Legends and Myths Ninety Five- The Storm: Dragon Slaying

The Badlands of Ashton
1051hrs 11 December 3080

 Khalid sweltered within his cockpit, the heat exchanger overloaded from the waste heat of his weapons after their alpha discharge.  The target of his fire was a Shen Dragon Catapult, the large support machine looming large in his sights and now, headless even as his own Black Knight began to rock from weapons strikes…


 The leader of the Knights had led his warriors to this front looking to bring the Dragons to battle. It was both business and person- the personal being Sir Benjamin’s near death at their hands a pair of days ago.  One of the pieces of discussion that was had among the Knights was the targeting difficulty they had in the last engagement.  After techs from the Lancers had the opportunity to go over the wreck of a Dragons Cyclops brought down early on, the reason for the sensor issues became known.

 The battlemechs the enemy was using were all equipped with Stealth Armor. The expensive protective material was laced with extensive wiring that emitted a signal that messed with targeting systems at range.  Effective tool it was… though its use generated extensive excess heat. But if one had capacity, using it was smart to avoid long range fire.

 The Knights, after being given this information for certain, discussed the future engagement that everyone knew would happen- and the decision was made to charge.

 The stealth armor protected their users at range; it would NOT do the same at point blank or from a battlemech fist to the head. The Knights, almost to a man, decided to take it to them up close and risk getting shot up on the way in. It would be the only sure way to bring the advanced machines to battle… and well, fighting up close was a Knightly thing.

 As the battle joined, the Knights’s plan was initiated. Khalid gave the order to charge, and everyone save Sir Erec and Sir Brunor, in their Longbow and Trebuchet respectively, who attempted to give covering fire with their LRMs, did so.

 The level of shots sent their way was substantial, with Khalid’s Black Knight being struck several times on the way in. Lady Margo in her Thug went straight up the middle, shrugging off weapon strikes as if they were nothing. The assault mech just kept coming.

 Tristan in his Albatross didn’t fare nearly as well. The Exec of the Knights was hammered by an enemy Warhammer and staggered. Rising from the ground, the warrior was greeted with the sight of Lady Morganna standing over the smoking ruin of an enemy Vindicator, her Exterminator having done what it was designed to do- kill enemy battlemechs.

 Lucan, having played bait for the Vindicator with his Grasshopper, redirected his advance and headed for the Dragon Warhammer while it was attempting to kill Tristan. Joining that ‘Hammer in this effort was a Phoenix Hawk, the very maneuverable medium machine attempting to act as a lighter version of an Exterminator.

 The enemy mech was chased off by Sir Chase in his own Warhammer, the very modern -7A brawler unloading on the medium. But as noted, the wily machine managed to avoid being hit but it did leave where it was… and headed for Sir Erec’s Longbow.

 Meanwhile, Carlotta took her Enforcer and hunted down a Dragon Stinger, the lighter machine hunting Brunor in his Trebuchet. Didn’t work well for the light mech, as Carlotta cored the scout machine with two well placed hits. The two Knights then redirected their attention towards the center of the battle line. 

 Margo, her advance drawing the attention of an enemy Grasshopper who was playing fire brigade for their side, just kept coming. The chosen target of her advance, a Blackjack, did everything it could do to keep the assault mech from advancing any further. The Knight assault mech rarely missed when firing and in the end, the medium machine fell to the deadly accurate particle cannon fire of the Star League era battlemech.

 Khalid roamed the central area of the line, lending his Clan-spec particle cannon to the general chaos of the battle.  Spying the enemy Catapult attempting to shift to support a Crusader against Tristan and Chase, the Knight Captain decided to pursue. Weathering its fire and that of the roam-y Grasshopper which changed targets to seek him, Khalid laid into the enemy support machine with his short range weapons. Scoring major hits, it forced the now identified enemy commander to retreat back towards his fellow sixty-five-ton machine, firing ineffectually as he went.

Out in the flats, the enemy Phoenix Hawk saw the Tempest piloted by Lady Traci and elected to run from her attentions, giving up on harassing the Longbow before she could come after him. As he did so, the medium skirmisher came within view of both Tristan and Chase. This proved to be a major error as the two Knights fired as one and ripped apart the right leg of the retreating battlemech.


 Back in the present, Khalid cursed as his mech rocked with weapons strikes.  “Damnit!!” He snarled as he could feel his Black Knight start to fall, the warning tones of internal damage singing in concert with the alert bell of gyroscope failure due to damage.  As his machine crashed to the ground, he noted the enemy Raven to his rear, the little machine having slipped his notice in the chaos. Which had worked to its advantage as it snuck into his rear to shoot him in the back.

And shooting him a lot…

 “Going down!” He called over the command network. “Someone get that little want-to-be assassin!”

 Above him, the Dragon Crusader jumped back and was looming over his downed mech when a number of laser blasts and missiles crashed into it. Bleeding from his forehead where he hit his head on a monitor, Khalid scanned his systems to see who shot the enemy heavy that was above him.

[Cavalry is coming] Lucan calmly stated over the comms. Fresh from having sent packing the opposing Grasshopper who tried to slow him down, the Knight Captain’s foil plowed through the stand of trees next to Khalid’s down mech as he went by. [He’s about to learn you have friends, Knight Captain…]

 He noticed Pellenore stood over the smoking wreckage of the Raven, her Spider’s guns cooling and a piece of the enemy mech in her machine’s fist. [The Assassin Candidate has been dealt with…] She said over the network as he noted Traci had Traci in her Tempest advanced into the cluster of small hills with her guns turned towards the staggering Crusader, who was now retreating. [I think someone else needs a time out… Traci, would you please?] Pellinore snarked.

 [With pleasure…] Was the Tempest pilot’s reply as her path set her herding the enemy machine away from his position. Carlotta was not far behind her, her Enforcer’s large laser speaking with authority in dealing damage to the Crusader’s armor.

 Despite himself, Khalid laughed at that as he attempted to right his Black Knight. “I am certain your gauss rifle will see to that…” he replied. “And many thanks, Lucan. It was looking a bit grim.”

 [The Raven mechs are slippery foes, Knight Captain…] Lucan replied dryly. [I am shocked you forgot that- or did you forget Gibson?]

 Khalid grimaced as he carefully stood his mech upright, the heat sinks having cooled him enough to move at a normal pace once more. “Blast…. I suppose I had; its been a good while. And of course, the gods of war have decided on a proper way of reminding me of a forgotten fact.” He paused in his thoughts as he scanned his screens and noticed far fewer enemy icons. “What happened to their Grasshopper?”

 [I made sure he will jump no more…] Chase answered for Lucan. [It would seem my particle cannons were quite sufficient in making that happen.]

 Morganna added. [It helped I chased him into your sights…]

 [Noted and thank you.] Chase replied as he observed, [Knight Captain, it would appear they have been defeated to a man.]

 Khalid noted the last icon, that of the enemy Crusader, winked out as inoperable, Lucan’s machine showing next to it. “Lucan?”

 [He decided surrender was better than dying. How very un-zealous of him.] came the dry reply. [How fares the Reign?]

 The Knight Captain quickly checked the master status plotter.  Prior to the battle, he had loaded the IFF of all the Reign’s machines into his management suite; he they had to go help them, it would pay to know where they were exactly or how bad off they were.  Noting that they seemed to be in some sort of pause and support troops were arriving, he answered Lucan. “The Reign appears to hold their area; Lancer air cavalry is currently arriving on location. It appears they suffered some losses- at least two cripple and one down.”

 Tristan spoke up. [It would seem they didn’t need help.]

 “It would… but then, if we didn’t make plans for it, they might have,” Khalid replied as he shifted the secondary CommNet to the support forces and noted there was some already inbound. Apparently, Area Amalisar command had been watching. “Time to get some infantry assets here to round up prisoners along recovery. I have doubts this is not over just yet.”

Legends and Myths Ninety Four- The Storm: Messenger of the Morrigan

Four Kilometers East of the mines

1026 hours local 11 December 3080

 Ravyn maneuvered her Wolfhound around a wooded hill and sought its concealment from the enemy Awesome nearby. The Swords of Loki had surged their forces and as far as she could tell, it was everything mech related they had left.  Besides the Awesome, they also deployed an Atlas and a Battlemaster in the form of the really heavy hitters. The Griffin that had escaped the Billeting Area battle was present as well as several of their modified Stingers, with their extra machine guns. Other machines among their forces was a Quickdraw and a Firehawk, its twin plasma rifles a dangerous thing for her primarily older machines.  Overall, the level of firepower they faced was massive.

  Off to the right of their battle line, one of their Stingers and a Jenner feinted and darted, occupying Sam Nicolas’ attention as he covered the side of his lady Selina Cato in her Cestus.  While they were far lighter than his Wolverine, they were still dangerous to face as they were faster than him.  And a Jenner, even with no upgrades, was dangerous in competent hands.

 A series of cheers sounded over the company net and the young Canopian commander quickly scanned the sensors. Noting the icon for the enemy Battlemaster had winked out, she called over to Anna Lopez, one of the Osiris pilots. “Twin A, status?”

 Anna, one of Donnatello Twins, responded with laughter. [Ravyn, Bella blew up that Battlemaster like it was a giant wad of Tannerite!] She crowed. [Probably hit an ammo bin!]

 Bella, her sister, chimed in. [Well, he gave me his back…]

 Ravyn shook her head. “Don’t get cocky; that Awesome is still out there…”

 Selina, who was maneuvering to flank the aforementioned assault machine, chimed in. [Not for much longer if I can help it…] She said. [It’s a big ass target; how can i-] Her transmission cut off as a particle cannon impacted her head assembly as she was firing on the Awesome.

 A scream of anguish was then heard across the net as Sam began to curse as he raced in towards the Griffin. The reason for his anger and actions…. Was due to the enemy machine using its primary weapon to remove the cockpit of Selina’s Cestus.


  The Master of the Swords, in his Atlas, stood his ground against the mercenary Wardog. There was a 25-ton difference between the two machines in his favor but you could not tell if the mercenary understood this fact.  The lighter mech stayed its course and slowly advanced upon him as if there was no fear.  Perhaps there wasn’t… but there should have been.

 “All Swords… concentrate fire; bring these vermin down and removed their presence from my view!” He ordered across his network.  And it seemed that his exhortation worked- for a time.

  The other members of the Swords of Loki renewed their efforts against The Reign and it showed. The Reign’s heavier machines- the Cestus, a Zeus, an Ostroc and this Wardog suffered a wave of energy and other damage.  The furious assault launched brought down the Zeus though it did not die… and laid into the other three. The Wardog fell too, a leg taken and the Ostroc was perforated severely. When the Cestus dropped, the Master smiled. They had this battle well in hand, despite the massive damage both he and the Awesome piloted by one of his more skilled warriors sustained.

 But it would be the last strong effort his forces would make….

 Almost as if killing the Cestus threw a switch, his opponents launched into a frenzy of fire and melee.  The Awesome dropped in a light show of energy weapons, the assault machine collapsing in on itself as torsos were removed under the volume of energy connecting with them. His own machine rocked with explosions from missile fire received as well as energy weapons melting armor like ice cream on a summer day.

 The hated Wardog, its pilot still in the fight, propped his machine up and fired a gauss slug at him, which impacted a leg and upset his balance. Fighting his controls, the Master attempted to avoid his machine falling to the ground and failed, the damage suffered being far too great for the gyro of his machine to counter.

 As the ground rushed to meet him, he too late realized he forgot to fasten his harness of his seat. As his machine crashed to the ground, so did he within the cockpit. Striking his head against the backup monitors of the command systems, the Master fought to maintain consciousness.  And failed.

 The last thing he remembered hearing was the cries of his own men as several met defeat from the frenzied enemies.


  Ravyn climbed out of her Wolfhound, her family’s ancestral Colt Dragoon strapped to her leg alongside her stiletto as she made her way down the rope ladder.  Getting to the ground, her features set in a mask of quiet fury, the leader of the Reign made her way to where some of her pilots had prisoners. Among them was the leader of the Swords, having been pried out of his downed Atlas.

 Her company had held the field when the last of the heavy machines the Swords had dropped and triggered a route of the remainder of the renegade mercs.  But the cost had been the death of Selina Cato, the former Cat-Girl slave who had found happiness in being a free sword, the ability to be herself and love who she wanted. Vengeance for her would come- those responsible had ran for the badlands and would eventually be chased down.

Right now, there was a reckoning to be performed as her faith demanded… and a ghost to be rendered able to rest if he chose.

 Collected in a group in the shade of Old Man Clarke’s Phoenix Hawk, the four captured mechwarriors of the Swords sat semi-defiant.  All of them knew enough of the rules about treating prisoners and all of them knew the Phoenix Lancer reputation on such things.  They didn’t play games and were super scrupulous about fair treatment of those captured. What would become apparent shortly is that those they hired had some of their own feelings about those rules.

 Especially when it comes to the death of loved ones at the hands of enemies.

 Natasha had been the one to figure out the identity of the Atlas pilot when she and Liz had popped the machine’s cockpit hatch, the Hatchetman pilot being a wizard at popping battlemech encryption protocols (“Everyone needs a hobby” was her defense for that skill…). When identified, Natasha had told Ravyn and the curse that flowed from her leader had even impressed the former spy-turned-mech-warrior.

 And it was her who stepped up to face Ravyn when she arrived, the leader of the Reign’s dark facial makeup smeared from sweat of her cockpit’s heat. “Ravyn…”

 Ravyn looked at her friend and intoned. “The Morrigan has spoken unto me…Agus tá sé ráite aici Tá sé an t-Aon

(Translation: And she said he’s the One)

 Natasha translated the ancient Gaelic words spoken in her mind and her eyes went wide. “Are you sure?”

