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 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- 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 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…”

Legends and Myths Eighty Six- The Storm: Shire Five

LZ near Harland Bay

1716hrs 08 December 3080

 The crew of the Condor dropship Leonidas Lives had continued to improve the basic defenses around their craft.  The two Chimera APC’s were positioned to cover the main opening into the woods that the drop ship sat in.  Various fighting positions were located in areas easily reached by crew of the ship and any infantry left behind to be security.  And these positions might have worked well, in a daylight attack against forces coming from that direction.

 However, the two units of Canis Pugnax were not ones to come from normal directions. Nor was ODA 1111 known for such. And it was the ODA that scouted for the Rottweiler battle armor advancing on the landing zone.


 Captain Moss looked through his night vision gear and noted the positions ahead of him.  The point of advance the team had chosen was to come from a flank of the ship. Being an aerodyne class of vessel, it didn’t mount anything that could fire to the side, much like a fighter craft.  Such drop ships relied on security troops or the fortified environs of military bases for defense.  And here was neither. “Hoskins… I count fifteen combatants…” he whispered.

 Sergeant First Class Hoskins answered her boss the same way. “Cap’n, I count same,” She replied then activated her com to the actual team sergeant. “Tommy? What count you have?”

 [nineteen,] Master Sergeant Thomas Mulcahy sent after a second. [sixteen combatants, three what appear to be ship crew. Pistols only on them…]

“Copy” Hoskins replied and relayed the info to Moss.

 Moss pondered it a moment then made a decision. “Ok, tell Tom to take any on his side of the ship and to tell Dawkins her suit team to beeline for the ramp,” He said. “I figure either her team or Smith’s four will get in and tear up things. If any of us can get to the ramp quick enough, we can help..”

 Hoskins lifted an eyebrow. “Take the ship?”

 Moss looked at her. “Why not? Their defense scheme sucks, their troops are not that attentive, and no one knows we’re here. Kickoff in five.”

Hoskins shook her head “Ballsy…” She commented then relayed the orders out.


 Senior Sergeant Santos stood on the rear deck of the Chimera and pulled out a smoke. He was rather glad to have drawn security duty on the dropship as it meant he likely wasn’t going to get shot by the natives.

 He had managed to score a hunting trip out this way two months ago and had relayed much of what he had seen then to Colonel Spanac. And what he had seen was a lack of real security troops…. But a shit ton of locals with guns.

 Mind you, a local militia was never something to ignore.  Quite a few times, there was some experienced people on them, and many usually had some field craft.  But rarely were militias able to stand up to a trained infantry force. On equal terms at least- they just didn’t have the gear.  And as well armed as the Centarus Militia was, they were on the main continents and not out here.

  There’s no trained troops like the Immor- was his thoughts that never finished as a bullet impacted his face with finality.


Around the defensive works, the sounds of rifle fire mixed with energy weapon discharges was heard as the defending Immortals were set upon by the ten men of the ODA and the two units of quadruped battle armor suits. The initial fire caught many unawares, the dusk environment giving a false of security to the turncoat mercs.

 Troops not inside vehicles or fighting positions fell quickly to the Lancer Spec Ops troops.  And the two units of Rottweiler suits added to the chaos as the battle armor rapidly entered the camp.  One unit set upon the two Chimera APCs, their mech-caliber small lasers exacting a toll on the internal unarmored troop spaces. The other team of four made for the open ramp of the drop ship, the quadruped suits giving extra speed to the armor that none of the Immortals had ever faced before.

 The defenders, after the initial shock of the attacks and the destruction of the Chimeras, responded as best they could. Trooper ballistic and laser rifles returned fire at the Lancer Special Forces troops, but the damage was done. Well over half of the defenders had been dropped or suppressed in the initial assault and once the one team was done with the APCs, they turned on the other outside troops.

 Squad Orange Beta of the Canis Pugnax had raced for the ramp of the dropship as Orange Alpha ripped into their targets.  Beta’s squad leader, Sergeant Betsy Cline, led her troops into the vessel with gusto. Fuck these motherfuckers, she had said to her men before the assault, her soft soprano at odds with the words and the violence of the moment. No one comes here and takes advantage of hospitality like this.   No love, no mercy… they got a gun, they die.

 Cline had been a street rat rescued by the Lancers off of a periphery border world during a Anti Pirate patrol years back. Being given a chance of a better life by the pseudo mercs, she’d dedicated herself to repaying them for the opportunity she would never have had.  The knife in the back the Immortals had delivered to her now-home… just didn’t sit well with her. Not at all.

“Four, One- watch the door to bay two; looks like he’s got a shotty,” She called over the comms.

