly. “Our hosts… are rather accepting of faiths here.  I have no concerns…” She paused. “And nor should you.”

 Lurch shook his head. “Ravyn, I understand your Ancestors told you this is the place we need to be but showing our beliefs in public is not something I think we should be doing here.  There are far too many Mundane here that may not understand. Too many times, people say one thing and do another… I do not believe they will be accepting of one who follows the faiths we do.”

A chuckle. “I get it… but there is nothing here that shows our beliefs will cause us ill. The one who greeted us here openly wore Mjolnir on his neck.”

“The Norse are far more accepted than most old Terran faiths,” He replied. “Why do you think those of the old Indian would be? I do not believe conducting ceremony in the open will be allowed or accepted… nor will any warning be listened to.”

Ravyn signed then turned to look at her fellow pilot. “Lurch… I understand you are worried… and I would be too if I thought our employer had a reputation for being bigoted or overly hyper religious. When I met their representatives on Galatea, I mentioned the need for places to practice our faith.  Their rep was very clear on the Lancers being open about respecting religion.  The only question she had for me was if we had any of the Thugee among us. And I get why.”  She paused. “Anyone who has seen what they have done would be… and we have none.  We will be fine here… And my Ancestors assured me that we were going to the right place…. And would be where we need to be for the Storm that is coming.”

Lurch sighed. “I do not doubt that, mistress.  What I doubt is will we still have their trust if the Storm arrives and shows itself.  This world has had bad experience with the Fanatic… and some of us are borderline with our faiths. I agree we need to be here, all among us have had signs shown to us on what may be coming.  But now that we are here, there are doubts that we need to be here.”

Ravyn leaned back as she turned to stare at the smoldering incense. “I have them too, Lurch. I do… because if the ancestors are right, there will be great amounts of betrayal when the wave arrives. But my guides tell me it will not be from those who brought us here… We will be part of the reason the Storm does not overwhelm this world.”  She went silent for a good minute as she let her words sink in to her companion. “Speaking of those outside of us, what of those groups also here?  Was Natasha able to figure out who is here?”

Lurch answered her. “She has… and it is what she learned that has me concerned. She said the loyalties of some of the other groups here are suspect… and fears we may be grouped with those who are not who they say they are.”

“Actions are the proof of words, my friend. What we do will show who we are…” she replied. “Are any of those here bolstered by the robes?”

“One,” he said. “She has doubts on two others, but she is certain of one.”

“Who?” Ravyn had met some of the leadership of five of the other smaller groups who had arrived prior to and after the Reign arrived here to train up for their contract. She felt some of them were kind of decent sorts and at least two complete assholes. There were many sorts of people in the Mercenary Profession and quite a few were not nice folks. Given how many mercenary companies had followed the money into the employ of the Word of Blake, she had learned how many were just concerned about money over morals, money over doing the right thing.  In the year since she took over for her father, she had come face to face with some of those… and found herself nearly forgetting herself in her hate of those who would betray their words, betray the populace they ostensibly were supposed to protect.

 If not for the old hands among the Reign, the Canopian-born woman might have become no better than those she fought in her pursuit of vengeance.

“The Swords of Loki…  She was able to identify one of their officers was part of The Fenris at the time your father was killed.” Lurch said. “She isn’t sure if he held command there or not. Any further digging might have tipped a hand; she didn’t want to risk that. She did find a few others who might also have been part of the Swords but was not able to verify.”

“Then I guess we need to be careful and wary then,” She replied as she reached out to pinch the incense out. “I don’t believe our hosts are not careful on who they let here, especially after their occupation.  With those who call themselves Wolverines here, I suspect everyone gets a good going over. At least I hope so… but mistakes happen. Or a story is good enough.”

 She began to clean up her items. “The Storm is coming, Lurch.  We all see it and our respective Guides have hinted at it.  And when it comes, I want to be ready to hunt.”

Legends and Myths Forty One- The Challenge Two

Badlands area to the south of the Expedition site


1410hrs, 31 October 3080

 Star Colonel Oliver Osis righted his Warhawk off the ground.  Several alarms were sounding and the heat levels were positively sweltering in his cockpit as he coaxed his machine upright. The battle, which had started so well had taken a drastic turn for the worse.  His omnimech was tortured from the deadly accurate fire of the Mercenary battlemechs and a damnable Black Knight in Wolverine colors that appeared on his flank.

  “This is not happening,” he muttered to himself as he sent a pair of blasts at the enemy Highlander. The enemy command machine took the hits and remained standing even as it shifted its fire at the Dire Wolf that was behind him.  Both of his Hellbringers, efficient machines that they were with their powerful extended range lasers and targeting computers, were both destroyed and the Timber Wolf fighting for its life on the flank.

 The plan had been a tried-and-true tactic; two flanking machines and the hammer, his Omni and that of his exec, going up the middle as the deadly accuracy of their large pulse lasers savaging anything that came within view. It had worked time and again over the years while he was a Jaguar, then as a Cloud Cobra, with very few foes able to withstand the punishment they could deal.  It was this powerful mix of machine and weapons that had enabled him to prevail in so many battles…  only to be denied here.  It was almost as if his enemy knew what was coming… and how to deal with it.  Or at least weather the storm.

  As each Hellbringer fell, he noted their demise and resolved to take it out on his opponent as he could.  When the Highlander took his fire and barely shifted, he began to get nervous.  He KNEW he had hurt the machine bad and yet, the enemy commander didn’t bail, didn’t run scared…  he just shifted position and continued fighting.  When the Black Knight caught him on the flank and was joined by the oversize Marauder, it occurred to him that he might, MIGHT… have errored.

  When the Dire Wolf ripped the Knight up, he thought the tide was going to turn as he began to charge forward to go after the Lancer command machine.  When both it and the Maurader II took the punishment and failed to back off as many others had over the years, he was confused.  But he was not about to back down.  He was in his heart a Smoke Jaguar and he would not fail to gain vengeance for his dead clan and for the insults he received prior to this battle.

 The Highlander came into view and Osis laid into him with his remaining weapons.  And incredibly, he missed with half of his weapons as the enemy machine seemed to *ignore* him with half of its efforts.  While his target hit him with its gauss rifle, its secondary weapons targeted his following star mate.  Then the Marauder II, having taken a full alpha strike from the Dire Wolf, fired all of its weapons at the Dire Wolf, even as the Atlas and the Black Knight, who had repositioned itself to take him on his right side, also lit into his Omni.

His machine rocked with weapon strikes and the sound of even MORE alarms resonated in his cockpit.  And then, almost as if in slow motion, his machine shut down as more damage had applied itself to his very tortured engine.  As his machine crashed to the ground, he registered the death of the Dire Wolf behind him, as it too succumbed to the heavy weapons fire of the Highlander’s secondary weapons and the primary weapons of the rest of the enemy machines they faced.

Over on the far flank, the Timber Wolf ate even more punishment from the Wolverine commander and his partner, the clan Omni having managed to get on the Pulverizer’s flank and damage it some but not nearly enough, as the Wolverine Excalibur laid into it once more with its weapons.

  As he began to pop the restraints on his command couch, he could hear the Wolverine commander on the open net offering the Timber Wolf the opportunity to surrender.  Osis stabbed at the com unit to order the pilot to fight on and realized his machine was shutting down everything… and the last thing he heard was the Timber Wolf pilot agreeing to stand down.


  As the Allied mechs shifted to bring their weapons around and let their machines cool some, Hollister called over to Tinney. “John… you still upright?”

 [I am… ow…] was the answer.  [That bastard nearly had me.  You got the Timber Wolf?]

 “He surrendered and is powering down,” He replied even as he shifted channels. “Operations, Wolverine One…  send medical and security troops, we have prisoners.  This is over…”

 Operations answered immediately. [Wolverine One, Operations; acknowledged.  Be advised Mongoose forces appear to be forming up on Western approach for a potential attack.  Full Trinary.]

 Hollister sighed.  “Notify Admiral Callahan to put a volley directly in front of them.  This battle is over, and they need to realize this…” He spoke.  “I will not kill more than I have to, but I absolutely will use what I have at my disposal to destroy them….”

 Switching back, he messaged Tinney. “John, seems like they might be planning on not honoring this result…”

 [I’m thinking he ordered them the be ready in case he won,] he replied as he stepped his machine to oversee Osis getting out of his dead Omni. [I trust you got a plan?]

 “I do and its already being carried out.  A message will be broadcast to them on Not Doing what they look like they are about to do along with a reminder of what is in store for them if they do,” Hollister commented. “I’m pretty sure they will get the message.”