 Ravyn stopped as she passed her friend. “As sure as my Goddess can be, ‘Tasha.” She replied and continued forward, leaving Natasha to watch her move onward. “Keep Sam away… the Responsibility is mine.”

 Ahead, Liz and Moose stood guard over the prisoners, the Wardog pilot hefting a large bore shotgun and the lithe Hatchetman warrior a machine pistol. Both observed Ravyn as she approached and awaited commands.

  Grabbing a pistol from Moose’s belt though she had her own, she looked at the collection of prisoners. “Which is he?” Was asked of Liz. When the Atlas pilot was pointed out, Ravyn stepped forward muttering under her breath.  As she reached the man, the woman’s muscles appeared to flex and when she grabbed the enemy leader’s arm to stand him up, he was lifted with an ease that belied her size.

 When he yelped in pain, her only words to him were snarled in an almost otherworldly voice. “Silence…

 Dragging him effortlessly a good ten feet from the rest, she released him from her grasp and he fell to a knee in his off-balance stagger. Staring at her, he spoke with a sneer. “Just who do you think you are? You cannot mistreat prisoners in this fashion and you know it…”

  Ravyn stepped around him and drew her stiletto.  After cutting his wrists free, she stepped back around him and backed up a few feet. She then replied to him, her tone clear in her fury and her voice strong, carrying across the ground for all to hear even as in the distance, VTOLS could be heard approaching.

  “Were I merely a Solder… perhaps your assertions would carry weight. Lucius Murdoch… Were I not the daughter of John Daniels… the man you murdered to carry out the desires of Madmen… of Bigots…. Of Those who would subjugate All in the misbegotten belief of their Divine Right of Mastery of Mankind… perhaps you would be right and Honorable Treatment would be yours…

  But I am more than Just A Soldier…..”

  She loosened the strap holding her father’s pistol in the holster, the ancient revolver on her hip that had been handed down generation to generation since the family fought in the American Civil war on Terra. It had gone with the family when they emigrated to the stars and eventually to the Magistracy of Canopus. Long cared for, the thousand-year-old pistol had seen combat use in every century since it was made, killing many a man over that time.  And it would do so again this day.

  “I am Ravyn Daniels… Daughter of the Late John Daniels,” she spoke the words at him, the cold fury in her tone clear for any to hear as they listened.  “I am a Priestess of the Goddess Morrigan, Warrior Queen of the Ancient Irish of Terra She who is the Foreteller of Fates. I am Morrigan’s Messenger…. Bringing News of Victory and a Harbinger of Doom to those who deserve such tellings by She…. And I am here to give her Message of Woe unto you.”

 She paused a moment then continued. “Because I am my father’s daughter, I am giving you a chance to live… To avoid A Fate.   A chance that you never gave my Father….” For the first time, emotion other than anger crept into her voice and was then gone, as her faith asserted itself once more, steeling her resolve.

 “And The Morrigan approves of my doing so… for it Amuses her.” She tossed the liberated pistol on the ground two feet from Murdoch. “Kill me and perhaps be free of Her Fate for you, leaving others to determine what comes next or welcome her Findings… and its embrace. Either way, there is a fate awaiting you…. Make Your choice.” She shifted her stance into that of an oblique gunfighter draw position. It was a subtle shift but to the trained, it was noticeable.

 However Murdoch missed it as he initially eyed the pistol on the ground then looked at Ravyn, who returned his look with a face of a predator regarding prey.  After a long few seconds of massaging his wrists, he dove for the pistol, his confidence in his own ability to get it and shoot her overriding any sense that this might be a mistake. One should never argue with a Goddess and her messengers…

 Ravyn’s hand moved faster than almost anyone could see as her father’s pistol literally appeared in her hand and she fired once. Which is all it took.

“The Morrigan expected you would choose poorly…”

Legends and Myths Ninety Three- The Storm: Ashton

reclaimed SLDF Company Post C185

Mine Complex in the Ashton Badlands

0915 hours Local 11 December, 3080

 The Master of the Swords of Loki looked around the command room of the post.  The Swords had taken the post from the small detachment investigating it rather quickly.  The success of that operation was tempered by the losses incurred back at the training area billets where the Canopian Merc unit known as Ravyn’s Reign had beaten the force left to destroy the place.  The plan had been for his second in command to torch the place and fall back to this location while the Shen Dragons handled the airfield and those so-called Knights Errant.

 That the Reign had been ready for the attack was unexpected… and unfortunate. Two thirds of his forces committed to the operation had been beaten with little losses incurred on the Canopian mongrels. That the Reign was even here on the planet was an unfortunate event… The Reign had been dominated by a sub command of theirs two years previous and were believed to be dissolved. When discovered here on Centaurus, it had been felt that they would not be effective in stopping efforts due to their new command being inexperienced and under gunned.

 In the events of a few days prior, that estimate had proven inaccurate. The Reign had apparently undergone a modernization and their new leader was able to lead effectively. This did not sit well with the Master of the Swords.  So, when word of the Reign’s advance into the area came, he ordered the rest of his men to mount up and deal with them.

 The Shen Dragons were out hunting those accursed Knights and if there was any justice in the universe, his Capellan backed companions would remove the remnants of that former Marik command while he and his destroyed the Canopian rabble that stopped his men.

With the Reign

Nine kilometers east of the Mines

0959 hours

  Ravyn studied her screens within the cockpit of her Wolfhound, “Anubis”. On them, a general topographic map was displayed, showing the icons of the rest of her company and the areas of interest to her forces. Those areas were the various high ground spots where Matias in his Salamander could cover the field with his machine’s LRMs.

 Moose McGee and his Wardog anchored the right flank of their line, the battlemech hurriedly repaired after the madness of the fighting two days ago.  Hell, all the machines out here had been savaged in the brutal fighting almost four days ago. That said, she had to give the Lancer technicians serious props; those mech mechanics knew their business and had all but Moose’s mech up within twelve hours. His took a little longer as War Dog actuators were not exactly common after Outreach was ravaged early on in the Jihad. But the senior Lancer technician was able to modify a set of Marauder parts for use and according to McGee, they seemed to work better than the original ones.

 Sam and Selina were anchoring the left of the skirmish line in their respective Wolverine and Cestus. The two lovers were inseparable and to Ravyn’s mind, she would leave them to work with each other as long as they didn’t let it cloud judgement.  She was pragmatic about it- being the very open-minded person she was, Ravyn admitted her love of all of her people, her chosen family, was very capable of clouding her thinking… but she also knew it kept her from throwing lives away. Yeah, they were mercs…. But they were also *family*. And family could cause unnecessary expenses.

 Like a fully replaced Engine in her Wolfhound,along with the large laser that last battle had cost in playing bait to set up the Sword’s ass-whuppin’. Two engine hits were nothing to sneeze at, even in a modern machine like her baby. Heat was heat… and while she liked warmth, that was warmer than she liked to get. Especially since she had a hand-me-down cooling vest. That reminds me, she mused to herself I need to see if I can snag one of those SLDF style sets the Lancers have. They *look* like they are damn efficient…

 A diode lit up on her communication panel as a chirp was heard. Clicking on it, she called out. “Mistress of the Reign…”

[Mistress Ravyn, Knight Captain bin Zalas] Khalid bin Zalas, commander of the Knights Errant, called to her over the channel. [I have an update for you].

Ravyn lifted an eyebrow at the call. The former Marik Knight, a most unusual man to the Canopian, was a fascinating study of a leader who never expected to be a Mercenary and was far too noble to truly fit as one.  But he definitely had a pragmatic streak that belied the stick in the mud reputation the Knights of the Inner Sphere had before the start of the Jihad. And it was that sensibility that Ravyn figured would help that honorable man in this profession of scoundrels.

“Knight Captain, a pleasure to hear from you,” she purred across the channel. For whatever reason, she had the urge to try and make the man blush, despite her not even seeing him. Bah- she’d play that game later; now wasn’t the time. “What cha got for me?” She continued in a normal tone, her eyes scanning the screens again.

[My Knights Errant are in a blocking position to your west and somewhat south of you,] He replied, non-plussed by her purr. [The Shen Dragon formation seems to have tried an end around to take you from the side; or they were looking for a means to attack the airfield again. In either case, they have encountered us]

 Ravyn grinned slightly. “I am certain this will be a nightmare for them,” She replied then added, “They might also have been looking for you, too… you did bloody their noses a lot; I don’t think their dropping Sir Benjamin was an even trade in their book…”

[Agreed… but they did] He commented. [I intend on holding your flank until you are secure in your position. Then they shall be taught another lesson in war…. For if they are seeking us, the lesson will be gladly taught.] The tone across the comm channel conveyed quiet anger held in check.

 Ravyn nodded to herself.  Khalid had every right to go after the Shen Dragons- doubly so as they had nearly killed his man AND they were Blakist in all but robes, no matter their very Capellan motif. That he was holding back a very unprofessional blood lust… spoke volumes. “Knight Captain… I think you might have to start teaching soon- I expect them to hit you when we are fighting.” She said. “Because IF they are looking for you, that is when to do it so you don’t have support.”

She could hear a trace of smug in his reply. [Mistress Ravyn, I certainly hope they try us- they will find it is their last mistake.] His next words actually chilled her slightly. [They have cast their lot with the Mortal Enemy of the Knights…. And in doing so, have declared their lives are Forfeit.]

“Khalid…” She dropped the title as she looked up and out of her cockpit window as she thought- I don’t like the sound of that….

 [Do not worry, the Knights will not break The Code, no matter what they do. But be assured it won’t go well for them…] He replied. [We know who we are… and who they have chosen to be. There are to be no surprises expected, based on their past efforts… but no quarter will be offered should they act as their employers have…] Even across the digital comms, the Knight’s normally warm voice sounded very cold….

“Understood, Knight Captain…” Was the only thing she could say. Just then, her command network woke up with calls of contact. Her battle was being joined and she needed to get her head in the game. “Got to go… the Swords have decided to bring the fight to us…”

[May your Ancestors watch over you, Mistress Ravyn] Khalid called to her. [The Knights will come if you have need of us, even if the Dragons choose to engage…]

With the Knights

1007hrs local

 Khalid studied the command feeds within his Black Knight. Admitting to himself that he had sounded a bit melodramatic in his conversation with the leader of The Reign, he meant what he had said.  The Knights would bring the Shen Dragons to heel… and if the Reign ran into trouble, he would send part of his forces to help. It would only be Carlotta and Pellinor… but their two machines were the fastest among his command and an Exterminator supported by a Spider was nothing to ignore.

 But that was a problem for later; right now, he was busy trying to maneuver the Dragons into a position where his Knights could lay into them and prevent their escape into the badlands. Not that there was much out this way outside of the airfield, Crossroads and that SLDF bunker. But even a mech unit on the run out here could evade being engaged if enough lead time was there.  It was a lot of ground to cover and satellites could be avoided if one knew where to look and when to go to ground.

 However, he didn’t expect them to run again. The Knights had bloodied them badly and even though the Commander’s Recon had cost Sir Benjamin a stay in the Crossroads medical facility with the destruction of his Centurion’s head assembly, it was nowhere near the punishment inflicted upon the Dragons in that engagement. The logistical train advantage was going to be evident soon- The Knights Errant had access to a ready source of supplies (though slow due to distances); the Dragons had whatever was within that Bunker plus whatever the Swords had with them, if anything. Resupply would be vitally important, as long as he managed his resources properly.

 It would be a war of attrition… and after the experiences of Huntress twenty years ago and that of the more recent Atreus, Khaild knew far more about how to fight such a war than many would expect.

 Noting the icons for the possible positions of the Dragons were beginning to shift, he called out over the command network. “Lucian, Tristian… it appears the Shen have decided to come for us while their allies try the Reign,” He said jovially. “Make ready!”

[The Right Hand stands Ready!] Tristian responded from his Albatross. The others of his lance moved to flank their lance leader, the Longbow of Sir Erec back a short distance to cover the rest of the force. His LRMs would prove important in the coming battle should opportunity provide.

[The Left Hand stands Ready!] Lucian called from the cockpit of his Grasshopper. The other line mech, the Thug of Lady Margo, stepped alongside Lucian, her guns hot. Pellinore positioned herself to the rear and back a bit; her Spider being tasked with harassment and opportunity strikes unless she was sent to help the Reign.

 Khalid smiled. Whatever came at them would find the Knights waiting to unleash the fires of hell….

Legends and Myths Ninety Three- The Storm: The Die is Cast two (guest author)

  “Anvil One to Legion Command,” Kaptain Alicia Bailey transmitted, “Blacksmith reports the hammer is falling.” Her company of eight Devastator class Demolisher tanks and four Rhino fire support vehicles moved onto the tarmac. Bringing up the rear was a platoon of new specialized heavy armor.

 Passing between the rows of buildings, she could see a cluster of five battlemechs to her left while further left was a Rifleman battlemech apparently scanning the skies. Further out to the front and the right were pairs of battlemechs, and although she had no visual, her HUD and IFF warned of a platoon of four vehicles behind the last building on the right. The buildings on the right and left cut off any further sensor data. Her unit was traveling in a security formation, her Demolisher platoons traveling in an angled formation forming an arrow point with her Rhinos traveling in a diamond formation behind. The heavy Legion tanks were behind them in a line abreast formation. The turrets of the vehicles rotated out each vehicle’s crew searching for targets.

Drop plus Zero

  Overhead, six modified SL 15 Slayer Aerospace fighters flew patrol circuits over the battle zone. Haumptman John Couch’s squadron, the 99th Pursuit, had specific instructions. One, report on enemy forces on the in the combat or entering the battle zone and secondly, to keep the airspace over the battle zone clear of any enemy aerial assets. Finally, to monitor as much of the area for any dropship launches. Couch knew that if the Grey Bolts could get the three stolen dropships to a jumpship at a pirate point that they would have a bargaining chip to negotiate with.