 [One, Three- I got him] Trooper Three, Specialist Kev Jones, replied in place of Trooper Four, Jannetta Michaels. [Better angle…]

 Jones leapt his suit through the opening of the bay like a cat and the sound of a shotgun was heard along with the scream of a dying man. [Dealt with.]

 [Cline, Moss]

“Go ahead Moss.” Cline replied as she hunkered down at the base of a ships ladder that led to an upper hold.

 [Outside secure. Mulcahy on his way in with his team to help.]

 “Good…” She replied. “There are a few spots we can’t get in to.”


Gray Havens

1730 hrs

 Spanac was outside the village general store when word of the assault on the drop ship came. Cursing, he called his company commanders into the building. When they gathered, he addressed them. “Listen up!” He said with a snarl. “there has been a development…  Apparently, there are more than just militia out here; As of five minutes ago, our drop ship is no longer ours.”

 At the exclamations from his officers, he continued. “At least, that is the assumption we gotta go with right now. Battle suit troops and regulars hit the landing site an’ rolled right through Santos and his boys like they didn’t exist. The They got the message out that they were being boarded by battle armor then nothing.” A pause. “Gotta assume everyone’s captured.”

 “We gonna go back, Colonel?” A company commander asked.

 “No…” Spanac said after a moment. “I think our best bet is to laager here till the morning then drive on that research base. We’ll have daylight to see whatever drone they got and I figure we can get there within three hours or so of hard riding. Take the place and maybe bargain a way out.”

 Another company commander spoke up. “Colonel, the Lancers ain’t ones for negotiating…”

 “No but they also ain’t known for double dealing either. If I can convince them to let us leave, we’ll be fine,” Spanac replied. “I’ve gotten out of worse.”

 Unnoticed by anyone in the store, a small security camera was still operational and filming…. And the person on the other end of the signal was already calling her friend at Testudo Base.

Testudo Base

1738 hrs

 Justin closed the personal comm and closed his eyes.  Of all the crazy things… “Dad…” He said.

 Eric looked over to his son from the computer he was at, performing a last-minute adjustment to the drone software. “Yeah…”

 “You know the owner of the general store over in Gray Havens I know?” He asked. “The one I went fishing with last week?”

 Eric looked at his son. “The cougar?”

 Justin sighed. “Yeah her…” He said. “Well, the invaders have occupied her store; and she still has a functioning camera with sound active.  She just overheard them planning on hitting here tomorrow sometime.  They know they lost their dropship… and plan on using here as leverage.”

 The elder Harvie shook his head as he hit a few keys on the keyboard. “That would be a big mistake for them…”

 “Still like a hundred guys with guns and at least a dozen APCs,” Justin commented. “Be a tough fight with only fifty of us and three battle armor teams remaining here.” The younger Harvie referred to the other two Rottweiler teams and the lone Cavalier squad that just transitioned from the Longinius suits they had previously used.

 Eric snorted. “That’s plenty- ODA 1112 and 3 should be back by then too so that’s another twenty defenders. Anything that gets through the drone armor and the defense turrets is going to have problems.” The base had a half-dozen antipersonnel turrets spread throughout the external areas. All based on the Magshot system, the defensive gauss weapons were highly effective against lightly armored foes.  The handful of drone tanks on the base… were for armored targets. “I’m pretty sure the Abrams defense tanks can deal with the IFVs.”

 “You sure?”

 “Absolutely,” Eric assured his son. “Carson over in VR only finished the interface last week.  Tested three times too…” He paused. “This will be the first time in a battlefield setting- I wanted to test them over at the Ashton grounds first but beggars can’t be choosers.  Battle Testing might as well be tomorrow… and for real.”

Legends and Myths Eighty Five- The Storm: Shire Four

Village of Grey Havens

1301 hours 08 December

 The advance elements of the Immortals entered the village on foot, the heavily armed ground troopers alert to anything taking a pot shot at them.  All of them were veteran troops and this lack of action was starting to get worrisome.  The home world of the Lancers was supposed to be a slash-bill nest if you screwed with it and right now… they haven’t been shot at.

 The leader of the Immortals, Anatoli Spanac knew it wasn’t going to last… and when nothing jumped them at the crossings, he was damn sure it would happen here.  He was not to be disappointed….


 Mikey Johns looked out an upper window of her shop at the end of Main Street.  It had a clean line of sight all the way out of the village, sitting at the T intersection of the main drives into the village. She was a veteran of the FedCom Civil War and had spent time in a infantry battalion pulling anti-insurgent duty in Skye before helping to retake New Avalon. Getting out after that nonsense, she had emigrated to Centarus as the world was regarded as a peaceful place and a good location to retire to…

  Then the Word of Blake came here in 3068 and she spent a good amount of time being an insurgent until the world was freed in 3072. The following years had been good and moving to the Far Side of the planet had been a blessing to her.  Its peaceful environs and the laid-back nature of those who lived on this side of the world had been a godsend for her. Her shop, a general store, had flourished in providing for the locals and she made many friends here- to include the folks over in the research base to the east.