 A chuckle. [Sounds good… Let me go deal with the ghost down below.  Security troops coming?]

 “Already ordered up.  Be careful…”

 [My momma raised no fool…]


  Tinney popped the hatch on his mech and kicked out the ladder.  Grabbing his commander’s beret, he placed it on his head, noting the blood on it and sighed.  This had been a fight he had a few doubts on finishing upright and he was glad it was over.  Now was the posturing with a stupidly proud foe.  All things considered; he would rather be dealing with a Kuritan opponent.  At least he knew he’d get a reasonable discourse, if a tense one.

Down on the ground, he made sure the beret sat proper then walked towards the downed Warhawk and its pilot, who was now out and leaning against its bulk.  As Tinney approached, he loosened the clasp securing his sidearm strapped across his cooling vest.  The old Sternsnacht Eagle he carried was a good luck weapon, something he carried in every major engagement he’d been in since he became a mech warrior.  It wasn’t a dueling weapon, not by any stretch of the imagination despite the holovids… but anything he had to shoot with it, tended to know it got hit when hit. If Oliver was going to be stupid here, he’d find out exactly how powerful this old thing was.  Tinney didn’t think he was going to be dumb… but you never knew.

 Oliver looked up at the approaching mercenary from where he sat, evidence of blood on his cooling vest from injuries suffered when his mech head assembly had been hit and the final fall of his machine. “Coming to kill me, dezgra? Like your beloved prince killed my Khan?” He said around a cough.

 “No…” Tinney replied as he pulled a cigar out of a pouch and stuck it unlit in his mouth. “I’m here to formally accept your surrender.  This battle, in case you missed it, is over.” He stopped about five meters away from the downed pilot. “I don’t kill in cold blood if I can help it and unless you are planning on being stupid, I am not about to start…” He paused. “Unless you are gonna pull a dumb…. Then I assure you, living to regret it may be a thing.”

 A pained laugh as the sound of VTOLs was heard in the distance. “I see… and how do you plan on holding me securely?  I know the rules of Bondsmen… but you are not Clan and neither is the mistakes you are allied with, no matter their bloodline.” He asked. “Holding to those rules may not happen. My Clansmen will not go as quietly as you think.”

 The Merc leader smiled as he produced a lighter even as he carefully watched Oliver. “I suspected something squirrelly from you in all this, Star Colonel; the reputation of some Clans is not exactly unknown and has been planned for.  We will follow the Ways and offer; then its up to them as individuals.  We do know how it’s done…

 Understand, WE know those traditions… and those that want to refuse the honor of becoming more than what they are, which seems to be the case right now… Well, that can be accommodated.”  In the far distance, a naval laser strike lashed the ground in the direction of the main Mongoose areas.  “That would be a warning shot…”

 Osis flinched as he too looked in the direction of the bombardment. “A warning shot? How many more of my warriors did you kill with dishonor by that ‘warning shot’?”

 Tinney lit his cigar while the clan leader was looking in the direction of the barrage. “None yet…” He replied as he puffed on the cigar, a slight trickle of blood from the small head wound seeping into the brim of his beret. “Like I said… my counterpart gave them a warning shot.  He’s like me- he’d rather avoid needless bloodshed, even though he does have a Black Lion sized list of reasons to hammer them for what was done to his forefathers.”

 Tinney pointed with a free hand towards the oncoming VTOLS full of troops. “And I would not blame them.  I know the histories and have even read a Remembrance or two; I know what some Clans do to the defeated; some first-hand experience too…  And I assure you, I don’t want a reason to treat you like the residents of Turtle Bay…. Or the Wolverine Civilians who died here two centuries ago.”

 “Weakness should be culled when possible, Colonel…” Osis picked out the rank pin on Tinney’s vest. “It is our way and has always worked.”

A snicker. “No… no it hasn’t, Oliver… Even I know that and so do you.  Speaking of which, how the hell did someone like you survive this long? It’s been twenty years about since the Jaguars were annihilated; I figured you would not have survived this long with your mouth; yes, I recognize you,” He said, noting the surprise on the clansman’s face at the identification.  “I remember your diatribes on the old free news boards back then.  When you went silent, I figured you might have been done in by one of your ‘fans’ or died fighting during Bulldog. That was the thinking, at least.”

 A dark chuckle. “Even one such as I can adapt and bide his time, Colonel.  I was not prepared to go without a fight, despite the idiocy of those above me. Being absorbed into another clan that would let me fight was a preferable option to death or no longer being a warrior; as a bondsman to someone who did not respect Clan Ways, which is to one such as I, can be as bad or worse…” Oliver replied as he saw a handful of infantry troopers coming towards them. “I am an old warrior… and I know if I didn’t remain a fighter, I would be cast aside.” At this point, Oliver shifted as a hand came up with a pistol in it.  Quick but not quite quick enough.

 Tinney, expecting something, stepped sharply to the side and drew his own weapon from its chest holster. “Don’t do it!” He yelled even as the approaching infantry troops drew down on the down pilot.  The very large pistol was focused on the chest of the clan pilot.  Fucker is going to do it….

 Oliver paused, the weapon in mid-rise.  He let go of the handle and let the pistol dangle from a finger through the trigger guard. “Strangely admirable, Colonel.  Even when presented with a potential threat to life, you elected not to shoot first.”  Holding the pistol up by its guard, the clan commander sagged some, the fight truly out of him now. “I am beaten… but as you said earlier, Khan Osis refused to admit defeat and wasted his life as well as the honor of the Clan. I am not he. I will go quietly.”

  The troopers rapidly approached, weapons covering the clan pilot and once next to him, disarmed then secured him. A medic began going over the man’s injuries as they moved him away from the dead omnimech. “We got him, Colonel…” The squad leader stated as they searched him thoroughly for anything else. “And sir… you need a medic.”

 Tinney relaxed as he put his big pistol back into his holster. “Yeah, I do…” he replied.  “I’ve got a migraine and I’m tired as hell.”  Looking at Oliver, he continued. “There is life after soldiering, Oliver… It isn’t often easy but there is life afterwards… Lincoln couldn’t see it as for him, his vision of the universe refused to see any other way.”

Expedition Site medical bay

1754 hours, 31 October 3080

  Tinney was sitting on one of the medbay beds, the head wound covered with a bandage and his beret in a bowl full of solution to get blood out of it when Hollister entered the compartment. “I didn’t shoot him…” He said as greeting.

 “No, you didn’t,” Hollister replied. “I would have.  And while it would have been justified, it would have been a mistake.” The Wolverine Khan handed Tinney a bottle of water. “Why didn’t you?”

“To be honest… I’m not sure,” He replied as he took the water and sipped some of it. “Part of me was in disbelief he was going to try what Lincoln did, part of me was not sure he was going to shoot though it really looked like it. And yet a part of me wouldn’t blame him for trying… a kind of Death by Cop scenario…” At Hollister looking puzzled by that last, he added. “I’ll explain later….   I also think I was just tired and slow. Lucky for him I was; I don’t miss at that range and Baby leaves a pretty large hole….”

 Hollister nodded. “Indeed… In any case, he did ask for a com unit and notified his troops that this was officially over.  Not that they were in a mood to fight- the warning barrage took the wind from their sails pretty effectively.”  Hollister paused. “They had roughly another nine to ten stars of Omnimechs and another three of Elementals available to come after us.  Not a fight we wanted…”

Tinney closed his eyes. “Nope it wasn’t. I had a feeling he had a Galaxy here and we effectively killed a little over a cluster’s worth maybe two before that fight.  It would have been a mess.” He mused. “Even with space superiority.”

 “Agreed. I’ve taken the liberty to send a message to Khan McKenna of the Snow Ravens…” Hollister replied. “I surmise she would be very interested in what we have here and might want the information contained within their databanks.  I believe they too were a target.”

Tinney looked at his fellow leader. “Ye think?” He asked. “Nice information and well, getting pristine platforms without much effort is a nice peace offer.”

A smile and nod. “Yes, it is… and I think she might be interested in perhaps manning an outpost here in what amounts to their back yard. We really can’t afford to, no matter what we thought initially. The Snow Ravens could, and they have the assets to do it properly. I also think they might wish to help recover what remains of our deceased here.  Either to bury proper or relocate them to Centaurus.”

Tinney thought that over. “I think you are right, John… I also think I need to get back sooner rather than later.” A smile. “While it’s been fun, it hasn’t been real fun.”