 In Pryme’s own words, “Those dropships and the Grey Bolts are not to leave this system. The Grey Bolts have two choices. They will either be our prisoners or corpses. Actual Word of Blake forces are to be terminated with extreme prejudice. Any unit working for the Wobbies will be given a chance to surrender and walk away but if they don’t, they’re WoB forces and will be treated as such.”

 Garland could make out the drop zone and see the beginnings of the battle that he would soon be a part of. The spaceport runway was considered the most important reference point for his unit. The side closest to where the units dropships had landed was the “Near” side and the opposite the “far”. He could just make out the clusters of enemy battlemechs and armor spread across the tarmac plus along a stretch of road. His drop area placed his company directly in the center of the enemy. If the drop went as planned, he would instantly be in the fight, surrounded. He smiled, a feral grin as he thought, “Not the first time.”

 As her armor units moved up the tarmac, the computer warbook identified the target. “Left flank, the Rifleman and the Excalibur are ours”. She said, “Right flank- take on that platoon of tanks. Stay sharp people.” The unit moved at a deliberate pace, the two platoons of Demolishers echeloned right and left, the platoon of Rhinos in a diamond formation slight behind and center of the Demolishers and the last four armored vehicles in a skirmish line bringing up the rear.

Drop plus 10 seconds

  Lasers, missiles and autocannon fire filled the air as the main bodies of both sides attempted to engage each other at long range. Suddenly a Merlin battlemech appeared from between the tall warehouse building on the right flank of the armor formation at close range. The lead Demolisher, surprised by its sudden appearance, swiveled it turret and opened fire with its twin Pontiac 100 autocannons; depleted uranium slugs sped past its opponent, striking the building and blowing out a large segment of its ferro-crete wall.

 In the rear, one of the four turretless vehicles revealed how dangerous it could be. The modified Devastator class Demolisher had no turret, but instead had a giant barrel projecting from its rebuilt hull. A panel opened to reveal a large missile launcher and the Light PPC on the top of the armored carapace was plainly visible. Seeing it, the mechwarrior must have hesitated as his war book flashed between a dozen silhouettes to identify it. Then the vehicle opened fire with the artillery cannon mounted in front and what was now identified as a clan advanced tactical missile launcher.

 One of the Rhino’s added forty missiles from its twin long range twenty racks. Twenty-four long range missiles and eight standard missiles from the ATM hit the Merlin, staggering it. As the pilot fought for control, a second Demolisher fired its twin Autocannons, driving the battlemech backwards and to the ground with a resounding crash. Then all hell broke loose. The Demolishers began to take long range missile hits from several different directions. A platoon of tanks rounded the bend in front of the lead Demolishers firing long range missiles and large 8cm Lasers. A second Rhino, along with its large-barreled companion, fire to the front- the long range missiles missing. But the missiles and artillery cannon found their mark.

 The eight missiles stuck the lead tank, rocking it with explosions. The artillery canon hit causing major damage to the lead tank and collateral damage to the two tanks following too close behind. The enemy was realizing how dangerous this group of armored vehicles could be and was returning fire. One Demolisher now had some motive damage, three others had minor damage to their steerage linkage. On the far left flank, a pair of Battleaxe class mechs were closing, to the front and left other battlemechs were moving into position as well; among them an Excalibur, two Enforcers, and a Starslayer. On that same side the Rifleman was holding position, its upper body and weapon equipped arms moving to fire. To the front past the platoon of tanks they were engaging, a Cestus and an Enfield were moving to contact.

Drop plus 20 seconds

 Kaptain Bailey chuckled to herself, in spite of the carnage around her. Apparently the mechwarriors were not prepared for the likes of the Legion class armored vehicle that they had been rudely introduced to. “Stick around boys.”, she muttered to herself, “We have a surprise or two more for you .” The far-left Legion opened fire on the Excalibur and the two battlemechs clustered closely to it. The round missed the Excalibur, landing in the middle of the cluster, but in true artillery shell fashion it spread collateral damage to all three battlemechs.

 The lead Demolisher on the right flank opened fire on the lead enemy tank, both its autocannons finding their mark. Instead of an explosion, the turret of the tank caved in as if someone had deflated it and the barrel of the large laser drooped to the ground while smoke drifted from the seams. At the same time the lead Demolisher on the left flank took a hit from what could only have been a heavy particle projection cannon, exploding and blowing the turret off. Another of the Demolishers on the right flank yelled that his turret ring was damaged and locked in place, but that didn’t stop them from moving forward into a position to engage the heavily damaged Merlin backing into one of the side alleys between the warehouses on the right flank. Kaptain Bailey mumbled to herself “A few more seconds, we only have to hold out a few more seconds.” At this point both sides were jockeying for position to flank the other.

 Hauptmann Garland and the eleven other battlemechs were seconds from landing. Each was now using the retro packs attached to their mechs to slow their descent. Once on the ground there would be a brief window where they would not be able to fight back, but they would be hard to hit. Each person hit the retro thruster pack looking for their target area.

 Hauptmann Couch gave the target area a wide berth as the battlemechs streaked toward the ground. He watched as the drogue chutes were released, drifting away and retropacks fired slowing their descent. A few more seconds and all hell about to break loose, he thought as his squadron widened their aerial perimeter, looking for any intruder into their airspace and any dropship trying to leave the planet.

Drop plus 30 seconds

The Grey Bolts had pulled out into an ever-widening circle using the long range to negate the firepower of the Demolishers, making them more or less mobile targets. The long-range missiles of the Rhinos and the advanced tactical missiles of the Legions gave the armored unit some long-range return fire, but targets in so many directions they were unable to concentrate fire.

Two mechs, a Battleaxe on the right flank and a Cestus to the front, attempted to close on two Legions. They in turn released their second surprise. A rear compartment opened on each and a squad of battlearmor trotted out to join the fray.

Sergeant Lucas McKay walked down the ramp of Legion, leading his squad of Kanazuchi armor. Having trained all his life as a foot soldier, the assault class battlearmor did not seem slow to him. He and the three other members of his squad moved to get into position. Armed with a 5cm laser and two one-shot short range twin racks, his squad was a threat that few battlemechs could ignore. His squad was at the southern center area of the warehouses and engaged the Battleaxe standing in between the three-story warehouses. The Battleaxe pilot was so focused on the armored vehicles he apparently didn’t notice them. “Time for a wakeup call”, Mckay thought as he focused the crosshairs on the giant battlemech. “Red One to Squad”, Mckay growled into his mike, “Fire all weapons!”

 Four medium lasers blazed and sixteen short range missiles streaked toward the battlemech. Two lasers hit removing armor from the torso and arms. Eight of the sixteen Missiles stuck across the legs, arms and torso of the Battleaxe, staggering but not bringing it down. The surprised pilot, shaken from his target fixation, backed away. A second squad of Kanazuchi, led by Corporal Abrams trotted off to the east corner of the warehouses hoping to round the corner to get a shot at the other Battleaxe.

Landing Zone

The Grey Bolts were completely surprised by the battlemech company that had been dropped from low altitude in their midst. In a case of pure good luck Hauptmann Garland’s twelve Victors landed with almost surgical precision dividing the Grey Bolts . The battlefield now took on a new shape. Instead of surrounding an enemy armor company with their own armor moving in to reinforce, the Grey Bolts now had their mech company split into three segments and their armor support blocked from supporting them. Their armor company was now on their own in the fight for their lives against a more heavily armed and armored battlegroup.

 Hauptmann Garland was used to a drop spreading his unit across a wide swath of territory and usually he then would have to gather what units were on hand then move to take an objective. This time, he had to hand it to the Kapten of the Dropship. The landing was so precise it looked more like a parade field drill than a combat drop. There was only one mech out of place, W/O Olsen’s Victor was 90 meters off target.

 What made it the best drop ever was that they literally landed in a pack of enemy mechs, an Enfield, a Cestus and an Enforcer were all right in front of them… Which meant that they could immediately bring their Class 20 Ultra Cannons to bear without taking fire while closing to range. The 12 Victors moved by Lance to each of these targets.

An Excalibur moved to and fired upon a pair of Legions rounding the warehouses on the right flank immobilizing one. That same Legion with its artillery cannon and advanced tactical missile system returned fire. The missiles streaked to the target, eight of twelve hitting and rending armor. Then the artillery cannon struck with an explosion that rocked the battlemech. One squad of Kanazuchi opened fire with its medium lasers, missing but the missiles had done their job-the Excalibur was down.

 In the center of the field, the Cestus had moved too slow, and was apparently feeling invulnerable It soon discovered that he should have thought about his action as he wasn’t. As the Cestus destroyed one of the Demolishers, the Devastator tanks opened up. All three fired their paired Pontiac 100 autocannons, Martell 5cm lasers and Hovertec Quad missile launchers at him and the effect was brutal. Four out of the six autocannons out of three lasers and six out of twelve short range missiles hit. When the smoke that surrounded the Cestus dissipated, the remains of the wreck was laid out on the tarmac, smoke pouring from what remained of its armor.

 These exchanges were not without casualties as another Demolisher hit by fire from an enemy tank exploded, gutted as ammunition cooked off. The Rifleman off to the northeast was providing hellishly accurate fire onto the Tarmac. Two Legions and a Rhino began to pour long range suppressive fire at it, in the hopes of at least throwing off the aim of the pilot.

 W/O Olsen was hit by at least two enemy mechs as soon as he hit the ground and almost all the armor on the legs of his mech were gone Indeed, one could see the myomer bundles working through rips in the armor plating. It wasn’t looking too good for the Warrant… but at least he was not alone.

 Hauptmann Garland’s company spread out, a lance to the east and a lance to the west while the Victors with the antipersonnel weapons and flamers moved toward two medium enemy tanks that were moving up the road from the south. His lance engaged a pair of Halberd Light Tanks and yet another Enfield. Even as Garland was closing the distance, he brought his crosshairs on the Enfield and squeezed. The Ultracannon blasted two streams of depleted uranium round and missed the recoil slightly jerked his mech to the right and the streak missile launcher failed to achieve a lock. The two medium lasers in the left arm hit however striking the chest and the arm of the enemy machine. Armor boiled and melted away, but the lasers did not penetrate either area. The other Victors in his lance fired their autocannons at the Enfield– and everyone was a miss. This… Must be the luckiest bastard in the world, Garland thought, he moved in an lined up another shot.

To the east on the roadway entrances to the tarmac, a rare tank versus tank battle had developed. Three Demolishers, two Legions and a Rhino were battling the two lances of tracked and hovercraft vehicles charging north to meet them. Laser missile and cannon fire filled the air between the two opposing units as they attempted to gain the upper hand. The hovercraft first attempted to swing wide to a side road, but found it blocked by a Demolisher that kept them from passing. One of the enemy tanks fired, Its Large laser and missiles crippling the Rhino it had targeted. The two Demolishers of the attack group concentrated fire on the enemy tank. The stream of autocannon shells and medium lasers ripped through the tank, coring its ammo bin and setting off a tremendous explosion. A second tank caught in the collateral damage of fire from the two Legions was immobilized. The remaining tracks and the hovercraft began a withdrawal moving southeast and away from the spaceport.

 From the center of the battlefield, Kaptain Bailey could see that the two Battleaxes to the north had retreated among the tall warehouses. The nearest vehicles, two Rhinos with long range missiles as their main weapon, were ill-equipped to follow. She and the two Demolishers with her turned and headed north toward the east side of the warehouses. Kaptain Bailey believed her group’s three Demolishers would have the firepower and the armor endurance to kill those bastards. As they drove across the tarmac, two Legions, both immobilized Legions and the two rhinos provided suppressive fire against the rifleman and the Enforcers now supporting it, to the west. Although only making minor hits against these mechs, their considerable combined firepower prevented any thought of closing the distance to get better shots.

The first battlemechs to break were the Battleaxes, moving quickly northeast out of the spaceport. On the opposite side of the spaceport the Enfield broke from the four Victors attempting to encircle it and broke into a run heading due west. A second Cestus retreating toward the Rifleman and Enforcers was caught in the crossfire of three Victors and cut down. It was at this point that the last of the Grey Bolts began retreating, mostly in good order. Two tanks, one immobilized and the other surrounded, elected to surrender and opened their hatches; the crews dismounting under the watchful eye of two of the modified Victors with their antipersonnel gauss rifles trained on them.


 Hauptmann Garland began moving his troops to secure the perimeter, the mechs of his force were too slow to pursue whichwould only find themselves outmaneuvered and most likely ambushed. “To all standby units, this is Hammer Actual”, Garland said over group coms, “I say again, this is Hammer Actual; we are securing the objective. Enemy units scattering north, south and west, All assault elements rally on the objective and secure.”

 As his units moved to provide a secure perimeter they also moved to help any surviving casualty of the damaged, immobilized or destroyed vehicles. As other tankers moved to secure the survivors of enemy vehicles as prisoners, he sat back in his command couch and hoped that this war was worth the risk. It was almost as if his cousin, Hauptmann-Kommandant Pryme could read his mind.

 ]Hammer Actual this is Legion Actual] The voice of Kommandant Pryme was heard in his earpiece. [Job well done, phase one complete. 861st Fire Support Group is moving on your position to secure so you can regroup your unit. Companies One and Two of the Strike Battalion are making sweeps outside your perimeter area and will rally there. The Regimental Command Company will be onsite in two mikes. Keep your eyes open for a possible counter assault.]

 Garland looked to the east and could see the smoke trails and the fire plumes of the three Legion dropships as they lifted off for a standby orbit and smiled faintly.