 So when the world wide warning order came out about invasion, there had been initial panic on her part.  She had long ago stopped being a professional soldier and the concept of fighting again sickened her.  Those thoughts only lasted a short while though… and Johns eventually dug out old gear long packed away… along with her Federated-Barret rifle.

 Contacting Testudo Base, she informed the friend on security there that she and others in town would be waiting for whomever showed up. The friend told her to be careful and not be a hero. “Being a hero is for the young… I intend on being old for a good while yet….” Was her reply.

 So the forty six year old former soldier scanned the field of fire from her second story window through the scope of her heavy sniper rifle.  If there was an enemy trooper out there, she would see him… and if he was in the right spot, the bastard would die.  A dozen others in town had stayed to defend too. None of them had heavy guns but hit and run tactics didn’t call for them.

 High above, a quartet of drones overflew the village and watched events unfold.

Tetsudo Base


 The Harvies watched the screens within operations as they showed the battles on the Landing side of the planet and the feed from the drones in operation here. The Senior Harvie could only smile at the initial success of the base projects…

 In addition to working on various battle armor technologies, the facility also engineered various technical solutions to Drone Warfare. Chief Harvie had been intrigued by the reports of the WoB Drone machines and had started working on applying what was known to various other platforms.

 Drone Tech wasn’t new by any means… but for whatever reason, many a Successor State just didn’t use them.  Due to the lack of good AI, the electronic counter measure issues of the modern battlefield, a lack of good platforms… they just weren’t used.  Eric saw it as a giant oversight, and he had convinced Colonel Tinney to let him experiment with it concurrent with the battle armor trials… and the combat aspects were about to come to fruition.

 Three of the drones carried a pair of one-shot streak Inferno launchers. These were designed to hunt tanks and infantry formations. The fourth was a spotter drone armed with an enhanced medium laser and probe. That one would be the lead drone when looking to find armored vehicles…. And it would be this machine that would spot the formation advancing up the road towards the village store.


 Johns sighted down her rifle.  She had seen the weapons trooper then his companions… and she noted their spread formation.  It was good movement skills, she had to admit… but it wasn’t going to save them from her rifle.  Or from Heather Mack’s assault rifle in the cottage down the street.  Sighting in, Johns slowed her breathing and let herself relax as the sights settled on the chest of the machine gunner advancing up the road.

  Counting to five, Johns squeezed the trigger on her Federated-Barret.  Rewarded with the boom of the round discharging, she saw a large blossoming of blood on the chest of her target.  The big heavy rifle was very good at making a mess of personal body armor back in the day… and it demonstrated here that it still could.

 Heather opened up with her rifle a few seconds later… her shots adding to the chaos of the moment.

On the receiving end, the enemy troops scattered, the one shot by Johns crawling slowly behind cover. Too slowly, as rifle fire from yet another location on Main Street struck the man, ending his efforts. The Immortals returned fire, the heavily armed infantry unit being disciplined in their actions.  All of them had fought in city fights before; given this was a village and they hadn’t taken fire on the way in, the cardinal mistake of letting one’s guard down happened.

 Johns sighted in on another trooper. She’d get this second shot then it would be time to move. It was rare a sniper managed two shots from the same hide, but she would get that rare event. She was back far enough in her house to not reveal her position and her first shot had been a surprise one. Scanning downrange, she saw a head pop up over a wall then duck back down. Smiling, she aimed an inch below the top of the wall.

 Her rifle was very powerful, the weapon having a long history of service as a heavy sniper rifle…. That it also functioned as an anti-materiel weapon, able to defeat light vehicle armor- or the less solid material of a light cinderblock wall, was a plus. She fired, confirmed the shot’s impact and then moved, heading for the back door of her shop.

There was another hide to get to and she was certain the enemy would not treat her kindly- that last shot had exploded the troopers head like a grape.


 The Immortals, realizing they needed some armored support, called in their APCs to lend their machine guns to efforts. Within two minutes, a pair of Rhino Armored Personnel Carriers roared into view on the road.  The troops on the sides of the street began directing the APC to put fire into various building they were taking shots from and the vehicle crews did so with gusto.

  As they were attempting to root out the defenders, the drones up above took notice and the anti-armor ones went into action.  Swooping down from on high, the Franklin Labs Model T Dante Anti-Armor drone bored in on the unsuspecting fighting vehicles below.

