Legends and Myths Fifty Six- The Storm: Rising Wave part Eight (the wave crashes)

Lancer Command Compound

1512 hrs 7 December

  As the last of the Word Of Blake machines retreated from the facility, Major Farquharson could only shake his head at the audacity… and the no small amount of luck they had managed in this defense.  Wiping the blood from his temple, the wound courtesy of a hammerstrike of a particle cannon to his head assembly towards the end, he assessed what remained of the defenses… and the number of Blakist machines left behind.

 The WoB assault had noticeably shifted tactics as it became apparent they were not going to bowl the Lancer defense over.  Lighter machines began to retreat where they could and the remaining heavier machines, a Grand Crusader and a Buccaneer on Hartman’s side of the field, targeted his Atlas with everything they had and forced an ejection as the grinning skull head of his machine was smashed yet again. But in the process of his mech being dropped, DJ had crushed one Buccaneer at his feet with a big foot then laid into the WoB assault machine in front of him.

 Sean’s daughter Destiny, who had been racing to help her uncle, earned the attention of the Grand Crusader as another Buccaneer took up attacking DJ. The Assault machine nearly cut her poor Panther in half, with deadly accurate long-range fire. Sean came around the corner and helped DJ put an end to the Blakist- it was even money who put it down, really… but it died for shooting his friend and nearly killing his daughter.

 The rest of Destiny’s lance helped Dog Robber Edgar and Tony G put down the remaining Buccaneer even as Chief Colt laid into that machine with all his lasers. Said energy assault raised the heat levels of his exec’s Rifleman to near shut down levels… but sometimes, cooking yourself was worth it.  And in this instance, very much so.

 Over on the far side where Alpha had been sitting as reserve, they absolutely decimated a Level II that had apparently detailed to secure the hangers within the Old Compound.  Several Gurkhas and a Raijin had discovered four Warhammers and a Black Knight were a bad thing to face at nearly point blank range. A Viking had attempted to play hide and seek with a Grand Dragon and one of the prized Royal Warhammers.  The Alpha company Tempest had played pheasant hunter and picked off the Hawker LAM as it tried to escape the confines of the camp, a gauss slug and energy burse of a large pulse shearing off a wing which sent thy hybrid machine into a death dive.

  A White Flame, which had tried to support the effort of it fellow attackers, wisely departed the camp as a Warhammer and the Tempest turned their attention to the late comer.  He jumped out over the walls to join the rest of its Level II as it engaged the Challenger platoon that had been moving to support the Typhoon demi-company up in the armor compound.

 Not that the big city=fighting machines needed the assistance.

 Several Celestial class Omnimechs had ventured over here to support a different Level II and realized how much an error it was when they pounced. Six Class Twenty cannon barked along with an obnoxious amount of short range missiles were unleashed… and when the smoke trails of the missiles cleared away, two Celestials- a Seraph and a Malak– joined the Cicada from the west side Level II in death.

 Joined by the two Rhino Assault Support tanks, the six Typhoons proceeded to clean house with some of their number joining the axe maniacs of Delta in going after the Cicada’s Level II group mates.  Between some of the armor and some long-range fire from Delta’s Catapult, the Berserker and Axman of Delta proceeded to stomp the attackers.

 Early on, a Battlemaster from that group had managed to close on Sean and the others of Charlie on this side of the field.  And the assault machine seemed to target his Marauder early. By singling him out, those defenders on this side were free to shoot the Blakist Assault machine or lend fire to support the hatchet assault going on in the Blakist lines.

 In any event, it was a near thing for the good Major, as the Battlemaster fell under the combined guns of of everyone who was not firing at distant foes.  The damage his Marauder had taken was substantial… but had not prevented him from going to help out DJ after it dropped… and avenge his daughter getting hammered.

When the last Blakist machine on the field fell and the other began to run, he heard Diane’s voice over the net. [All Lancer Elements…  do not Pursue. I repeat, do NOT pursue…] she called out. [Consolidate and secure the compound. Make sure no Blakist Machine remaining still functions and support Security Elements in cleaning out nests.]

 Sean saw the sense in it… even if he hated the idea of letting the buggers get away.  As he saw to getting his troops organized to secure flanks, a private comm channel pinged. Tapping over to it, he answered. “Farquharson…”

[Major, Forbes Center…] came a voice. [I have Governor Devine on hold for you…. Patching him through.] A two second pause. [Sean, Roy Devine…] came the deep baritone of the Industrial Continent governor.

 “Ach… Afternoon, Governor; I have a feeling this isnae a social call…” Sean answered, his heart in his throat.

[Afraid not; it would seem in the fighting inside of Landing, there was a jail break at the prison and your other daughter was among those not accounted for,] Roy said. [There was casualties among the guards and prisoners…  Things are still being sorted through… but I thought to let you know that she isn’t among the injured, at least as far as the information I have right now. Things are still chaotic but based on available information, her cell block was part of the area targeted for the break out.]

 Sean was quiet for a good ten seconds. “Governor… Thank you for this news… I wanna believe she is alive and nae with them but given her past…”

 [I know, Sean. I know…] Roy replied. [As more is learned, I will make certain you’re kept informed as best as possible.]

 “Thank you,” He replied as evenly as possible.  “Pardon me, Governor… but I need to see to operations here. I look forward to further updates…”

 [Of course, Sean] He replied. [We’ll find her…  Devine out.]  The channel went dead.

 Sean simply stared out the damaged cockpit window, deep in thought as his hands tightened on his mech’s controls. He loved his daughter and had thought until just now that maybe, MAYbe… she could be redeemed.  That Tinney had elected to keep her on ice for the last year had been a blessing, of sorts, which had allowed him to try to break the Cult’s hold on her and reverse the lies she had been told by her mother.  This though… if she was with them now… would prevent any stay of sentencing if she was caught again.

  Moving his Marauder over to the carcass of the Grand Crusader, he focused the targeting reticle on the empty cockpit of the assault machine. “Dia Damn Mic gun mhàthair de Bitches!!” He screamed in rage as he triggered his clan-spec large lasers several times…. Slagging the head assembly of the dead Blakist battlemech.

 As his comm gear lit up with requests for status and situation, he stopped firing and let his weapons cool as he kicked his mech’s foot on the dead machine once.  He hated the Word of Blake before… now, that hatred had grown yet even more…

 May whatever gods the Blakists believed in take pity on their followers… By his Ancestors, if he had any say, there was nothing that would stop him from killing them all. And if he had to leave the Lancers to go hunting, so be it.

Inn of the Welcome Wench
Village of Hommlet
12 kilometers outside of Landing
1601 hours, 7 December 3080

 Trinity Farquharson glanced outside of the second story room she was in, partnered with two other who had been in the jail with her and closed her eyes as she stepped away from the window.  She had been sitting in her cell when the attack began on the prison.  In the chaos, several cell blocks lost power and doors automatically popped open as fire alarms blared.

 Several Blakist commandos had managed to breach the building and take out various defending guards.  As they did so, two of their number had entered the block when the fire alarms triggered and cell doors opened.  Yelling out various praises to Blake, the two troopers gathered those Word of Blake prisoners still within the place to them and led them out to several waiting transports.

 Getting in the lead one, the vehicle sped away as Landing Security troops that were not responding to the attack on the Lancer compound, arrived to stop the break out.  A fire fight developed as another transport raced away from the scene.  For an hour, the escaping vehicles had managed to avoid being caught and eventually arrived in the small village she was now in.

 Ushered into the inn through a back door, her guide led her upstairs to the room she was in.  Some brief instructions to avoid windows as they changed from their jumpsuits into something less obvious, she and the two others with her (a former mech pilot and a sympathizer caught some six months ago) had sat waiting for an update.

 None of them had weapons yet but Trinity figured they’d be armed soon.  And depending on what she was given, her next steps would be decided then.

 Trinity had had plenty of time to think on everything she had been told by her mother years ago and over all the actions she had done, her father had done in the years since. While she didn’t have much regrets for the actions done and taken, she had decided that maybe she needed to leave the Order. For good, if she could manage it, without getting killed in the process.

  She could not afford to get caught in the company of these people. That was a given for sure.  And as she escaped the prison, she wondered if opportunity to go alone would crop up.  When they got here, she had been surprised there was any sympathizers left on Centaurus anymore but only minorly. Planetary Security had proven to be better than she ever thought, with many folks being rounded up since her capture north of Zathras.  Some she had known; others were totally new to her… but the consistent theme was many of them had been in contact with the same Precentor she had been.

 Considering what had been in the hideout in terms of tech, Trinity surmised that the Spectre team that had raided it had managed to prevent the databases from being destroyed. Given that the precentor who was in charge of the place was a live prisoner, she guessed that Argyle had managed to stop the place’s destruction protocols from being enacted. Which meant, Trinity thought, that the Word of Blake computers had been captured intact and its information used to help roll up spies. It also meant this place might get rolled soon; she knew sometimes places were left alone as a potential trap for others… and with everything else, that idea this was one of those occurred to her.

 At least it made sense to her… It also meant that any official cache of gear known to that site would be compromised or disabled. Good thing she had a few of her own.  If there was one thing her uncles had taught her, along with her dad, it was always have something squirrelled away for emergencies. And she did, though not nearly the level of stuff she had used before. But if she could get to Brookstone or south to the port of Suzail, she had a few small caches with money and clothing.  Before then, though, she was going to need to cut her curls and get a wig.  The more she could not look like herself, the better her chances were.

 But first things first.  She needed to get away from these companions of hers… then find a car. As good as mass transit was here, it likely would not be running anytime soon…

Legends and Myths Fifty Five- The Storm: Rising Wave Part Seven

Lancer Command Compound

1457 hrs 7 December

 Major Hartman’s Atlas rocked with missile and energy weapons strikes, with several missiles impacting his head assembly.  As screens popped and bits of plexiglass, along with a few empty cans of RipIt, ricocheted around the cockpit, DJ winced as fragments hit him.  Still standing after the pummeling, he let out a rebel yell.  “YeeeeeeeeeeHAAAAAAAAAA!! Who’s the Shogun of Landing, Bitches?!?!” he exclaimed as he turned his Atlas towards the nearby Word of Blake Buccaneer at his feet.  He was gonna kick this bastard into next week.

