2349 hours 08 December 3080
Arione stood outside the accessway to the underground areas near the VTOL pad and looked out at the night sky. Since he saw Rhiannon in the morning, it had been a whirlwind of activity and preparations. While he had spoken with the ship captain, Adara had begun getting the rest of the AG rounded up and getting their gear together. This was going to be a make-or-break moment for the organization, and he’d be lying if he ignored the butterflies in his gut.
The Decision to break their contract had not been an easy one… but with what Caelan had found in his wanderings through the hidden spaces this morning along with his own pokings around some of the manuals for systems within the control room, it became very apparent that they were working for someone they really shouldn’t. It also explained why the money was so damn good…
Aleister Blackthorne, his contact, had been the one to initially hire them all those months ago. The sales pitch given then had been pretty good- a monthly retainer for services, ability to subcontract out and a stipend for lodging in exchange for availability. Hind sight being 20-20, the man knew all the right things to say to the Arkanian leader. Arione should have done more digging… but with how semi-desperate he was to rebuild The Family’s assets after Tikonov, the contract offered seemed like a blessing with its steady money and potential for more. Now that they were doing active work for this contract, that thinking was quite changed.
Arriving back early after hearing an update from Rhi, he walked into a situation on site. The group that had relieved them had been witness to some disturbing events. Their employer had some interrogators come down and question the prisoner. And by question, his people meant they tortured her for information.
According to Bjorn, the other medic among the AG and Darren’s relief, the people who conducted the interrogation session knew their business… but were not kind in their handling of the prisoner. Shocks and beatings… it had been rather thorough and rough. Bjorn, sickened by what had transpired, was relatively impressed by the woman’s toughness. “Bossman….” He had said. “She wouldn’t break for them…. She wouldn’t break…. Kept saying her uncle was going to come for her… And she maintained that until she passed out.”
That information tore at the Arkanian headman. It was quite plain that Amelia believed help was coming and that her uncle would be the one to bring it. Unfortunately, Arione thought, the uncle on the charm likely didn’t know she was taken. Unless she was referring to a different one, no one was coming that was a Spirit.
The Lancers knew… Rhiannon had told him the guy she talked to was one and apparently made some calls to get help for this. And between him and her, they had a plan to evac them out. But getting themselves and the prisoner free… that was going to take some work. Telling Bjorn to contact Rhiannon when he got free, Arione and the others began to take serious notes as to patrol patterns of the active security on the grounds as well as assess means of getting out with their charge.
Caelan had investigated the lower accessways to the boat dock and reported it was a bad way to go- to many possible bottlenecks and if the gate dropped on the entryway before they got out, they weren’t getting out.
Adara had walked the passages from the cells to the control area and to the surface. While difficult, as long as they managed to either get into the mansion or one of the exits near the VTOL pad, they could get out. As she put it– “It will be a bitch and someone is gonna get shot…. But we can get out one of three ways… as long as we don’t turn down the hall to the barracks.”
Darren assured him he had something for Amelia to weather the pain of being carried- those goons had worked her over bad…. And something for them too. Clanner QuikStim shots, he said. “Saved for a rainy day and right now, I think it’s getting ready to storm.”
Glancing at his watch, he noted the time and took a deep breath. Now or never, Rione. He thought to himself. If there was one time I wished that goddamn old man was here, this would be it. Entering the passageway, he sent a two-word text to Rhiannon before stowing his comm.
Fury Class Dropship “The Colorado Blues”
Galatea City Port Field
2350 hrs 08 December 3080
Rhiannon Arkanian sat in the pilot’s seat of her ship with her eyes closed, listening to her crew’s banter and the low rumble of the engines as they idled. She had been semi-kidding when suggesting the hovering over a landing pad to collect Arione and the rest of the family at that estate. Running and gunning, all action movie-esque… but when it was settled on as a plan, she had been shocked. Then dismayed…. Then worried…. and then finally, excited.