Hollister nodded. “I completely understand. I’m thinking of sending the Mustafa back in about a week. I think by then we can get the two smaller Mongoose ships able to provide some space support to supplement the Yukon and State of Grace. We have plenty of transport asset if needed and if we need to evacuate, we can. The Quicksliver Mongoose is not going anywhere but given some time and a bit of luck, its guns can be brough back online; my chief engineer thinks a bypass can be rigged for at least something.”

 A snort. “Be a minor miracle…”

“John, we’ve had more than a few…. And well, even an ancient ship like it has potential as a McGuffin, looking like it can do something even when it can’t.” A pause. “Appearances can be deceiving…”

A laugh. “That it can… Just don’t let your guard down.”

A knowing smile. “I’ve learned, John… and I think we will be fine until McKenna sends assistance.  They are closer than Centaurus and they have ships like yours where the Lithium Fusion batteries are concerned. I asked while she was visiting your world so I suspect they will be here by end of the year if she can send them out quickly.”

“Sounds good to me…” he said. “Middle of January more likely but good either way.”

A medic spoke up. “Colonel, you are free to go,” the female medic said as she collected the beret bowl. “I’ll get this to you once its dry, sir.”

 Tinney got up off the bed. “Thank you, Specialist…” He replied then looked at Hollister. “Lead on John.. I know there is work to do.”

Hollister chuckled. “There always is…” he said and the two commanders left the bay.

Legends and Myths Forty- the Challenge part one

Badlands area to the south of the Expedition site


1352hrs, 31 October 3080

 As the combined Lancer and Wolverine force moved to positions scouted a few minutes before, Tinney thought again on the past few hours and this madness he had agreed to….

  Some fifteen minutes or so after the bombardment conducted by the Yukon, the clan commander called in to parley… well, make demands really. Not that he was in a position to do so but Hollister entertained the call.

  The clan commander, Star Colonel Oliver Osis, was rather angry in his call, and ranted a bit over the existence of Wolverine even being here.  Hollister pointed out this world was the last contact between the bulk of the clans and his People for over two hundred years… and that this planet belonged to no one other than ghosts.  And perhaps the Wolverines, as they had paid dearly for it way back then.

  Oliver seized on that and asked for a Trial of Possession over the world.  What for, neither Allied commander was sure about but in a fit of pique, Hollister agreed to it.  Whether out of pity for their position or simply because it would end this, Tinney was not sure.  But it did surprise the Clan leader when the agreement to fight was answered with a Batchall.  Command Group on Command Group, no support units.

  Osis agreed then Hollister hit him with a further wrinkle.  It would be the command groups of both Lancer and Wolverine that would fight for the world with the prize being Barbados for the Mongoose forces.  In return, if the allies won, the complete surrender of his forces.  After all… the Allies had enough firepower to decimate those of Mongoose if they chose.  And that they didn’t have to entertain this request because of it.

 Osis seemed rather pleased by the prospect and stated he would fight the battle with his Command Star… And challenged Hollister to meet the offer.  Hollister had looked at Tinney who held up three fingers…. And answered the clan leader with they would face him with six mechs, three from each of the Allied commands and would meet him in the badlands on the Southern front… That any deviation would declare the Trial void… and there would be more bombardment as punishment.

 Of course, Osis sputtered and began to challenge the notion until Tinney spoke up and calmy stated that only a dishonorable cur would not follow through… and the last time he knew of a clan leader who failed to honor a Trial result was the last Khan of Smoke Jaguar.  With a smile, the Lancer commander reminded the Clan officer that Khan Lincoln Osis paid for it with his life, cut down like a Bandit Caste reject he acted like.

 The level of invective that escaped Osis’s mouth was impressive and he ended the call with an angry assurance he would be there.  Afterwards, the two leaders looked at each other and Tinney simply said if Osis was angry, he’d come at them stupid.  Hollister, after a moment, agreed though he cautioned that was dangerous to do… but it could be an advantage.

The next two hours saw the Allies pulling the necessary forces and after making sure all repairs were complete as necessary, they moved out.


 Coming into position, the Lancer portion of the contingent was lead by himself in his Highlander and joined by the command Atlas and the Marauder II from the middle lance of the Command Company. In essence, Tinney had a short C3 network at his disposal.  Hollister had his Pulverizer, the ancient Wolverine machine set up with clan-spec weapons and was joined by the royal Black Knight and a hastily repaired modified Excalibur which was from Whitfield’s Company.

  The Excalibur had been refitted with some of the gifted Clan-Spec weapons from the Ghost Bears prior to departing for Barbados, the original weapon’s suite changed out for a refined clan gauss rifle and extended range large laser.  The old long range missile system had been exchanged for a Remington Arms 9-tube mulit-launcher and a clan extended range medium laser.  These changes had made the Star League era machine far more dangerous to face… and its inclusion gave the allies serious fire power.

As the allied mechs spread out into their planned lanes, Hollister contacted Tinney over the coms. [John… I will say right now I am sorry to drag you into this,] The Wolverine leader said. [In reality, this is our fight…]

  Tinney snorted. “My friend… I came along on this trip ‘cause you are both friend and part of us,” he said. “I’d not miss this trip for all the world.  It’s history here… and while I’m not McCormack with her fanatic level interest, I do have a love of it.  And this world… is historic.  I’m here to help…”

 Hollister was quiet. [Still… I appreciate it.  What are you expecting?]

 Tinney thought on it. “Considering how he exploded at the mention of Lincoln Osis, it confirmed to me his lineage; I thought this Oliver might be the one I remember from years ago… his voice was close to the mocking voice from back then but his reaction to the insult pretty much confirmed it,” he said.

 “What will he bring? A good question… remember, Omnimech custom loads are a thing so it could be anything.”

 But what I expect is kind of a throwback, if he is as much a former Jag as a Mongoose now. A Warhawk C for sure and probably something equally heavy.  A Dire Wolf or Gladiator… though I lean towards anything with pulse weapons or targeting computers if he’s running standard profiles.  The Jags were notorious for using the damn things… and if he is still influenced by his lineage on mech choices, I expect everything to have them. I also expect machines that are powerhouses at range.”

 Hollister chuckled. [That is not terribly encouraging… Despite the weight of your machines, we are not exactly firepower heavy.]

 “Nope… but my network is a bit of an edge,” Tinney replied. “The question will be two-fold; will he get suckered into position to take advantage of it… and will he let us get set up in time to use it? Having you and the Excalibur running the flank will be solid- if he’s gunning for you specifically, it will open him up for me to hammer.  And vice versa…”

 Hollister agreed. [Indeed… We will see what we see.] A pause. [And here they come…]

Clear across the battlefield, the Clan forces moved up line abreast, spread out across the frontage.  As predicted, there was a Warhawk and it was joined by a pair of Hellbringers and a Timberwolf. Backing them all was a Dire Wolf in a configuration that looked like it was going to be energy based. The choices were sound though the presence of Hellbringers was a surprise.

 It was normally not terribly efficient as an Omni Mech but if it was configured as he expected, it too had a Targeting Computer…. Which would match the expected combat tactic of a Jaguar warrior. Tinney noted his sensors showed a laser-based weapon in each arm pod instead of the usual particle cannon, which was different than usual… but he thought about what he said to Hollister and sighed.  Someone might have actually done something smart with the blasted design and swapped out the heat pigs the clan particle cannons were with something else.  Which means it was likely to be more efficient…. And effective.


  On the clan right was one of the Hellbringers and it was supported by the Timberwolf. On the left was the other Hellbringer and the center line was the Warhawk and Dire Wolf. Solid plan of advance… and the clan machines all broke into a run as they entered the field of battle.

 Tinney jumped his Highlander to a point where he’d have a clear field of fire, the trees he was in adding to obscuring his silhouette. The Atlas moved as fast as it could to take up a position to his right.  The Marauder II also moved as fast as it could to get to position.  It occurred to him that maybe he should have had something faster as his lead machine for sensor spotting… but it was a bit late now.

 The clan forces advanced at something close to top speed and the Warhawk struck first, its large pulse lasers lashing out at his machine.  And the results were rather telling, as one energy bolt slammed into the head assembly of his Highlander.  Warning lights flashed and alarms rang as the strike shredded his armor with damage to his sensors as well as a shard of metal impaling his life support system’s compressor.  “Damnit,” Tinney gasped out as he shook off the stun from the hit.

 [John!] Hollister called out as he engaged the Hellbringer on his front. [You alright?]

 “Yeah… gonna be a bit hard to shoot back but I know how to lead a target… I’ll be fine.” He replied as he adjusted his aim to return fire. “Kick your targets a bit extra for me, I might need help in a bit…” Activating the com for his troops, he called out. “Andrea….”

