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A Warrior's Family (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 34[]

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A Warrior's Family[]

Engaging the Enemy and Negotiations[]

October 3029

Joker jumped his Firestarter over the ridge and next to his lance mates. Hap saw the enemy recon lance's formation start to fall apart as the Spider began to sprint toward them.

Firestarter (Firing flamer)

Firestarter Light 'Mech

"Wait a moment Mags and Joker." Hap commanded his lance. He saw the Spider get closer. "We need them to get within range of your primary weapons."

Joker and Mags agreed as Hap jumped his Mech half-way up the ridgeline. The lower half of his 'mech was covered but he could see over the ridge. Hap could see kilometers of rolling hill country spreading beyond the mountains. There was a large forest near the DropShip and a multi-lane highway going up and down the hills. The Immortals were moving along the highway toward them. The Spider caught site of the Griffin and tried to change course mid jump.

Anastasia shot a brace of ten missiles and the majority of them hit the Spider chipping away the 'mech's limited armor. Hap lined up a shot with his PPC as the Spider landed and changed direction. The azure ball of energy collided with the Spider's right torso. The missiles had weakened the armor to the point that the PPC's bolt blew off the shoulder and right arm of the smaller 'mech. Hap fired his own LRM rack and watched the Spider stagger as missiles struck it across the body.

Vulcan Medium Mech (Marching at Night - Farseer Animation version)

Vulcan Medium 'Mech

The Vulcan's autocannon grazed Hap's shoulder. Hap jumped back down as Anastasia told him. "The Archer and Trebuchet are sprinting to get us in range. We can't stay here long."

"Joker, can you give me a sensor lock on the Spider?" As Hap spoke the Spider showed up on his targeting computer. Anastasia launched another salvo of missiles as Hap followed up with his own. The Spider's armor and internal structure were badly compromised, but the 'mech was still moving.

Hap waited another moment. He needed the Immortal's recon lance to get closer so they would be within the effective range of his lance's medium lasers and short range missiles. "When they get within 90 meters, we're all going to jump on the ridge line. Anastasia finish off the Spider. Mags you got the Stinger, and Joker, you and I will target the Assassin."

There was a murmur of acknowledgment as Hap said "Go." The Coyotes jumped to the ridgeline and Hap focused on the Assassin. He put his cross hairs on the right shoulder hoping to touch off the ammo. Joker's medium lasers and hit the center torso and right torso as Hap's PPC melted the right shoulder and missiles peppered the mech's internals and right leg.

Assassin Medium BattleMech (Custom) (ANS-25R by TheRedEpicArt)

Assassin Medium 'Mech

Several PPC bolts and long range missiles came from the Immortals formation laboring up the highway. Hap was struck by missiles across the arm and chest and took a PPC bolt in the left shoulder. He jumped back down as another ball of ionized particles flew harmlessly overhead.

"Start to fall back." Hap ordered as he looked at his systems. His Griffin had lost some armor from the chest and arms, but nothing serious. The Spider and Stinger were gone, and Mags heat was high.

"Mags you kill that Stinger?" Hap asked as he started walking backwards. His sensors told him the Flea would in view shortly. They'd need to kill it quickly before the Trebuchet and Archer were in range.

"Yeah, Jefe, I aimed center mass, and hit him with everything. I think I got his machine gun magazine."

"Good work. Now watch your heat, and alternate weapons." Hap said.

The Vulcan jumped onto the ridge line, and was greeted by Anastasia's long range missiles and medium laser followed by Joker's two chest mounted lasers. The combined salvo melted what was left of the Vulcan's right leg. It fell heavily and Mags put two lasers into its exposed side. Smoked poured the holes and seams in the 'mech's armor before there was a large explosion.

Two poorly aimed groups of 15 missiles hit Hap and Joker each. Neither Mech took serious damage. Hap knew this meant the Trebuchet was in range and the Archer couldn't be far behind him, he also knew the Thunderbolt and Orion also had LRM launchers. "Keep retreating." Hap said as the Flea came into view. He squeezed off a hurried shot that melted its left leg clean off. The diminutive mech fell forward as a Hap's LRM salvo slammed into it.

Hap continued to backpedal his Griffin, "This is Coyote actual, we've completed objective one. All jump capable mech's are destroyed. We are now luring the remaining forces to the murder bowl, over."

<<"Good copy, Coyote.">> John replied as another salvo of missiles came down barely missing Joker.

"Hey boss, I'm not one to complain, and normally I'm on the side of plucky upstarts, not the guys with all the advantages, but I gotta say it really feels like we kicked over the hornet's nest." Joker said.

<<"Get off the command net.">> Fletch snapped.

"Ops, This is Coyote two. Requesting LRM resupply for myself and Coyote actual."

"Acknowledge, Coyote two. Resupply will be available when you rendezvous with Hammer lance."

Flea Light Mech (in Combat - MWO version)

Flea Light 'Mech firing

Anastasia continued walking backwards as she fired her LRM launcher at the Flea. The missiles tore into the 'mech's arm and shoulder. One of the Flea's lasers sparked and smoked.