  As he maneuvered the controls to deliver the kick, he went over the events of the last ten minutes…

**

  As the Word of Blake machines began to land through the anti-air blast, Delta First Battalion maneuvered out of their Ready Hangars, prepared for the onslaught to come.  All twelve machines were fully functioning for a change- even Kissinger’s Warhammer, which was notorious for *something* not working.  Personally, he thought the git was lying to him, but he wasn’t gonna press.

  As the enemy machines landed in spots, Farquharson called over to him. [Deej…  Me and the boyo’s will be out in a minute; doors givin’ us a wee bit of grief.] The highlander accented Charlie Company Commander said. [These nutters be needin’ a kickin…]

“No shit…” He replied as he watched a Grand Crusader landed out beyond the edge of the strip. A pair of Level II formations landed downrange from him and he spied a third landing on the other side of the Armor compound.  Smiling to himself, he was amused at what was waiting for those Blakists.  A half-company of Typhoon city defense tanks was no joke…

 Turning his head, he looked to his right and realized that it was him, Ed in his Marauder 4R and Tony G in his Zeus 5T-4 on this side of the hangars on the ground. Cyndi Lee had jumped her Catapult on top of the hangar bunker.  She was going to be a target doing that but a dangerous one- to shoot her meant they were ignoring everyone else.  Speaking of everyone else, they all piled out the other side of the bunker, their guns immediately firing at Blakists within view.

  He and his troops here on the strip had to by time against at least two full Level II forces and a potential third.  A fourth Level II had landed near the Operations Center where Guv’nor Sodher-Schaller was, along with a platoon of Alacorn. He almost felt sorry for those Blakists…  almost.

 As the shooting began, DJ maintained an awareness of the rapidly improving defense effort and grinned.

  The Word of Blake had been both stupid and smart in their assault.  The Smart was that they managed to pick generally good locations for landing and advancing towards the middle and some of the command buildings, with one unit landing right in the complex where Operations was.

 The Stupid… was that units who landed in their assigned zones were not the best ones for the job… or any intel on what was actually here was ignored.

 Lieutenant Colonel McCormack’s company, minus its command lance, had been positioned at the main compound’s hangars while she was away.  Their role, without her, was to act as either a heavy hammer for a lighter reaction company or additional firepower for any Dragoon company with the duty.

  DJ had elected to leave them in the compound but had their pilots available.  When the raid waring came in, they had scrambled to their machines and got operational fast.  Which was a mean surprise for the Level II that had landed within the compound… for when five Warhammers walk into view along with a Black Knight and turn their guns on you, it’s a bad day to be you.

   Things died in that compound and DJ really could not spare much thought on it… mostly because if he didn’t pay attention, HE might be dead soon.

  As he directed weapons fire out at Blakist machines, he saw both Dougan in his Berserker and Joe Cool (yes, it’s his real name) in his Axman beat feet to take it to one of the Level IIs near the Armor Compound.  The both of them knew they needed to get stuck in fast to be effective… and given the sheer number of threats right now, they might get ignored.  As much as a threat two hatchet-wielding machines were, the amount of supporting fire for them… could not be ignored.  Who knows… it could work.

 More explosions on his and others around him happened and a Buccaneer ran up on him.  As it tried to bring its hatchet around to hit him, massed fire from Ed and Tony slammed the enemy machine to the ground before it lit him up.

 **

 Throughout the complex, Lancer battlemechs responded to the onslaught that was the Word of Blake combat drop assault.  That they had been ready for the attack was a major boon for the defense and the Word really had no good answer for it.

 In the furious nine or so minutes of combat, almost half of their assault force was falling to defender weapons.  Even the vaunted Gestalts were taking a small beating, though their presence was felt.

 But it was not enough…. Nowhere near enough, actually, as the murderous accuracy of the defenders outmatched Word of Blake firepower, despite the advantage in numbers on one front they had.  The assault was in danger of failing unless something gave.

 As much as it pained him to do it, he decided going Guerilla might be necessary for his lighter machines among his force.  His larger battlemechs were not going to outrun anything here but the lighter machines remaining could.

  “All Elements… Heavy Combatants target and engage command platforms.  Lighter elements, disengage and evade.  Plan Zulu… Plan Zulu…” With the order given, he maneuvered his Archangel outside the wall of the compound and looked to support the two Gestalt of his force.  The two Domini machines were dangerous on broken ground and right now, they needed to get out to harass and hinder Lancer ops out among the rest of the continent.

  But they needed to get out…. And were in danger of not doing so as one took a ton of fire from a Challenger tank platoon.  Dropping his sights on the lead tank, he looked to lessen their threat to what remained of his right flank and the Gestalts.

**

 Diane shifted her Battlemaster around as the last of the enemy machines dropped within the compound she was in.  Between her and the platoon of Alacorn tanks, they hammered everything into the asphalt that had dared to come within the compound.

  Heading for the back entrance where the Word Mongoose had disappeared, she checked the data screen on the right of her cockpit.  It showed an overview of the area and she noted the lance of Charlie Company mechs looking to cut off the Word of Blake recon machine.  Smiling to herself, she temporarily shut off her gauss rifle; if that Mongoose gave her the chance, she was going to punch him in the face…

**

 Elsewhere, Major Farquharson directed those around his Marauder to target as appropriate, starting with the Word of Blake Battlemaster closing on their line.  “Ya wee bastard…  Get fucked, eh?” He cursed as the big machine unloaded its weapons into his battlemech. Triggering his own weapons, he watched the high energy Clan-Spec large lasers his machine carried cut deep into the enemy Battlemaster.  He watched the assault mech stagger as more weapons slammed into it and half-watched it fall as he heard Destiny, his mech pilot daughter, let out a string of curses he didn’t know she knew.

 Destiny was running with WO2 Snyder and the two of them in their Panthers were attempting to help Hartman and his boys on that side of the central Hangars.  Their weapons hammered members of the Word of Blake force as they attempted to close on Major Hartman’s Atlas, hoping to take some of the heat off of him. It wasn’t looking good for the good major, as Blakist weapons poured their energy into his big machine and it visibly staggered from the punishment, with a pair of strikes hitting the head again.  Screaming bloody murder, Destiny kicked her mech into a run.

  Uncle DJ was awesome… and his habit of needling her dad was always fun to listen to.  She knew the number of hits to the Atlas head assembly would not be good for her uncle… and she hoped like hell he survived it all.  If he didn’t, someone was going to pay for that.

 Starting now.

Legends and Myths Fifty Four- The Storm: Rising Wave part six

Lancer Command Compound Operations building

Auburn Mountains, Cromwell

1449 hours 7 December

  Governor Diane Sodher-Schaller quickly exchanged her uniform blouse top for a cooling vest. She had gotten into the habit of being prepared for duties other than admin after the events of last Christmas. And with both main Lancer commanders off world, that included her cooling vest and Aiskon, her Battlemaster.  As the attacks began here, she had sent an orderly to fetch her ready bag from quarters.  She had a feeling it was going to be necessary…

Some fifteen minutes prior, she had been in the Com Center watching the feeds and observing the space battle play out and then when the transports jumped in, watched the responses.  Major Farquharson had been in with her at the time and his commentary had been special.

**

“The wobblies seem tae be determined this time,” Sean said as he saw the alert for the in-system jump ring out “D’ye think they are coming here?”

 Diane watched the fighter battle develop and how their transports moved.  As they began to firm up their paths to the planet, she looked at the operations chief. “Mister Smiley, see if the predictor software can narrow down potential landing sites. I want an idea on who to send where…”

 Chief Warrant John Smiley looked over to the Governor and replied. “Already working on it, ma’am. The windows are interesting and rather problematic.”

 “Problematic how, Mister Smiley?” Diane asked. What could be problematic besides the obvious with an invasion and everything else going on.

 “Predicted drop zones are here for the bulk of the inbound craft,” Smiley’s answer was dry. “The large vessel looks to land somewhere near the mountains north of Zathras… but the Unions all look to be coming here. Or close enough.”

  Diane turned and stared at the Chief. “Confirm that…” She barked as she turned her attention to Sean. “As for you….”

 Sean, who had been listening, had already figured out what order was coming next. “Aye… I’m going.  I already ordered the Company to be ready to go for the Bays when I told them I was going to Operations.  We’ll be mounted up when Wobblies get here…” He said with a wicked grin. “Dinnae worry, they are gonna get a kickin’…”

 “I’m sure… but be ready for nonsense.” Diane replied. “Now git.” Sean departed and she returned her attention to Smiley. “Mister Smiley?”

“Analysis has solidified probability. 80 percent chance of combat drop on the area of the Compound. 15 percent north of the compound and 5 percent elsewhere near Landing- plus or minus seven percent,” he replied. “I would make bets based on those numbers, Governor. They are coming here.”

She closed her eyes for a moment. “Thank you, Mister Smiley,” Diane replied. Taking a deep breath, she continued. “Please assist transfer of command center operations to the secondary center up in Forbes.  I need to notify Governor Devine he will be handling things for a bit.”

The command center staff, having listened to the Governor’s exchange with Chief Smiley, immediate started the shifting of responsibilities to the mentioned site.  Secondary now became the Outpost Castle held by Wolverine… and those notifications would be going out too.

 Smiley nodded. “Of course, ma’am,” He replied. “I take it you are planning to greet the uninvited guests yourself?”

 “After a fashion, Mister Smiley, after a fashion…” Diane said as she stepped to a com-station.  Turning her attention to it, she tapped in the direct line to Governor Devine on the vid-com.

Within a pair of seconds, he answered. “So, I’m in charge now, is it?”

 A smile. “Unfortunately for you, yes…” she replied in a light tone. “I’m sure you saw we are about to have some rude visitors…”

 Governor Devine frowned. “As soon as we got notification about being Primary, I got a brief,” he commented. “You know you don’t need to be out there… or are you feeling your oats?” He had teased her at the summer Command party about getting back into a mech and had handed her a bag of mash one would feed a horse.  Good natured teasing… but the concern was very real.  Devine was NOT a mech pilot but had respect for those who were.