  The Atlas pilot, Andrea Smithson, answered. [ten seconds, Colonel,] she replied as her assault machine rounded a hill. [Still think you should have had Bobby out here… His Hunter is faster than me.]

 “Yeah well…. If wishes were fishes…” He answered as he fired his gauss rifle downrange and was rewarded with a hit on the Warhawk torso. “We can discuss hindsight analysis later…”

 [Colonel, I’m just about in position,] the pilot of the Marauder II, Chief Warrant Erin Dowd, called out. [Who first?]

 “That damn Warhawk; it’s probably Ollie.”

 [Gotcha. Twenty seconds…]


 Over on Hollister’s side, he maneuvered his Pulverizer into a stand of woods and spied a Hellbringer down range.  Cutting loose with his large pulses, he was pleased to see his weapons peel all the armor from an arm and side.  Adding his medium pulses to the mix, the damage dealt forced the clan machine to topple over from the punishment.  The Excalibur added its own weapons to the mix, ensuring it went down via a hit to a weak spot on the central chest armor, clipping engine shielding and a portion of the gyro.

 The Timber Wolf rounded a hill behind the Hellbringer as it struggled to rise from the ground, the clan machine flailing in its attempt to stand.  And its struggles caused further damage to its torsos… in specific, the side that held ammunition for the machine guns it sported.  This resulted in the bin being punctured and setting off its contents, ending its participation in this fight as the entire torso region blew apart.  The Timberwolf broke into a run, attempting to close with the two Wolverine machines and optimize its targeting solutions. It would avenge its star-mate or die trying.

 Unfortunately for the clan machine, it played into the hands of the Wolverine leader and his teammate.  And the results were hellish for the heavy Clan machine.  Staggering through the punishing fire, the Timber Wolf attempted to inflict damage back to his foes.  He was successful in this but was not giving what he was getting….


  Back in the center, the Warhawk absorbed a vicious amount of punishment from Tinney’s machine, the veteran pilot proving he could hit despite the damaged sensors.  Dowd, having managed to get into a solid spotting position, let loose with her particle cannons and added to the punishment on the clan machine.

  The Wolverine Black Knight entered the fray at this point, its short-range weapons also laying into the Warhawk and ripping it apart, shredding the right side of the machine and forcing the attached arm to drop to the ground.

 The Dire Wolf, who had been adding its heavier guns to the mix, had finally closed the distance and unloaded on the Black Knight with nearly everything.  Four large and four medium pulse lasers laid into the Wolverine machine and practically stripped most of the torso protection on the mech.

 The mech withstood the punishment like a champ, the design showing why it was considered one of the most resilient machines from the Star League days and began to back off. The Knight’s heat levels were high from the weapon exchange, affecting movement and accuracy… but the pilot was pleased with himself.  He had crippled the Warhawk as planned and now it was up to the Lancers to finish it off.

Smithson was beset by the other Hellbringer, who lashed out with its own weapons and practically stripped the side torso of her machine.  But this was not without an answer from her.  Medium lasers and her short-range missiles lashed the clan machine and hammered into the center of the mech, an area that had been weakened by long range missiles earlier. Her heavy particle cannon had missed yet again- and she made a mental note to have the targeting system checked; it was becoming a repeat issue… Thankfully, her secondary weapons were up to the task here…

 And the results were spectacular, as the weapon strikes found the anti-missile system ammunition.  The resulting explosion ripped the heart of the machine out and dropped it where it stood.  This allowed Smithson to now turn her full attention to the center of the battle and this did not bode well for the Clan forces there…

Legends and Myths Thirty Nine

Western Approach to Expeditionary Site

Planet Barbados

0630hrs 31 October, 3080

  It had been a mostly quiet three hours and Captain Reece Belmont had his lance spread out as they moved carefully through the wooded area before him.  He’d been ordered to physically recon forward on this frontage with a section from his company as the remnants of Major’s Kassing and Hunter sat overwatch from their positions behind him. Drones could do a lot but sometimes, eyes were better…

  If he ran into trouble out here, he’d be on his own for a few minutes but only a few- Kassing had a fairly potent mobile lance he could send to back him and his mates up.  His Valkyrie was a recent addition to the Regimental Scouts, the QS5 model armed with a medium laser and a multi-launcher system giving his machine some bite.  Against Clan machines, it was good enough for tangling with their lights but only just.  Which was fine- He was not a stand and deliver sort.  The pair of Locusts running with him were scout machines of the old Royal variety- tough for 20-ton mechs but not stand up types either.  The last machine in his team was a Scarab, an even more recent machine from Death Ray industries Omni Division.  Good machine but untested.  And it was going to be tested here…

 His comunit chirped. “Belmont…” He answered.

[Cap…] Lacy Davenport, a fairly young pilot in one of the aforementioned Locusts and new to the Lancers, spoke. [I got contact over here on the left.  ThreatComp says it’s a Koshi… Looks like it might have toads too.]

 “Great…” he answered, Elemental armor (known as toads in slang) was not good news. “Well, we know they got them… Don’t get too close; let them commit if you can.”  Reece immediately paused his advance to take stock of positions.

 Lacy was on his extreme left- a little too much maybe but she was within response range.  Looking over at the secondary command monitor, he noted where the blip was and also noted another ghost on the right. “Carson…” He called out.

[Yeah… I see it,] Carson Clark, the other Locust pilot replied. [Was about to call you…  Same info as Lacy, looks like…] Clark was a bit more experienced and was not about to do a stupid. [Holding back…]

  Reece nodded to himself and called over to the Scarab. “Dusty… back Clark; I got Lacy”

 Dusty answered him quickly. [Aff; moving to support.] Dusty Phoenix, one of the few former Bondsmen remaining in the Lancers, was a former Nova Cat who had been taken by the Jade Falcons about ten years previous.  During one of the last fights Reece had before he came to the Lancers in the early days of the Jihad, she had been blown out of her Omni, a Vixen, by Reece during a scratch duel over a supply depot and knowing Clan Traditions, surprised everyone by claiming her as Bondsman.

  After the dust settled over his doing that, she had come with him to the Lancers and earned her place in the retaking of Centaurus, the two of them joining up with the units that had been off-world when the Word had occupied the place.

  When she was freed of her status, she had elected to stay with the Mercenary Unit and had been a solid Scout pilot.  That she was now in one of the few Omni-class machines was a coincidence… but a happy one for her. That she was here helping the Wolverines… was a very odd thing to be doing… but any reservations she had over the Not Named she kept to herself, though Reece remembered she had said something about a vision.

 In any event, she was here and helping…  That she had the heaviest guns in the lance, a pair of snub particle cannon, also meant she’d be both a Target for any smart opponent and the one to hammer anything in their way.

As he kicked his mech into motion to go back Lacy, the Clan opponents did the semi-expected; they moved to engage.


 On the left, Lacy shifted her Locust closer to Reece as the enemy Koshi raced in, its own guns firing at her even as its Battle Armor cargo leapt from their ride at her.  “Shit shit shit shit….” She cursed as the elementals shot her up some.  The Koshi’s small lasers bit some of her armor at the same time as the Elementals did their dirty work… and Lacy noted in the back of her mind that had she been driving a normal Locust, she would have really screwed.

 Her return fire saw her lasers hammer the Elementals in front of her, heavily damaging a pair of the battle armor troops.  Kicking her mech into reverse, she fired as she moved, trusting her pulse lasers to hit effectively as she fell back.

  Reece advanced to a point to overlook his teammate and launched some long ranged missiles at the Koshi, letting him know that he was able to threaten everyone on that side.


 On the right, Clark advanced through the heavy woods under the cover of Dusty’s guns.  The Koshi on this side used its jump jets to close the gap between them and dump off its cargo of Elementals.  “Damn things…” he said as he withstood their SRM fire and dumped everything he had at the very close Clan machine.

  And in a blaze of energy weapon fire, the enemy machine absorbed all of it.  Clark’s lasers slagged almost all the armor from the Omnimech’s left leg.  This was followed by a Particle Cannon blast from Dusty as she hit the same leg, ripping it off like it was a stick. “Killer shooting, Dusty!”

[Thank you…] She replied as she moved her Scarab up to gain a better firing solution. [Have a care, the Elementals are not going to be happy with either of us.]

 “Do tell…” Clark replied as he reversed his machine back through the trees.

 The Elementals leapt forward, going after Dusty in an attempt to clip her legs in an assault. One of the most dangerous things battle armor was capable at was attacking legs of Mechs.  If successful, there was a good chance that they would damage one of the actuators that allowed a battlemech to remain upright and move with any agility.

  And they failed, their target managing to shift a leg at the last second to make them miss their attempt.