It was something straight out of a tri-vid… but far more dangerous than she thought. Aerodyne Dropships didn’t normally hover well; after all, they were designed like planes. The Military Troop Carriers could do so, but it wasn’t their strong suit. It was also a stunt she never thought to try. Oh sure, she had done more than few low and slow approaches to pads before with a last second flare of engines before a landing…. But never tried to hold a hover and load people at the same time. That… was a new trick, at least for her.
Her ship’s crew chief, Randi Gossamer-Wing (she was a real deal Indigenous Indian from Old North America on Sol) had laughed when Rhi had told her about what was happening tonight. The trick, as the crew chief explained, was to *feel* the ship as she was close to landing and gently increase the landing jets until the ship no long felt like she was about to land. Randi reminded Rhiannon that knowing when the ship was about to land was instinct as much as training- and she’d have to trust her instincts on holding the ship in place. Don’t worry, Randi had said. I will be at the ramp with the rest of the guns; I’ll let you know when you are close; I know you got this, you have to decide you do.
Reassured at her crew chief’s confidence in her skills, Rhi had conferred with the Phoenix Lancer representative she had chatted up earlier when he contacted her about four hours ago.
He had said his uncle was overjoyed at being able to help with this… A distraction would be had to help ease the removal of her people and to not worry about the Authorities. His Uncle had an Understanding with them, and any fines incurred by her unauthorized flight would be taken care of. As for any other problems, Jon had said they would be addressed after all this was done.
Rhiannon sort of read between the lines at the comment about a, quote, understanding, unquote, his uncle had. She could only imagine what kind… and wondered exactly how much a man of the Street the Lancer rep really was. And exactly what sort of street…
Her comunit chimed. Opening her eyes, she saw the message. “Well ok then….” She breathed out and yelled back out of the cockpit area to her co-pilot. “Caitlyn! Get yo’ pretty buns up here! Time to get this party started!”
The slim copilot entered the cockpit within thirty seconds and hopped into her seat, buckling up as she did so. “So this is it?” She asked as she began to go through activating her panels.
“Yes it is, doll, yes it is…” Rhiannon said as she tapped a message out on her unit and set it back into a flight suit pocket. “Arione is moving, and our distraction is now notified. It’s time to get The Blues in the air and on her way.”
Slipping her microphone into place in front of her mouth, she activated the ship wide comms even as she increased power to the engines for takeoff, shadowed by Caitlyn on her controls. “All hands… condition yellow…” Rhiannon announced in a professional manner, all trace of her usual accent gone. “All hands, condition yellow. Combat operations imminent. All gunners stand by; landing security teams to positions…”
It occurred to her in the nine years she had piloted this ship with at least a dozen combat drops, this was the first time she was able to give warning in a calm voice. Every other time was hella crazy…. Especially Tikonov… cause fuck that place and everything Capellan.
One Kilometer from Alisandria Clffs
2352 hours 08 December 3080
Jon Richards sat in the cockpit of the ancient VL-2T Vulcan and hummed to himself. Looking over the cockpit systems once again, he was amazed Uncle Joe had this antique, much less how well it was running. And it ran like it was off a factory line…
The Vulcan was an anti–infantry machine from the closing days of the first Star League and had been instrumental in the retaking of Terra then. Effective at that job, it was a widely feared machine by ground troops all over, often becoming a giant target for any anti-armor weapons in the area. No one wanted to be burned up by the mech’s flamer or riddled with holes from its autocannon or machine guns. The only difference in this machine from stock was the lighter version of the standard Armstrong cannon, ferro-fibrous armor and the addition of a few extra machine guns and CASE. It actually made the machine a bit more dangerous, at least to light forces and maybe some 20 to 25 ton battlemechs. To a more combat capable heavier machines, not so much.
But like so many other things, mech on mech came down to the pilot as much as the machine. And as a former gladiator, Jon was pretty sure he could handle anything short of an old-tech Wolfhound with this mech. He hoped he didn’t have to try though.
When he had called Don Gotti with the news about Amelia and the conditions she was in, the mafioso was pleased she was found. Jon had informed him of who had gotten the information and the predicament they were in…. and the plan to get her out. He replayed the concerns they had, and Jon also said he understood them… that perhaps something could be done to minimize repercussions.