 With his background with medical and science, he knew exactly what Diane’s medical conditions were and combined with her age, he better than most understood the risks she took when she fought the raid last year. The stresses of combat, even in the very solid confines of a Battlemaster cockpit, was not exactly soft.  With her balance issues… stability was a concern.

  She laughed. “Roy… I appreciate the concern… once I got back in the saddle, I wanted more of it- within reason, of course.” She said lightly. “I got this, and I am certain I will be fine. Besides, Farquharson is here; you might want to worry about any Blakist that actually hits me….”

 Laughter from the other man. “I suppose I could feel sorry for them- but I would be lying,” he replied. “Get some, Diane… I got the Big Hat till you get back. Forbes has issues but not like yours.  Clyburn is going to be furious…”

 “As much as he ever gets mad,” She commented.  “Got to go- Aiskon awaits.”

 “Godspeed…”

**

Outside, the defense towers opened up on the incoming dropships as they disgorged their cargos. Barracuda missiles launched from the ground and sped towards the incoming transports.  The weapons on the Blakist ships managed to shoot down most of the deadly missiles streaking for them but not all.

 The ship delivering the last of the dropping Blakist machines detonated as the last group dropped and the explosion threw off the descending mechs.  Several deviated from their planned landing zones and two wound up in the waterway that bordered the strip.  The results were unfortunate for the two machines, with one machine, a Grand Titan, suffering catastrophic damage which caused the engine compartment to flood. This resulted in a shutdown of the battlemech.

 Other machines landed as planned and the one LvL II that stuck its landing in the Ops compound, was immediately beset by a full Alacorn platoon and the now-mounted Governor in her duelist machine. Elsewhere, another pair of LvL IIs landed by the reinforced Typhoon platoon who immediately moved to engage with their heavy autocannon. Out on the main strip, Delta First Battalion was already moving to engage anything within reach of their guns- and in the case of Warrant Officer Dougan, his Berserker’s axe as he charged forward.

  The battle was on and no quarter was expected…. Nor was it going to be given.  Many of the pilots in First Battalion were veterans of the Jihad and quite a few were here the last time the Word of Blake was here in force.

  In this fight, there was no retreating if it could be helped.  Reinforcements from other Lancer units would come… but it fell to the defenders here to hold the Word in place…. And make them pay dearly for this act.

**

Cujo got the update on the main compound as his force was heading down to rearm and refuel.

[Mastiff Flight, Forbes Command]

 “Forbes, Mastiff,“ He answered as he immediately looked in the direction of the main Lancer facility off in the distance.  That it was Forbes and not the main base calling him was not good.

 [Mastiff, redirect and intercept landing north of Zathras.  Coordinates to follow. Doghouse is currently off line- facility under attack and defenders engaged.]

FUCK!!I “Forbes, Mastiff; request clearance to support Doghouse.” Cujo quickly looked at the rest of his flight to gage overall damage.  Noting several of his ships were smoking some from damage didn’t give him happy thoughts…. But this was home.  And he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to do something.

 [Mastiff, Forbes… negative. Blakist forces are heavily engaged with Doghouse defense troops. Per Romeo Delta, Doghouse can handle.]

 Cujo thought on that one.  Racking his brain, he tried to remember who Romeo Delta was…. Then he remembered. “Forbes, Mastiff.  Confirm Romeo Delta being greedy…”  Romeo Delta stood for Regimental Duelist and he knew who that was.  She was a badass bitch and considering she had help, she just might manage to kick them off the base. Damn sure didn’t like it not helping but she knew what she was doing.

 [Mastiff, Forbes; Romeo Delta stated can contain and remove infection,] Was the controller’s reply. A different voice came on next. [Cujo, Forbes Actual….  I don’t like it either, but I believe her. However, we need eyeballs on those landing zones. If necessary, you are backup. Brookstone Field is New Primary; Sage alternate.]

“Forbes, Mastiff; received new mission and heading there now.” Changing channels for the squadron, he called to his pilots. “Ok Mastiff.. we are heading to eyeball a Blakist LZ north of Zathras; new base is either Brookstone or Sage.”

 [Cujo…] Doc commented. [What’s going on?]

“Doghouse is compromised right now… and Forbes is asking for eyeballs on an LZ north of Zatrhas.”

 [Damnit…]

“Tell me about it…” He replied as he redirected his fighter towards the new destination. “Faster we get this done, faster we might be able to do something.”

[Yay orders….]

Legends and Myths Fifty Three- The Rising Wave : part five

Near Planetary orbit Centaurus IV

1430 hours

 Lt Colonel Mike ‘Cujo’ Conigliaro led his six-fighter squadron, a mix of Samurai SL26 and V14 Corsairs, called Mastiff Group, in a near-space patrol over the planet.  When news of the battle out near Centaurus VI came in with the warning some of the enemy ships had jumped again, he’d thought over the prospects of them retreating and immediately threw out the notion.  This was a dedicated effort at the system and the Blakist forces had burned too much power and resources to give up now.

  Fanatics rarely gave up easy unless the chips were absolutely down.  And the veteran pilot was certain their effort wasn’t over.  Selling out mercs happened all the time and while possible, there was far too many of their hirelings fighting here to leave hanging.  Not with the monster case of ass they had with the Phoenix Lancers.

 “Look alive, people… I expect stupid here shortly…” He transmitted to his squadron. Scanning his sensors, the warnings of an inbound transition to real space began to sound. “Aaaand speak of the devil, and he shall appear….”

  Appearing some five hundred kilometers from orbit, the newly appeared ships were a Star Lord and a Chimeisho, of all things.  Shortly after they arrived, all eight dropships carried by the transport Jumpships separated.  three Union class and an Overlord mech carrier, started burning for the planet, disgorging their handful of fighters as a screen.  A pair of Leopard CV fighter carriers joined them and also kicked their fighters out into space while the last two dropships, a Hercules, judging by the ThreatMatrix, and a Triumph, headed out after the dedicated battlemech haulers.

 Quickly counting the incoming enemy fighters, Cujo called back to Lancer Command. “Doghouse, Mastiff One …  Blakist Assault Group inbound.  Eight Dropships- six mech or troop carriers and two fighter carriers.  I count three full squadrons aerospace assets. Requesting reinforcements…”

[Mastiff One, Doghouse; we copy multiple threats inbound and system sensors confirm counts. Buccaneer Squadron is being directed to your location. ETA zero seven minutes.]

 Cujo looked at what was coming and at his HUD chrono. “Mastiff copies zero seven minutes…. Tell them to step it up please.”

[Mastiff, Doghouse; Will do… will vector assets as able.  SLS Socket is also responding- unknown ETA.]

“Mastiff One receive…” Clicking the squadron net, he called out. “Ok Mastiff, battle spread and let’s get ‘em. Help’s coming but it will take a few…”

 As the rest of the squadron acknowledged, Cujo quickly pondered how to hold the inbound fighters off long enough for that backup to show up.  This was going to suck…

[Cujo, Doc,] Captain Janice (Doc) Holiday called to him. [we sure we wanna be bunched? Lots of Indians over there…] Doc was an experienced pilot, a veteran of the early Jihad scrapes prior to coming to the Lancers.  She knew her business and would have been the lead for this patrol if he hadn’t jumped on it when the attacks started.

 “Doc, Cujo; was just thinking that…” He replied quickly as the range closed.  “Fluid two?”

 [I think that might be better… how much time we gotta burn?] She asked.

 “At least six minutes… yeah lets do it,” a pause. “Mastiff, Cujo. Fluid twos… and make ‘em work for it.”

 Doc and her usual wingman, Lieutenant Charlie (Ticket) Wilder, slid off to the right of the group, adding space for maneuvering and presenting a smaller target for massed fire.  The other two members of the patrol. Lieutenants Bruce (Joker) Wilder and Kev (Swordsman) Knight slid left as if a mirror of Doc and Ticket.  This left Cujo and the squadron rookie pilot, Lieutenant Evan (Axe) Ibanez, in the center.  The odds were stacked against Mastiff… but all they had to do was be difficult to take out.  The longer they avoided being picked off, the better the odds.

 Didn’t mean they weren’t going to shoot back though.

 As the two forces closed, both sides began to fire weapons at each other.  The Blakist fighters, a mix of Free Worlds League Shiva, Capellan TR12 Transit and Lyran Lucifer fighters, bored in looking to knock the Lancer craft from their way.  About four craft went after each lancer pair and the Blakist pilots worked at targeting the defenders at range.

  Energy weapon and missile fire streaked across the rapidly closing gap between the sides and neither group landed very much of anything.  But that rapidly changed as the range closed to dogfight ranges.  As the space furball developed, the un-engaged Blakist craft took up station around the fight, darting in to harass Lancer fighters as opportunity presented. They knew too many of them in the scrum would almost surely lead to friendly fire or collisions….

 It was a tactic that worked, as there were far too many enemies to keep track of.  The first of the Lancers to fall was Joker. As he moved to avoid a barrage of missiles fired at him, he strayed into the sights of a Lucifer- its large lasers and long-range missiles hammering his engine and wrecking it.  Tumbling from the damage, the pilot’s cockpit separated from his stricken craft. Joker prayed his beacon would get him found… and that the Blakist pilots weren’t thinking of scragging life pods.

 His wingman, Swordsman, managed to clip a Transit, blowing it to hell and gone as his Corsair’s lasers literally ripped through the control surfaces of his target.  This earned him the attention of a Shiva, which forced him away from the main scrum and into the sights of the overwatching fighters.  He would not last long as two pounced on him like a cat a mouse. He too would join his wingman as his cockpit separated from his now dead fighter.

 Doc and Ticket, long time partners, worked the Fluid Formation as if they were born to it, and anything that tried for them earned some serious damage from the two pilots.  Between them, all four of the initially detailed enemies fell to their efforts but earned them more to face.  Neither were unscathed… but their odds of remaining in this fight diminished with each passing minute. They knew it… but given what was at stake, neither one was going to suggest they run.

 Cujo’s skills were tested like no other time in his life.  Kicking his SL26 around, he judiciously fired his weapons to keep his opponents worried even as he worked his controls on defense like a madman.  As he dodged and weaved, he not for the first time in his life questioned his choices of career; but this was absolutely the first time he questioned his sanity in even thinking they could slow these bastards down.  If he was going to go though, at least he knew he’d gotten two of the four that had gone for him and Axe.