 On the other side of the field, Kaptain Bailey watched from the open hatch of her Demolisher as individual units moved to positions for a secure perimeter. She was still working on determining repair and casualty lists as her company had taken a beating. She expected it to happen but still couldn’t reconcile the idea of getting used to it.

 Now all there was to do was setup defenses and wait. The only good news was that her Demolisher was the one that finally brought that Cestus down. In addition to getting credit for the kill, the mech was hers to claim for herself or her family. She would give any reward on the bounty of the mechwarrior to her crew, but the mech would be family property for her and her heirs . It seems my son will not be a tanker after all.

 Her com crackled to life and her exec Leutnant Danny Calhoun called in. [We’ve secured the prisoners and the area. Waiting for the dropships to ground and let tech services go to work.]

 Bailey sighed, “What’s the butchers bill?’”, she said solemnly.

 There was a long pause [Yellow Two is a complete loss; we might get some decent salvage from it but that’s about it. The entire crew bought the farm.]

 She could hear the tremor in Calhoun’s voice. Yellow two was a part of his platoon and this was his first combat action as leadership. She gave him the time he needed to recover. Calhoun continued, [Black One is also a total loss, and four of the six crewmen wounded, two severely. The rest of the unit is immobilized or has some linkage issues are easily repaired; some of the crew members have minor injuries but are able to report for duty]

 Bailey rubbed her eyes, “Alright, tell the crews that they did a good job., arrange for the company to gather for a service for those that are no longer with us. One more thing … Danny, losses happen in this line of work. It can’t be helped. Take care of those we didn’t lose. When we get out of here remind me that I owe you a long drink.”

 Hauptmann Bailey sat back as comfortably could in the commander’s cupola She had a bad feeling that this was going to be a repeat of Khon Kaen, that the next time they would be Blakists. As long as they didn’t face those damnable Manei Domini she would be ok. She still had nightmares about the counter attack against her last command. Nine out of twelve tanks lost, To infantry in the open! She pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind and got back to the business at hand.

 This was only the first phase. The next part was going to be even more brutal.

Legends and Myths Ninety Two- The Storm: Spectres gathered

FOB Melody

0531 local 11 December 3080

Duncan stood outside the forward operating base building on what was functioning as the Blood Spirit Spectres’ primary camp. Watching the sky for the incoming VTOLs, he chewed on a cigar as he mused over the information gained by the teams.

 The older Spirit had expected something peculiar with this operation. As he had told all the teams when briefed, no lone wolfing. Getting information on who the enemy command was and their overall assets was of import over any other thing. And based on the initial data dump, he had been right to order what he had. Prisoners present at one of the sites complicated responses- it wasn’t his problem, but he’d agonize over it anyway. Never leave people behind, if you could help it… and he had to order it.

 That Gamma Squad had potentially deviated…. Was a cause for concern. And he’d deal with it when they got here.

 As the Kestrel flared before landing, the senior Spirit watched with detachment and stayed in place when it did land.  Only when the hatch opened did he move and that was to put hands on his armored hips. To anyone who knew him, the mere fact the old man was armored spoke volumes. After Tikonov, he had sworn never again…

 Exiting the craft, Gamma Team walked away from it and towards Duncan, carrying items liberated from the mission site. One of the team elbowed another and the group tightened up and stopped fifteen feet from Duncan, with one man stepping forward and coming to attention. “Colonel MacKenzie,” The leader of the team spoke, the smooth tones of his voice semi-masked by the helmet. The leader’s right hand swung up and folded in at the elbow, a fist pressed against the armor over his heart in salute.

 “Captain Belmont…” Duncan replied, returning the greeting salute. “Ah was informed ye’ had done a wee deviation from mission parameters an’ brought a guest.” Looking across the squad, he continued. “I dinnae see one with ye… tho’ I ken see some presents fer thae Tech boys.”  The unspoken question was unspoken… but no less present.

 Salem lifted his helmet off his head before replying. “Aye… there was a bit o’ complication with things…” The younger commando leader began, his voice adopting the accent of the senior man- a trait done out of habit. They were friends after all, and the goofing was something long done by him with Duncan. Usually when he had to explain himself….

  Losing the accent, he continued. “It will all be in the report but short form- while we were tapping their networks, we did get discovered. Issue was neutralized before any alert or alarm was raised. It was determined at that time confiscating items-“ He indicated the data pads and computers his team held. “And physical removal of enemy personnel from site was wisest choice of action, considering available options.”

 Duncan listened to the explanation and made a gesture to the rest of the squad. They, in turn, all saluted him and then moved on towards the hangar where a tech team awaited. Answering Salem, he commented. “Ah see… and where be the individuals ye removed from thae site?”

 At this question, the younger officer shrugged. “After a brief discussion about their poor choices in life and a quick Q-A about any valuable information they might have had- It wasn’t terribly much, by the way- I let them go.” Salem tapped a chest pouch that contained a notepad, indicating he had some info to go over.

 “Oh, did ye now?” A raised eyebrow.

 “Yes sir, I did,” Salem replied, his voice dry in response. “And no, despite their assertions of being better than us or their supremely divine nature, neither of the two were able to fly very well. The Demi-precentor at least tried to glide with his cloak… Failed miserably, of course, but it was an admirable effort.”

 A wince and a slight smile were Duncan’s initial answer. “Ach… I sincerely doubt they expected that.” The older Spirit, while he did have issues with Salem’s tossing of the prisoners… was surprised at his own lack of anger at the younger Commando’s action. It was an uncouth and questionable action that was done.  And while they were Blakists, it was not something he’d normally condone.  Granted, being nice to them was rather hard in light of what he’d seen and knew they’ve done to others- but there were rules about this.

 And he found he didn’t really care too much. No, Duncan decided right then, while he didn’t like it much, it was a somewhat appropriate fate for them. “Ye know thae not our way, aye?” He stated, no rancor in his voice.

 “I’m pretty sure they expected a bullet from me or perhaps a prison cell, given Lancer reputation,” Salem replied. “I, of course, had to disappoint them on both counts after I obtained what I could out of them… and their lack of HUMIT value. Exigencies and all that. May I be dismissed?”

 Duncan was quiet for a moment. “Aye… Ye be dismissed, Captain. Depending on what ye found, ye will be back out again…. And I’ll be wi’ ye for it.”

 Salem paused as he went to leave. “Colonel?”

 “Aye… I’ll be out with ye. Was nae planning to be back in thae game but these mic na galla had to gall to trash me lawn and spoil me hunting grounds. Ta quote thae Ex-Marine arsehole over with the mech jocks, somebody needs tae get a Kickin’…” Duncan said as he moved to join Salem heading to the hangar. “And they made it personal with who’s in charge of this invasion. Dinnae think I’m pickin’ on ye, lad… You get me ‘cause nae of the others are back here ri’ now.”

 “Oh goody…” Salem said half in dread. “How does your missus feel about it?”

 “Nae happy about it…. But she’s nursing a wounded wing so she’s nae going. In response, she has decided to play bodyguard to Sodher-Schaeller tho…” He answered. “Which might get her thrown back to the field anyway. That one dinnae like being shadowed.”

A chuckle. “No she don’t…” Salem responded.

A shrug. “We’ll see….”


 Salem exited the conference room two hours later and headed outside, taking up a position under the edge of the overhang that covered the entryway to the building. The rest of the teams had come in over the course of an hour after his group and all four leaders all sat in conference with Duncan as he conferred with the recently arrived in orbit Colonel Tinney on board the Mustafa.  It had been a semi-spirited discussion over the discovered knowledge of who led the attack. And this information had not been well received by the Lancer Commander. Not well received at all…

 It was decided that the four teams would get some rest before being recommitted to the area. The weather was not going to help much over the next thirty-six hours for a VTOL insertion; a big snowstorm was approaching and while it would be good cover, the four teams had been run ragged for the last two days. It would be foolish to commit them as spent as they were, Duncan had said, telling the Phoenix Lancer CO that they would deploy when ready and not before.

  Tinney, for his part, understood the need and said so. He also said that the longer it took to get back in, the longer Dyckman had to find out about the missing individuals… and perhaps prepare for a direct strike at him. The two leaders agreed to a twenty-four hour hold on operations- enough rest for the teams and it was also a chance to solidify information and intelligence. It was also learned by the teams the status of the counter attacks and their overall successes… which did much to bolster their morale. At least the fight was being taken to the Blakist and their allies.  Their own efforts… would come soon.

 But right now, the dark-haired leader of Gamma needed to get outside to let loose some negative energy… because he blamed himself for the continued existence of the enemy leadership.

 Reyna followed him, the short but fierce commando quietly padding after her fellow team leader. “Salem…” she said quietly. “He’s not your fault.”

 “Bullshit.” He replied as he picked up a rock from outside and threw it. “I had a chance to kill him years ago and I didn’t…” Salem growled. “I knew he was shit…. I KNEW he was A SHIT… and could have prevented this.”

 She stepped along side of Salem and grabbed his shoulder. “Salem, you could not have known then… Shit, Duncan didn’t either… According to Argyle, Dyckman snowed Birgitta.” Reyna commented. “And we BOTH know she was a fucking hard person to fool.”

 He looked at her. “She was one to forgive…” he replied, forcing her to remember the second chance the Old Sword had given Reyna, despite the internal tie vote not to. “And in his case, she never should have let him get away…”

 Reyna made an annoyed noise to go along with her frown. “Salem… she made the choice to do as she did with him, same as with me… I know I was a gamble in being allowed back. I’d like to think I’ve proven it was a smart choice…” She said with a dark growl then her voice softened. “The Old Sword had her reasons, dude… even when it cost her in the end.”

 “Reyna, you’ve justified her decision more than enough,” Salem replied as he stared off into the grey skies, the snow referenced during the meeting starting to arrive at the FOB. “I can’t help but think her telling me to not take the shot was a mistake…”

 Before she could answer, another voice was heard. “Birgitta’s thoughts were her own,” Argyle said from the doorway. “And you were not one to defy her orders… though for the life of me, I don’t know why.” He exited and stepped up alongside the two, a cigarette dangling from his lips. With a puff, the executive officer of the Spirits continued. “Some answers will never be found… and trying to figure out what the hell she was thinking then is an exercise in madness. Though I will say Duncan has a theory.”

 The two team leaders both looked at Argyle. “Oh?” Reyna asked, the curiosity in her voice plain as day.

 A long pregnant pause as Argyle thought on his reply. “According to him… he figures she wanted to be the one to take care of him. Her mistake, her responsibility…” He said. “Given her habit of ownership of errors, it tracks. I am pretty sure she didn’t expect him to send about a fucking company of infantry at her… then who would?” A puff and a smile. “Were she here, she’d probably say otherwise but that’s her; she always knew some sort of weird shit that no one else did. And she’d be right…”

 The Senior Spectre paused. “In any event, Duncan blames himself for not being on planet when they hit the first time; its irrational as fuck but it’s there.  It is also one of the reasons why he’s going out with all of us when its time.”

 Reyna and Salem both blinked with Salem saying what they both thought aloud. “He’s going to try and get him, isn’t he?”

 “Ayup.” Argyle replied. “If opportunity presents itself, of course.” Tossing away his cigarette, he motioned towards the inside. “Dunno about you, but I’m getting some rest. Once we are out there, we ain’t coming in for a while…”

Legends and Myths Ninety One- The Storm: Old feuds and mind games

Kincade Medical Center Village of Kincade

235km east of Zathras

1230hrs 9 December 3080

  Kincade was a town along the major East West highway that transited the continent of Cromwell. While it wasn’t the bustling city that Landing is, it also was not the picturesque village that Zathras was. So it had some of most anything you would expect in a small town. Among its anemities was a medical center.

 Not the biggest one, it was able to handle most any medical emergencies one would expect to have. This included such things as trauma- there was farm communities out here and sometimes bad accidents happened.  It wasn’t really a combat hospital but with its capacity to handle major incidents, it became the nearest facility to send combat injured.

 With the mostly mech fighting on this front, there thankfully hadn’t been much need. But even the pilots of those machines could get injured, and it was here any such casualties were brought.  This included enemy ones… and it was where the injured Gordon Dragoons wound up- very much under guard.


 Color Sergeant Hannah Gordon woke up with a groggy start and looked around. Where am I? she asked herself as she tried to recall the last few hours and noted her bandaged head along with her splinted arm. Her ribs hurt like hell too and she noted that she had a bandage wrapped around her ribcage, which a dressing placed on her flank where it hurt the most. It’s a hospital… and the last I remember was Lancer battle ar- ah shit. Realization hit her as her wits fully returned.  I’m in a Lancer Medical Center…. And a prisoner. Great…

 Entering the room, a technician spoke out. “Good afternoon, Miss Gordon,” the male technician said as they approached the monitors. Behind him, a female infantry soldier entered and took up position to the side of the doorway. “Welcome back to the land of the awake. How are you feeling?”

 Hannah eyeballed the technician. “Gordon, Hannah A; Color Sergeant, Gordon’s Dragoons… Serial number 3152996…” was her reply.

 The technician nodded as he checked the screen and then lifted a pad to make notes. “Duly noted, Miss Gordon. I see you are also alert to the fact you are not among your own… which means no apparent lasting issues from your injuries. There was a concern when you passed out as you were captured.”

 Hannah continued to watch the actions of the technician as she repeated her identity. “Gordon, Hannah A; Color Sergeant, Gordon’s Dragoons. Serial number 3152996…”

 The tech looked over at her and gave a slight smile. “Miss Gordon, while you are a prisoner, you are entitled to certain rights as enumerated under the Ares Conventions. As such, you are entitled to medical care on a level commensurate to what we give our own. Questions about your well-being are part and parcel to ensuring we are giving appropriate care,” He paused. “So those sorts of questions are NOT part of an interrogation for intel. That stuff we leave to spooks after you are well enough for a detention center.”