Gotti was more than willing to loan assets to make a distraction. Even willing to pay some of the fines. But he was not willing to prevent any charges being filed. It wasn’t his fault that they were in this mess.
Jon had agreed to that but pointed out that if they had not been in the wrong employ, Amelia might still be missing… That statement got through the Don’s reticence to do more than was initially suggested. Jonathan, you have made a very valid point… had they not been Men of some conscience, we would not know where she was… or have a means of getting her out so fast. Please assure them I will pay for what ever fines they should earn, within reason… and see to assisting limited repercussions. Uncle Joe had said. I’ll have some of the boys be available to help with a distraction. Artie Marone will be calling, too. I think he will have something for you to assist with all this. And I only trust you with it, no one else, Jonathan. Let me know if anything else is needed… and I want to know when the job is done.
Jon had hung up with Joe and wondered what the heck Marone had for him that was so valuable. About two hours ago, he had found out and was now in the cockpit of that valuable thing, this machine.
Joe had sent about a dozen gunmen to help. Jon knew about three of them and their leader, a capo he had worked with a few months prior. Jimmy Bongiovi Kennedy was a good guy as far as Jon was concerned and in the small meeting they had prior to coming to the rendezvous point, Jimmy said he was told to follow Jon’s orders; that this was an important job and that the Lancer fixer would have the full details.
Jon told him what was going down and some of what to watch for and Jimmy had nodded understanding. He knew some of who the Blackthorne’s were and well, he had no love for them. He and the boys would pick their targets and if anyone had something big that could hurt that drop ship when it showed, it’d be taken care of.
As he looked at his watch to check the time, his comm chimed. Looking at it, Jon smiled. Tapping a key, he said into his microphone. “Alright boys… showtime!” and throttled up.
Underground Cell Control Room
0001 hours, 09 December
Arione eyeballed the panels one last time as Adara and Darren approached the cell with the prisoner and the now finished interrogators; a last deep breath was taken before he hit a key. This cut the video feed just as an alarm klaxon rang. That would be our distraction… He thought as he stood up. Caelan was already moving, his Vector MkIX submachine gun to hand and scanning ahead.
Down by the cells, Adara had been in front and as she drew next to the guard by the cell door, the alarm rang. When it did, her hands flashed out and grabbed the soldiers head. With a vicious twist of it, her next action was to shove him into the room…
The two interrogators spun as the body flew into the room and were greeted with two pistol shots to the faces, Adara’s high powered pistols speaking death in the confined space. As they dropped, Darren ducked in and quickly assessed Amelia. With a shake of his head, he gave her a small amount of painkiller then cut her free of the chair.
“Time to move!” He said as he stood with Amelia now over his shoulder. “She’s not going to feel much right now and I’ll feel better if I can examine her better later.”
“No shit… I’ll feel better about it too- it means we aren’t here.” Adara replied with a snark and led the way out and towards the hallway to the VTOL pad exit. Stowing a pistol, she removed one of her seven-inch batons from its carrier and held it loosely as they hurried along.
Arione led the way at this point, his own machine pistol out and visor on his armor down. This was going better than expected and he knew there was going to be a wrinkle somewhere. And he didn’t have to wait long…
[Mister Arkanian… did you think I didn’t know?] came the voice of his Contact in his comms. [I do my research too…]
Arione was about to step around a corner when a hail of shots impacted ahead of him. Shit. He mentally cursed. “Oh Aleister…. Know what?” He answered across the comms as he fired back around the corner. The hall he needed to be in was on the other side of this junction.
[I knew you couldn’t let a woman be questioned in such a fashion… And that you have a past with the girl’s employers….] Aleister’s voice answered. [You did surprise me though- I would have thought your anger with them would override the protective nature of yours… Seems I was in error.]
Arione looked over at the goal hallway and saw a door drop into place. “Caelan?” he said to his partner.