 Axe, for her part, was flying way out of her skill level. Rookie luck, blind squirrel moment or sheer Hand of God involvement, the inexperienced pilot managed to dodge everything thrown her way. At one point, when Cujo had been tailed by a Shiva, Axe had gone danger close to the pursuing fighter with a wicked pass, the guns of her Corsair shredding the cockpit area of the heavy fighter trying to kill him.

  She paid for it when a Lucifer perforated her tail bad enough to cause her engines to lose thrust. [Cujo…]

 Whipping his craft around, Cujo chased off the Lucifer even as he avoided a flight of LRMs. “Got you…” he answered then tripped the squadron channel. “All Mastiffs…  back off as you can!” Eyeing the HUD chrono, he wondered where the hell the backup was even as he marveled that they had managed to survive almost eight minutes in this mess….

 No one answered him but they obviously got the message as the surviving members of the flight broke off as best as they could.  It was now a race for the planet with the enemy pursuing them as if they were hounds chasing a fox.

[Mastiff Flight, SLS Socket… Cavalry has arrived.]

It was at this point that the SLS Socket showed up with a micro jump of her own bringing the Vincent class Corvette into the fray.  As she fully transitioned in, the Wolverine Ahab and Lightning fighters she carried began launching en-masse and streaking to help the beleaguered Mastiff Squadron.

[Mastiff, Buccaneer One; sorry we’re late- Had to wait for a big gun…]

 Coming from the other direction, Buccaneer Squadron was at full military power as they raced to support their brothers and sisters. Not far behind them was two of the Lancer Avengers, the aerodyne dropships geared for anti-fighter operations.

 The Blakist fighters paused their pursuit as the two new forces began to enter the fray.  Falling back, they became the hunted as the defender reinforcements took up the fight….

 Cujo exulted in his cockpit as he watched Buccaneer streak past his hammered squadron to engage the Blakist fighters chasing them.  The odds have been changed in the other direction as the sixteen fresh fighters supported by the assault dropships went hunting.

Legends and Myths Fifty Two- The Storm: Rising Wave Part Four

Near Centaurus VI

1404 hours Landing Time

 The Word of Blake fleet had advanced towards the Wolverine flotilla, their assault dropships leading the way.  Spread wide, the incoming force planned for maximum coverage of forward guns and practically invited the Wolverines to come close and engage them in in a classic fleet pass.

 The Wolverines, knowing the danger of a McKenna, declined to take the bait.

 Commander Rayson had her fleet execute its turn to port right on time and ordered her fleet to fire as their guns came to bear.  The Gunnery drills the fleet had done paid off, with the tactics being used similar to all the fleet practices they had done.  Naval Lasers and Particle Cannon from the Bismark connected with the Hammer of Toyama, the Blakist McKenna battleship weathering the early hits well.  Answering fire from the Hammer was a bunch of its forward lasers, the only weapons with reach, lashing out at the Wolverine flagship, with some minor scoring on the now visible side armor.

  The Gloria, the Wolverine Whirlwind destroyer, managed to land its light Naval Gauss as well as a pair of Naval Lasers, on a Carson, the Sword of Toyama, to its nose.  The damage was telling as the ship deviated to port from its course. The Toyama’s return fire scored a medium weight Naval Particle Cannon at the join between forward starboard and the broadside bays of the Gloria, the hit taking out an anti-fighter bay.

 The other Carson, the Enlightened Glaive, lent its firepower to that of the Hammer, scoring a few hits on the Bismark and doing little better than peeling some armor from its flank. 

 The Denali, the Wolverine Lola III, used the superior range of its light naval cannon and lashed at the Glaive, the venerable destroyer striking with all four weapons in the arc. The gunnery practice showed here, as the smaller destroyer shuddered visibly from the punishment.  It immediately began streaming smoke and trailing magnesium-fed flames into space behind it.

**

 The Blakist Interdictors raced forward, looking to catch the Gloria in a fusillade of weapons fire. Laying in wait on the far side of the Gloria was an even dozen of Wolverine fighters, all Lightnings and they surged out from the ship’s shadow alongside the Lancer Claymore assault dropship. As the WoB assault ships closed, the Allied ships showed themselves and exchanged fire with the attacking dropships and the punishment was telling, even as capital missiles from the Gloria burned for the Blakists.

  Nose weapons of the Bismark also fired at the enemy assault craft, their flight plan taking them within the firing arc of the battleship.  The resulting damage was spectacular, as one ship near vaporized from a Naval Autocannon strike. The second Interdictor was greeted by an Avenger and several fighters that surged forth from the Bismark’s shadow.

 Of the fighters, a trio had their wings clipped as the weapons of the Interdictor laid into the smaller craft.  The sub-capital weapons of the Word dropships split their fire between the Claymore, the oncoming Avenger and the Gloria.  While enough to hammer the Lancer assault ship, it was not enough to worry the Wolverine destroyer.

 As the Word attack craft raced through the fleet line, Wolverine Gunnery demonstrated how much an error that was as the enemy craft passed into the other broadside arcs.  Wolverine accuracy was vicious, as lighter defensive weapons and naval lasers raked the craft, destroying them as they attempted to evade the fire.

The Denali continued to lay into the Glaive as it closed, the Wolverine warship fending off WoB fighters even as allied fighters joined in the assault of the Blakist destroyer.  A dogfight developed off the flank of the Wolverine ship as Blakist fighters attempted to bail out their capital ship, masking it from some of the Glaive’s capital weapons fire.

 The Denali took advantage, giving the smaller Blakist destroyer a thumping, the barrage of naval laser and naval cannons from the Wolverine warship taken as opportunity shots around the fighter scrum.  These served to rip apart the hull and structure of its target, which helped cripple the vessel.

The damage was not all one-sided.  The Word Lola III, the Sword of Waterly, broke from its formation and charged forward bringing its guns to bear on the Gloria. The resulting fire lashed it fore to aft and the damage from this assault plus from the Toyama began to show heavily on the Wolverine ship.

  As the Waterly ventured too close to the Gloria in a sweeping pass, the Gloria’s Captain ordered maximum thrust in a risky gamble and rammed the Waterly as her guns targeted the Toyama. This ram inflicted catastrophic damage to the Blakist Lola and caused its crew to abandon ship, its back broken and systems failing en-masse.

 The Gloria was in not much better shape, the damage to its nose pretty much took it out of the fight as the smaller destroyer suffered immense damage in return.  Power to many areas of the ship dropped but enough connections remained to power a portion of the weapon systems. And while some of her broadsides could still engage, the Gloria wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. She essentially became a drifting gun battery; still dangerous but only just.

 The Bismark had managed to remain crossing the Hammer’s T, as the Blakist ship closed the distance. The superior gunnery of the big ship took a severe toll on the enemy battleship and the results were really becoming apparent.  The Hammer began to turn to hopefully get its broadside to bear but in the wrong direction as the Bismark turned with it, keeping its own broadside crossing the T of the Blakist ship.

 The Hammer’s captainrealized his error too late, and the ship performed an emergency steering burn in an attempt to reverse course.  Doing so applied extensive stresses on the warship and the heavy guns of the Bismark capitalized on this.  Maximum fire was directed at the Word Of Blake warship and fury of the weapon strikes saw the enemy ship suffer massive damage.  Several small explosions rippled along its hull along with one massive blast as some of the strikes bypassed armor and struck a naval cannon magazine.

  The sheer power of the internal explosion caused even more internal damage as power couplings to energy weapons failed in a cascade of blow-outs and fatal damage. All of this caused the ship’s drives to cut out, emergency shut down protocols draining the Hammer of any ability to continue the fight or steer; she would drift on her last course away from the battle…

The Toyama, its opponent distracted by the Waterly, attempted to end around the Wolverine battle line and rand straight into two companies of waiting Eagle fighters, the Wolverine heavy fighters having bided their time for a chance to jump someone. With the Toyama providing that opportunity, the waiting fighters took advantage of the gift, and the aerospace craft lashed the small destroyer with multiple strafing runs peppering the Toyama. Anti-fighter defenses took out several fighters as they made their passes but what it took down was not enough to save her as the cumulative damage crippled the warship.

 Some escape pods left the stricken vessel… but no where near what would be a full crew abandoning ship.

 Waiting Lancer and Wolverine Avengers, having returned from dealing with the last of the Interdictors and Blakist fighters, now raced into the fray- lending their weapons to the effort to bring down the Glaive and free up the Denali to support the Bismark.

 At this point, the Bismark didn’t seem to need the help.  The error of the Blakist command in not turning sooner and in an opposite arc cost them dearly.  As the Word of Blake battleship drifted off, the Bismark now turned its attention to the remaining ships and one volley at the Toyama caused the last enemy ship to strike its engines and surrender.

 **

 Commander Rayson assessed the carnage on the screens and listened to the reports coming into her. Outnumbered, she had managed to win the day but at a cost.

 Of her starting command, the Bismark had taken some severe punishment, but the ships heavily armored flanks had weathered the enemy fire well enough to keep the ship capable. She wasn’t in shape to fight anything bigger than a cruiser, but she was not alone.

  The rest of the warships of her command ran the gamut of damage. The Gloria would not be going anywhere soon, her damage too severe to be anything but a picket at best. She still had power to her guns though…. But that was about it.

  The Denali was listed at 50% capacity, having weathered the fire of the Glaive and some stray shots from the Hammer. She was performing recovery operations of both Word and Wolverine pods and ejected pilots. They would be joined by the available dropships in this effort.

  There was a large amount of ejected pilot beacons out there.  More Blakist than Lancer or Wolverine… but still, quite a few.

 The Word of Blake warships were on the losing end of this battle.  Both of the Carsons were done, one destroyed and the other a surrender.  The Lola III, the Sword of Waterly, had been abandoned after being rammed by the Gloria; it was unknown if it would ever fight again for either side.

 The big ship, the Hammer of Toyama, was completely crippled and marines from the Wolverine flagship were dispatched to board the vessel and secure it.

 Rayson looked at her communications officer. “Lieutenant, inform Lancer Command I intend on sending the Denali to run down the transports. They can’t have gotten far.” She spoke. “I also intend on relieving Station Agnes if possible.”