 The drone, a highly advanced VTOL carrying a pair of improved Streak Launchers loaded with inferno munitions, darted in and when within range, achieved lock with a launcher and opened fire.  The two missiles with their highly flammable contents slammed into one of the Rhinos. The incendiary missiles did their work well, the flammable gel setting the vehicle aflame and forcing the crew to bail out- the engine of the machine no longer operational as the gel managed to get inside engine vents.

 The second armed drone streaked in not long after the first one and dumped its initial payload on the squad being supported by the now-burning APC. Its weapon system also achieved lock and fired, the inferno missiles eliminating the squad of troopers in a fiery embrace of napalm gel. Other troopers nearby opened up on the attack drones as they retreated, their weapon fire managing to damage one and causing it to trail smoke.

 The Immortals, realizing the danger above, were ready for the third drone and forced it to abort its attack run.  The aerial assault had been successful in slowing them down, even costing them troops. But the message was clear- there would no longer be unopposed advances. Between insurgents and drones, their advance on Testudo would not be so easy.

Legends and Myths Eighty Four- The Storm: Shire Three

Gulf of Lune near Harlond Bay

11km east of LZ

0901hr 08 December 3080

 The lead elements of the Immortals recon group followed the shore east, headed for where available maps indicated a bay-side village. The lead vehicle, a recon variant of the Chimera APC, advanced at a slow pace, its sensors active and the hatches open to allow extra eyes to look out.  So far, the unit’s advance had seen no resistance or defenders which suited the men of the recon unit just fine.  They didn’t want to run into anything without warning; their transport was tough enough for minor skirmishes but there were no illusions about large ones.

 Coming to a stop as they reached a stream that fed into the bay, a team of troopers deployed out and went to check the potential crossing area. Covering them, the vehicle commander used his sensors to scan the tree line for anything watching.  This was the third time they had to do this… and he wasn’t counting on anyone not being here- especially two hours after landing. Intel said there wasn’t much on this continent, but intel has been wrong before…


 On the other side of the crossing point, ODA 1st Special Forces Group 1st Battalion 1st Company, 1st Team (ODA 1111) was observing the advancing recon vehicle from their hasty hide. The eleven troopers of the ODA had been rushed out here to lay eyes on the advancing invaders and either engage if possible or simply get a better assessment on what was coming. All eleven of them were in position to observe or engage if shooting was necessary.

 The team leader, Captain Diego Moss, took a long look via mag-oculars, assessing the vehicle before them and the overall attentiveness of the troops. “Ciara… ever see an APC like that?” he asked the trooper next to him.

 Sergeant First Class Ciara Hoskins shook her head. As the assistant Team Sergeant and resident Intelligence Sergeant to go along with her weapons rating, there was very little out there that she had no knowledge of. At least from any of the major manufacturers of combat vehicles. There were a lot of non-mainstream out there though… and this was one of the latter. “Nope… this one’s a new one on me.” She said as she too looked at the machine before them. “Light auto cannon on the hull, turret laser and some machine guns… not bad for a troop carrier but not great.”

 “Autocannon still kill you dead.”

 “True, true… nope, boss… I got nothing.  Get me a signal to use, I can get something but right now I got nothing.” She replied. “I do know I recognize the insignia.”

 Moss looked over at his intel NCO. “Who?” he asked as he turned to look again.

 “Spanac’s Immortals… Only reason why I know them is I got into a bar fight with some on Galatea about five years ago…” Hoskins said as she stowed her mag-noculars. “Fucking full of themselves assholes, the lot of them.”

 “Do tell…” He commented as he too put his device away and backed off from their observation point.

 Hoskins backed away out of sight and moved down the low rise they were behind, her rifle out. “Yeah… one made with his hands in a place he shouldn’t and got hands back.” The very fit sergeant replied. “Bozo and his buddies found out what happens when you fuck around.”


 “Left five wanna-be’s on the ground moaning. Two with broken limbs…” Ciara smiled grimly. “Angry Bill over in Third can vouch for that one. He was there.”

A snort. “Ok… now that we have established that they are amoral shits… are they any good?” Moss asked as he joined her on the thin path back to their temp camp. The others in the ODA that were in positions to overwatch and shoot if need be would warn him if things went to shit while he was calling to make a report. They didn’t have heavy enough guns to engage anything in an IFV, but they could watch all right.

 “Last I knew, they were competent and NOT fanatical.  Their boss is an opportunist… and depending on the how well the Wolverines’ Navy handles anything space related…” Hoskins stated. “We might get out of this without a big fight.”

 “Noted…” Moss replied. “I need to update Testudo; Its Harvie’s call….” Adjusting his com-gear, he made the call.


About ten minutes later, Moss ended the call and shook his head.  “Well shit…” he mused aloud. “The old man wants blood.” 

 Walking up to Hoskins, he tapped her on the shoulder. “Answers…  They want as good a count on what they got as we can get. Chief Harvie the First would like to know how many there are, within reason, so he can sick the dogs on them….”