Caelan laughed. “Their encryption is good… but I’m better…” He backed up a step then dove across the hall in a running leap. Landing in a undignified heap, the burglar member of the Arkanians pulled a data-jack and a tablet from a large armored pouch. With a quick rip of a key-panel from the wall, Caelan immediately stabbed a prong into an inner port and went to work.
Arione shook his head and clicked on a device on his left forearm. Within a second, a highly flexible ballistic shield dropped into place. A creation of the same company that made his armor, the Insta-Shield (for lack of a better name) was a light defensive device that could resist weapons fire for a short time. Larger calibers degraded it quickly but against light energy weapons, it would last a good while as its material dissipated the energy that struck it. IT did NOT work against anything particle related and Gyro jet weapons were murder on it… for this, it was just fine.
Once it was deployed, he too scooted across the hall to give Caelan more protection. Meanwhile Aleister’s voice continued.
[Have you nothing to say, Mister Arkanian?]
Arione activated his com. “I’ve plenty to say, Aleister. Would rather say it to your face though…” He replied.
[Considering you won’t escape, that could happen… though you won’t like how it happens.] Aleister replied. [You are quite outnumbered… even with the small group of people outside trying to shoot up the grounds. I will have what I want and you can’t stop it]
“Caelan….” Arione growled as he fired a few more shots down the hall. The return fire was rather thick and he watched a portion of the shield fail.
“Ten seconds… then I’m gonna need your help lifting the door, bro.” He replied. “Then we got six seconds before it resets.”
“Aleister, I’m afraid I’m going to have to decline the offer of accommodation in this fine facility…” Arione said into his comm as he rapidly emptied the magazine on his weapon. Stowing it, he deactivated the nearly dead shield and placed his armored hands in the opening that just appeared at the door bottom.
Between the two of them, the door was lifted, and they both slid through quickly as the pounding of feet was heard coming up the hall. Three seconds afterward, the door dropped shut.
As they stood, they could hear the troops on the other side express anger at the escape. Quickly reloading, Arione commented as Caelan stowed his slicer. “We need to find the others…”
“Outside?” Caelan asked.
“Outside,” Arione replied. “Knowing Adara, she took a wrong turn…” With that, both men ran for the exit.
Adara and Darren had made it to the hall that led to the exit near the back of the mansion. She had taken a wrong turn somewhere… but that was spilt milk at this point. The problem they now had… was a hallway and room full of bad guys. And trouble coming from behind to boot.
“Oh goody…” She snarked. “Surrounded again.”
Darren set Amelia on the ground for a moment to draw his own submachine gun, a Vector like Caelan’s. “What’s the problem? I thought you liked that kinda thing,” He joked. “I mean…” He lifted the still form of the Lancer woman again with ease, the powered armor lending him plenty of strength to do so.
Adara flipped him the bird as she stowed her pistol and then reached into an armored pouch. “Fuck you, Darren… that’s different and you know it.” Pulling a pair of small metallic orbs from the padding of the pouch, she rotated them in her hand until she found the right spot. “Time to hit them with these balls….” Adara said, pressing on the two orbs where the trigger pads were. When both turned green, she quickly pitched them down the hall.
The two orbs flew through the air and just about when reached the room by the exit, they detonated.
The first one to explode was a flash-bang. The little orb’s detonation reverberated in the compartment and damn near rattled ceiling panels to the floor halfway down the hall. The effect on the defenders was pretty telling, as enemy troops held their ears and or screamed in pain.
The other, which popped just after the flash-bang, was concentrated CS gas. And the concussive explosion of the first device helped spread the contents of the second. Anyone who wasn’t messed with from the bang would start coughing shortly.
Adara counted to three after the first bang and broke out into a full-on run. The powered armor she wore added to her natural speed and she was inside the room before anyone in there knew it. As she ran, she grabbed the other baton off a hip. As she was entering the room, she activated the hidden feature of both batons… carbon-fiber blades dropping into place on the end of both weapons.
She was here to cut some motherfuckers on the way out and nothing was going to save them from the dance she was about to perform…