 The lieutenant at communications acknowledged the messages. “Ma’am, messages to be sent.”

 Sensors spoke up. “Commander! Blakist Transports have just jumped….”

 “What? They only got here…” She exclaimed. “Unless they have LF batteries like ours do, there is no jumping so soon.”

 “Ma’am… of the group, two departed.”

 “Get the Denali moving… just in case those others also can jump again.”

Gates space port

Gates, Forbes

1351 hours

 Captain McCauley climbed out of his crashed Highlander and went to edge of the stand of trees he was in, his machine’s damaged gyro having hindered his ability to retreat away from the main battle.  Knowing he could not get away; he chose to look out at the ruins of his attempted assault on the port and try to figure out exactly what went wrong.  He could only shake his head, the answer to that question being pretty apparent.  In the battle that was now ending, he watched his just arrived light lance cover the escape of what remained of his command.

  A Blackjack, the Jagermech and the Vindicator retreated as fast as their actuators could move the machines away from the port.  On the far side, the last Enforcer also scrambled away from the port in the opposite direction.  The defending Wolverine battlemechs chose not to pursue, the heavy and assault machines being nowhere near fast enough to pursue his surviving mechs. Small blessing, that was… at least his men could be a pain in the ass for the planetary defenders until caught or relieved by the planned Word of Blake invasion force that should be arriving soon.

  It had been a disaster, this battle.  Well over half of his reinforced company lay in ruins on the port and as he looked out, McCauley lamented on the enemy machines his forces had faced.  The enemy machines were all Inner Sphere designs, but their weapons had been a very eclectic mix of normal and Clan-spec strength.  The biggest surprise faced had been that damn museum piece, the Mackie. Someone had taken the time and effort to upgrade the ancient battlemech and it showed. Oh my god, had it showed… and while it had been pummeled by his men, the monster machine had weathered it like a champ.

 Shit… I think I experienced what the first troops did when THEY faced one back in the day, He thought to himself.  He could see the damage his men had done to most of the defending machines and was at least consoled in his loss by the fact they had done better than he had any right to have expected. Medium battle companies generally didn’t fare too well against a Dragoon formation, the firepower disparity usually being pretty bad.  That enough of these machines had clan-spec weapons… was a huge surprise.

 Bad enough he had not expected much here.  But this?  Jeeze, his employers had fucked him hard with bad intel.

 As the Wolverine machines took up overwatch positions throughout the port, he could see several utility vehicles come racing out of the fortified compound at the end of the strip and spread out towards his downed machines. Port Security was coming out to collect enemy pilots who were pretty much helpless to avoid capture.  Knowing he was not going to get away either, he pulled his sidearm and cleared the weapon.  No use in being a hero, he thought as he replaced the weapon in its holster. Dying for no reason is not on my list of priorities…

  As a pair of the security vehicles came to a stop near his hide, McCauley raised his hands and stepped from cover carefully.  He didn’t expect to get shot by the security troops but considering what had just ended, the prospect was there.  “Don’t Shoot!!  I surrender!!” He called out as he slowly moved from cover.  “I give up!”

 A trooper, clad in the SLDF-styled combat uniform worn by the Lancers, covered him from a pintle machine gun as two others advanced on him from the side.  Once they got to him, they pulled his pistol from him and then had him go to his knees.  “Hands on head, buddy… Stupid games win you a stupid prize,” The female trooper said as she slung her rifle and began to secure his hands.

 “No danger of that,” McCauley replied. “I know when I’m beat.” The trooper said nothing in reply and once done securing McCauley’s hands, helped him to his feet.  Moving him to one of the vehicles, two other troopers took control of him and placed him in the cargo bed area of one. As soon as he was aboard and seated, the two vehicles drove back towards the compound.

 The other utility vehicles, with their prisoners from various points of the field, also headed back for the compound.  A pair of Striker light tanks exited the compound and headed in the direction of the escaped Enforcer.  McCauley noted this and knew that mech’s survival was pretty much done- the Striker being a very capable light armored vehicle and a pair being enough to tangle with a damaged Enforcer.

 In the distance, a pair of light aerospace fighters were seen burning for space.  The Battle for Centaurus was still happening in earnest, but McCauley’s portion was now done.

Legends and Myths Fifty One- The Storm: Rising Wave part three

Training area near Desert One

Ashton badlands Ashton

1340 Hrs 7 December 3080

 Khalid scanned the planetary frequencies for news shortly after the planetary alert went out. And what he was hearing was disconcerting. The planetary news network, Centaurus Broadcasting Service, was still on the air and reporting on the ongoing attacks on Cromwell and the destruction of the Comstar HPG.

 The initial reporting stated that several of the visiting Units, both contract and independent, were involved in the fighting and it was uncertain whose side some were on.  Reports of a Word Of Blake flotilla inbound also surfaced, with an unconfirmed report of Wolverine warships moving to engage. Overall, while somewhat scattered, the reporting WAS making distinctions between known and unknown.  That alone was pretty good, as far as he was concerned.  It still didn’t tell him if any of the traitors were HERE on Ashton.

 Lucan, who was performing perimeter watch at the edge of their laager point called over to Khalid. “Update?” He asked.  A survivor of Atreus, much like Khalid, the news of the attacks didn’t sit well with him.  “And have Word mechs landed?”

 Khalid answered him as he typed on a small keyboard that was in his cockpit. Most command-capable battlemechs like his carried additional resources like advanced computers for processing data or small powerful computers that contained advanced tactical software for battlefield management. In most cases, due to the various Succession Wars, command machines just had extra communications gear. His machine, a Black Knight was one of those battlemechs that dated to the Star League and had both, though the secondary systems hadn’t worked properly for years.  When the Lancer technicians worked on it, they had repaired this system back to working properly. Heck, for he knew, it was better than original…

 To be honest, Khalid was not sure how he managed without it back on Atreus. But then, only half of it worked.  The new stuff… well, it had its moments, like now.  “Lucan… the best I can determine is that there is fighting on Gates, back at Amalisar and on Cromwell in several locations.  No one had gone after the Wolverines on Sage yet… but I imagine it’s a matter of time.” He answered. “It would seem despite being a surprise attack, things are very much in limbo. No information on the space battle yet; I suspect we will know soon enough.”

 Tristan commented. [Anything on the billeting area? There was several units still there when we left.  The Reign and the Swords of Loki, as I recall.]

 “One moment…” Khalid typed a few commands into the keyboard and found the info he sought. “Indications there is fighting there. The Reign is engaging the Swords…” A pause as he consulted a tab on the screen. “The Swords are attempting to attack Lancer assets there; Reign is attempting to stop them.  Or so it says here.”

 Lucan grunted. [Assholes…  I knew I didn’t like the Swords for a reason. Too many questions about the facility,] He said. [Shifty individuals, even for a mercenary unit.]  

 Khalid smiled. Lucan was not a fan of most mercenaries.  Whether that was from his interaction with Master Sergeant Tessa Drexel of the Lancers or the before times, he was not truly sure. Where the good Sergeant was concerned though- something of a truce did get reached… after a knock-drown, dragged-out brawl in the gym’s boxing ring last week.  Tristan wanted to sell tickets, of all things…  But anyway, after a thought or two, the Knight Captain decided it was more from the before times.  Truces were truces- and Lucan was a man of his word.  He knew his fellow knight still didn’t like the Lancer, but there was a bit more respect.

 “I agree, Lucan,” he said. “They did ask far too many questions about a great many things there.” The senior knight caught a fragment of a mayday call. “Hold on… there is something…”  Tapping a few spots on the touch screen for the secondary comm-set, he brought up the channel for the desert airbase nearby.

 […Any Lancer Commands, Delta Alpha Operations. We are under assault by a mixed company of Battlemechs and Armor.  Request reinfor-]

 The signal cut off and Khalid brought up a map of the area. “Tristan, Lucan… it would appear we may have opportunity to strike,” he said into the company network. “The desert airbase near here is under assault. Mixed battle force of about company strength.”

 Tristan replied. [You don’t suppose those are the training partners we were supposed to be meeting?]

 Lucan added, [I bet you a bottle of that merlot I have it is…]

 Lady Morgana, who had been quiet the entire time they were out here, answered from her Exterminator. [That is a fools bet, Sir Lucan and you know it.  You know Carlotta and I were just discussing the possibility of the Sheng Dragons not being exactly trustworthy.]

 [Yes we did… and while I want to be wrong, I somehow doubt it.] The aforementioned Carlotta added. [I say we go and help.]

   Sister Carlotta was a former Romanov Crusader who had survived the fighting on Atreus and elected to remain with the Knights when they came to Centaurus. Her being knighted needed to happen, along with the handful of other former Crusaders. As far as Khalid was concerned, they had more than earned their place as Knights.  And he was starting to think that the former standard of being League Born was now a moot point.

 “Sounds like consensus.” Khalid said in a jovial tone as he turned his machine towards the Airstrip. “And, My Friends, it is time we make our presence known. Knights…. Move Out!”

**

Gates Spaceport

Gates, Forbes

1322 hrs

 In a different sector, the combat drop by The Shadow was not going as well as planned or hoped for.

 The merc force, consisting of 16 machines of various type, had been late getting into position and the resulting deployment of combat drop had become necessary.  Their light lance had been forced to land a distance away from the port due to the increased ASF presence and would be delayed some getting to the port.

 Captain Joe McCauley, commander of The Shadow, cringed in his Highlander’s cockpit as he weathered another series of laser blasts. This entire mission was not going according to any semblance of plan… at least their part.

 When he took the contract eight months ago to come here, he had a few reservations about it. McCauley had become indebted to the Word of Blake some time ago, when he had formed The Shadow.  Money and equipment had been given as a retainer for services in the future.  And as the Jihad progressed, he had managed to avoid being dragged in and not revealing where some of their gear came from.

 Then came the message back in February.

 Proceed to Centaurus IV and be on world no later than the end of November. Be ready for combat operations within the first week of December. Amended contract attached.

 And in reviewing the amended contract, McCauley had been impressed.  An additional amount of C-Bills had been forwarded to the Unit’s coffers and 30% salvage rights granted over any captured equipment. The Word promised full repairs to all machines within his company or replacement with machines similar in scope if repair not possible.