 “And even then, we don’t torture prisoners,” From the entrance to the room, a dark-skinned male officer in fatigues entered along with a female member of Comstar. “Unless you count constant Musak being played at all hours of the day. Then maybe it might be. Though I’m told highlanders self-torture with their choice of musical instruments so I’m not certain it would work anyway. Because bagpipes…”

 Hannah actually chuckled slightly. “Ach ye heathens…” slipped out before she clamped her mouth shut.

 The officer nodded. “Now that’s a reaction I expected from a proper child of Northwind…” He observed then continued after a moment. “My name is Major James Payne, Phoenix Lancers and this is Demi-Precentor Julia Styles from the MRBC office here on Centarus. Despite your unit’s discovered association with the Word of Blake and its soon to be Wanted Rating, you are being accorded rights as a captured Mercenary under the employ of an Enemy Nation-State…. Up until your Unit’s status officially changes, at the very least.”

 Hannah pondered this information. “And what happens when th’ Dragoon’s status changes?” She asked. “And when?”

 The two officials looked at each other then back at her. “At that point in time, your status will change to that of captured criminal at which point the Lancers collect a bounty for you while you sit in a prison cell… and then you will be shipped back to Northwind,” Demi-Precentor Styles answered. “What they will do with you is up to the government of Northwind. Considering what they have experienced at the hands of The Word, I do not expect you to be well received… or treated kindly. As to when the status update that will be once secure communications is restored with one of the satellite offices. Within a few days, I suspect.”

 Payne added. “Until such time, as I said, you will be accorded status of captured mercenary with the ability to renounce your affiliation and seek employment elsewhere. Granted, your choices will be limited due to associations once word gets out about the Dragoons but not everywhere- even we have former Clan warriors among us.”

 He paused as he laid a small sheaf of papers on a mobile table within her reach. “Something to consider while you heal up, at least. I or another will be back later on this evening or tomorrow for a proper processing, seeing how you only just woke up.”

 Styles smiled. “Indeed. You have quite a bit to think about and should I see you in a few days, I will discuss repatriation to Northwind then.” Looking over to Payne, she asked. “Anything else, Major?”

 “No, I think not.” He answered. “If you will pardon us, we have a few others to speak with about their status yet. Quite a few were recovered and are also in this facility being tended to. Good afternoon.”

 The two officers departed then, leaving Hannah in the stunned silence she had descended to after being given the news.  The Dragoon mechwarrior was aware of the fate of those deemed Traitor to Northwind and to the people of it; she had grown up on stories of the Covenanters, their resistance to Amaris’s forces during the Coup… and tales of the fierce independent streak every scion of the world had. Among those tales was stories on the fates of those who had betrayed the world.

 It occurred to her right then that what her Uncle had done was condemn them all… and she was not sure he understood this. But she most certainly did. Oh, she most certainly did… and the likely outcome chilled her to her core.

The tech had left along with the two officers and the trooper had stepped out when they did, which left her alone with her thoughts. And Hannah’s thoughts were a swirl.  It was then she noticed the folded papers on the table.  Stretching out with her good hand, she managed to grab the end of the table and pull it closer. Once it was more within reach, she snagged the documents that were on it and pulled them to her lap.  Opening it up, she looked at the contents and just stared at the words on the top of the various documents.

Application for Employment- Phoenix Lancers and requirements were one part of the pile. The other was a Centarus Application for Residency. Looking through it, she noted a part of the applications that indicated potential sponsorship. Apparently, such things helped with gaining citizenship here as well as membership within the Lancers…. And the sponsorship block on both had a name in it.

 The name listed was that of a Major Sean Farquharson… the commander of the Lancer force they had faced.  I am being given an out, she thought as she read through the documents. This has GOT to be some sort of joke…

Eastern Central Divide

71 Kilometers east of Zathras

 Sean stood in the ad-hoc command center set up in the barn of a local farm. The building, part of one of the myriad of horse farms and plantations on this side of the Divide had become a staging point for the push west. After the initial battles of the day before, the Lancers had kept up a general pursuit and push, using careful advance and recon to keep the line moving.

 As suspected, the Word’s Allied Forces didn’t have a large presence or any sort of real reserve out here. And with the various raids taking out supply points and their staging areas, the assets arrayed against the Lancer Counterattack were having to fall back far faster than they would like. This suited him just fine, as it allowed the tech boys to get his stuff repaired and rearmed as needed for the continued offensive. Besides, there was still a Gordon force to bring down and he wanted to be the one to do it.

 While he trusted the acting leader for Alpha Company First Battalion, Captain Jess Knox was not a skirmisher sort of commander. She was just as much a stubborn bloodhound as her commander though… and if those Gordon survivors were going to be caught, she’d get them. But he secretly hoped she wouldn’t catch them because, well, they were Gordons.

 At least with her chasing them, it allowed his company to pursue as a supporting force… and respond as needed even as the badly damaged mechs were cycled forward as they were repaired.  And it was here in the temporary command post that word caught up to him about what was going on back in Kincade.

 “Major,” a Coms Tech called to him.

 “Aye?” he responded from the map table he was standing at.

 “Vid message…” the tech replied. “Routing it to the tablet next to you.”

 Sean nodded and lifted the tablet as the icon flashed for the incoming message. Tapping it, he waited for it to open up. “Farquharson…”

 [Major, James Payne,] the face within the video was that of Major Payne. [Subject is awake and your suggestion is being tried.]

 A smile. “Ah good… We will see if the wee lass is as diehard as the commander o’ th’ Gordons be..” He said. “There be nae reason tae see a young’n be condemned… even a blasted Gordon.”

A nod. [Agreed. I thought about some of your possible reasons for this… and I suspect I know at least one.]

“Do tell…”

 [If you turn her, its insult to injury, isn’t it?]

 An evil smile. “Aye… tha’ be the crux of it.” Was his reply. “If’n she can be turned and by me, with your support for the idea, of course…  it is the bigger insult to the bastard then just capturin’ her or beat’n him. Falling in battle is one thing… but being killed by Kin for th’ dumb decision of her commander is a waste…

 Buck stops wi’ leadership and even if’n the Head Gordon gets caught alive enough tae be tried… I know th’ price she would pay being sent tae Northwind wi’ him,” He paused. “Thair be no honor in tha’ death. None.”

[Honorable action, Major,] Payne said. [Even in a classic highlands clan… disagreement.]

“Aye that. She is still a Highlander, lad… Despite her bein’ on th’ wrong side, she’s still a Child of Northwind. And much like th’ colonel, I cannae kill in cold blood unless they deserve it. Thae feud does need tae end sooner or later. May as well start wi’ her.”

 [Noted.] Payne commented. [And if she has information, she might trade it for something.]

 “Maybe, though I dinnae think she has verra much. Time will tell… Ri’ now, I’m counting on her being pragmatic and seein’ what options she has. Or dinnae have, as case be.”

[Understood and solid reasons, Major.] Payne replied. [I’ll keep you posted.]

“Good.  Farquharson out.”

Legends and Myths Ninety- The Storm: The Die is Cast (Khon Kaen enters the fray)

(Admin note- this is another chapter from our guest author as the wargaming portion begins again after a hiatus of weather and health (rona and heart attack) issues in the household delayed everything. Enjoy the story!)

0631hrs, 13 December 3080

Fortress Class Dropship “Armageddon”

Entering Centarus on orbital landfall approach

 All personnel were in landing positions when the Fortress class dropship began to enter the upper atmosphere. Circling the planet in a hi-gee orbit, the Overlord class dropship Apocalypse would follow a short time behind. the plan was simple, the fortress would make landfall with the Regimental Command Company, the Command Lance of the battlemech battalion and the armor and mechanized infantry of the 10th Close Group. Landing with them would be the 861st Fire Support Cohort in the Lion Class Dropship Tantalus.

 The Overlord Class Pocket Warship “Valhalla” would remain in space with the 332nd Fighter Squadron as an overwatch, its weapons and fighters ready to cripple a blockade runner and its platoon of battle armored marines ready to board and take control of the vessel afterward. After making the high-speed orbit the “Apocalypse” would the join the other dropships at the predesignated drop zone and offload of first and second companies of the 112th Heavy Cavalry Battalion. Before landing however, there would be a low altitude combat drop of the battlemech assets of the 10th Close Assault Group while the 99th Pursuit Squadron kept the airspace clear from air to ground attacks.

 Timing was important, at low altitude the drop time would be approximately 30 seconds. The Assets from the Armageddon had to be in place and attacking as the drop was taking place. The 10th would make the attack while the Regimental Headquarters Company and the XO’s Command Lance would standby as a reserve force added only if needed firepower was needed.

 If all went according to plan the rest of the Legion would move in and secure the Spaceport, setting up a perimeter to defend against counterattack. and hold until relieved by Centarus forces. [Commander,] the voice coming into the earphones of his neuro-helmet caught him by surprise.

 “Yes Captain,” Pryme replied,

 Hauptmann Valerie Barr responded [We will be entering the upper atmosphere in three minutes. Touchdown on drop zone will be seven minutes after. I have received the Go signal from the 99th Pursuit Commander. His squadron has already entered the atmosphere and has done several flyovers of our landing zone. His squadron is now flying patrol circuits in the area.]

 Pryme thanked the Captain and punched in the standby code to all units. Once on the Ground his unit had to get moving. He opened up a private channel, “Lori, once we get into range you take the left flank, I’ll take the right the heavy recon lance will escort the Armor to their attack point and get rid of any scout teams that try to delay them. First and Second company will stay with the 861st and secure our drop zone perimeter.” He said as he checked his boards one last time.

 “The Grey Bolts have no artillery assets but if they do, then all units will begin movement to contact missions with the rallying point being the Spaceport. All grounded dropships will launch and maintain a low elliptical orbit in case we need to withdraw. When, and I say when… we take the Spaceport, our ships will make landfall, then we go for the dropships.”

[Understood, Kommandant] Was Lori’s business-like reply.

 Hauptman-Kommandant Pryme thought of an unusual phrase as they began to enter the upper atmosphere. As Julius Caesar was deciding whether to take his legions across the Rubicon River into Rome he noticed several men gambling near the bank. What he said to his commanders was, “The die is cast”.

Dropship “Apocalypse” 

Orbiting Centurus

 Hauptmann Andrew Garland had his mechwarriors mount their battlemechs early to check and recheck their machines. Each battlemech was jump capable, but as an extra safeguard external jump packs were attached. Though normally used specifically on non-jump capable during a combat drop, his company used them as the primary drop system and their own jump jets as a backup system. in his cockpit was an additional panel containing a lighting system keeping him informed of the jump status his entire company. From this control panel he could down check and remove any of his company from the drop procedures.

 Nicknamed the “Christmas Tree”, the green, blue, yellow and red lights strips gave him information on mech status, jump pack, drogue chute, and each mechs shipboard drop equipment status. Each mechwarrior had long since made an external check with their tech crew and taken care of any deficiencies. Each on was now strapped in their cockpit, running systems checks of their battlemechs being double checked by their lance commanders and the being reported to him. The panel let him know in advance what they were telling him, but he let lance commander command and simply observed. Meanwhile he reviewed the last satellite and drone overflight images of the drop zone.

 Spread across the spaceport were about a company of Heavy mechs with a few mediums thrown in and a company’s worth of armor (heavies and mediums) with a lance of hover tanks. Not insubstantial.

 His company consisted of two lances of VTR 10D Victor battlemechs.  Armed with a class 20 ultra-cannon, two extended range medium lasers and a Streak 4 missile rack, they were perfect for the type of fighting his company did. Every mech company modifies old mech to fit their need and his company was no exception. His third lance consisted of four modified VTR 9B Victors that were changed to deal with vehicles, battlearmor and infantry.

 Listed as the VTR A1c, the changes added enhanced its profile. Leaving the standard engine in left plenty of room for modifications. First, five heatsinks were removed and the rest are upgraded with double heatsinks. A class 20 LBX autocannon replaced to Pontiac 100 normally found on the Victor B and an extra ton of ammo was added. This gave the battlemech the ability to fire as a standard autocannon as well as cluster rounds. The two medium lasers are now upgraded to extended range versions. The Holly Short Range 4 missile rack was left in, but the abundant space and the extra tonnage allowed for several new weapons systems to be added.

 Each leg now contained an anti-battlearmor pod [B-pod], the left torso has a flamer to contend with conventional infantry and two clan antipersonnel gauss rifles with a ton of ammunition to attack battlearmor. Doing this allowed the four Victors to be modified without removing the armor needed for protection from other battlemechs.

 His company had one specialty: combat drops, either to seize and hold a specific objective or to be a reaction force to provide immediate reinforcements. During operations where combat drops are not warranted his unit acts as either a reserve force to exploit breaches in the enemy lines to shore up friendly lines as well being used as a flanking unit. Garland spent his time going over plans and contingencies, observing his mechwarriors and occasionally offering a word of encouragement or advice, just enough to let them know that the “Old Man” was there. Soon this dropship would begin its burn for the surface, dropping him and his company over their drop zone. He took one more look at the ready board which showed all telltales green and then he relaxed in his command couch and waited for the drop alert klaxons.

Fortress Class Dropship “Armageddon”

Lion Class Dropship “Tantalus”

Landing Zone Alpha, Centarus

 Reentry and landing went without incident and both dropships offloading their charges, The 861st was moving to setup a defensive perimeter around the dropships while the Regimental Headquarters Company, the Xo’s Command Lance and the rest of the Close Assault Group moved to a rally point just outside the perimeter before they would begin movement towards the spaceport.