  Dusty, seeing opportunity, moved forward to close with the downed Koshi, trusting in the power of her Snub Particle Cannons to finish off the clan machine and her armor to take anything it could shoot at her.  If she could avoid the Elementals of course.  Being in the woods, her mobility was limited… but with the clan machine unable to avoid her, there was high probability that she’d finish him off before the Elementals pursuing her could bring her to heel.  That also hinged on Clark doing a number on them, his pulse lasers almost perfect for dealing with battle armor troops.


Back on the left, Reece and Lacy danced away from the Elementals on this side of the battle.  The Clan forces had managed to hammer Lacy’s machine, doing a number to her torsos.  A freak hit inflicted damage to the extra-light engine of her Locust and the center armor was stripped away… but she was still functional.

 Reece had closed on the Koshi on this side and hammered him with a short-range missile volley from his Multi-Launcher as well as connecting with his laser.  As armor blasted from his target, the object of his affections shredded the armor on his launcher’s location, breaching the armor and little else.

  It was enough to have him jump away after punching his opponent in its torso, the Valkyrie punch doing a number on his opponent’s armor.

  As he leapt back, he called to Lacy, “Lacy, get ready to bug out… I’ve got armor issues and you ain’t any better…”  As he landed, the Koshi followed him, the Clan omnimech using its speed to bust through the trees that he’d jumped over and coming up on his weak right flank.  This was not going to go well… He thought to himself.

Lacy reversed direction and closed on the rear flank of the Clan machine that harassed her company commander. [I got him… he’s too busy trying to kill you!] She answered him and fired everything she had as the targeting reticle settled on their foe.


 On the right, Clark engaged the elementals trying to chase down Dusty and managed to put down two of the wounded ones from earlier fire. “Dusty… watch your six!”

 Dusty concentrated on placing her heavy guns on the crippled Koshi and without a word, cut loose with both guns.  At the very short range she was at, the Snub Particle Cannon was in its element and two blue balls of energy slammed into the down Clan Omni, finishing it off even as it hammered her with what it could. [Aff, I’m aware,] She replied. [He needed to be dealt with first.]

 The elementals, seeing their transport become a pile of metal and myomer, began to retreat as fast as their jets could take them.  While they could maybe take on one of the Lancer machines on their own, they were minus two of their number and a third was not very healthy.  Staying to fight would be a fool’s errand… and they weren’t stupid.


Back on the left, Reece hammered the elementals on this side with a full volley of short-range missiles even as he steeled himself for punishment from their Omnimech ride.  Fortunately for him, the Clanner missed him as Lacy’s weapons laid him open like a Christmas turkey.

  Her weapons ripped apart the Clan Omni’s entire left side, destroying a leg completely and rendering an arm so much hanging metal.  As the Koshi fell, she reversed her mech again and began to back away from the threat of the Elementals.

Reece watched the clan troops retreat from his position and noted both Omnimechs were now down. “Well shit…” he said.  “Report.”

[I am functional and can cover a retreat ok if needed,” Dusty called out over the net.

[I’m good…] Clark replied. [If needed, I can hunt toads.]

Lacy’s report really killed any idea of pursuing. [Well…  I ain’t picking a fight with anything right now… Minimal armor in spots and engine damage.  Other than that…]

  Reece looked at the sensor feed and watched the elementals fade from view as they moved away. “Well, here we stay until Kassing moves up…” He said as he activated the Command comms. “Operations, Scouts Alpha. BDA and contact report…”

Fortress Dropship Corregidor


 Hollister looked at the status screens in the operations center then over to Tinney, who had come back in after snagging a few hours nap. “The scouts engaged an understrength star; Captain Belmont reports two units of Elementals heavily damaged and a pair of Koshi destroyed.  Damage is substantial to his lance, but they are functional.  The rest of his company reports no substantial contact on the other two fronts.”

  Tinney nodded. “Well, that’s good news, I think,” He replied thoughtfully. “Has Callahan consolidated up there?  And has the buoys been activated yet?”

 Hollister nodded. “Yes; a message was sent out about an hour ago pertaining to our engagements and status. I am certain the news will be received with concern only some; I know I did not expect to find anyone here.”

 “Nor did I…” The Lancer commander replied. “As for our trespassers, I think it might be time to really let them know they are in for it if they choose to press.”

 Hollister, for the first time in the last twenty-four hours, sported a slight smile. “Indeed.  Do you think they will respond as you think? Your idea of Orbital fire is not going to be seen as honorable.”

 A laugh. “John, there is little honor in throwing away advantages and troops. And there is nothing like having a large hint tossed at you to make you realize you are in a very bad position.”

 Hollister pondered that. “They could try to come at us with everything at once.”

“If they do, it will be suicide… Messy for us but suicidal for them. Especially with all the Armor we have in prepared positions.  We have not used the big gun on the Corregidor yet either,” Tinney replied. “I’m pretty sure their commander is going to realize really fast, if he doesn’t know already, that he has zero space or air superiority.” He paused. “And to be honest, I’m pretty sure if the situation was reversed, they were going to simply kill the lot of us if they won. Pretty sure these guys are of the ‘Kill All Wolverines’ mindset.”

 “I am not going to argue that point,” Hollister commented. “I do not think they will surrender without some fight, though.”

 “Nor do I…” Tinney replied as he looked over the screens. “I do expect a shitton of bluster. And these guys don’t know if we are prepared to do to them what they’d do to us.  I wouldn’t- it’s not my style… but-“

“They don’t know that,” Hollister finished. “While I am tempted to destroy them in the way as was done to Khan Hallis… but that would make us no different than them.  I will not be the same as them… neither would you. Your own history says such.”

 A grim smile. “Correct.  I’d rather embarrass them in making them understand they got beat by dezgra mercenaries and supposed myths who are supposed to be dead. I don’t like killing when I don’t have to.  This will be bad enough.” The Lancer commander replied. “Does NOT mean I wouldn’t bombard the crap out of them though if they don’t get the message…”

“Indeed.  While I too don’t want to be party to a slaughter, I am prepared to order it. Even so, there is a bit of satisfaction in this one volley…” Hollister commented then turned to his communications officer. “Lieutenant, signal the Mustafa; inform them to deliver a message on Site Alpha Three”

  The communications officer turned to his panel without comment and began contacting Admiral Callahan’s flagship to deliver the order.


Up in orbit, the ships had consolidated their captured counterparts and as the orders arrived, Callahan received confirmation of the order and began issuing the commands to the fleet.  It had been discussed earlier that any orbital bombardment would be conducted initially by the Yukon.  The venerable destroyer, the sole survivor of the fleet destroyed in the First Battle of Barbados, would be the one to perform the initial shots on the Clan forces below.

  And the honor of doing so was not lost on the crew of the ship.  All of them knew their history and a few of them wanted to just hammer the enemy below.  But their captain, fairly bloody minded herself, understood the message being delivered here. Continued resistance down below would see the Clan troops in the crosshairs destroyed… and only a fool would miss that message. Or the delusional.

 Giving the Mongoose forces a chance to save themselves from being slaughtered in an ignominious defeat… was more than fair to them, considering what she knew they had planned for the allies.

 Captain Sasha Ebon listened to her command crew as they had their ship maneuver into position.  Within ten minutes, the Yukon was on station and ready to fire.  With a deep breath, the captain looked over at her gunnery officer. “Lieutenant, commence firing.  One volley only.”

 The officer acknowledged the order. “One volley only,” he said and contacted the battery to fire.  “Battery Sierra One, one volley.”

 Starboard Naval Laser Battery One gunnery crew acknowledged the order and after a full two seconds to ensure the targeting data was correct, fired as directed.

Down below on the planet, the identified area labeled Alpha Three exploded in the carnage of Naval Laser energy striking the ground…  The area being hit was a staging point for forces heading towards the Expedition site from the Alpha landing zone, with Alpha One being the clan drop ships themselves and Two being what looked like a Repair point.  While destroying that would have been advantageous, hitting the muster point would still destroy material but minimize deaths.

 An important point to the Allies.  And one that might get across to the Mongoose Forces.

 As it was, almost three full Stars of Omni Mechs were in the beaten zone… and the destruction was almost total in its scope.  As the bombardment ceased after five seconds of energy weapon fury, the Mongoose forces were in a state of shock.

 Few had ever seen the destructive power of a Capital Weapon strike on a world first hand and it was a frightening thing to a group who considered themselves destined to prevail in this battle, despite setbacks.  Only the command group of the invaders knew the results of the space battle but none of them expected the warships to enter the battle down here. And when they did, the message being delivered was made.

