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

Lancer Command Compound

1457 hrs 7 December

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 **

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

**

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

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

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

 Starting now.

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

Lancer Command Compound Operations building

Auburn Mountains, Cromwell

1449 hours 7 December

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “Godspeed…”

**

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

[Mastiff Flight, Forbes Command]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 [Damnit…]

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

[Yay orders….]

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

Near Planetary orbit Centaurus IV

1430 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Near Centaurus VI

1404 hours Landing Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 **

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “Ma’am… of the group, two departed.”

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

Gates space port

Gates, Forbes

1351 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Training area near Desert One

Ashton badlands Ashton

1340 Hrs 7 December 3080

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

Gates Spaceport

Gates, Forbes

1322 hrs

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

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

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

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

 Then came the message back in February.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SLS Bismark

Near Centaurus V

1319hrs Landing Time, 7 December 3080

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deep Space Station Agnes

1344 Hrs Landing time

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

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

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

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

Defensive Bunker A-1

Surface of Centaurus VII

1430 hrs Landing Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes for the Upcoming Story line

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

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

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

 Now comes this next piece.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legends and Myths Forty Seven- Alshain Trial begins…

The Bears Den training fields

Alshain

0905 hrs 31 December3080

 As the Behemoth torso exploded in the catastrophic discharge of energy of a damaged gauss rifle, Leslie scanned the battlefield in front of her and noted the precarious nature of the Jade Falcon’s effort… and the in-danger defense of their side of things.

  The Falcons had descended on the Bear’s Den training area at first light and their composition had confirmed her clan ally’s thoughts on what they were going to do.  A full binary, comprised of a mix of first- and second-line machines, had confirmed to Tseng the beat up nature of the Jade Falcon overall forces.  She had pointed out before hostilities commenced that such a force would be unheard of in normal times.

 But these were hardly normal times.  Before her was the aforementioned Behemoth and a Vapor Eagle, two second line machines that were rarely seen in any front-line clan force…. Much less a Command Keshik. Joining them was the expected- a Vulture, Turkina and a Night Gyr. The surprises were the Huntsman and a pair of Black Lanner of two different models. Neither were common but still not expected. A Nova was present, the ubiquitous machine a threat to any mech on the field.  The weirdest Omni the Falcons were using was a Stooping Hawk, something she was not aware of them even having.

Faced off against them was her re-gunned Marauder II, the Clan Spec weapons so new that they might still have paint on the barrels. Kris was in her semi-adjusted Battlemaster, its primary weapon exchanged for a clan large pulse.  Maggie was in her Banshee and Shan was in her up-gunned Zeus. Joining them was the Loremaster in her personal Kodiak and then there was the Star Colonel.

 Lebowski had arrived just before the Falcons with a full star.  He was in his big Executioner, this time an A model. Accompanying him was a pair of Stormcrow Primes, a Timber Wolf and a large pulse equipped Adder.  All of the pilots accompanying him were veteran members of his Command… and according to him, they all recently picked up the Bird Hunting hobby.

 Leslie had smiled then, a smile that disappeared when the Falcons made their presence known and the battle was joined in earnest.

The ebb and flow shifted between the two sides, with the Allied troops scoring an early hit to the Vulture. The Falcon response was a few random stabs of violence at range, with Kris taking some early punishment.

  The Falcons paid for it when Lebowski and his Timberwolf star mate laid into the Vulture, dropping it cleanly with concentrated fire to the heavy Omni’s torsos and leg.  The punishment delivered crippled the machine and took it out of the fight before it could even really make its presence felt.

 Then both sides began to find their ranges… and the carnage began.

 The plan had been to keep the Lancer portion of the force back some, knowing the Falcons would be coming for them.  And the plan seemed to work for the most part.  Leslie and her sisters delivered a good deal of damage to the oncoming Falcons as Tseng maneuvered her Kodiak to block a flank.

