Ghost Bear Dominion Executive Offices
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.