Hap kept backing up as the Flea struggled to get back up on one good leg and its broken left leg. It wasn't helped by not having arms.

Hap hit the Flea dead center with his PPC, and watched the lightning dance around the 'mech. He hit it with another round of LRMs and the engine exploded as missiles detonated around the center torso.

Hap could see two fifty tons 'mechs were now approaching the bend in the road, and three heavy 'mechs closely behind them. The Coyotes ran down the road until it curved around one of the ridges. "This is Coyote actual, recon lance is destroyed." Hap reported

<<"We were hopin' you'd let the Flea through. Give us somethin' to do.">> Patrick said sounding bored.

<<"Now we're going to have to amuse ourselves like we did when we were children.">> Fiona said

<<"How'd we%u2026Ah. Fiona, I spy with my little eye, somethin' that is gray.">> Patrick

<<"Is it ferro-concrete?">> Fiona asked with faked childish wonder.

<<"Clear the command net.">> Fletch barked.

The Coyotes paused for a moment. Anastasia sensor locked the Trebuchet as it entered the edge of her sensor range. Hap launched a barrage of missiles as the Hunchback started sprinting up the road. The Coyotes jumped over the next ridgeline. Hap's computer warned him he was sensor locked as the Trebuchet launched a volley of thirty missiles. Most of the missiles hit his left leg, arm and side. Hap's armor was still intact, but another volley would likely create a breach.

The Coyotes again started sprinting back down the road. More missiles continued to rain down on them. "We should have been less aggressive with the recon lance, and lured them further away from their company mates." Anastasia said, "I think we're close to meeting with catastrophic success."

"Agreed." Hap said as the Hunchback charged again into sensor range. Joker got a lock on the 'mech and Anastasia and Hap jumped backward as they launched their twenty missiles at the Hunchback.

Joker and Mags followed, as Joker cursed and two separate torrents of missiles streaked after him. Most of the missiles harmlessly hit the mountain side, but Joker reported that his left rear torso was breached and he had lost a lot of most armor on the left arm.

"The Archer is now in range," Anastasia reported, "we cannot afford to be sensor locked again."

"Don't stop" Hap said. They were now on a straight away that led to the ambush site. Hap could see the Anvil lance on his scanners. He felt reassured that they were close, but he still needed to string the Immortals along just a little further.

He saw the Hunchback come back into range. He took a few more steps backward, knowing that Anastasia was giving him a slightly longer range on sensors. Hap had to be careful, he'd need to let the Hunchback see the Griffin for a moment, then disappear. If he timed it right, he might be able to avoid another barrage of missiles.

Hunchback (Firing & Walking by TMC Group)

Hunchback entering the combat zone

The Hunchback sprinted around the corner and came into view. Hap felt a chill as he realized if the Hunchback could see him he wouldn't need to sensor lock him. Hap prepared to jump over a ridge just as the Hunchback went into a skid and tried to stop. Three PPC bolts raced toward him and countless LRMs streaked toward the Hunchback. Hap watched as the 'mech was overwhelmed by the bombardment and fell to the ground. The 'mech wasn't destroyed, but it was significantly damaged.

"Good work, Coyotes. Off ye go, onto yer next objective." McFinnigan told him.

Hap followed Anastasia as she headed south and jumped over another ridge and onto another road. They followed the road for a few hundred meters to meetup with Hammer Lance, Tatyana and Robert's Rangers. There was also an engineering vehicle and pallets of LRM missiles. The engineering vehicle was on the other side of the road and nearly half a kilometer away from everyone else.

Anastasia piloted her Valkyrie next to the engineering vehicle and kneeled down with her back to the hoist. Techs started to move the ammunition and working the hoist. Another tech stood where she could see him and gave Anastasia hand and arm signals using two glowing electric torches.

Hap watched as the team quickly reloaded the Valkyrie, and then the tech motioned for Anastasia to stand up and then he turned around and pointed to Hap. Hap moved his Griffin into position and kneeled down as well. He could hear the strange hollow sounds as missiles rolled into the feeding mechanisms and the magazine.

<<"Hap,">> John said, <<"The Techs are reporting that your 'mech has lost significant amounts of armor. Do you think you're still capable of continuing the mission?">>

Hap looked at his system status. "I think I'll be fine. I just need to take better advantage of my long range weapons." Hap said as he felt the access doors close and the tech motioned him to stand.

"I'll do the spotting going forward." Anastasia added. Hap didn't like the sounds of that, but from a purely practical stand point her Valkyrie had plenty of armor, and somehow her 'mech was unscathed.

"Rangers you ready?" Hap asked. The Hammers were already moving forward and launched a hail storm of missiles. Kelly was on the command net ordering them to, "Drop a bag of hammers on the Orion, 'cause it's a poor's man Highlander."

<<"We're ready boss. Let's go capture a DropShip .">> Brandon replied.

"Request Golden Eagles launch." Hap said

<<"Golden Eagles please launch and report when you are ready to provide Close Air Support.">> John said

>>"Golden Eagles acknowledges."<< Giggles replied.