 Over the course of the battle, Kris seemed to attract a large amount of attention. Granted, the Battlemaster she was piloting was a fearsome design and they were known for being dangerous in any condition… and the Falcons knew it.  That she was also the least experienced of the lance… did not help matters.

 Several times, she was forced to her knees or the ground from weapon strikes… and every time she got back up, the last time muttering across the com channel “I Get knocked down, I get up again…” in a sing-song voice.

 This last time though, the damage was proving to be a bit much for her machine.  As the Behemoth took its explosion, Leslie moved her machine forward some to draw some fire off of her friend. “Kris, fall back and guard Maggie’s rear.  That Vapor Eagle is looking to get at her.”

[Right…] Came her response. [I have alarm bells all over in here… and I’m half a monster.]

“That’s why I am suggesting you fall back,” Les replied. “Lebowski and his star are about to sweep their flank..” Turning her attention back towards the center of the battle, she triggered her weapons in the direction of the Turkina who was sitting in a stand of heavy trees as she moved forward between Kris and the bulk of the Falcons. “Get moving, I’ll cover you.”

 Watching her shots destroy trees and not much else, Leslie saw her target turn its weapons towards her and fire back…. The electric-blue ball of particle cannon energy streaking from the barrel of the Clan machine and right for her head assembly. “SHI-“

 The impact of the shot tore through the armor and structure almost like it wasn’t there.  In the maelstrom of destruction being caused by the hit, the safety protocols built into the modern battlemech kicked in and ejected her from the cockpit.  The very last thing she heard before the shock and abuse from ejection made her pass out was Maggie’s voice in her neuro-helmet earpiece.

[condenado halcón, cabron!!!]

Legends and Myths Forty Six – Alshain and an answer

Jade Falcon Occupation Zone Government Complex

Hammarr, Sudeten

14 December 3080

The reply message, with its counteroffer of Refusal had surprised the Falcons a little, knowing as they did that the Lancers understood some of their traditions; Khan Clees had actually expected it from the mercenary and when it was mentioned in the reply, she snorted in derision.  Like a Dezgra Mercenary would have any standing against her Clan, no matter the history, to request a damn thing… She should be honored to be fought over or even be given a chance to defend herself against a Falcon

 That the Ghost Bear Loremaster supported the notion AND tied the Grievance defense to the Mercenary’s Refusal counter challenge, well that caught her by complete surprise. That one who was known as a Traditionalist would support the mercenary challenge…. AND be part of their defense, their batchall… was both unheard of and preposterous.

  The kicker was the presence of the Not Named at the end of their reply. That one of the Criminals… would call them frauds, the Founder a Liar and dishonest… was of great insult to Khan Clees. The besmirchment of Nicolas Kerensky was almost execution level punishment as far as some of the older Falcon Warriors were concerned.  And many wanted to turn this into an all-out invasion to punish the Ghost Bears for having this…. Freebirth on their world, and for even allowing it a VOICE.

 HOW DARE THEY….

  When she regained her temper, Cleese mentally crafted a simple reply. One that spoke volumes and yet revealed nothing to ones such as they. She just needed to get a technician in to repair her office’s com-station screen. It seemed to have developed a rather final malfunction….


To Colonel McCormack and Loremaster Tseng

 The Jade Falcons accept your Batchall of your command group and the allyship of Loremaster Tseng in supporting you. As befitting this development, an element of my Command Cluster will be deploying to facilitate this trial in Suitable Fashion.

To the criminal Lore Keeper…  one who should not exist should keep their presence unknown lest it is decided said presence should be removed from existence. We are not Wolves therefore you should be worried.

The Trial Forces will arrive in the Alshain System by 29 December with the date of Adjudication on 31 December. A fitting end to the Year as an outstanding Account is paid in full.

I am Khan Samantha Clees of Jade Falcon, and this is my Word.