 Hoskins blinked and then laughed. “Sic’ing the dogs boys on them will be something to see.  The rest of the team should have a good count right now. Ain’t no one reported being seen at least.” She chuckled. “This should be easy.”

 A slight smile. “that’s the problem, Hoskins… It’s too easy.” Moss replied.  “Which means I think we need to go pay a visit to their drop ship and see what they left to guard it. Testudo asking for that. Based on estimates, five hours for us walking.”



 As the last vehicle cleared the crossing point, Spanac looked at the master plot map of the area.  There was three more major fording points on the fastest route of march to be made.  So far, nothing had jumped at them, but he’d be a fool to think that was going to last.

 Yeah, they made three crossings already… but if he was a betting man (and he was), it would be this one or Crossing Four he’d hit them. Considering three was now behind them, the pucker factor was ratcheting up some the closer they got.

 “Woz, tell the heavy boys to deploy at the next crossing,” he said to his commo sergeant. “I don’t think the next one is going to be peaceful…”

 “Gotcha Colonel…” Tech Sergeant Wally (Woz) Wozniak replied and passed along the orders.  After he did so, he looked back at the Colonel. “Got a feeling, sir?”

 “Yes I do,” Spanac commented. “We are making decent time, but I know something is waiting for us…. I refuse to believe we avoided interdiction so far.” A shrug. “Call it paranoia… but were it me, I’d have hit us by now.”

 Woz grabbed his rifle and made sure ammunition was chambered right. “Well sir… if they hit us, we hit ‘em back.” He said. “They ain’t got enough ass to deal with everyone here…. And them Blakists should have things in hand by tonight…. Right?”

 A shrug. “They should… I’ll get an update once we get to near Grey Havens, provided our info on what’s out here isn’t shit…”

Legends and Myths Eighty Three- The Storm: Shire Two

Gulf of Lune near Harlond Bay

0701hr 08 December 3080

 The Condor class drop ship sat on the ground near the wood line bordering the shoreline along the bay. The craft had landed not long ago and disgorged its infantry cargo.  The half of the three hundred troops of Anatoli’s Footmen set up a perimeter around their landed ship while the rest assisted with the offloading of the twenty light tracked APCs of the force.

 Colonel Anatoli Spanac watched from the hatch of his command Chimera APC and chomped on his cigar.  This foray to the wilds of Centarus was something of a gamble for the now-renegade mercenary infantry unit and it was hoped it would prove to be profitable.  The force had been hired about a year ago to set up something of a cover story about getting advanced training from the Lancers and maybe winning a security contract here; after all, a battalion of infantry was solid inexpensive asset to have available if the Bad Guys came calling.

 Their cover story held up for the most part and they had been on the planet for about six months. They used that time well in learning a good bit about both their hosts, the areas on the populated side and as much as possible about the wilder areas of the world. They also spent it legitimately training up too; because there was an irony to having the guys who you were gonna be fighting teach you their methods…

 Everything he or his people had learned about the military commercial and industrial sectors seemed to indicate that the companies that maintained R and D here had their quieter operations elsewhere from the main continents… and those places didn’t have much in the way of defenders of the places on the Crowell and other populated areas, there was going to be enough fighting there to make espionage difficult.  But in the information gathering, Spanac’s intel guy had managed to learn of a battle armor testing facility over here during a hunting trip he took about two months back. The facility supposedly wasn’t heavily guarded by much, some tanks and maybe a platoon or two of troops.  Being somewhere out of the way was a big help with protection and could make a small force that much more dangerous.

 When this was learned of, Spanac decided he didn’t want to be part of some Word of Blake party and that getting his hands on whatever the Lancers and their tech boys were doing with armor might be a better idea.  He’d been impressed by their maintenance and equipment during exercises, with the Phoenix Lancer specific gear being very solidly efficient.  Add in that they also produced some of their own suits rather than buy off planet… gave him the idea to snatch and run.

 Now, doing so would be damn hard… as the overall security of the world was pretty good.  But with the incoming assault on the planet, Spanac figured they could raid the facility, take what they could and find a means of leaving in the chaos. Granted, there was a Warship problem but given the Word was supposed to be the best at it, the prospect of leaving was possible.

 At least a few of the Jump Ships coming in would want to have a paying contract to leave once the Word settled in to beat down the defenders. Anatoli was sure the Renegade Adepts of the Word of Blake could beat these guys.  AS good as the Lancers may be, the Word was as good with a lot better tech to do the job.  Fanaticism was a strong ally and could be a force multiplier.  And the Word of Blake had that in spades.

