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!”
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….