The Khan’s Residential compound

Northern Ydre Mountains

Alshain

15 December 3080

  It had been decided by the Khan and her saKhan that the most secure place to lodge the guests might be the residence of the Khan. The Compound, a series of very squat structures that blended with the hillside overlooking the Oresund Sea, was a well-appointed affair, with many chambers for guest and others who would visit as part of various Ghost Bear Traditions. The Concept of Family was very important to the Clan and with the relocation to the Inner Sphere, the previous Khan had decided to host all feasts celebrating successful Clawings here as well as various other celebrations.

 And so, it was here that the entire Lancer Contingent was moved to. It was not like the residence could not hold them- the residence contains lodging space for up to forty guests though out the main two buildings.  Outbuildings could lodge about the same or more…

 Kabrinski had not had many opportunities over the last few years to truly host much, just three clawing rite celebrations and one retirement…. so, while a bother, it was a welcome one as the residence had been little more than a secondary office and place to sleep for too long.

 It was here that the Jade Falcon reply was received and viewed…. First by the Khan and then by the group of them.

 Star Colonel Lebowski had arrived that morning when the message came and was with the Khan when she played it.  And he was not amused by the implications of its contents. Not at all.

 Loremaster Tseng arrived along with Leslie and the SaKhan, deep in discussion when they entered. The rest of the Lancers were either sleeping in or in Kris’s case, enjoying the space to run the dogs. Security had been beefed up more than the standard, with the very fresh memory of the Clan Wolf watch effort at the forefront of minds.

  As her officers and the guest sat down in the various chairs within the compound office, Kabrinski spun her chair around to face them all. Tapping a key, she played the message for the new arrivals and when it ended, she spoke. “Leslie, your inclusion in this meeting is highly unusual but as this ‘nonsense’, as you put it, from the Jade Falcons involves you, if was wise to have you here. Especially,” she smiled, “since I have chosen to support your defensive efforts.”

  She tapped a key and a holo sprang up to the side, showing the schematics of an Inner Sphere Marauder II. A number of data points were listed along side of it in the holo, with various areas on the battlemech highlighted. “I am told by my master technician that your machine is fairly well maintained; in his words, whomever is the person who keeps it running should be given a promotion.”

 Leslie chuckled. “When I get home, I will recommend the promotion and tell him the compliments. Sergeant Graham does good work.”

 Kabrinski continued. “He has told me that his inclination to swap out your weapons will work well and allow for an increase in heat dissipation. Technician Rian noted that your machine, indeed all of your machines, are remarkably cool running.  Is this a standard for the Lancers?”

 Leslie hesitated in answering. While not a company secret, per-se, it was something that could be considered important. She elected to answer anyway… as it would be figured out the deeper her technical staff worked. “Yes. One of the standards the Lancers have for all of its battlemech is heat efficiency when possible.  If a unit’s heat exchange can avoid being over-worked, battlefield performance generally improves. Some units, it cannot be avoided, of course…. when possible, we use as efficient as we can in a given platform.  Or we find a way to bring its efficiency up if it has known issues.” She replied. “Some designs, like the Black Knight, will always have them. But, when possible, we strive to meet heat neutral as a standard. It can be maintenance hell as some solutions are not easy to implement… but in the long run, beneficial.”

 The Khan nodded. “I can see the benefits of that… and in some cases, I imagine combat efficiency rises substantially. Sound strategy…”

 “We try.”

 Kabrinski grinned. “Well, I bring this up as Rian was able to use the existing connections to the weapons on your machine and upgrade the weapons on your machine to our standards. I suspect it was something planned for your machine at some point as there was Clan-Standard harnesses in place already… so swapping Clan-Spec in was not difficult.”

 Leslie replied. “I believe I was in the que to receive weapon upgrades as it became available.  Out where we are, we do not face Clan opponents often, so such salvage is rare.  The harnesses being there… does not surprise me though.”