 Which was also why he wanted out; when allied with fanatics, the possibility of them turning on you for not being fanatical enough for them was always a threat.  And after hearing of some of their acts elsewhere during the Jihad, he was only going to take their coin until he could find something more valuable.  And cutting-edge research on power armor… would be that more valuable thing to someone… be it the Cappellans, Kurita or something on the Periphery.

 When word of the pending attack came to them from an agent off world, Spanac started planning in earnest… and had managed to get his troops loaded under false documents on their ship.  The ship then lifted and stayed low as the warning orders came in about the invasion fleets…. And the chaos that developed from other turncoats doing their things. This kept them from getting too much attention in the ensuing couple of hours as they sub-orbitaled their way to the far side of the planet.

 When they did get noticed, it was far too late for anyone to prevent their flight…. And here they were, on the shore of one of the bays near their eventual goal.

 Spanac knew they only had so much time before someone, or something came looking for them here… and his Drop Ship needed to be pulled under as much of the available tall trees as it could.  Nets could only do so much.

 “Colonel, contact report!” Came the word from his electronics expert who was manning the ground radar unit in the Damocles Rhino.

“What do you have, Sergi?” Spanac replied to the man as he turned to look at him.

 “Recon Drone, bearing 091, about five kilometers out,” came the answer. “It’s flying towards us at about one hundred kilometers an hour and closing. Here in about two minutes.”

 “Noted. Warn everyone…”

  The warning went out within seconds and everything that go to ground did so and the handful of LRM troops got their weapons set and ready to fire.  The Immortals were well trained and by the time the drone arrived, weapons were set to shoot it from the sky….


  The drone flew on, its sensors canning the ground below and as it came into range of the defending weapons, the little machine managed to get a fairly good picture of the landing area and the marks on the ground before weapons fire from the defenders opened up on it.

  Within ten seconds, the drone was shot from the sky and a renewed emphasis on the Immortals to get deeper into the woods and a bit of distance from their ship.  The troops knew that there would be more coming but if they could finish camouflaging their ship, it might get missed by other craft looking.

Testudo Complex Operations
0715 hrs

 Justin stood with his father watching the feeds of the drone and whistled slightly when it filmed the landing zone before it was blown from the sky. “I think they aren’t too happy about our drone…”

 Eric shook his head. “No, they weren’t… how soon for the ODA’s to get on location?”

 “Sometime in the next hour,” Justin replied. “Had to get their Kestrel reconfigured. Squad Orange is on their Karnov and enroute to Grey Havens.”

 A nod. “Ok… I want to know when the ODAs are in position to eyeball these guys,” Eric replied. “I need to update whomever is in charge back on Cromwell about all this.”

 Justin looked over to the communications console where Sergeant Heather Coins sat listening to reports from the other side of the world. “Sergeant Coins…”

 Coins, who had been paying attention to her bosses, tapped her console a few times. “Sir… Forbes Center still has operational Control.  Raising them now.  Camera Two.”

 Eric moved on the command dais over to where Camera Two would see him.  When Coins nodded, he spoke. “Forbes Center, Testudo…”

After a moment, a hologram sprung to life and the image of Governor Devine sprang into view. [Devine…]

 “Roy, Eric… We are current on the situation over there. Calling to let you know we have some rats over here now too.”

 [Do you now?] Roy commented as the projection showed him being handed a data pad. [One drop ship, aerodyne style?]

 “Yeah… we had a drone investigate and before it went off-line, showed an infantry carrier ship and a bunch of armored personnel carriers with troops. You should have the imagery now.” Eric informed his old friend. “Our uninvited guests weren’t terribly happy about it.”

 Roy nodded. [Yeah, I imagine they wouldn’t be.  I don’t know what I can send to support you right now; still chaotic here. As you likely know, the space battles are only just finishing and we have problems all over out here. Nothing that can’t be dealt with but it’s going to take time; we are down almost two battalions of combat assets with the Barbados mission. Any counter offensive is a knife’s edge…]

 Eric thought a moment. “I am pretty sure we can deal with them. If it’s only that one ship and its troops, then I know we can manage.” He smiled. “I have more than enough of the battle armor testing units here as well as that new heavy infantry kit. As I didn’t see anything very heavy among them, what I have should work fine. There is nothing big they can grab out there to use- though the garage in Grey Havens has those mothballed J Edgars going through Omni Vehicle conversion; they are light but fast.”

 A frown. [Are they operational?]

 Eric glanced at Justin who held up two fingers and then returned his gaze towards the camera. “Only two. Not enough to be a huge problem but not something I want to lose. Any idea who these guys might be?”

 [Not yet though I will have someone check the list of known units on Centarus and get that information to you…] Roy said. [These guys chose the wrong people to stab in the back, Word assistance or no…]

Eric smiled. “And this unit chose the wrong place to go solo. Most of our experiments are ready for live testing…”

A chuckle. [Nice of them to volunteer for you, Eric] Roy laughed. [I will see what can get sent out your way if you think you’ll need it fast.]