 All of that was incredible terms… but like any merc, he knew he needed to survive to collect.

 He had heard of the Lancers long before he got here… and given a choice of targets, McCauley chose the space port as whomever controlled it, controlled the movement of supplies from the tech firms located in Gates. And the expectation that no Lancer troops would be there helped with the decision.  Or so intel said. He’d rather have them attack him and eat his weapon fire from prepared positions… which sounded good.

 So, on paper, it looked like a good choice, with no known Lancer assets other than maybe infantry. Nothing scary… then came the problems getting here.

 First, they were late lifting… then aerospace fighters in white and grey intercepted the trailing Leopard dropship with his light lance, forcing it down short of the port.  Then in the process of dropping on the port, the company of heavy and assault battlemechs in the colors of the Wolverines exited various hangars on the field.  Heavy and Assaults… while he had a few in his force, he didn’t have a damn COMPANY of them.

So far, he’d lost Jesse Gale in her Warhammer and Sam Smith in his Centurion K, a class 30 MRM carrying mech. Damage to others within the company was piling up but at least they were giving back hard.

 The walking monstrosity his battle computer could not even identify had just dropped not 90 meters from him and an enemy Nightstar had been staggered.  Elsewhere, his support lance, three BlackJacks and a Jagermech, had managed to knock down an enemy Highlander but didn’t kill it. And that was it so far.

  He was seven minutes into this battle… and he was behind the eightball.  If he and his men could manage to kill two more machines in the next three minutes, the Shadow had a chance as the light lance should arrive soon enough to throw momentum their way. Or so McCauley hoped.  They were outgunned and out-tonned by the defenders… hell, these guys even had a damn Mackie!

None of this gave him any sort of happy feeling…. But the fact remained- he needed to survive long enough for the others to arrive… and maybe the tide could turn.  Maybe.

Still didn’t help the feeling he may have taken the wrong contract….

Legends and Myths Fifty- The Storm: Rising Wave part two

SLS Bismark

Near Centaurus V

1319hrs Landing Time, 7 December 3080

Commander Sonya Rayson looked around the bridge of her ship and mentally took stock of what was happening.

  The warning message from the Lancer Deep Space station out at Centaurus VII had been received and the order was given for battlestations.  As the fleet came up to ready, further details were gained and sorted through.  The invading fleet, which appeared to be a Word of Blake formation, was a substantial force- four warships led by a McKenna class with several dropships deploying as well as fighters. The last sensor data drop confirmed the drive signatures of Interdictor class assault ships.  Decidedly a specialized force.

 Available to her was the Bismark, of course, the Denali and the Gloria, which were a Lola III and Whirlwind respectively.  Dropship support was in the form of 3 Avengers, a Claymore and a trio of Leopard CVs, all from the Lancers collection of craft. Two dozen Lighting fighters, a dozen Eagle and half that of Rogues gave her apparent parity for intercept.Substantial, to be sure, but possibly not enough. Lancer Aerospace was being mobilized for planetary defense but would be busy trying to support their efforts on planet.

 This was a fairly coordinated attack, she thought, and there was some initial thinking this would have been a heavy raid if not for the scattered attacks on Lancer assets planetside.  Even the Comstar Compound had been bombed, which meant this was most likely MORE than just a heavy raid.

“Commander, all ships report at Condition Red and ready for movement.”

 “Very good, Lieutenant,” She replied. “Commence movement to contact. Defensive Wedge Alpha.”

 “Defensive Wedge Alpha, aye,” came the reply and the officer began to initiate the orders.

 Defensive Wedge Alpha was a spear-tip formation, with the Bismark at the point and the small ships flanking.  The Lancer assault ships, designed to tangle with fighters, would be the screening formation as they got closer.  Fighters would deploy as they closed- there was no need to have them launch too early as the longer they were deployed, the sooner they would have to land to replenish fuel or munitions.

It might be a risky maneuver to wait on deployment… but the numbers supported it.  It helped that six months ago, the fleet had war-gamed a scenario similar to this…. The difference being it had been the Mustafa as the command ship versus a Cameron-led fleet.  The differences in warships… while substantial, didn’t change her plan over much.  The Bismark had a strong broadside which should be enough to give the McKenna pause.  The problem though… was that the Naval Particle Cannon on the enemy battleship broadsides were more powerful than her Naval Lasers and slightly outranged her.

 But she had more guns than her counterpart, as well as a better overall range game; while it had Naval Particle Cannon, the bulk of the McKenna’s firepower came from the plethora of the Class 40 Naval Autocannon which had a far shorter range than the naval lasers and particle cannon.  Keeping the Bismark and her fleet at longer ranges would have to be primary plan… until she had to close. 

 When that time came, Rayson hoped that the extensive amount of time conducting gunnery since they had arrived in this system would be the difference.  After all, you can’t hurt what you cannot hit. As for the smaller craft, the Interdictors would be a problem, the powerful dropship capable of tangling with smaller warships if necessary.  One would be no issue to deal with… four could prove difficult. She would worry about them when the time came.

Deep Space Station Agnes

1344 Hrs Landing time

 The Word of Blake HMR-HE Hammerhead fighters closed on the station and began to engage it at range with their particle cannons.  The station’s defensive weaponry, primarily Class II Autocannon, started firing at the incoming fighters.  As they bored in, the large lasers joined in. 

 Being computer controlled, the accuracy was not bad, though it suffered some as the fighters began to evade.  Even so, three of the ten incoming fighters were incapacitated or destroyed.  A boarding shuttle, capitalizing on some of the damage done to the station, raced in and latched onto an empty pod bay.  Using an override device, the marines on the craft forced the hatch to open and they boarded. The Word of Blake needed this station intact, as it was a warning post for anyone coming into the system… even via pirate point, as they discovered. It was also a reserve recharge station which would prove handy.

 Advancing down various hallways, the intruders were alert for any movement. What they didn’t expect was the auto-shotguns in the wall at the end of a passageway to open up.

  Part of the design of the station had a few weapon-stations emplaced in key passages.  All of them were pellet- or flechette loaded weapons, designed to pelt or puncture space suits and add danger from ricochets. It was an ingenious set-up, as even Elementals troops would suffer losses from this.  As such, the invaders took damage as their armored suits became compromised.  This complicated taking the station- and the Adept leading the marines vowed he would execute whoever set up this trap.  The delay was relayed to the fleet along with the noted lack of crew.

Defensive Bunker A-1

Surface of Centaurus VII

1430 hrs Landing Time

 Sariah Ford stood at the communications and command room where sensor data and video feed from the Station was showing.  She had watched some of the invading troops get hit by the station defenses and smiled grimly at their setbacks.  Glancing at her watch, she noted when the Word troops finally managed to gain access to the Bridge and shut the internal defenses off.

 None of them had figured out where the master controls were in Engineering, which amused her.  Disguising them next to the section’s medical cabinet probably broke some law… but being an unexpected location probably was why they weren’t found. Also meant that no one on her crew or the opposite one had infiltrators.  She did kick herself a little, in not setting up a password for the station on the bridge. Ah well…

 “LT,” Kiiko called to her. “Inventory verified; enough supplies here for five months easy. Alpha Two is same status. No one has gone over to Alpha Three and Four yet. Tunnels are still closed as is the Beta Accessway.

 The bunkers they were in were designed for forty people to last three months. The normal station compliment for Agnes when it had been a recharge station was a hundred and twenty with capacity for ship’s crews to join them if needed. In the years since, the station became more of just a sensor facility. It still was able to recharge a Jumpship or Warship if needed but those operations were long gone and replaced with an automated satellites.  This, in turn, reduced the crew necessary for operations. Other functions being automated also reduced the need for station personnel as a whole, which is why there was only 25 personnel on board.

 Even with the reduction of personnel, the number of bunkers remained the same.  Decommissioning them made no sense so the entire complex of eight (four each in Alpha and Beta complexes) were kept up and supplied.  Each complex was accessible to the other via deep tunnels and a (hopefully running) tram that was capable to traversing the two miles between complexes.

 “Okay,” Sariah replied. “Get someone to get in them to see if their supplies are good.  They SHOULD be but I want it verified ‘cause dumb shit happens… We then need to get to the Beta complex and check it.  I want a fall-back position if needed…. Or the means to close off any back door to here.” She paused as the feeds from the station wavered. “And make sure everyone draws a weapon from the armory. Ah really don’t think they are gonna let us stay here without trying to evict us. Beta is deeper than here but then it’s under a bigger hill.”

 Kiiko nodded. “Yes ma’am.  Engineering is already looking at the Tram; Scotty figured you might want it checked. No report yet though.”

 Sariah smiled. Warrant Officer Scott J Montgomery was a technical wizard and had long mastered the systems on the station, keeping them running with a smaller than standard tech team. That he was a step ahead of her on things here was a good thing, as far as she was concerned. “Good.  I need to see if I can access the security systems here or connect to the Beta from here. If not, then I need that tram operational; I do NOT want to walk two miles underground….”

A chuckle. “Yes ma’am.” Kiiko then departed the command room and left Sariah with her thoughts.  

Legends and Myths Forty Nine- The Storm: The Rising Wave

Deep Space Sensor Buoy #5

Outer reaches of the Centaurus System Pirate Point A

07 December, 3080

The energy release of several Jumpships transitioning into the local space near Buoy Five was hard not to notice. Four Warships and five jump ships had entered local space and the little sensor satellite dutifully recorded what had arrived.  Within six seconds of the inbound ships full transition in, the sensor suite on the buoy activated and sent a message back towards Sensor Station Agnes, with a priority flag active.

  What had come into the system was trouble.  And the computer on the buoy was programmed to identify transponders and forward their contents to Agnes along with data on type of drives.  Or lack of content in the case of these ships.

  IT didn’t matter that the inbound ships had no communication emissions post transit; their drive signatures and other electronic tidbits were enough to identify who they were…

Deep Space Sensor Station Agnes

In orbit around Centaurus VII

 Lieutenant Sariah Ford happened to be on duty when the signals arrived.  She was scheduled to be rotated out of this station in about three hours and had been waiting for the ping of the inbound shuttle when the Transit Alert came in from Buoy Five. “Well, that’s odd,” she said as the duty tech, Charlene McDaniel tapped away at her terminal to refine what was coming in and throw it on the screens.