A nod. “In any case, your machine’s weapons have all been brought up to Ghost Bear standards. Your Executive’s machine… is proving to be somewhat difficult to check; while it is all clan-spec, the wiring appears to be a hodgepodge of standards.  The other two machines… should be ready. Warrant Tinney’s Battlemaster appears to be the most work; Rian indicated he was finding the weight for some protective electronics and installing an Anti-missile system as additional insurance. Ms. Farquharson’s Banshee is next to be adjusted…

  But I did not bring you here to go over your machines…. Though it is interesting to look over how your technicians have kept them running. What we need to do is go over the Trials and your defense,” She commented as the image of the Lancer machine disappeared. “While I am hesitant to have you go into battle with your own machines, I also know you know them the best… and knowing the limits of your platform is always a boon. SO I am not going to insist we provide you all Clan machines to pilot.

 What we do need to discuss is what Clees is sending to come for you.” Kabrinski finished. “There is a setup for perfidy in her reply…”

 Leslie nodded. “SO, I hear… An element of her command cluster can mean almost anything up to a Trinary… a play on words, as it were.” A pause. “For us, a command group is either a lance if a Company or a reinforced lance if Battalion formation. Colonel Tinney runs a full company, but they are the command company for the Regiment. I was unaware of the Clans using anything more than a Star or a Nova Star for such.”

 Lebowski answered. “The vast majority do not. A Galaxy might have a binary as part of a cluster be the overall command element but even that is rare. Usually only the Khan or saKhan will have one, called a Keshik. The Jade Falcons are not known for a Galaxy Commander to have one but considering how much a beating they have taken and their need to bolster their Touman’s experience, that they might have started such as a means to increase their list of command capable officers could be the case.  With Loremaster Tseng as part of your defense, you come to Star Size… so a star versus star would be appropriate.”

 Kabrinski added. “And considering she said ‘element,’ I am thinking that she has decided to stack the deck, so to speak. Her defense of using more than a star will likely be that as you are not clan, she was expecting something treacherous from you.  Or simply claim you had offered command versus command… and is sending her Keshik. Perfectly legal… though it is a nitpicking of words.” The Khan paused. “This could be an instance of reputation making things harder….”

A sigh escaped Leslie’s lips. “Could be,” she pondered. “I am not Tinney with his insufferable, to some, ability to turn near disaster into something that is not. That the rest of the Regiment seems to have that ability at times… well, I guess I should be honored that it’s expected of me?”

Lebowski chuckled. “There are worse things to be known for.”

“Don’t I know it,” was her retort. “Aletha, I know me and mine can handle an opposing Star of Omnis unless they are all hyper-focused on battlemech destruction.  Then its not so certain. With Laurie assisting us, those odds go up. If she is sending a binary at us, our odds go down substantially. I agreed to face their command group… and if it is a Keshik, this is going to be a mess.”

Lebowski spoke then. “It will be a mess, Leslie. However, you will not be outnumbered because of wording….” At her curious questioning glance, he continued. “You see… there are times when I serve as part of a Keshik for the Khan or whomever she deems to require a bodyguard…. And I am going to state plainly; I do not abide by this play on words they are doing. I do not abide by it at all.”

 A smile. “So… as you are participating in a Clan Ritual, perhaps you should field a Keshik of your own. Or at the very least, the Loremaster have bodyguards… even though this is a grievance too, the refusal comes first.”

 Laurie blinked and the saKhan laughed. “Oh, that is rich,” saKhan Ragnar Magnusson said. “Its somewhat of a nitpick but having the Loremaster show up to the field as part of your defense with half of a Keshik and herself being part of YOUR group, making you an ad hoc star… Oh there will be screams but I suppose there can be a means to make it fly in terms of traditions. I like it…”  He looked over at the Loremaster. “Considering she is part of the Remembrance, could the argument be put forth she is part of Ghost Bear?”

 Tseng furrowed her brow. “I am not sure…. Usually, it would be adoption after being a bondsman or on occasion due to some service, a person is rendered directly into the clan as an honor.” She stopped, realizing what was being asked. “No, it would be highly unusual… and we are already stretching things.”