 They would die without being able to fight back… and there was no guarantee they could come to grips with the Not Named before more fire from the sky found them.

 The Commander of the Ground Forces, Star Colonel Oliver Osis, cursed their situation as he raged in his command post. A warrior of skill for a very long time, he had faced many Mercenary and House troops over the years and what was going on was defying his expectations in a bad way.

 He had believed his warships would have done a better job against the hated Not-Named fleet even though they were not experienced… and his troops here on the planet should have been able to handle their foes without issue- they were only Spheroid Mercenaries (granted, talented ones) and descendants of the Not Named.

 That the fleet action showed how wrong he was about his warships was one thing. But down here, none of them should have managed what they did to his warriors.  That his troops had only managed a draw on the one front galled him… and the loss of his planned raid elementals had been yet another setback in this battle.

 And now this.

 He would not be beaten like a stravag mongrel dog, unable to do anything to what was killing his men.  He had one last option though, outside of committing all his men to one giant assault.  If his opponent was willing to play by Clan Rules still- the Lancers were known to him, having heard of the two losses they handed Jade Falcon early in the invasion. That he’d also faced them when he was of another Clan during its destruction… was another insult as far as he was concerned.

  They were there at the lowest point in his life; and they were here, helping to destroy his last attempt for glory in honor of his dead clan.  Oliver might be a Mongoose, but he would never forget in his heart where he came from…

 If he was to be defeated here on this world, at least he’d maybe get an opportunity to kill a few of those who helped destroy his former clan and defiled Huntress with their filth – by using a perceived weakness of theirs on them. If nothing else, he would have blood spilled in personal revenge. Provided his foes would play his game…

 “Star Captain Young, find that communications channel the dezgra used to speak to us earlier.  I want to offer something they won’t refuse to take.”

 “At once, Star Colonel”

Legends and Myths Thirty Eight

Centaurus MechWorx Refurbishment Center- Remington Facility
City of Gates, continent of Forbes.
28 October 3080

  The remnants of the Knights had arrived within the Lancer’s home system the day before and had made transit to the planet that evening.  Landing their dropship, a somewhat abused Union class the crew had renamed Camelot as a poke at themselves, on the well-lit field had been a seamless affair. Upon landing, technicians and recovery vehicles came up to the loading doors of the craft and with the assistance of the dropship crew, the stevedores of the facility got to work.

  They had been warned about the potential for chemical residue on some machines.  Granted, they had been cleaned before transport… but no one among the Knights nor Camelot’s crew really trusted how well it had been done.  Indeed, once they had been loaded on board, the mechbays had been closed off and only masked personnel were allowed in there as a precaution.

  It had made for a long trip from Galatea to here, but precautions were necessary.  You just didn’t play games when chemical weapons were concerned.  And the technicians performing the off-loading of the machines to their carriers obviously knew the risks as they expertly moved the damaged battlemechs off the dropship.

  As for the thirty two men and women of the Knights, they were greeted by a small reception committee. Khalid had assembled his people outside on the tarmac with their duffle bags and whatever other gear they had as directed by the initial officials who had greeted the ship.  He had been told they would be given transport to a barracks to clean up and acclimate to being planet-side once more.  So, they stood off to the side, their gear grounded as they waited.

  About halfway through the offloading, two civilian buses and a ground car pulled up near them and a trio of personnel got out of the car.  The three, a short man with glasses and a neatly trimmed sizable salt-n-pepper beard was followed by a rather tall blonde- haired muscular woman in fatigues and the third person, a very slim young man in a technician’s overalls, came walking over to them.

 Khalid met them about halfway as the short, bearded man looked over the collected Knights then fixed his eyes upon Khalid.

 “A good evening to you, Sir…  My name is Chief Warrant Officer Charles Spiegel; would you happen to be Sir Khalid bin Zalas?” He queried as he stopped about four feet from the Knight.

 Khalid nodded as he replied. “I would be, Sir.”

“Ah good… the picture I was sent of you does not give you justice.  But security photos never do,” Charlie replied as he glanced at the very tattered Crusader being moved out of the dropship. “I will be the one overseeing the work to be done to your mounts and will be one of your Liaisons with Mechworx.  My associates will be your other primary contacts, this is Master Sergeant Tessa Drexel and Journeyman Technician Sean Farquharson.”

 The two named folks both gave a wave before Spiegel continued. “It is my understanding you have a large amount of work to have accomplished on your company of machines… with a priority of getting the least mangled back into Fighting Trim.  Those machines should be up and running within the week, if my data is correct.”

 Khalid nodded. “It should be, sir. We have had no other engagements to make them worse than what they were on Galatea. The information given back then has no changes.”

A smile. “Very good… then I will be getting started with overseeing the inspection; Master Sergeant Drexel will guide you and your companions to suitable lodging,” Chief Spiegel turned to Tessa. “Sergeant, I leave them in your capable hands.  Come Sean- we have some work to do.”

 As Charlie and Sean walked to the ground car, Tess looked over at Khalid. “So… do y’all have a specific peckin’ order for seating?” She asked as she pointed at the two busses. “Otherwise, all aboard…”

 Khalid smiled. “No pecking order… While I speak for us, we have no social strata to worry over,” he replied as he turned to look at his people.  “We are all Knights.  Tristan!”

 A MechWarrior among the collected group looked over. “Aye?”

 “All aboard the busses, my friend. Our mounts are being seen to and our Hosts wish to bring us to lodging as promised.”

 Tristan gave a thumbs up then started moving everyone to the busses with their gear. The drivers of both vehicles already had stowage doors open for the gear bags.  Quickly, the bays filled and were closed as group then loaded onto the vehicles.

  Khalid walked back toward the buses with Tessa alongside. “If I may… what should we expect?” he asked as he stopped at the door to the lead bus, his gear having been loaded by his fellows.

 “Overall or for the next week?” Tess replied.

 “The latter will suffice.”

 A chuckle. “Weeelll… I believe th’ plan is to get y’all into something more pleasant than a Dropship, get y’all fed and have medical look everyone over…” At the surprise look on Khalid’s face over the medical services, Tessa actually laughed as she motioned Khalid to get aboard. “Oh, Sir Knight… you guys paid for services and took a contract to work for th’ Lancers. Y’all’s health and welfare is included with technical work.  The Colonel believes in taking care of his people and while you are contractors, that includes you.”

 As she climbed aboard after Khalid, she continued. “If folks are healthy and cared for, they tend to have a higher morale and do better in most everything.  Medical is usually brought up later in the In-processing but we KNOW y’all seen and been through some shit… Decision was made to have it on site at the Barracks right from the get-go.” Tess shrugged. “Best to know if anything else is wrong with folks before it bites y’all in the ass, right?”

  The Knight pondered this from his seat across from her as the bus drove along as it left the landing areas. “Assuredly… I don’t think we are all that unhealthy, but it’s been a long few years and I know I haven’t had a physical in that time. Not all of us mustered out properly from Marik Service, if you wish to call how some of us left a mustering out.”

 “Well then, Her Governor-ness guessed right on this.” Tessa commented as the bus got up to speed. “Y’all be fine, Sir Knight.  While Remington Temporary Lodging ain’t the Atreus Hyatt, it isn’t a block house on Tukayyid.  Once everyone is gone over and y’all have gotten some good rest, I think th’ plan is to get folks acquainted with Centaurus and our training facilities.  And we have tons of those…”

Transient Barracks Alpha Two at Area Amalisar
Lancer Combat Training Facility
Three Kilometers North of Crossroads, Ashton
1732 hrs, 15 November, 3080

 It had been a whirlwind two weeks for Khalid and the Knights. Tessa Drexel had been very right- the lodging they had gotten when arriving on Centaurus, while not opulent by any means, it had been comfortable and appointed well enough to have been considered a three star facility anywhere within the Inner Sphere.  Her other warning about the medical exams upon arrival had been correct too; upon pulling up to the facility, they were met by more Lancer personnel and doctors.

  Once the situation was explained to everyone, all of them got their room assignments taken care of then as people were able, they were seen.  And as it turned out, it had been a good thing they had been… Of the thirty-two personnel he had brought with him (mostly Mechwarriors and pilots) almost a third of them had some sort of medical issue either unknown or previously managed when there had been adequate medical care.

 It cost no one their jobs, per-se, but at least one member’s active fighting career was curtailed.  That one, Lady Janessa, initially took the news hard about no longer being able to pilot a mech full time. It wasn’t until their Liaison pointed out that the logistical side of things was just as important as the fighting that she began to really listen. Perhaps even more so… as it was details like what was going on right now that were often missed.  Having someone capable of maintaining the ‘boring’ pieces would keep them able to fight and do their jobs.