 The Regimental Headquarters Company consisted of a Headquarters Lance with his ZEU 11S “Zeus”, a Star League era VNT 1A Ventilator, a ZEU 9S Zeus and a Victor modified to the specifications an alleged VTR 9K2 model that had been terrorizing the Taurian Concordiat. His Heavy Recon Lance consisted of four CGR 1L “Chargers” remodified to fit their new role. The large 8cm Laser and two medium 5cm lasers were removed. Double Heatsinks replaced the standard ones.

 Taking a cue from the Victor in the Headquarters Lance, each has a Supercharger installed. The chassis had long been replaced by an endo-steel one. The new weapons loadout is now a set of clan medium lasers. A clan heavy medium laser in the right and left torso, a clan extended range medium range laser in the right arm and a clan medium pulse laser in the center torso. The rest of the excess tonnage is used to replace most of the armor removed by the Capellans.

 The battlemechs are now more effective as pathfinder and scout hunters. The Scout Platoon is made up of odd combination of modified tracks to fit the need and older scout battle armor. Like most of the modified equipment in the Legion, the vehicles are rebuilt from battlefield salvage.

 The Hi-Scout II is a perfect example. Built from the salvage of a Hi-Scout and a Devastator class Demolisher, the Hi-Scout II is a scout command center. The 8o ton vehicle now uses a standard 320 fusion engine giving it a top getaway speed of 61 Km/Hr. The Sure Shot II Short Range Missile system has been replaced by a five shot multi-missile system, a Guardian ECM Suite has been added to help conceal the lightly armed vehicle. The remote drones are still carried, two Napfind hover drones and three Pathtrack tracked drones. The rest of the storage space is divided into 5 and a half tons of sensor and Communications Equipment and a specially built battlearmor bay for a squad of six Infiltrator Mk I scout suits. With only the original Hi-Scout’s five and a half tons of armor, this vehicle will “scoot” rather than “shoot”.

 The escort vehicles consist of two salvaged Partisans rebuilt and rearmed. Six Light class 5 autocannons are now in the turret along with two clan antipersonnel gauss rifles and a pair of Anti-Battlemech Pods [M-Pod]. The direct fire weapons are all linked to an inner sphere targeting computer. The Scout Platoon had already moved out using its drone to search the route ahead. Anything that seemed suspicious was given an “Eyes On” investigation by the Infiltrator squad, operating in teams of three.

 Following closely behind was the Heavy Recon Lance, ready to surge forward and deal with any enemy recon units. Kommandant Spector’s Command Lance consisted of two VTR 10L Liao stealth Victors and an RFL 3N-2 Rifleman-II an eighty-ton variant carrying a Beagle Probe and armed with two class 10 LBX cannons, two 9cm large pulse lasers and two standard 5cm medium lasers. The Kommandant’s mech, captured during a raid on Solaris VII during the Jihad is a custom build. Designated the BLZ 1X Blazer, it still resembled the old 3025 Battlemaster from which is probably built. Sheathed in almost twelve tons of standard armor, the Blazer is not an easy kill. The weapons though are rather mundane, a binary laser in the right arm, a clan short range streak six rack and four inner sphere medium lasers, two each in the right and left torso.

 With only thirteen double heat sinks to control heat dissipation, the Blazer can run hot during prolonged combat. But it’s the electronics that make this mech a bit of a marvel. Inside this machine is a supercharger, a targeting computer, a laser ant-missile system and an Angel Electronic Countermeasures Suite. With all units out of their dropships and the defensive perimeter set, Pryme and Spector’s lances moved out last, trailing behind and to the outside flanks of the rest of their contingent.

Centarus, One kilometer from spaceport

The scout platoon and the heavy recon lance moved to the forward edge of the final line of departure. Heavy recon stood overwatch while the scout platoon used drones and scout battlearmor to gather information on the range of the enemy sensor net. Inside the defensive perimeter of the attack force heavy armor moved into position to start the assault. Eight “Devastator class Demolisher tanks, four Rhinos and four other legion modified armored vehicles moved into position. Pryme and Spector’s lances slowly moved into flanking positions being careful to stay outside of the spaceports sensor grid. Once in position, everyone waited. for the signal to begin the attack.

Dropship Apocalypse

Centarus, in orbital reentry flight, high altitude

Hauptmann Andrew Garland took deep breaths as the g-forces lessen from the high-speed reentry. The Hi-Gee orbital burn hadn’t been as bad as he thought it would be. Kaptain Bell had cut his thrusters and entered the atmosphere early tis would put them across the drop zone for a quick pass limiting the time the dropship could be in antiaircraft range. After the deep zone pass making a intense controlled burn will bring the ship into the landing zone.

 As they ran in, Kaptain Bell had piped the comms into his net so he could listen in as the Apocalypse made contact with ground forces. [Legion One, Legion One this is Apocalypse enroute, ETA five minutes to drop zone.]

 A second later came the reply. [Apocalypse this is Legion Actual; drop is a go I say again drop is a go, Drop the Hammer.]

 Garland replied, “This is Hammer Command, received”. Garland got off the command channel and went to the company wide band. “All Hammers, drop is a go, 5 minutes; Get ready”.

In the sky above, an Overlord Dropship was flying in, a fiery tail from the tail section as the fusion drive slowed its descent. The dropship was canted sixty degrees from the horizon, falling tail first across the sky.

 Garland began the jump sequence, “Three minutes, check systems.” At this point he took the time to double check his mechs systems. Satisfied that All systems were Green, he continued the continued the sequence. “Sound off on systems check!”

 It was more tradition than a requirement both the Loadmaster and he had panels and could see any problem and down check any mech that had systems problem. The sound off began.

 “Twelve OK!”, Eleven OK!”, Ten OK!”, Nine OK!” and down the line until he heard, “Two OK!”. Then it was his Turn. ”One OK, All OK Loadmaster!”

 The Load master now took over, calling out “One minute!”

 Garland could feel the dropship shifting for the drop. With a silent prayer, the commander pulled the seatbelts tight as a last second check.

The upper retros fired, and the Overlord shifted its sixty degree cant to a thirty degree cant in the opposite direction. During the shift the main engines during the shift flared briefly to full power before going to a minimum power glow and then nine thousand plus tons of dropship seemed to glide across the sky. As the dropship shifted, six giant doors opened.

 From his position at the Jump chute, Garland could see the light as the giant Hanger door opened. They could all hear the roar of the atmosphere beating against the hull of the dropship and roared into the mechbay. Then the Loadmaster called out “Thirty seconds, Stand By!!”

Armor forces on the ground had already begun their movement to contact; Kaptain Alicia Bailey could see the towers of the taller buildings. In another thirty seconds she would be at the far end of the tarmac. Even the Kaptain couldn’t see enemy forces; the sensor system in her Devastator was already marking bogies as possible targets in her heads-up display. The first line of tanks reached the tarmac and the clusters of enemy battlemechs, and tanks were now in view. The HUDs of the Legion tanks were loading with hostile icons and the target lock alarms were screaming in the ears of the crews. ”This is Bailey to all crews, engage!”

The Loadmaster gave his final command. “Go!” Hauptmann Garland felt as if his stomach leapt into his throat and then drop to his abdomen as he was first ejected from the dropship and then had his mech pulled into the upright position by the static line drogue parachute. The parachute did little to slow his descent but kept him from tumbling and held his mech in in the proper landing position. The timer was on, twenty seconds until he released the parachute and activated the jump packs and thirty seconds until he reached the ground… One way or the other.

Anyone looking up would have seen a dropship streak by. As it passed overhead before once again stood on a tail of fire it disgorged twelve objects All falling in the direction of the small spaceport. On the ground a reinforced company of armor was deploying on the tarmac, being met by a combination of battlemechs and armor ……

 The die has been cast.

Legends and Myths Eighty nine- the Storm: Shire Eight

In the Air above the continent of Tolkien

0541 hrs local, 10 December 3080

 The Phoenix Lancer Condor dropship streaked through the high atmosphere on its way to the Drop Zone over Testudo.  The plan as hatched by the Airborne troop commander and his command group was a modification of the original plan.  The original mission was to head to the village of Bree, land, then head to the captured base in order to root out the invaders.  Two battlemechs, laid out on rollers in the cargo bays, were set to be rolled off and configured to join a ground offensive.

 However, they were also configured for airdrop, big heavy cargo chutes able to allow the machines to land and get in the fight with minimal assistance.  And it was this fact that gave the troop commander the notion that a Combat Drop was the way to go.  And so, the command group met in the few minutes before they were to drop to go over plans….


 Major Robert Taylor, acting commander of Charlie Company, Third Battalion of the 173rd Airborne of the Phoenix Lancers, looked at the datapad with the map of the area one more time before looking up at his platoon leaders. “Ok… so that’s the plan- we drop in around the base and work our way to the center. The base personnel gave us some solid intel on their gear and while we are a little light on anti-armor, what they have we should be able to handle.”

  The platoon leaders all nodded as they looked over their own datapads.  Off to the side, the company senior NCO and brother to the Major, coughed once. “Not for nothing, Major… but you sure this is the way to go?” Sergeant-Major Dwayne (Hightower) Taylor, grumbled from where he sat. “A reinforced Airborne Company against a dozen tracks and a hundred troops is not exactly an easy fight. Even with that damn clan machine…” What he referred to would be the repurposed clan Piranha they carried on the rollers. The machine was a fast light battlemech and death to anything infantry with its twelve machineguns. The two Clan-spec ER Medium lasers were for things bigger and tougher than infantry, such as IFVs.

 Robert smiled. “I’m confident this will work… between it and the Mongoose with its equipment, we have the firepower to handle it.  Dropping in prevents them from being ready for us as they would be if we walked in.” the major laid his pad on the meeting table. “Yeah, it will be chaotic, what airborne operation isn’t… but WE know what we’re doing and what we’re facing. They don’t…” Looking around the space, he asked. “Anyone else?”

  No one else responded.  Robert nodded to them as much as himself and pronounced the pre-drop meeting over. ”Ok then… Back to your platoons. We are dropping in about ten.”

 As the leadership departed, Dwayne levered himself out of the seat he was in. At just a hair over seven foot, the powerfully built black man shook his head as his brother. “Bro… I don’t know, man.  I see what you see but I just don’t know…”

 Rob looked back at his brother. “Dwayne, I know what you’re thinking… and I am SURE this is the way to go.  Even light autocannon at range is dangerous to us and our mechs. If we are on top of them, it cancels range advantages… and increases us kicking them in the teeth.”

 Dwayne grinned in return. “Oh, I’m all about kicking them in the teeth.  But I don’t wanna get kicked in return if I can help it. And if someone didn’t say something, y’all would have worried like a bitch ten seconds before we dropped….”

 Rob punched his younger brother in the shoulder as they both left the space to gear up. “Shuuut up…” he mock scolded. “I’m gonna worry either way- but nice try.”

 The two brothers headed to the cargo bay to gear up for the drop.


Testudo Base environs

0601 hours 10 December

 The Immortals combat troops, having managed to use the tools of the base to fix some of their transports, used the downtime over the night to rest.  Colonel Spanac spent most of the night planning out what the next steps were.

  This base was a defensible position, with its bunkers and shelters; the defenders leaving food supplies and the like in their leaving. Had the original inhabitants had more troops and some heavier guns, his men might have not managed to take it. But take it they did- and Vanatov worked hard to find a way into what links were left. What he did get overnight wasn’t terribly much though.

 The connection to the master server was re-established but very little solid data was present. At least ninety percent of the server was plain trash. What wasn’t was nothing useful- unless you played a video game. Leftover saves for the latest version of Civilization (Civ 31) as well as what looked like a copy of the game itself. No technical data was present and the expected connections to the main Lancer systems were deactivated.

 He tried five times to reactivate them, rerouting through the handful of active drives and terminals… and every time, his security software was assaulted by remaining server defenses. After the fifth time nearly caused his own deck to become a brick, Vanatov stopped trying.

 He did manage to improve the connections to the Civilian Network and was able to give his commander a good picture of how the invasion was going. And that news… did not make him happy. At least with what was being reported.

 Needless to say, it had been a semi-sleepless night for the group command.  Spanac had napped some and was nursing a cup of coffee when word of the arrival of enemy forces came.

 “COLONEL!” A trooper came bursting into Operations. “Airborne troops are landing around the complex!” His exclamation was added to by other messages coming across the group comms as the landing forces began engaging his own.

 “Shit! Get everyone up and fighting,” He called to his exec, who jumped awake at the yelling. “Fucking Lancers are here sooner than expected!”


 Outside, the landing Lancer troops conducted their drop around the complex almost as if the impromptu drop had been planned out.  And coming in from as high as they had helped them avoid detection until landing.  And that was the key here.

  Sporadic fighting broke out as Immortal forces who caught sight of the landing Lancer troops engaged as they passed the word to Spanac.  The airborne infantry returned fire in earnest as they ditched chutes and married up with their platoons. As Major Taylor had surmised, their appearance had caused chaos… and in that chaos, it gave his troops time to orient themselves and press the attack.

  The Lancer forces had laned in a circle around the base as planned, the two light battlemechs landing about a kilometer away. And it was this envelopment that really caught the Immortals off guard.


 Spanac had Vanatov use the imagery they had of the base and put it on the screens. As reports of the three-sixty nature of the assault arrived, he realized how much they were caught in the middle of all this. “Christ on a crutch,” he cursed. “They can’t be everywhere…”

 The Exec, Josias Greene, a veteran former Marik trooper who been with him for years, spat some of the chew he’d been working on to the floor. “Anatoli… Its Airborne troops; they literally can be ANYwhere to include everywhere….” He replied. “They likely don’t have anything heavy though- we’d have seen it by now, I think.”