 Kabrinski chuckled. “I don’t think we need to go that far.  I think due to her being an Ally, the concept of a Joint Command Binary will be sufficient reasoning… And not showing our hand for such would be wise.” She said and turned to Lebowski. “Your assignment is to pick a suitable star to assist in the refusal. Something to compliment what Leslie and her command staff are fielding. The entirety of the Guards is available for this purpose.”

Leslie blinked at the offer and was about so say something when Lebowski answered his Khan. “As you command, I will pick four others to join the effort that are appropriate. Should be no problem.”

Kabrinski narrowed her eyes at the Star Colonel. “I said pick a star.”

“And I will…,” He replied. “I am attempting to accomplish two things with my involvement; ensuring a good selection of talent and indulge a hobby you told me I needed to get.”

“And what hobby is that?” the Khan queried.

“Bird hunting.” Lebowski said with a straight face. “If you will pardon me… I need to get to work reviewing choices…. And as a compliment to our ally’s standards, everyone will be as efficient as possible. I agree with the Lancer philosophy… and I think I might be reviewing my own command after this to see if I cannot copy it.” He stood and bowed to his Khan. “By your leave…”

Kabrinski could only shake her head as the Star Colonel left. Returning her attentions to the rest of the guests in the room, they restarted the conversation with discussion on the upcoming Celebration and other places to visit on Alshain. There was plenty of time to discuss the Trial but right now, there was more pleasant business to discuss.

Legends and Myths Forty Five- Alshain developments

Tseng-Jorgenssen Nature Preserve

Alshain

1107hrs

 The members of the Wolf Watch team had not expected the resistance from the staff of the facility they encountered. While the one member went for the labs where it was expected to find the Lancer officer, the other three men attempted to shut down and eliminate and potential interference. It didn’t go as expected.

 The staff at this facility was a mixture of Clan Ghost Bear science caste and natives of Alshain.  And the natives, with a long history of resistance to various invaders from before the Ghost Bears and after, fought back with a level of fury and skill quite unexpected.  Technical Staff assisted what security officers were on site with adhoc weapons like water sprayers and tools. In one instance, a janitor used a bottle of cleaner to catch an attacker in the face which blinded the Agent before another ran up to club him down.  Another, a medical technician, produced a large hypodermic full of sedative and stabbed another in the throat after hiding in a closet until the attacker went by.

  Overall, the twenty-something staff of the Facility managed to stop the attack but not without casualties.  Some fourteen members of the staff were injured and of them. Five of those would die from those injuries but their sacrifices were not in vain.

As the Security Forces responding swarmed the site about nine minutes after the alarm went out, they found the staff tending to their own as best they can, with the visiting mercenary doctor assisting the medical staff with treating the wounded.  One Elemental almost got bit by one of the doctor’s mastiffs, the doc calling off her beast when she saw the trooper come into the main foyer of the facility.

The lead trooper, Star Captain Kincaide, called out to the one security officer by the entrance for a report and he quickly explaining the events as he knew them.  Kincaide then called for additional medical transportation for the injured. He then went looking for Kris and Cassandra.

 Kris, for her part, assisted the other medical personnel to best of her ability.  She was not a human doc, but many techniques were similar… and she also had experience with dealing with combat injuries from back home.  As she exchanged gloves for what must have been the twentieth time, Kincaide and another Elemental approached her and Cassandra, who was helping her with her work.

 “Warrant Officer Tinney?” The Elemental officer asked, triggering his visor open as he spoke.

 “Yes?” She replied as she donned the new gloves. “Cassandra… hold that bandage in place please.  I don’t like the way its still bleeding. Should have stopped by now…”

The trooper waited for her to finish giving instruction then continued. “Ma’am… I have been given orders to get you out of here and back to Silverdale.”

Kris glanced at the trooper as she applied more wound-clot, the gunshot wound on the security man refusing to stop bleeding.  Her patient was still awake though very pale and being monitored by a veterinary technician who had some EMS experience. “That’s nice, Trooper… but I’m a touch busy.”

“Ma’am…” The elemental was unfazed. “My orders come from the Khan.”