 Eric shook his head. “Right now, I think we have what we need… though I may need some additional security troops.  I only have about sixty combatants here not counting staff and prisoners use up human assets. What other people are here are not exactly all soldier types. Backwoods Militia sorts, sure… but I think we need regulars.”

 [Noted… and I will see who we can shake loose. Should have an answer in an hour or two- most of the initial engagements ongoing are slowing down and assets can be allocated better,] Roy answered. [It’s mostly been battle mech fights; infantry has been playing clean up and securing specific areas.]

A nod. “About what I figured…  We’ll manage for a few days, I think. But sooner I know if I have additional forces coming, the better.”

 [Will do, Eric.] Roy said. [When the situation irons out here, I or Diane will contact you.]

“Ok.  I’ll be waiting…” Eric answered. “This attack took some balls…”

[It did… and Diane is looking to cut more than few off right now.  Updates soon. Forbes clear.]

“Testudo clear.”

Legends and Myths Eighty Two- The Storm: Welcome to the Shire

 As the assaults were ongoing over on the populated side of the world, the areas on the far side, collectively known as the lands of Tolkien, named after a famous writer of 20th Century Earth by the original settlers, was largely left alone.

 As one of founding settlers had put it, “These lands seem to be similar in scope to the places in those books; the continent even looks like the map of those places- though more trees. Be a shame to wreck them…” It was this sentiment that partly kept everything localized to the five continents most of the population was in currently. That and the need for easy access to the primary sites used for landing for equipment or normal needs.

 As such, the areas of Tolkien stayed predominately pristine.  More than a few small settlements were to be had out here over the centuries- though most of them remained small and low impact. There was no civilian industry other than Tourism to speak of out here either; the founding fathers electing to keep such on the continents of Cromwell, Forbes and Johnson, with Ashton serving as the resource hub, rich as it was in minerals and ores. That said, anything needed for construction was taken from one area nicknamed Mordor, for the stone here was dark and foreboding… even the control tower for the shuttles moving ores from here was stylized as if from the books.

  All major industry that left scars upon the land became localized to this area.  Doing so helped keep the rest of the continent clean of pollution and remaining as natural as possible.  Despite the dirty industry that covered the area known as Mordor, efforts were made to mitigate as much as possible.  These efforts were successful in the long run- despite the dingy dark appearance of the area, it was no more polluted than anything on Cromwell or Ashton.  You could live there… though as dingy as it was, why would you…

 All in all, this side of the planet was under-populated, with at most ten thousand people spread throughout the continent; in the almost three hundred years since planetfall, it remained that way. This was not to say that the planetary rulers didn’t use anything over here. On the contrary, there was many labs and research facilities located in the various places out here. Many of them dealt with electronics or refinement of various systems used in civilian or military gear.  Most of the sites entered and exited mothball status over the years, as the various companies required their use.

 One site was one long associated with the military side of things.  Testudo Base, a mixed training and research complex, sat in a low hills region of the continent labeled the Shire and it was a site that specialized in the research of battlefield electronics.  Given that the Lancers had long been able to maintain their command computers and comms gear, special attention had been given to manage their refinement and when possible, expand their utility.

  A secondary role of the facility was the refinement of recon drones, remote systems and battle armor.  Much of the observation equipment used in the various training ranges got it start here as a concept and experimented with before seeing deployment at them or on a mission off world.

 The Battle Armor Testing Facility was a newer portion of the facility with its activation just after the Jihad concluded. Since that time, it had seen quite a bit of use, with testing of light power armor such as the Nighthawk suits of the Blood Spirits tactical teams and the recent acquisition of several Clan elemental suits from the Trial last year, claimed as salvage.  The Lancers had several of the older suits from missions years past but with some of the advances in Clan technology, these newer examples were being dismantled for inspection and potential lessons for refining existing suits.

 The Complex, being as unobtrusive as it was, was not heavily guarded with battlemechs. Indeed, the head of the facility was not a fan of those machines and preferred regular armor units or battle armor as defensive means. Between the electronics available to him at the facility, the utility of all the various units of powered armor for security troops and the easy obscurement of the armored company stationed here, it was felt there was plenty of defenses should anyone come calling. It also helped that many a Special Operations detachment trained out here, and at any given time, there was four of them doing something.

 Anything Battlemech related that attacked here would regret it, or so the facility commander had assured Colonel Tinney when assuming command.  Between harassment by the complex’s multiple battle armor teams plus the extensive drone systems assigned here, anyone stupid enough to come assaulting wouldn’t last long.

 Besides, assigning battlemechs here made the place a bigger target than it needed to be.