 Janessa came to understand how important it would be and calmed down… and started to relish the challenge.  Being a small group, keeping records straight would be a manageable challenge- and when they went to go on their own at the end of the Contract, having someone able to make sure all the documentation was straight on BOTH ends of an agreement would be a key thing.  Even as far as they were from having to worry about logistics when they were a premiere Household Regiment, many had heard of Mercenary Units being done in by bad deals.  Even Lady Kaye’s trashy Mech Warrior Hero Novels had those details right… as her fellow Knight had pointed out to her.

  Training in this part of the job would be offered by the Lancers as it was also pointed out the better people understood their agreements, the less questions there would be.  Janessa looked forward to this as it would give her something to work on.  She’d still retain qualification in battlemech piloting, but it would no longer be her only responsibility.

 Once that was resolved, it was further documentation, discussions on upgrade packages to machines, gear issue (Khalid actually liked their host’s requirement of knowing Infantry skills and gear), it was then movement to the Training Grounds on Ashton.  In specific, the Amalisar Training Grounds, a hilly badlands area that was to be their first real outing in years as any sort of fighting force.

 Khalid had spent a large amount of time with Lady Janessa and MSgt Drexel in going over training plans and details pertaining to getting personnel reacquainted with battlemech combat as well as Small Unit tactics.  Indeed, the plan for the next five days was to be MSgt Drexel going over small arms and how to properly maintain their issue weapons.  There had been a few complaints leveled at him and at their Liaison about having to do common grunt shit…. Many of these complaints coming from one member.  And it had grated on him immensely, as it was borderline disrespectful.  And unbecoming… so it was a pleasant surprise when that person’s come-uppance came.

  MSgt Drexel, after hearing Sir Lucan grumble yet again about commoner stuff for what must have been the ninth time during a briefing, stopped talking and walked up from the front of the indoor amphitheater- stopping dead in front of said Knight. “So’s… you say you are too skilled and too good to be going through this remedial ‘nonsense’, as ye’ put it…” She began as she reached into a rear pocket of her uniform to produce a worn leather glove. “So’s… you say this training is beneath ya… and that you don’t need any of it.”

 “I do,” He said from his seat.  “This is some plebian shit and I wonder what the hell I was thin-“

 Tessa’s right hand, which had the glove in it, flew forward and slapped the leather hand covering across Lucan’s face, shocking just about everyone. “YOU COCKY INSECURE SHIT!!” She snarled at him. “YOU ARE HERE TO BECOME BETTER THAN YOU WERE…. AND YOU ARE HERE BECAUSE WE WANT YOU TO BE BETTER THAN YOU WERE, YOU ARROGANT ASS!” At that, several other knights rose up to get involved.

 Khalid had been pissed at Lucan’s antics, and was somewhat surprised when Tessa did as she did.  He had an idea what was to come next and despite being a touch annoyed by it being necessary, was very willing to see what was to transpire; you see, he had learned a thing or two about Tessa Drexel over the last week and he was certain this was not going to go anywhere near what Lucan might want.

  As such, Khalid called out “HOLD!” to the rest of his people, which caused the responding knights to pause. “Let it play out….” He said as he gestured from his seat on the side to have folks sit back down.

 Lucan, not paying attention to Khalid, got up from his seat in anger and went nose to nose with Tessa.  “Bitch! How dare you?!?!” his fist balled as he tried to menace the tall Lancer warrior and failed, as he was actually two inches shorter than her. He hadn’t swung yet, but he looked like he wanted to.

“How dare I?” She answered, staring him down.  “How dare I? Lucan…  And yes, I know who you fuckin’ are…  Oh I know exactly who your pretty boy ass is… While you were playing grab-ass on Atreus before the Knights got gassed, I was here fighting and watching people die against Blakists…. Those who lived longer and survived… had more than one way of fighting and they used ’em.  More than one way… and what we are doing here is a damn attempt to help all of you Mech Jockeys have more than One Trick you can use to fight with. Get blasted from your mech, you can still fight…
  This got decided while you were in transit here, cause some folks think y’all are worth the effort and expense to help.  And Khalid knows why…

  Some of you already have more than one way… and we are going to help those get better.  Some of you don’t have another way… and we’re gonna help those folks LEARN some shit.  Trust me when I say y’all are going to need this training; the universe doesn’t care who you are ‘n I would think YOU learned that five years ago.”

   She paused. “Yes…  I know a shit ton of ways to fight as well as talk shit.  But at least I can back my shit up when I issue a challenge….”  As she said the word challenge, a few of the observing Knights started nodding, realizing what exactly was going on.  Lucan was not a popular Knight and to some of his fellows, maybe this might be what he needed. That this lesson was coming outside their group was embarrassing…

 “You’ve been served, Lucan…  You just got Served, Son.  And I’m sure I can take you in any form of combat you want… cause you ain’t all that.”

  Lucan, having gotten his mental marbles back during her challenge, answered her.  “Bullshit, Sergeant.  There is no way you are better than me in Personal Combat.  You haven’t the schooling, the experience nor the ability.” He growled at her. “I am better than you and I know it.”

 Tessa smiled, her features taking on a predatory look. “Try me.”

 He swung.

 She blocked and as quick as a snake, popped him in the throat with a knife-hand that almost got missed by onlookers. This staggered him, which she then used his blunted momentum to snag a pressure point on his hand and drop the mech warrior to his knees in gasping pain. All told, from swing to his going to the ground took all of about a second and a half.

 “This lesson’s free…” She calmly stated as she held the pressure point for a full six seconds then let go, taking a pair of steps back. “Challenge is still there if you want something more formal-like than y’all tryin’ to sneak me like you did.  Or you can take the lesson, sit back in your chair, and shut th’ fuck up while folks try to listen. Your choice.”

 Lucan looked at her from the ground where was… and quietly slid back into his chair. “This is over for now…” He said slowly. “Lesson learned.”

 Tessa’s smile never left her face. “Good… as there is still fifteen minutes left of this briefing to deal with before dinner; I’m pretty sure folks be hungry and I know I don’t want to have that many mad at me to delaying food…”  With that, she turned back to head down to the lectern.  After she got back to the podium, she returned her attention to the whole of the room.  “Now then… Where were we? Oh ya…”

Legends and Myths Thirty Seven

Lancer Command Complex
Auburn Mountains, Cromwell
03 September, 3080.

After she got a response to her query about guests, Leslie began figuring out exactly who was staying, who was going and who was to be in charge while both She and John were off world for vastly different missions.  After careful consideration and a no small argument with a hard-headed Highlander, she managed to come up with a very workable revised chain of command.

  Planetary affairs would be handled by Governor Sodher-Schaller with support from Governor Devine over on Forbes.  Between the two, who had very different personalities but equally smart, they would manage the planetary affairs without much trouble. On the military side of things, that was a bit more complicated.  Ultimately, she elected to make primary Major Clyburn who would be backed by Major Farquharson and the senior commander from Third Bn, Major Joe Johnson.

  Frank was her best choice as he was personable enough to lead and savy enough to know when he was over his head.  Sean was an excellent tactician but by his own admission, wasn’t a people person (which she reminded him he said…). Joe was a sound choice but very much the quiet commander… the one who watches everything and offers the subtle commentary when appropriate.  But while his quiet confidence was reassuring, a more assertive personality was necessary.  And Frank, as easy going as he could be, was not about to get bowled over by anyone’s force of will. Too many folks mistook his relaxed nature for no spine… and usually learned the hard way how wrong they were.

If something happened where none of the three were available, Diane would step in and take over military operations and Devine would handle planetary affairs.  The former Duelist could do the job but Leslie knew how the woman felt about warfare anymore… and she was not going to put her friend on the spot unless there was no other choice.

Once all that was set, she then notified her command lance to pack their bags… as they were going on a trip in a few days. A long trip…

 The first call she had gotten was from Kris, who asked after bringing her mastiffs, Trixie and Oreo.  Both had traveled into space before and with John gone and her daughter busy elsewhere on planet, she wanted to have them along. After a full explanation as to what was likely to be expected, Kris was undeterred; her reasoning besides the lack of coverage to care for them… was also rooted in companionship for all of them and in the feeling they’d be needed.

 Leslie, when told by Kris that she had a feeling they’d be important, agreed on their going.  She loved the two dogs of her friend and marveled at how well behaved they could be (and their abject goofiness when allowed) …  having them along, as long as they could handle the trip, actually was a sound idea.