“And?” was her retort as she fastened the new bandage in place. “Mine are from higher than her… Ok,   Janice, it starts bleeding again, do as I did, ok?” At the acknowledgement from the tech, Kris turned her full attention to the Trooper as more sirens could be heard in the distance. “Sorry… but patient care comes first for me.”

 Kincaide looked to Cassandra, who he recognized then back to Kris. “Ma’am, I understand but I have my orders to get you out of here.”

 Before Kris could retort, her Elemental guard spoke up. “Kincaide, as soon as the transports get here and the injured are moved out, we will go.  I happen to agree with her- the situation is stable at this time and the wounded need tending.  Warrant Officer Tinney is the only one among the functioning staff who knows Human medicine and has worked a mass casualty event created by combat.  She is needed until proper personnel are here,” Cassandra said as she too exchanged gloves as her charge had done. “Which should be shortly. We will need to assist getting the injured out.  The attackers came here armed and were obviously attempting to kidnap her… Only one had non-lethal means.”

 Kincaide’s eyes narrowed. “Impetuous… of them.” Was his reply after a moment. “And there will be repercussions for this insult once the Khan is made aware of those facts. Ma’am, once the wounded are loaded, we are leaving with you and the Star Captain. No agruments”

Kris breathed out. “Agreed…” The sirens quit as the medical transports arrived.  “Many are able to walk; a few will need stretchers.”

 Kincaide nodded. “Understood.”

**

Ghost Bear Dominion Government Complex

Silverdale, Alshain

1330hrs

  Kris and Cassandra entered the Khan’s office with the dogs and found the rest of her companions there with the Khan and Loremaster Tseng.  The two were a mess, with various amounts of dried blood on them, as well as on both dogs.  “Hi,” Kris said. “Um, I can explain…” She waved a hand at her disheveled state.

  Leslie and Kabrinski looked at each other then at her.  Kabrinski spoke first. “I am aware of what you were doing there- I was given a report by Star Captain Kincaide and a corroborating report from the head of the Facility.”

 Leslie added. “I was informed when she was, Kris.  Are YOU ok?”

 “I am,” Kris replied. “Its been a hot minute since I had to work a triage… I need a drink.” She looked around for a seat she would not ruin with sitting on it in her messy state.

 Kabrinki merely motioned to her to sit anywhere. “Do not worry; I have a very good cleaning staff.” She said as Tseng went to the beverage cabinet that was in here for private meetings. “I can only thank you for your efforts, Kristina.  I am ashamed this happened as you are guests.”

“Its not like you were expecting this, Khan Kabrinski. Kidnapping attempts are not exactly predictable,” She replied as Maggie brought over a beverage handed to her by Tseng. Kris accepted it from her friend. “I hesitate to ask what other madness is going to happen with us here.”

 Leslie looked at the Khan again who sighed. “Funny you should ask that…” The Khan said. “We have received a communication from our erstwhile some-time opponents the Jade Falcons.” Reaching out to a panel on her desk, she hit a couple of buttons.

On the end of the office, a holo appeared with the symbol of Clan Jade Falcon in the center.  The image of a very stern-looking brown-haired woman appeared shortly thereafter and she began to speak.

 “I am Samantha Cleese, Khan of Jade Falcon, heirs to the True Vison of Kerensky.  I request Safcon for the purpose of overseeing a Trial of Possession of the dezgra Mercenary known as Lieutenant Colonel Leslie McCormack of the Phoenix Lancers for judgement in regards to Crimes against The Vision and Traditions of Nicolas Kerensky, founder of the Clans.

  We request to face her on the field of battle to avenge losses suffered by My Clan during Operation Revival at the hands of her Organization. When defeated, she will be taken into custody for Trial on Sudenten where punishment will be meted out.

 We also request a Grievance against Loremaster Laurie Tseng, for advancing the insult to the Way of the Clans. In her position of Loremaster, she should not have even entertained the assertions of a Mercenary over The Way of the Clans.