 Spanac looked at his Exec. “Well, as long as they don’t have anything that can pop an IFV, we should be ok.” As he reached for the comm unit to order the IFVs to move out against the ground troops, he noted a fast moving blip on the tactical screen Vanatov had up. “Sergi, what’s that?” he asked.

 Vanatov tapped quickly on his keyboard to query the IFF just as a communications tech called out. “Sir! Delta Two One is reporting battlemechs. Two machines, both light. One is a Mongoose, the other unknown.”

 Sergi added as he obtained an answer a second later. “The base sensor package indicates it’s a clan machine.  According to Jaynes, it’s a Piranha.

 Spanac cursed inwardly. He knew about that clan machine and how dangerous it was to EVERYTHING here.  Add in a Mongoose to support it and it spelled trouble. And a lot of it. “Damnit… who knew they had one of those? Alright… all vehicles need to hunt that thing.”


 Village of Bree


 Justin, with the help of Coins, had managed to remote into the surviving network and gain a video feed within Operations a few hours past.  When the attack began, he had his dad woken up and right now, the elder Harvie was present when news of the battlemechs was learned. Looking at his dad, he asked. “Do we mess with their systems and give Rob’s troops a leg up or do we watch?”

 Eric smiled. “My son…. If one has an advantage no one expects, use it.” He said. “Rob won’t ask for it but he damn sure won’t complain about it if we do it anyway. You sure you have a hook in that non-spec hacker deck you found?”

 A snort. “There is no hack-deck in this universe I can’t get into, Dad. Not when its on my network.”

 “Then do it,” he replied. “And tell them you are pulling their plug…”

 “With pleasure…”


 Sergi was in mid type when his keyboard stopped working and a message appeared on his screen in big bold letters….


 A giant laughing skull and crossbones appeared underneath the words, the skull stylized after the head of an Atlas.

 Sergi cursed as he pounded his keyboard attempting to regain control of his machine. After six seconds of trying (and failing), he pulled the hard-wire connection he had from his deck. “Fuck me!!” he exclaimed as the remaining active screens now all showed a laughing Atlas skull.

 Spanac spun and looked at his technician even as he saw the handful of active screens with the new imagery. “Sergi?!?” He queried as he took in the taunting pictures.

 “Whoever their hacker is, he’s fucking good, Colonel…” Vanatov said as he rebooted his deck, hoping like hell it wasn’t completely compromised. “He still has a connection somewhere here and got into my machine. I hope it isn’t dead.”



 Eric watched the video feed on his omni tool as Coins showed him which channel to activate and got a slightly dark laugh at the responses of the enemy in Operations. “Specialist Spades… have you raised the troops attacking the compound?”

 “I have, Chief…  Major Taylor, Third Battalion of the 173rd,” she replied. “I think I can raise them right now.”

 An evil smile. “Oh please do, Specialist. I know the Major and he’s gonna like this idea I have. Coins, see if you and Justin can set up a video line- I want to give these guys a message….”


Some fifteen minutes later, as Spanac watched his transports get whittled down by the two battlemechs working in tandem, one of the screens popped up with a new picture.  It showed the inside of what looked like a school-house.  Standing in the middle of the picture was a man with close cropped grey hair in Lancer combat fatigues, a stern look on his features as he stared out from the screen. “Who the fuck is that?” he wondered aloud.

  About five seconds later, the man on the screen spoke. [Attention Immortals Command… I strongly suggest you pay attention…]

 Spanac turned to face the screen properly and noted a slight smile on the man in the screen.  Vanatov, who had rebooted his deck, also watched the screen too from where he worked.

 [Ah good… Now that I have your undivided attention… I am going to strongly suggest you and your men stand down from this endeavor of yours…. And no one else has to get killed.]

 Spanac stared at the screen. “I don’t know who you are, buddy… but I doubt you can take us all out,” he muttered aloud.

 The person on the screen smiled even more. [I know you think we can’t take you all… but I assure you that we can and will knock you all out] He lifted a hand and pointed to someone off screen.

 Greene looked over at Spanac. “Colonel, I’m getting reports of Lancers masking up…”

 Spanac looked over at his exec. “Masks?” At the nod from Greene, he looked back at the screen. “Gassing us makes you no better than the Blakists!” He yelled to the man on the screen as vents quietly opened in the operations center.


 Eric chuckled at the accusation leveled at him from the Immortals commander. Off to the side, Justin and Coins gave him a thumbs up and then Eric spoke. “If it was nerve gas, I’d agree with you… but We don’t use such things.  Tear Gas, Sleep Gas…. Sure…. And we might.  Especially if it’s going to end this fight faster… and save some lives. Something they don’t care to do.”

 Justin and Coins had worked hard on the environmental controls. Getting the HVAC units to spew a mist wasn’t too hard- the firefighting nozzles could do that to fight any fires in the ducting. But getting the system to push that mist out into the room in a visible format was the challenge.  It was just going to be water… but what his dad was telling the Immortals… was that it was something else.  He looked at his father and gave him a thumbs up.  This trick, at least the technical part, was going to work.  But will the Immortals believe it?

 Eric coughed once as a subtle sell of what he was bluffing with. “Two choices, Colonel Anatoli Spanac….” He said as he identified the enemy commander by name. “Vacate the operations building and all other facilities in surrender or get ready to nap for a few as you get took. You have about a minute to-“


[- make that choice before it’s made for you.] he finished.  [Either way, I will be seeing you…]

  The others in the operations room started to notice the mist coming from the vents. Panic started to ensue as those without masks began to run for the doors as a mist began to fill the room. Spanac spun around and grabbing his rifle, he headed for a door as he coughed- the psychology of the threat already having an effect on the veteran soldier.

All over, various groups of Immortals had heard the threatened gassing as the base wide speakers had been activated remotely by Justin’s activities. Those in buildings also fled them in a panic- many of them not having proper masks with them or if they did, they were in bottom of gear bags as everyone knew the Lancers didn’t use gas.

 At least they thought this going into the operation.

As groups of troops ran from buildings, various squads of Lancers were waiting, already masked and weapons up.  Some of the running Immortals surrendered when confronted by the ready airborne troops. Some didn’t… and they paid for their decision.

Outside the immediate area of the base, the two battlemechs were inflicting major damage on the Immortals armored vehicles.  Clan-spec lasers tore armor from machines and the machine guns capitalized on the damage being inflicted.

 All of this got back to Spanac as he retreated from operations.  And as the reports came in, the commanding officer of the renegades weighed it all.  And the answer he was getting… just didn’t sit well with him.

 He never gambled when he wasn’t sure of the odds… at least until this operation.  And right now, this gamble was proving to have been a giant mistake. Tapping his comm unit to the battalion wide channel, he issued the commands no leader ever really wanted to do.

“Spanac to all Immortals…  Stand Down. I repeat, Stand down…” He sent. “They got us by the balls and I’m not about to lose more of you after a bad deal…  Stand Down.”

Legends and Myths Eighty Eight- The Storm: Shire seven

With the Immortals

1227hrs 09 December

 It had taken some doing but the smoke combined with the stepped up fire from available Immortals allowed Spanac and his men to get to the door and blow it open. Once breached, the troopers entered the entranceway and eventually made it into the tunnels it connected to.

 A few random exchanges of shots occurred as the Immortals worked to push defenders back and away from the breach.  And they were successful in doing so- as it was here the training the renegades had showed itself.

 A flashbang down the hall followed by a frag, the enemy troops moved down the tunnel.  Getting to the entryway that led to Central Ops, they paused to assess defenses. A trooper moved up with a small anti-armor rocket and after a fast conference on potential back blast, it was decided to use it on the reinforced hatch. In theory, it should do the job.



  Eric and his techs had relocated some of the chairs and the movable tables to areas near the escape tunnels to the Armor Bay and the north eastern residences by the drone garages. No one expected to defend the building for long but they would make it look good.

 Justin worked at a terminal near the exit, setting up kill codes for the primary servers and databanks. It was kind of a slash and burn defense but at least there was backups. One of the things he and his dad had done when creating this base was set up a remote backup of everything electronic. There were three of them- one here on the base under the facility cantina and the other two off site- One out in Mordor (there was a joke there somewhere) and the other actually in a building on Cromwell not far from the main Operations building. The scratch program being generated right now would scramble the mains and cut the facility backup from the network. Unless you knew where to go, physically accessing the Cantina site would be a royal bitch for anyone bigger than Coins.

 “…aaannnd done.” He muttered aloud. “Electronic lock set and Primaries set to scramble at command from you or me.” Justin picked up his rifle and moved towards the accessway selected to retreat from.

 Eric commented. “Good… if they are here for the data, they are going to be mad as hell.” Glancing up at the monitor screen that showed the hallway towards 11, he noted the anti-tank launcher about to be deployed. “Shit…. Everybody down!”

 Justin sprinted to cover as the doorway on the far side blew up. Spinning as he got to cover, he lifted up his rifle to aim in the direction the enemy was about to come from. He didn’t have long to wait.

 A pair of grenades bounced up into the main dais area and exploded, sending fragments everywhere.  Two seconds later, several Immortals scrambled through the hatch and up the short staircase into the central areas.  A few were hit by shots from the defenders and went down while others managed to gain cover and return fire.

 And the shooting was intense, at least from the defending personnel. While the technicians weren’t trained infantry, they could shoot and there was casualties among the invading enemy.  The damage wasn’t all one-sided by any means, as two of the Operations techs fell from wounds. Once of Kim’s security troops died to a head shot, which elicited a slight shocked yelp of fear from Coins.

 Spades pulled the trooper down from the firing point and practical-like, grabbed the man’s grenades.  She immediately pulled pins and gave them a toss in the direction of the attackers. As they exploded, she grinned slightly- the carnage being exciting to her.  Or the danger…. In either case, she was laughing as the explosion of curses from the other side told her the random tosses hurt someone.

 Eric lifted his SMG and blind-fired a few bursts. “Alright… Justin! Scramble the boxes and let’s get out of here.” He called out as he reloaded. “Also issue the bug-out orders; no need for anyone else to get killed if we can help it.”

 His son lifted his omni-tool and after activating the code, he confirmed the instructions were being carried out by the servers. “Dad!  Codes sent and successfully activated. In two minutes, they are big paperweights.” Justin called out. “Case Echo Evac orders sent….” Case Echo was a pre-set plan for defenders to make their best way to the Armor Bay if able or best means to escape the base and get east to the village of Bree.

 “Good… ok- everyone out of here… Sergeant Kim!”

 Charlie Kim, his shoulder bleeding from a hit taken a minute or so ago, pulled a flashbang of his own. “On it… Noisemaker deploying….” He said and lobbed the now active charge.

 Five seconds later, the disorientation device detonated.  The defenders, knowing it was coming, used the loud distraction to fall back.  Within fifteen seconds, everyone who could leave, did so.  Three defenders remained behind, their lifeless bodies being testament to the efforts to keep the Immortals out of operations….

 It would be a similar story throughout the base, as various bunkers fell silent and Immortals investigated, only the dead would be left to show anyone had been present.  The dead and empty casings or powerpacks, at least.


Testudo Base Operations


 Vanatov investigated every single remaining active terminal left in operations once the facility was secure.  As he finished up with the latest one, he turned to Spanac as the commander entered. “Colonel…. I have some bad fucking news….”

 Spanac looked at his electronics expert. “Can it be any worse than the state of our transports?” he asked.  The Immortals vehicles had taken a beating from the aerial drone defenses with ten of the vehicles being immobilize and the remaining four retaining some ability to move. That there was ability to use tools in the recently vacated Armor and repair bays was something.

 “Depends…” was the reply. “The Lancer techs scrambled their servers or at least the links; I can’t find an active connection to a databank ANYwhere… Granted, I’ve been using their consoles but it seems like whatever they were using to store data has been fried. System query has a connection to something but whatever it is, it’s indicating a ton of faults.” Sergi shook his head. “No connection to anything else in their networks at all, actually. I can get commercial Sat feeds- at least what ever hasn’t been dropped due to invasion but nothing within their network that isn’t Public Domain. And that’s a small stretch.”

“Fuck” Spanac cursed.

 “Sir….” The tech acknowledged. “I can try to brute-force the connection I do show here, but it will take a bit of time and my own deck to do it.”

 Spanac nodded. “Do it… we’re gonna be here a while; As long as we aren’t hit again in the next six hours, we should have more tracks up and running. Their repair garage is operational….”

 Sergi nodded. “Well… at least we got that. We gonna try and occupy here or go retake the drop ship?”

“I’m considering options, Sergi. Right now, those are among the choices,” The colonel replied. “I’ll have an answer sooner or later- hopefully sooner. This is already a bust…”

“That’s an understatement…”

Village of Bree Meeting House


 As the last of Testudo Base defenders arrived, Justin looked at his tally sheet and grimaced slightly. Of the base’s 50 permanent party personnel, 39 reported in as they arrived; the three suit teams all made it but some of them weren’t healthy.  Not as bad as it could have been but not exactly wanted either.  Turning towards the back of the village Meeting house, a large-ish rustic structure meant for annual holiday feasts, village social gathers or the occasional visit by the Governor on a tour.

 The role of Governor had fallen to his dad and for the life of him, Justin could not remember if his dad had even been here before. If he hadn’t, well, what a time to pay a visit.

 Walking up to where his father was in conference with his Uncle Stan, Justin waited for an opportunity to butt in.

 “… so we have a bunch of SUVs, a few motor cycles and a dozen carryalls?” Eric questioned Stan.

 “Yep,” Stan replied as he looked at a datapad. “A few personal VTOLs too. On the plus side, everyone has weapons and not just small arms. Half dozen manpack PPC and about the same in machine guns.”