 Maggie and Shannon both called her at the same time, asking about what to pack.  Far simpler questions… as this would be the first time either had been anywhere without being with the rest of the Battalion on campaign or on a civilian trip.  For both, this was the first time either of them would be part of a diplomatic mission (of sorts).  After giving advice on what to bring and not bring, she hung up with them and then stared at her com-unit for a good minute before lifting the handset and tapping in a number from memory.

Two rings and an answer. “Three Three One Archives…” The familiar voice of the Wolverine Loremaster, Jeff Kosh, answered the call. “For what do I owe the pleasure of a call from your august self, Colonel?”

 “Well… it’s a request of at least one person to take a trip with myself and my command group,” Leslie replied with a smile. “You see… I have this invitation to go to an event off-world and would like to bring a representative from your clan with.  Specifically, one of your junior lore-keepers.”

 “I see…” Kosh replied.  “Something of interest to the Clan, I take it, which requires recording?”

 “I think so… I am going to an event on Alshain at the invitation of Loremaster Tseng,” Leslie said in a light even tone. “And I think having an experienced observer along with would be smart. I’m very good but I think I’m going to be busy with a lot of higher end interactions.”

 Silence on the other end. “Sounds like an interesting event you are going to be going to.  And dangerous… especially for one of ours, if any among the Ghost Bears is not in agreement with their Khan.”

 “I thought of that… and believe me, I do not plan on mentioning affiliation to more than necessary, with the obvious ones being Tseng, who would expect it I think, and perhaps her Khan. So, someone without an old Bloodname would be best, I think. Unless you don’t have one. Then it is a complication and Andi will scold me clear into the next year over giving her a migraine.”

 Kosh knew who Andi Westerling was, having met the former Davion commando while the Bears had been here. And he knew she was far more than just a bodyguard. “Oh, I can imagine…” He commented. “Unfortunately, my list of assistant keepers is heavy on Clan Surnames though. Let me sort through who I have, and I will get back to you soon.  Whomever I send will be able to defend themselves, which should help Westerling with any migraine she gets from this trip.”

 A chuckle. “Outstanding.  I’m told its fourteen weeks out using one of the double transit jump ships and I expect to be there for about two weeks to a month. So call it six months minimum.”

 “Then I have one for sure, though her last name is unfortunate.”

 “Good and understood…  I am planning on being on our way by the first; If they have a dress uniform, make sure they pack it,” Leslie said. “I will leave it up to saKhan McEvedy if she or he wears your patches or ours; ours are easier for whomever it is to hide with but sometimes statements are statements….”

 Kosh pondered this. “I will pass this along to him.  I will recommend Lancer patches but the saKhan is the final word on it as far as I’m concerned; while we are more or less a subset of you right now anyway, despite what some believe, it is his call as the Keeper is representing us,” He mused. “I think less attention on her the better. Smarter too.”

 “I agree. But I also know that sometimes one must test waters,” She replied. “And that would be one way to do so.  If he elects for her to wear your patches, we will deal.” She caught the gender reference and smoothly added the detail to the conversation.

 “I knew you would say this… and while the pressure will be immense, I am certain my kinsman will be fine in your company,” Kosh said. “And I am certain the saKhan will confirm our readiness to you. Right now, we are something like ninety percent operational.”

  Leslie smiled on her end of the call. “You would be correct- I read that report only a little bit ago.  Many thanks, Jeffrey; have your kinswoman report to the main Lancer field within seventy-two hours. We should be loading then.”

 “Of course,” He replied. “If I don’t speak with you before then, have a good trip.”

 “Thanks! Talk to you later.” She hung up and sat back in her chair.

 While there were still several details to iron out over the next two days along with a message of who was attending with her sent back to Tseng, those items would fall into place neatly as they should.  She was sure she was leaving the Lancers in good hands… and if John kept to the schedule planned for prior to their leaving, he should be back here by the new year.  She had hoped to hear from him by now using the buoy network but for all she knew, they had not gotten to Barbados yet. And she needed to take time to write that message too…  A smile; he was going to be absolutely thrilled, she was sure, with this development.

But he’d laugh about it and timing… then curse it later under his breath.  It was his way; if there was one person who handled the chaos curveballs of the universe well (at least usually), it was him.

Drexel Field
Lancer main compound
0700 hours, 6 September, 3080

  As the last of the mechs of the Command Group was loaded as cargo onboard the Sebastian Everest, a modified Buccaneer class Aerodyne dropship used by the Lancers for non-combat transits, Leslie stood off to the side with Kristina and the dogs.  The two mastiffs sat next to Kristina, calmly taking in the scene around the landing area as they waited for the last member of their party.  And the Wolverine Keeper was running late.  Or She was running ahead of schedule… either way, the Keeper was not here.

  Andi Westerling was already aboard with her gear and bags, the veteran commando knowing it was best to get situated before takeoff so there was no question of shifting bags or adrift gear.   

  Leslie glanced at her watch just as a small shuttle in Wolverine Livery raced into the local airspace and came into a landing just short of the pad. Once landed, a lone figure got out with a satchel and a large backpack then headed in their direction.  The burgundy-haired woman, all five foot four of her, strode forth confidently towards the awaiting Lancers.  As she got within ten feet, she stopped and set her satchel down.

 “Ma’am, Lieutenant Shari Hallis; I apologize for being late; In the rush to get out here, I had to return to Outpost to retrieve a backup tablet and a gift for Khan Kabrinski; saKhan McEvedy insisted I not forget it and of course… it had been left behind in the rush,” Shari, for her part, knew enough not to salute in the open as she reported in. “I am certain we may have broken a law or two in getting back here.”

 Leslie noted the smart actions of the Wolverine Lieutenant and noted the use of the SLDF ranks in the introduction.  The Wolverines had gone back to the Old Rank structure way back during the Escape and had maintained their use.  When becoming part of the population of Centaurus and more or less being part of the Lancers, their overall rank structure fit seamlessly with the Lancer usage.  It made things easier on an operational scale, that was certain. “Lieutenant, at least you made it,” McCormack stated.  “Its going to be a long trip and I strongly suggest we get aboard and settled… I’ll make sure your driver does not get in too much trouble.”

 Shari smiled as she lifted her satchel. “Ma’am, I am certain Loremaster Kosh will appreciate that; he was the one who rushed me out the door and the one who was driving…” she said as she followed Leslie towards the accessway aboard the dropship.

 Kris laughed as she moved to follow, the two dogs going up to sniff the newcomer with a gesture from her. “Well… having your boss be the one to make you late helps mitigate things,” she said. “he will have to yell at himself then…”

 Shari nodded. “Yes.  As if this trip was not enough pressure for myself and the Clan; his being the reason for my late arrival I guess helps?”

 Leslie looked back at them when they got on the main passenger deck. “It does… though I may give you some gentle grief for forgetting the items.  Only gentle though; you are going into a potential lion’s den here… and you have an unfortunate last name for doing so. I do not need to add to things otherwise.”

 Shari frowned as she moved towards the stateroom one of the crew motioned her to. “I know, ma’am. It is a rather infamous one to have, considering where we are going.”

 Shan spoke up from one of the forward stateroom hatches. “Any Wolverine bloodname is gonna be watched for…  What one is yours?”


 “Oh geez…” Shan lamented with a shake of her head. “Sister, you have got a problem.” All of the command lance members had taken time (at Leslie’s recommendation) to learn about the more famous names among the Wolverines and to learn some of the names the Ghost Bears had.  Of all the various names, she knew McEvedy and Hallis were the more infamous Wolverine ones… “Its alright though- Leslie said the Bears take their hosting serious so you’ll be fine.”

A voice from another one of the staterooms drifted into earshot. “If not then she’s my problem…”  Andi Westerling’s comment gave rise to a chuckle from the three Lancers present. “She will be fine… I haven’t lost one yet.”

 Leslie shook her head as the Dropship crew chief came into view and held up a thumb. “Ok…  enough chatter for now.  Chief Smith is ready to get us moving so get situated.  In five minutes, we are airborne…

 A chorus of “Yes ma’am” was heard from the three women present and they scattered to rooms.  Kris caught Leslie’s eye and once caught, glanced to Trixie then back to her followed by a nod.  The dogs approved of their addition.

 Leslie relaxed a little. It was going to be a long trip and there was going to be plenty of time to learn about their Wolverine Lore Keeper.  But having the dogs give approval was a good thing. If the guard dogs (which is what they were, really) were going to be able to accept the Wolverine addition as part of the pack, it would make their reaction time to protect her, if trouble happened, that much faster.

Entering her stateroom, she sat in the flight chair and strapped in.  All of her own gear had been long stowed so she was as ready as can be.

 This was going to be an adventure.