 Arrival of our contingent is estimated to be by noon of 20 December 3080.

 Refusal to agree to this request will be seen as an insult and Ghost Bear will be considered to be harboring individuals we regard as Criminals. Repercussions for such an Act will be appropriate for such actions.

I await a response via Hyper Pulse Message within forty-eight hours…. And Bid will be matched as appropriate.  If no answer is forthcoming, our next communication will be more direct.”

The message ended with the Falcon symbol.

  Kris stared. “Of all the bullshit reasonings….” She started to say, the two dogs bristling at her initial anger then stopped, looking over at Leslie and then Kabrinski. “Is this even a thing?” Both dogs moved to sit next to her and Kris put a hand on both of  them, her drink now resting on a table.

 Kabrinski held out a hand and Tseng put a glass of beverage there. “Unfortunately, while highly unusual, it is more or less a legitimate request.  Colonel McCormack and I discussed this a good bit while we awaited your return. And while rather circumspect, it passes our Traditions well enough.  That they are even offering to allow you to defend themselves is unusual. But given they seem to have a…. bone… to pick with your Unit, I suppose they think they will be able to address those losses from back then.”

 Leslie picked up where the Khan left off. “From what I remember of what she speaks of where the Lancers are concerned, it involves two challenges the previous commander made against them during the original Invasion,” she said.  “Colonel Kalan Jammack had managed to figure out the dueling rules, the concept of Zellbringen, that was tradition for the Clans then.  And used them against the Falcons.  First was a solo battle between Jammack and a Galaxy Commander, with Jammack managing to defeat the Commander of that Galaxy. They tried again about a week or so later and their attack was met with Challenge again. This time it was Commander versus Commander with their respective star or lance, in a battle for control of the world. Same Galaxy, if I recall… and the Falcons lost that one too.

  Then more insult to injury when the Wolves attacked the planet about a week later after they found out about the Falcons losses.  By then, I believe, the Lancers were retreating off world as there was no way for us to stop a second attempt. The Wolf Commander let them leave…”

 Shan, who had been quiet, spoke up then. “I’m with Kris… this is bullshit.  And if the Birdies want to play stupid games, they should get a stupid prize… I mean, what’s done is done and if they are all butt-hurt over shit that happened decades ago, that’s THEIR problem.”

Maggie commented quietly. “Shan… I get their anger.  You never listened to Sean talk about the Jacobite rebellions in Scotland on Terra.  I have… and the Highlanders of Northwind still speak on it as if it was only last year, hating on the English even though they have not been on Terra for centuries…” the woman said. “And that was over a thousand, thirteen hundred years ago. Doesn’t make it right but traditions are what they are and memories long.  Especially with a clan-based society. No offense…” she added for the Ghost Bear benefit.

 Tseng nodded. “None taken, Margaret.”

 Kabrinski pounded the drink in her hand then looked at the Lancers in her Office. “It would seem I have a decision to make here but unlike many, it is not as difficult as it may seem.  As it now involves my Loremaster, I am having a stake in this.” She spoke. “I am told you also brought your battlemechs as cargo with you?”

 Leslie nodded. “We did.  I made the decision as if your world was attacked while we were here, we would not sit on the sidelines.  That would be rude.”

The Khan exchanged a look with Tseng then returned her attention to the Lancers. “I see… and your willingness to fight on our behalf shows your honor.  I must agree to this request; while the Dominion could resist their efforts, we are still rebuilding from losses incurred during the Jihad.  It would set us back some were the Falcons to launch a full assault on our holdings.” She paused. “If you are going to honor their request, I would like to ensure that your machines are fully operational for the Trials.”

Tseng added. “As I am also named, I think adding myself to your Defense might throw them off some.  I suspect they might expect me to fight Alone in a Grievance… Perhaps making MY Trial a part of yours will mess with their plans.  They are a hide-bound Clan and an unexpected variable may be an advantage.” She smiled. “If nothing else, I did pay attention to your unit’s history and the lessons within.”