<<"Follow us.">> Brendan said as the Rangers' APC started down the road. Anastasia took the lead next to the APC as they jogged to keep up with the wheeled vehicle. As they proceeded down the road they listened to the command net as Kelly coordinated the battle. It sounds like he had the Dullahans target the Archer and Trebuchet in order to further push the fight into the murder bowl.

There was also the earth shaking effect of artillery and smoke from one ridge over. Hap assumed someone tried to run, or one of the larger mechs was hiding behind a mountain. Hap didn't hear the call for fire so he assumed it was done from the Ops center and based off something the drone could see.

<<"We're going to do a cross-country off roading, to sneak up on the DropShip .">> Brandon warned as the APC turned sharply and drove down a steep embankment. Tatyana swore, <<"Bozhe moi!">> as her Kintaro half slid down the hill. Anastasia feathered her jump jets to land gracefully as Hap recklessly followed.

The APC dove into a trail going through the forest and now the mechs struggled to keep up as they pushed their way through the trees. The continued to go down into a narrow draw. After a few kilometers they stopped as the forest was cut by a small paved road. They were at the bottom of a hill and Hap could see the tip of the DropShip.

<<"Alright. This is where I need you guys to distract the shuttle crew, and take care of those tanks.">> Brendan said. <<"We'll wait here.">>

They were still just outside of sensor range. Anastasia started to carefully move up hill.

<<"Golden eagles, to McFinnigan elements, we are prepared to begin attack on DropShip.">> Apex said.

Hap saw the DropShip come into sensor range as Anastasias stopped. Her Mech's head was just over the top of the hill's tree line. "There is another small hill on the other side with a rock outcropping we can use for cover. Recommend we advance when air support engages the DropShip."

Everyone agreed and the APC drove onto the road. Anastasia saw everyone was ready. "Golden Eagles, this is Coyote 2, I'm sending you the targeting data for the DropShip. Be advised we are attempting to neutralize, and only neutralize, the DropShip 's weapon pods on this side."

>>"Acknowledge."<< Apex replied, >>"Weapon pods are a little too precise for us. Starting our run now"<<

Stuka Aerospace Fighters (Air lance in combat)

Pair of Stuka Heavy Aerospace fighters in combat.

The pair of Stukas came in fast and low shaking the tree tops. The roar of the engines could be heard inside the APC and the cockpits of all three 'mechs. The Rangers gunned the engine of the APC and Tatyana and Hap used their jump jets to sail out of the woods and over the hill. Hap could see the rocky outcropping and the natural defensive position the rolling hills created.

As the vehicle and mech's got to safety Hap looked up to see flashes of energy weapons, the blasts of autocannons and a barrage of missiles from the DropShip in response to the aero fighters. Hap could see aero fighters breaking off and then turning around before climbing to a higher altitude.

Anastasia was still on the other side of the hill, "No Joy." Anastasia reported. "Request repeat fire."

There was no answer.

Anastasia used her jump jets to join the others, "The aero fighters pulled up before firing."

"That's not good." Hap said, "Did they get scared when the DropShip opened up on them?"

"It seems sub-optimal" Brendan said, "But, the more intact the DropShip is the better. Maybe we can work with it. We'll wait till they come around again and then move again. Can you see the tanks?"

"They scattered when the Stukas came through." Anastasia answered. "One is on sensors."

Hap could see one of the tanks on the radar slowly drifting this way. Hap was still waiting for the Golden Eagles to return or at least respond. He looked around, but didn't see signs of a crash or a trail of smoke.

<<"Hap, your need to switch to the guard channel.">> John said. Hap thought he heard Roweyna screaming in the background.

Savannah Master (Farseer Animation Version)

Savannah Master Scout Vehicle

"Why? What's wrong?" Hap watched his sensors as a 35 ton vehicle started to move toward them. He considered that Savannah Masters were 5 tons and Schrek PPC carriers were 80 tons.

<<"Air support is in contract negotiations.">> John said and Roweyna yelled, <<"With the gawd damn enemy">>

<<"What the hell?">> Brendan said, <<"That's how you get an MRB rating so low no one will hire you.">>

Hap flipped channels to hear a rich baritone voice say, >>"Sister, we are both Mercenaries, we cannot fight each other. We have honor and professionalism. What you are doing is wrong."<<

>>>"Oh were goin' to talk about honor and virtue among whores when ye prostitute yerself out to whoever happens to be the enemy of my client?"<<< Kelly yelled.

>>See how this man talks. He disrespects our profession, and likely those he employees. I even hear he brings children into battles, and puts whole families at risk."<< Hap assumed this was Farrah Ahmed.

<<"I can't speak to how he runs his team, but I don't think I'm being paid fairly.">> Apex replied

>>"Ah, I will double whatever meager thing he has offered you, all I ask is that you break off your attack and land your craft.">> Ahmed said. <<"However, if you want to triple the pay out, help me. I would ask that you destroy his fire support lance and the artillery. I even swear not to attack the space port. I will finish my fight with McFinnigan and depart, and you will be a rich woman for little effort. What do you say?"<< Ahmed asked her.

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