 As she saw the identifiers crop up, her entire being chilled. “Ma’am…” she said in disbelief.

“Ah see it, Charlie…” Sariah replied as she too was stunned.  This was not a friendly visit; this was an attack. Snapping out of it, she began to bark orders even as she hit the alert button. “Charlie, refine and get it to Kiiko.  Kiiko, send it as fast as you get it.  Lancer Command and to Wolverine Command.  Copy the Bismarck while you can,” She turned and activated the station wide comms even as sensors picked up the launches of fighters. “All Hands, this is Lieutenant Ford.  Hostile Fleet inbounds to system.  Defense Protocol Ghost and abandon ship.  Defense Protocol Ghost and abandon ship…”

 Defense Protocol Ghost was a set of computer-run instructions that would take over the control of the anti-fighter defenses and internal means as soon as the last pod left the station.  Fifteen seconds after that, the station sensors should have a solid enough lock on what was coming in to engage any fighters that came after it…. Or take potshots at anything that went after pods burning for the surface of Centarus VII, the mostly airless rock they orbited.

  On the surface, there was a series of preset landing points for pods that would place them near entry points to the bunkers built within the surface. The bunkers, built a long time ago prior to Jihad, had been as a fall back for whatever station the SLDF had in place here three hundred years ago.  They had fallen into disuse over the years since, with their refurbishment and reactivation coming at the start of the Clan War.  Even after that had ended, they were finished up and used again by station crews at the start of the Jihad.

 Now they were about to be used, as the Word had Returned once more.  Even if atomics were used on the world, the bunkers were designed to resist those as they housed up to forty souls for a maximum of ninety days.  That the station was only 24 strong, this meant they could hold out for a lot longer than three months.  They would not be defenseless, as those bunkers had some. Likely not enough to stop a dedicated assault… but enough to buy time at least.

Provided they all got to the surface.

Kiiko called out. “El-tee, messages away!”

 Charlene added. “Confirmed four warships- two Carson class, a Lola III and a McKenna. No names yet…”

 Sariah spun to face Charlene. “Confirm the McKenna! No one is supposed to have those anymore.”

 The technician tapped away quickly, even as the rest of the crew started reporting to pods. “Confirmed; emission signature is that of a McKenna class.  Rest of the jump ships are Star Lord types.”

 Sariah cringed as she took the news while looking at station status board. Nearly all sections were reporting clear of personnel.  Damn, her people were good… “Crap! Ok… send confirmation out and then bug out. Ah’m the last one to leave and the longer you take, the longer I gotta stay.”  She hoped someone grabbed her bug-out bag.  The SOP was whomever bunked with a duty crewman would grab that person’s bag along with their own.

  They’d gone over the procedures about two weeks ago so it should be fresh in minds. She hoped….

 Kiiko and Charlene made sure the data transferred and was sent. “Done!” they said in near unison

“Good! Now Git!” Sariah said as she tapped the final commands for the Defense Protocol to activate.  They now had three minutes to get out before the lead Blakist fighters she KNEW were coming would possibly be in range.  Sighing as she looked around, the Lancer Officer headed for the pods ten seconds after the other two left ahead of her.

  She liked this station, damnit.

Centaurus HPG Station

Lake Kensington Park

Nine Kilometers south of Landing

1303 Hours

 The guard at the gate of the HPG complex spotted the large sports car as it came driving up the road.  As the Adept in the booth came out to meet it, the vehicle sped up.  As the trooper, a veteran of the early Jihad, jumped back to avoid being hit, he slapped the alert button inside the hut.  A second Adept brought up a rifle and ducked out to shoot at the speeding vehicle as it crashed the barrier.

  The car, showing hits from the defender weapons, absorbed the shots without any visible effect.  Other troops, all armed with at least side arms per Precentor McCormick’s rules, also attempted to shoot the driver of the car.

 It was in vain, as their pistols did not have enough power to damage the window appreciably.

As the defenders were distracted, two other vehicles came racing up the road to the complex.  These were vastly different than the car; one was a large SUV and the other, a delivery van in the livery of Pan-Centaurus Parcel Service.  The two additional vehicles came barreling up the road and their passengers engaged the gate guards.

  The two forces exchanged fire as the SUV pulled over to let the delivery vehicle past…. Then continued forward.  The guards at the gate, now down to one, were powerless to stop what was coming….

  The sports car deployed a light machine gun from the front and began spraying rounds in every direction the vehicle pointed.  The chaos of the moment ensured the delivery vehicle reached the curb bordering the ground that was between the pavement and the wall of the Transmission Station.

 The defending Comstar personnel did their best to stop the truck…. But though slowing it, they were unable to stop it.

As the vehicle came to a rest against the wall, the sports car aligned itself with the road out and raced away.  As it cleared the gate, a small explosion went off within the delivery vehicle…. Which was shortly followed by a far larger one.

A FAR larger one that encompassed a good fifteen to thirty meters in the fire and fury of a large Fuel Air Bomb. The concussive force blasted the wall of the HPG building like a semi-shaped charge, collapsing it.  The overall force of the explosion also radiated up and took out the HPG Antenna, ensuring warning was not going to get out.

Area Amalisar

1305 Hours

 The Swords of Loki, having been in their Mechs some ten minutes prior to the bomb at the HPG, began powering up and exiting the mech bays they were in.  All their machines were Combat ready, and they set out to start tearing up the area.

  Weapons hot, the members of the Mercenary group began to target structures important to contacting anything away from here.  About half of them moved towards the Mech Sheds of the Knights while others headed for the SLDF facility found by their employers last year.

 Other units had left here earlier to head toward the Desert Landing Strip, their job being to eliminate any resistance there as it would be a base of operations for what was to come and to take the old SLDF complex for use as a staging point. It was Lancer held, for now… but only by technicians and supply personnel.

But the forces heading for the command buildings were not unopposed.  As the security troops scrambled, Ravyn’s Reign came boiling out of their mech sheds and heading to an intercept course of the Swords faction. The Reign’s leader, having a feeling trouble was coming, had everyone bunk in their machines from early in the morning. She knew what was coming… and knew if someone wasn’t prepared to answer it right away, things were going to go sideways.

 This is what they were here for…. And it was time to act.

City of Gates Space Port

Gate, Forbes

1315 hrs

As the Union transport drifted over the port, it began disgorging its cargo via low-level drop on to the port. The Drop Ship had been behind schedule when the attacks began, and the force aboard elected to combat drop in rather than wait to land.

  So, the dark colored machines of the Hand began to land like shadows even as the Wolverine Detachment stationed here powered up to meet them.  The warning order alerting all detachments of the attacks had been enough time to scramble.

 And the Wolverine troops here would make whoever was attacking pay….

The Outpost Castle

Continent of Sage

1311 hrs

 The warning about the incoming fleet and alerts pertaining to the attacks elsewhere galvanized the security troops of the Outpost into action.  A well-rehearsed plan of action since the Christmas Attack on 3079 went into motion as various remote gun systems went live and Observation Posts were manned with either Lancer or Wolverine personnel.

 The Mech Bays of the facility started to become busier, as the Wolverine Company stationed activated as pilots arrived from wherever they were. They would sally out if it became apparent that the Outpost was a legitimate target.

  Loremaster Kosh, nominally in command of the Wolverines here, entered the command deck of the Castle and began to organize the response a bit more efficiently while escort teams went out to the villages nearby to pull in civilians. Contingencies had been mapped out and tasking set.  There had been two drills to test the process and the last one had run nearly flawlessly. He hoped it was not a fluke… and so far, the indications were it had not been.  People were moving smartly and those who were not evacuating, were heading for resistance bunkers hidden on the approaches to the fortress.

 Those going for the Bunkers were to be a surprise for anyone coming for the Castle… the newly christened Battle Armor units resolving to be the biggest pain in the ass to anyone trying to break in. They knew their jobs… and wanted opportunities to show they knew what they were doing.

Lancer Command Compound

Centaurus

29 07 December, 3080

 The warning from Station Agnes arrived moments before notifications of events all over Centaurus came in.  The World was under assault from without and within, either through the actions of those mercenary units who were ostensibly here for training, bombings by infiltrators or the incoming fleet of Word of Blake warships and transports.

  Governor Sodher-Schaller, who had moved into Officer Quarters on the main complex for the duration of her temporary command, scanned the alerts coming in and shuddered. This was a full court press, with agents within the populous and some of the visiting units turning on their hosts.

 The last time the Word came in force to Centaurus, the Lancers were mostly off world and the Milita far smaller and less capable to stop them. Now was different. Now, there was the bulk of a Mech Regiment on world, substantial Non-Mech assets… and far more experienced defenders. And Warships to deal with what was coming in. This would be far different from the last time…

“Lieutenant Rodriguez, get me Colonel Conigliaro,” She ordered. “If he’s not in the air, I need to speak with him.”

Notes for the Upcoming Story line

The upcoming story arc- “The Storm” is something of a grand effort, based upon the collection of figures I own as do friends for Battletech and other games.

The original Legends and Myths arc was all based around the premise of remnants of the Wolverines returning to the Inner Sphere and winding up in the area of my beleaguered Merc-Unit-with-House-Regiment feel.  And the adventures from there have made for some cool stories.  And over the course of 48 chapters, the bulk of their initial tales has been told- from the arrival in the Inner Sphere to battles to the acceptance of Ghost Bear to the rest… its been an interesting story to tell. I know my chief critic, my wife, has enjoyed the stories…  By the way, she wanted the dogs for her character here, after watching The Old Man. Who am I to argue? *grin*

Anyways, the stories have been fun to write and a challenge to translate battles to tales.

 Now comes this next piece.

One of the gaping holes in the canon Universe is a lack of tales in the Jihad/Post Jihad Era. Quite a bit of spot material for the 3090’s and later but imo, not really enough in the rest of the era or where non Big Names are concerned.  Add in how some of the WoB last gasps were kind of meh or glossed over (I get why; they are an excellent boogieman for Game Masters and the like)… I decided to expand the story to encompass some of these last ditch maneuvers of theirs.