 Leslie blinked. “The offer is welcomed, and I trust your Technicians will perform brilliant work on our battlemechs.  Some of the weapon systems are salvaged Clan equipment and having them examined by those used to it will be a good plan.”

 “Then a reply will be crafted and sent” Kabrinski replied with a grim tone. “I do NOT like having my guests threatened… but I am in theory not part of the Trials. We will be ready for treachery on their part though- I suspect something back-handed on their part because this is all highly unusual. And I think I know a suitable reply.  I suspect they won’t like the counters…”

 She looked at the Lorekeeper of Wolverine and a slow smile began to appear on the Khan’s face.  “And I think an additional Insult should be sent too.  Don’t worry, Lieutenant. I think your addition to the message will really cause them to overthink, or not think, which is the goal.  Fighting in anger often means fighting stupid.  And that can lead to loss… I think the reply will help make them mad enough to fight stupid…”

**

 The return message was sent about six hours later.

 It began with the symbol of the Lancers, the Phoenix Rampant with lances clutched in claws.  It faded out to show Leslie clad in her Dress Uniform, a Ghost Bear Remembrance Award upon her right breast.

“Khan Cleese, I am Lieutenant Colonel Leslie McCormack of the Phoenix Lancers and I am answering your Challenge with one of my own….

  I will defend myself against the nonsense you put forth as Allegations with regard to denying Historical Facts.  Myself and my Command Lance will face whatever you choose to send to attempt to take possession of my person in a Trial of Refusal… because I REFUSE to be considered a mere prize to be fought over in this manner. If your Clan wants me, you shall have to fight me and my companions.  Be advised, I am no easy Foe to face and I do not Fight Alone; thus I will not go Quietly.”

The image shifted and Loremaster Tseng appeared within it, clad in her Ceremonial Uniform. The older woman’s features were a mask of stark anger and the tone of her voice reinforced this notion.

“I am Loremaster Laurie Tseng of Clan Ghost Bear.  I am answering the insult to my Position as a Guardian of Ghost Bear Traditions and Honor… and I am choosing to tie your Demand of Grievance to the Trial of Refusal that Lieutenant Colonel McCormack offers in rebuttal.  They are our guests and your attempts to take them for a nonsense reason is of Grave Insult to me and to the Honor of the Ghost Bear.

  This insult to our Clan’s Tradition of Hospitality will be answered for by those coming to seek to take MY guest. Thus I am tying my Grievance over this blatant misuse of Traditions to their Trial.

 Clan Ghost Bear refuses to let them fight alone.

  Whomever comes for Her will also be facing Me as part of reinforcement to their Batchall.  Choose wisely who you send for I will fight on her behalf as does the Ghost Bear in defense of those claimed as Family. Be Wary and Be warned…  You are courting disaster with your actions… and I assure you, it will come for whom you send to try for those in our Home.”

Tseng faded from view to be replaced by Shari Hallis in her Dress Uniform, the patches that showed her affiliation clear as the sun. 

“I am Shari Hallis, a Lorekeeper of Wolverine….  I am to be witness to the Trials that have been asked for and the parameters proposed.  History is history… one can deny it at their peril for the truth, the facts… are what they are. Hiding from them only disgraces those who choose to ignore the truths of the past.

And that past is bloody.

 What happened two hundred fifty-five years ago occurred because of lies and hubris of the one you hold as Saintly. Dishonorable Actions put forth by a petty, jealous man over the success of those he could not control, a Clan Leader who he could not cow…. Then later copied.

 Your assertions of his Infallibility are flawed and your reasons for pursuing this course of action equally imperfect… History will ultimately Judge your Clan when the time comes, as it always does.  Even your own Loremaster will not refute that.

May you be prepared for the future you are creating here… for it will not be kind.

I am Shari Hallis of Wolverine…. And I, along with the Universe, will be watching.   

The message ended with the symbols of the Lancers and Ghost Bear side by side, while the symbol of Wolverine sat below them. After five seconds, the message faded out.