Testudo Complex operations
The Shire, continent of Tolkien
0350 Local time 08 December 3080 (1550 Landing time 07 December)

 Chief Warrant Officer Five Eric Harvie woke with a startled jump by the base alarms. “Goddamnit…” he swore as he looked at the clock on the wall. “You’d think they’d have a drill during the damn day?” Getting up, he hit his communication button on the night stand as he also turned on a light. “Harvie to operations…”

Within a second, the voice of his son Justin was heard. [Dad, this isn’t a drill,] The calm laid back attitude of Chief Warrant Officer Three Justin Harvie belied the seriousness of what was happening elsewhere. [The system is under attack and Governor Sodher-Schaller has declared an alert planet wide.] Justin was obviously in early or just hadn’t gone to bed yet.  Either was likely with his son…

Pausing as he was pulling on pants, Eric questioned his son. “Sodher-Schaller? Where’s Tinney or McCormack?”

 [Uncle John left with Khan Hollister for the reclamation mission to Barbados a few months ago and Leslie should be on Alshain by now as a guest of the Ghost Bears.] Justin replied. [This is why he missed the fishing trip two months ago… or don’t you remember?]

 Eric could hear the half smile in his son’s voice, the question being a gentle chiding over his habit of losing track of the universe when neck-deep in a project. “Yeah yeah… I remember. I think… Never mind,” He replied to his son. “Who’d being stupid enough to attack us through a warship fleet?” He at least remembered the Star League era warships that had come with the Wolverines last year. And how could he forget those…

 If there was one thing he shared as an interest with Lieutenant Colonel McCormack, it was a love of old military things. The deep detailed tour she had scored for him of their Texas class for his birthday was the best gift he ever gotten from anyone.

[Apparently the Word of Blake is….] His son replied. [And they have brought warships of their own.  They are apparently getting help from assets on planet currently. Apparently, there was enough deep cover agents to blow up the HPG station over in Kensington Park.]

 Eric stopped dead as he pulled on his boots. “What?”

 [Dad…. I wish I was wrong.]

 A sigh. “Ok, let Auburn Command know we are awake over here; I’ll be over in a bit.” He said. “Anything coming our way?”

[No one sees anything just yet but who knows?] Justin replied. [Lieutenant Montgomery thinks there was something that landed over near Lune Gulf. Auburn Command thinks it might be a unit that was already here. Something infantry based…. They are working on it.]

 Eric, for the first time since he was woken up with the alarms, smiled. “Oh this is not going to be good if they did… for whoever it is.” He said. “See you in three minutes.”

[Ok dad…] Justin said and ended the call.


 Some five minutes later, Eric entered the operations center for the complex and looked at the holographic displays on the far side of the room.  Unlike the main operations center over on the main continent, this center had several systems they didn’t. Given free reign to customize and optimize this place, Eric had worked with his son to update everything in this facility.

  High-end computers, holographic displays of various sizes… a number of the holographic systems were of the sort one found on Star League ships and in some of the old facilities discovered on the planet.  All of what was here was reverse engineered by himself and Eric was rather proud of the results.  That they were now being tested by an invasion… well, he was about to see how well they worked in a real situation. He had updated some of Auburn Command Center systems last year and he was sure they were working just fine. But he had the full suite here… and as near as he could tell looking around the Ops Room, every single system was working just fine.

  Looking over to his son, Eric walked over next to him and held out a hand.  Justin deposited a data pad into it.

 “Ok dad… we are seeing the same data Auburn is in real time…” Justin explained. “Just as you modeled it, everything seems to be working as it should.  Forbes Center just went online; we don’t have the same feeds from there but as long as Auburn is operational, we got it.”

 Eric looked at the data pad then around at the screens. “This is good,” he replied. “Anything on that blip?”

 Justin looked over to his right and lifted a hand control.  Clicking a button, one of the displays changed to show a representation of the Gulf of Lune.  On it, a series of dots with labels appeared. “A dropship landed on the coastal plain there about a minute ago… It isn’t ours or anyone claiming to be allied.” He said. “I requested a proper satellite pass… and I sent a drone to go look.”

 “Any idea who?”


 Eric pondered on a course of action…. And decided on one. “Ok… who can we get out there? I would like some eyes on the ground looking.” He asked

 Justin looked at one of the other screens and pointed. “First and Seventh Operational Detachments and Squad Orange of the Canis Pugnax with their Rottweiler suits… call it an hour?”

Eric nodded. “Do it… The faster we know what they have shown up with, the more we can do something about it. I don’t expect much help from Auburn; judging by that display, they have enough problems…” He said as he pointed at a holographic display showing the situation on the other side of the planet. “If the unannounced guests are infantry based, we can deal with it on our own.”