 A shake of the head. “Better than what it could have been. At least the ODAs still have their weapons and the spare suits are out.”

 “Better than hoped, I guess. We never practiced the evac drills so….” Eric paused and looked at his son. “Yeah?”

  “Thirty-nine checked in,” Justin said. “That doesn’t include the special forces teams or battle armor squads but they aren’t normal residents. All suits are accounted for but will need refurb. The handful of injured are over at Doc McCoy’s clinic”

 Eric frowned at the news. “That’s shitty…” He said. “At least Doc McCoy is here and knows combat injury treatment… Yes, I do pay attention to who lives near us. You never know when a social or not so social call might be needed.” The older Harvie smiled at his son. “Now that we know, I need to update Auburn.

 Coins was nearby working on a portable terminal, a bandage on an arm from a round taken during the battle in Operations. “Chief… I will have this piece of-“ She slammed the table she was on, bouncing the terminal some. And the jarring seemed to stabilize. “-shit operational in a second…. There we go. Sorry took so long- I grabbed the older box when we left.”

 Eric smiled. “Don’t worry about it, Coins. You have it working and right now, that’s what matters.”  Stepping over to the terminal, he went about raising Auburn.


Some ten minutes later, Eric ended his conference with the main Lancer facility and sat back. “Well fuck…” he breathed. Turning to his son, he motioned him over along with Stan and Kim. “Ok… here’s the deal…

  “Counter offensives are ongoing; so far the counters are driving them back towards Zathras and there is a few missions planned to mess up the Word backfield assets.  We’ve been promised four squads of Battle Armor to bolster us and some Strikers; they should be out by the captured dropship by the morning… If possible, a few platoons of regular troops will be sent to us too here in Bree; provided the Immortals choose not to pursue.” Eric paused. “The reinforcements aren’t exactly what I would want but at least we are getting them AND we are getting supplies to re-equip. All things considered, it seems the Lancers got extremely lucky with all this… and while a side show, we’re doing well.”

 Justin pondered his father’s words. “What are the chances the Word take to their drop ships and try for out here? Easy to hide all sorts of troops if a chance is given. I mean, the Grey Mountains have tons of hidden passes to be unseen in.”

 Eric shrugged. “Beats me… but not my problem. At least not yet… right now, the bulk of things are over *there*… and we have our problem over *here*…” He paused. “And also right now, I think we need to see if we can spy on the unwanted guests back there.” As he got up, the elder harvie motioned to the terminal. “Justin- you, Coins and Spades work with this and what ever the pads and Omnis can do to try and get a camera or something operational remotely back at Testudo; I’m going to go do the leadership thing right now…”

 Coins looked at the Chief Warrant. “Leadership thing?”

 Lifting his submachine gun and slinging it, Eric answered. “Yep… time to go check on our people and reassure them that we ain’t beat yet. Good leadership is getting out of the office and getting involved instead of delegating everything. Even if it’s just showing my face, it will be a help…” Looking to Kim, he motioned him to lead the way. “Sergeant Kim, after you….”

Legends and Myths Eighty Seven- The Storm: Shire Six

Testudo Base Armor Garage

0530hr local 09 December

 Chief Technician Stan Cimms sealed up the last compartment door on the drone controller box of Tango Four. The tank, one of the new production Abrams tanks from over on Cromwell had passed all the initialization tests on its software.  The machine was an experiment, with an autoloader for its light gauss cannon and actuators for the anti-infantry machine guns on the vehicle. If Carson’s programming was on point, the four tanks being sent out should work to stop or slow the advancing infantry fighting vehicles of the Immortals.

 Should being the operative term. Stan wasn’t sure that four tanks, no matter how good they were, was going to be enough… which is why everyone on the complex was armed today.  Pistol, shotguns, assault rifles… whatever folks were used to using or comfortable with, it was issued and required carry. A lesson long learned by the Chief was if you were not comfortable with a weapon, no amount of training was going to make you great. Some folks were just plain not good with anything bigger than a pistol. Himself, he was and also had an assault rifle nearby. Because dumb shit happens… and he knew they would be fighting here in the complex.

  As he stepped from Tango Four, his comm chimed. “Cimms…” he answered.

 [Stan, Eric… everything operational?] The aforementioned base commander asked of him. It was not a normal call but then this wasn’t normal times.

 “As ready as I can tell; just finished up number four and the systems all show green” Stan replied. “As long as Carson is sure of his software, the hardware will work. I don’t like the auto-loader speed though- I think its set a bit too fast.”

 [How much slower should it be?] Eric requested.  He trusted his cousin’s assessment on timing; Stan had a talent with old engines and could tell if something was too fast or slow to work right. It applied to newer stuff like auto loaders for mech armament- and these light gauss weapons were more or less the same weapons. Just on a tank.

 “Call it ten percent; that should be software adjustable,” He replied as he reached his office. “No more than that… I don’t have my timer with me but I’m pretty sure that’s all that’s needed. They will work as advertised with that adjustment.”

 [Ok… Carson is here in Operations and is making the adjustments now,] Eric said. [As long as the drone controllers work as advertised, we are good.]

 Stan smiled. “I’m no fan of Franklin Labs controllers; I’d be happier with the Nokia stuff but we needed those for the flying platforms,” The technician commented as he lifted his rifle from the rack in his office. “But we use what we got. Anything else?”

 [Nope…] Eric replied. [Got nothing else…. Except wish you luck. Sims indicate they might be here by eleven. Later if the tanks perform better than what I expect.]

 “And sooner if they don’t,” Stan commented. “My department will be ready…”

 [I know it will, cuz. Tanks being activated now…]

 Across the tank bay, the engines of the armored vehicles spun up, the whine of the Fuel Cell engine piercing the air.  One by one, the four machines reached operational idle and all four showed a green glow from the driver hatch. One by one, the hatches cycled closed and only a minimal glimmer was visible from the view ports.

 “Looks good, Eric,” Stan informed his cousin. “Tell Carson they look like they are all working.”

 [Excellent.  Time to put them in gear….] As he said this, the four tank engines changed pitch and the vehicles began to move out, heading for the open air and points west of the base.

Twenty Kilometers west of Testudo Base

1039 hours

 The lead IFVs of the Immortals were greeted by a shower of sparks as the lead Chimera suffered an impact from a high velocity slug from a light gauss.  The other vehicles in the column scattered and as targets became visible to them, the vehicles of the Immortals fired back. Autocannons of the Chimeras barked and some rounds found targets.

 For the next fifteen minutes, the two forces exchanged shots and one by one, the defending Abrams fell silent. For the most part, it was damage that did them in though in one case, the last drone ran out of ammunition and died ramming an Immortal APC.

 But the four tanks did their job; of the 15 vehicles heading for the Lancer research facility, five would advance no further as they were smoking wrecks or immobilized due to damage.  Casualties were moderate among the troops who were injured with the demise of their transports.  The troops who were able to do so moved wounded over near the most intact of the immobile transports. The mobile units pushed wrecks off to the side and in positions to provide shelter while the healthy tended to the injured. Once everyone was tended to, the remaining forces moved on east.

 Overall, the advance was delayed about an hour.

Testudo Base outskirts

1202hrs local

 The defenders were all in their positions throughout the complex. Various bunkers and strong points all manned and weapons loaded. The six towers with anti-personnel weapons were active and ready for what was coming. None of them looked the part either, as all were built to look like armored Uplink Towers or similar, simply six of the two dozen spread all over the valley of the base. A small nub of a barrel was the only thing that betrayed what they really were.

 Strongpoints throughout the complex were mostly buildings or structures built into hills, almost like the classic Hobbit Homes in the books. Heck, if you took out the paved paths and the large vehicle doors on a few spots, it could almost BE something from that book series.  Well, the paving and the Central Dome of Operations in the heart of the base being two big giveaways as to what was here.

  The initial forays of enemy troops were met with silence.  No weapons fire greeted the Immortals as they entered the valley where the base sat.  The troops were all dismounts, with their vehicles providing standoff overwatch.  And it would be as the initial two squads entered The Square (as it was called by the base inhabitants) that defensive weapons opened up.

  Initial barrages inflicted casualties and as the Immortals returned fire, defending Drone flights entered the fray and went after vehicles or the rear of the advancing troops.  These craft were modeled on the Peregrine Attack VTOL, modified to take a fuel cell engine. The weight savings went to drone control internals, which made the little craft semi dangerous; with no crew to worry over, sharper turns and movement were now possible. Six of these were tasked with hunting infantry.

 A quartet of drone Warrior VTOLs, weapons modified to a Light Five cannon and a smaller short-range launcher, entered the fray to hunt the APCs. These craft worked to tie up the transports and take the heat off the defenders. And they did this job well….

With the Immortal Command Element


 Spanac took cover behind a low rock wall and quick scanned the area.  He had known assaulting this place would be a bitch but he had expected less skilled resistance than he was getting.  All data he and his people had managed indicated very little troops were present here. If they got through this, he was going to have a long talk with his intel people… “Jenkins!” He hollered.

 “Boss?” Senior Sergeant Jenkins replied as he returned fire at a bunker.

 “See if we can get to that central dome over there…” Spanac pointed. “I bet that’s operations.”

 Jenkins glanced that way then added some more fire at the bunkers near a doorway. “Doable… though I think getting into one of those places near it might be better….” He said. “I’d bet on some tunnel complexes goin’ there.”

 “You think?” Spanac asked.

 “Yeah… there’s a vent over there-“ he pointed then decked as a defender shot at him. “Missed me bitch… Yeah, I think that’s a passage vent.  It snows like nothin’ else out here; that we aren’t hip deep right now is weird.”

 A snort. “Well, that’s good to know… Its cold enough.” Spanac said. “Then getting in there might be a thing.”  Looking over to his radio man, he orderd. “Sergi, see if one of the carriers can make it forward enough to blast a door- or at least draw fire.”

 Sergi Vanatov gave a thumbs up as he attempted to get somebody forward.  With a shake of his head, Sergi looked at the Colonel. “Colonel… the carriers are a bit busy fighting Drones right now; majority of them are currently tracked…”

 “Fuck…” Spanace cursed. Making the decision, he passed the word. “Alright… we do this the hard way. Pass the word- when I toss smoke, I want EVERYONE to suppress anything that looks like a defensive position. We’re charging that damn door; I’ve got an underbarrel shotgun that says the lock pops.”

 Sergi blinked. “Oooooooooookay, Colonel.” He replied. “Its nuts…”  The commo man began relaying the orders to whomever could respond to it.  Whoever…. Which was about half of what had started this attack at this point.

Testudo Operations Building

 Eric looked at the video feeds and the holographic map of the base. He noted where the enemy tracks were and nodded to himself at the overall effectiveness of the drones.  Putting the modified Peregrine VTOLS and the old, modified Warriors had been something of a gamble. They were early test machines and suffered from vulnerability to Electronic Counter Measures. Because of that vulnerability, they were never expected to be used in combat on the modern battlefield.

 But this was not exactly the most modern of combat arenas and well, they needed them for defending the base.  And they were working…

 “Dad,” Justin called out from his workstation, an assault rifle slung over his back. “Looks like there is a push for number 11.”  A camera focused on the access door near a collection of attackers. “Attacking troops have stepped up their fire on the bunkers near it.”

 Eric turned towards his son and the rest of the staff. “They might have figured out there are tunnels that come here; were going to figure it out sooner or later when there is only three visible entrances to here.”  The elder Harvie reached over to a workstation and lifted up the Relic Arms MP-5 that was sitting there.

  The weapon, based on the 20th Century submachine gun, was a lightweight defensive weapon designed from classic historical firearm of the past. Given that the company had gained some measure of inter-stellar success with their designs (they also had license to the Sternsnacht pistol family as well as Colt auto rifles), the classic designs had gained new life some six centuries after the original company folded.

 “I’m pretty certain that if they get in here, they won’t like it much.” He finished. “Coins, set the comms panel to send priority messages to your omni-tool and to command staff.  Then you and the other techs get to the old command center if you can.”

 Justin unlimbered his rifle from his back. “Dad…”

 Eric smiled grimly. “yeah, yeah… Don’t be a hero, I know.  That’s why I’m only staying long enough with Charlie Kim and his trio to sell this place as defended,” He replied to his son.  “Tis why you are going with Coins…”

 “You aren’t a soldier no more, dad.”

 “Nope. But I was once and I remember how,” He chuckled. “Besides, Kim and crew- “ he pointed at the four security men moving to the lower hall that headed to the Eleven tunnel- “Aren’t about to let me be stupid. Right Kim?”

 Staff Sergeant Kim looked up at his name. “Be stupid? Nope… wouldn’t dream of it.” He then looked back to the movement of the defense bar for the door to the tunnel, helping his men drop it in place.

 Coins spoke up then. “Chief Harvie…” she began as she picked up her own submachine gun. “With all due respect, I’m staying.” The rest of the techs, all six of them, all nodded and commented agreement. “My home too… and well, we know the tunnels and if they are coming that way, the passage to the Armor Bay and flight ops is open.”

 Eric looked at the sergeant. “Coins…” He began.

“No, Chief…” she said. “You’re a good boss.  Eccentric as hell… but a good boss. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you stay and me go.”

 Another tech, Specialist Luann Spades, voiced agreement with coins. “Chief… we agree with her. Y’all a good boss and I know I don’t wanna have to break in a new one.  Yo’ Son is cool but if we can help you with this, we got you.”  The specialist looked over at Justin. “No disrespect, Mister Justin…”

 Justin smiled. “None taken, Spades.” He looked at his dad then. “Dad, you’ve been outvoted. Uncle Stan is going to be mad if something happens to us…”

 “Then I guess we better not get dead then…”