 Given their spiteful nature, I hatched the idea that they would look to strike at anyone who had thwarted plans or was a giant pain in the ass to them, much like some of the shenanigans pulled in the Canon stories… Given the sheer amount of small merc commands in the Universe as a whole that signed on with them for the promise of Money, Tech or both… and the large collections of models myself and close friends have, the story allowed for a WoB hired collection of Mercs to hit the Lancers at home while the main WoB forces were inbound.

 It’s a last ditch sort of battle… and for the Wob Mercs, if they win, they have repair facilities and tech toys to maybe grab.  If they lose, well… the Lancers have a rep for treating prisoners fair.

On paper, it’s a substantial fight… and actually damn daunting to run this AND write.  But it makes for a lot of potentially fun games and opportunities to use stuff gathering dust on the shelves.  Add in that I plan on some non-battlemech battles using other systems (commando ops and the like), the potential for some excellent narrative is high.

As always, the contents of each side in a given battle is available. Just message me and I can tell you what each side fielded, specifics on models and what maps used.

 So without much further ado….  Legends and Myths 49- The Storm Rises

Legends and Myths Forty Eight- Alshain Trial aftermath and news

Jorgenssen Grand Medical Center

Silverdale, Alshain

1911 hrs 31 December 3080

 Leslie slowly became conscious, the low sound of a monitor beeping…. And a dog snoring?

 Cracking open an eye, she scanned the softly lit room and saw she was not alone.  Seated in a handful of chairs in this private hospital room was the three ladies of her lance, all in various positions on chairs and snoozing.  On the floor by the door was both of Kris’s mastiffs, also sleeping- though she knew better.

  She could see through the doorway a pair of Elementals on watch, which impressed and concerned her.  That she was here and not on a Jade Falcon dropship hinted at that they had beaten the Falcons.  A positive… but what did it cost and why the guards?  Time to find out…

“*ahem*” She coughed out. “Anyone awake?”

 Shannon instantly opened her eyes. “Ah Leslie…” She exclaimed quietly and stood.  “Yeah, I am.  Guys…”   At her verbal prodding and the movement of the dogs from the door to the bedside, the other two awoke.

 Kris levered herself from her chair and immediately started to check the monitor. “Vitals are good…” She said to herself then looked at Les. “How do you feel?”

 Leslie blinked once. “Like I was punched by Krog then thrown into an Atlas…” she replied.  “Or is that punched by an Atlas and thrown into Krog….” She joked. “My back hurts as does my leg.”

Kris nodded. “I bet…” She said as she backed from the bedside. “I’ll let Shan and Maggie fill you in; I wanna go grab one of their docs.”  She departed for the hallway and began chatting with one of the elementals outside.

 Shan watched her go then looked at Les. “She blames herself for you getting shot out of your mech, Les.” The Exec said. “And for some of your injuries. I tried to tell her shit happens but…”

 Leslie nodded. “It will take time. What happened?”

 Maggie spoke up. “Well lesse….  The moment you ejected; things went weeeiiiird…” She began.  “Lebowski dropped the Behemoth and then with some help from one of the Stormcrows, cored the Turkina that shot you. The Loremaster absolutely wrecked that Night Gyr that was trying to kill Shan and I slapped a Huntsman… At least that’s what I saw. It’s like we could do no wrong…”

 Shannon added. “Holy shit, Les…  literally their entire force collapsed within two minutes after you ejected.  All that survived of theirs was a Nova and that Vapor Eagle, goshawk, whatever it’s called. Star Colonel Gorgeous told them the only way they were leaving was either through surrender or a body bag….”

 Leslie lifted an eyebrow. “Star Colonel Gorgeous?”

 Shan giggle when Maggie punched her shoulder. “Oh come on… he is!”

 Leslie shook her head even as she observed the body language of her command group.  There was something else going on here, something they were not saying.  “What else?” She asked after a moment.

“Whatelse what?” Shan replied. “We won and none of us died. I call that a double win.”

Leslie struggled a bit to sit up straighter in the bed, noting her left forearm was wrapped with some bandages.  Her right knee didn’t bend either but then with a brace, it wouldn’t.  That ejection must have been bad… or the landing. Either way, she was a mess.

“Seriously….” She said. “What else? If its my injuries, I’ll deal. Gives me and Diane something to compare notes on.”

“I believe no one wants to tell you what is happening beyond Alshain,” Khan Kabrinski said from the doorway, Kris along side of her. “The news is unpleasant and came in during your battle this morning.”

Leslie looked directly at the Khan. “What news?”

Kabrinski stepped up to the bed, pausing to pat one of the dogs seated next to it. “It would seem the enemies of the Lancers took the opportunity to strike at Centaurus while You, Colonel Tinney and the leader of the Wolverines were away,” She said without preamble. “The Word Of Blake, along with several privateer commands, have assaulted Centaurus with a combination of surprise and direct assault.

  I do not have details on losses or if the planet has been taken but I do know the Comstar Hyper Pulse station was destroyed which makes communications spotty. At least one capital ship of the Wolverine Fleet survives- it was their mobile station that transmitted news out.”

 Leslie felt the color drain from her face. “Oh my…”

Kabrinski laid a hand on the mercenary’s leg. “They are still fighting; that is the important news right now.  The messages we received indicated the invasion began sometime earlier this month and the situation has stabilized to the point that the Wolverine Ship was able to be spared to transmit again.”

 Leslie caught that last bit. “Again? What happened to the initial messages?”

 “Its my understanding that the message had additional delays incurred due to interference at several other Comstar facilities…” The Khan calmly explained. “And disbelief at the message transmission origin being a real station.” A slight smile. “Few remember that the old Star League ships had their own stations as part of their construction… or that any exist outside of Comstar, the Word or the Clans.  It apparently took the personal cypher of the Centaurus HPG Station precentor to verify the authenticity when queried. According to the local Comstar Precentor here, he thinks the initial messages were discarded as false.”

 Leslie closed her eyes.  “I need to get back there… WE need to get back there…”

 Kris spoke then. “I know… and right now, between your leg and lower spine, you aren’t fit for doing much.  The leg will heal.  I’m concerned about the wrenching your back took.  The landing of your ejection seat was in a crap spot, which added to everything. I think it will heal… but you need extensive PT though.”

 Leslie looked at Kris. “Kris, are you sure? I know humans are not your specialty…” The warrior in Leslie did NOT want to hear she would be unable to join the fight.  And was reaching- even if it was a slightly low blow.  Pain and anger did that….

“Les!” Shan snapped. “I was there when she questioned the shit out of the Dominion docs.  And remember, I was a med tech.  I know a thing or two still and they are right.  You WILL heal but you need some serious physical therapy.  Or you might not walk right again, forget piloting a mech!”

In the very large balloon of silence that followed, Kabrinski punctured it with additional information. “With the news we learned, I have already sent a few messages out to various factions.  And it would seem, while a rash act, it is a measured one.”  The Khan said. “I have requested SAFCON for a small battlegroup to transit Combine and Federated Suns space to send military assistance to your world. In addition, I requested an update from the Federated Suns as to what, if any assistance they can offer Centaurus. Considering how much fighting and what not is going on in other places… and that the Lancers are the local security for that region, there likely is not much that the AFFS can send that is readily available.”

 Leslie processed everything that was said.  Looking at Kris, she apologized.  “I’m sorry… its bad news and with everything else…”

 Kris smiled slightly around the pained look. “No no… I get it.  And Les, I’d be upset too if it was me.  We just gotta be careful, alright?”

 Leslie nodded then looked at Kabrinski. “Military Assistance? Won’t that violate the Treaties?”

 The Khan shook her head. “Not to my knowledge.  That the Snow Ravens are where they are, well, I believe there will be no real questions raised; they are below the Treaty Line already; It’s not like either of us are striving for Terra.  No one has the energy for it really… But what I can do is send help to your world.  And ask the Snow Ravens if they can contribute, if able.  I have not heard back yet and likely won’t until after you’ve departed.”

  Leslie blinked.  “I see…. I think.” She mused. “So, we are going back to Centaurus soon with some Ghost Bear forces with us… to see if we can help the defenders kick the Word off the planet again.  Provided we can land on Centaurus.  Ambitious … but what isn’t in these times?” A pause. “Back to an early question… what happened? As in… what happened to the Falcons since they have been beaten? We haven’t taken bondsmen in years…”

 Shan chuckled. “Colonel Gor- Lebowski and I agreed he would take them as Bondsmen if you didn’t want any.  And the salvage is to be split between us.  There is quite a bit of it.”

The Khan lifted an eyebrow at Shan’s faux pau but didn’t mention it as she added, “the Former Falcons are being given the option to assist against the Word of Blake present on Centaurus, be interred here with the option of becoming warriors once more or, at the suggestion of Kristina, be sent to work with a Krog Dusal in a civil engineering project also on Centaurus, provided the world is freed from Blakist invaders.” She stated.  “After learning about that Elemental, I admit amusement of Falcon Warriors being tasked with manual menial labor.”

Maggie added. “From what Shari told me, the first option was very popular.”

Leslie looked at Mags. “Speaking of Shari…”

 Kabrinski answered. “The Wolverine Lorekeeper and her bodyguard are remaining here.  Ms Hallis expressed interest in learning more about Ghost Bear and having a proper exchange of knowledge. Loremaster Tseng has agreed to this… And I believe Ms Westerling has expressed interest in fishing here if opportunity allows.”

 Leslie breathed out.  Considering how this could all have gone, it seemed like everything was stable.  That Centaurus was under the gun again… that worried her immensely.  The offer and insistence of assistance from the Ghost Bears though… was surprising, though given their culture, it should not be.  It WAS welcome, however. There was just one more question though.

She asked. “So, when does the relief fleet depart?”

“Tomorrow afternoon provided the doctors choose to release you to leave,” Kabrinski said. “I believe they are drawing up an exercise regimen for you to perform while in transit.  It is a three-month journey minimum so that is plenty of time to rehabilitate. All your battlemechs are currently being repaired and should be ready for loading in the morning on a Combat Drop Ship.”

 “I take it there is little for me to do then other than get out of here and PT?” Leslie asked with a smirk.

 “Pretty much,” Shan said.  “I had only just settled down when you woke up….”

 “Well then… I guess I better be able to get out of here,” was her reply with a sigh.