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A Warrior's Family (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 35[]

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A Warrior's Family[]

Engaging the Enemy and Negotiations[]

October 3029

There was a moment of dead air on the radio before Patrick broke the silence, "Commander Ahmed, if I may, can I give ye a piece o' advice"

<<"I am certain I will find your foolishness amusing later, when you are dead.">> Ahmed said coolly.

"Right. One day, after ye killed my father, and I say killed, not murdered, because I believe it was a fair combat, in spite of the enthusiastic way ye tend to pursue us. I don't take it personally. "Patrick said.

<<"Do you have a point, boy?">> Ahmed's patient was clearly running thin.

"Aye I do, I do. So after my father died, I realized I had a small fortune which I was using to drink myself to death, and it occurred me that none of that damn money would bring my dad back, nor would the drink. So my point is this; You can buy our air support out from under us, it that may seem like a very nice deal for them, and it's a hellish thing for us, but it won't bring your sons back." Patrick said.

<<"Don't you dare speak of my sons.">> Ahmed spoke quietly and threateningly.

"Calm dawn." Patrick said, "I'm tryin' real hard to be respectful, and not call them bastards, or sons of a whore. Everyone can attest to how difficult this is for me." Hap could hear the smirk in his voice.

>>"Oh Patrick, don't."<< McFinnigan said. Hap looked at his scanners all three tanks were lining up.

<<"I will tear your 'mech apart and rip you from it, and crush you broken body in the palm of my mech's hand.">> Ahmed scream.

"Still won't bring your sons back. That assumes they were your sons. I don't think the youngest looked much like the other two." Patrick taunted. "Sorta thought he looked a little like me and my dad."

<<"Stuka pilots. I will give you 1,000,000 C-bills each if you destroy the Highlander and Dragon of the McFinnigan and Son's company.">> Ahmed said trying to compose himself.

>>"I have a counter offer."<< Fiona said. There was an edge to her voice. She didn't say anything but a robotic female voice could be heard in the background, >>"Anti-Air System activated, horizon-to-horizon radar online, tracking two aero fighters, calculating solution for elevation and vector."<<

Anti-Aerospace Vehicle Battery (drawn by Bussaca)

Anti-Aerospace Battery

Fiona came back on the radio and calmly and coldly started talking, >>"If either of you two bitches look like you're lining up to make a strafing run on my family, I will coordinate with my lance to fill the sky with so many missiles you won't make a second run, and if somehow you manage to land I will personally stomp on your gawd damn aircraft. So either fulfill your '****** contract, or disengage, but I swear to god you try any other shit with us and I guaran-damn-tee I will make it life altering."<<

<<"I'm out">> Giggles said, <<"I took a broadside when we broke off the strafing run. I'm not comfortable with a run at the dropship alone, I sure as hell won't attack our client, and I do not want to try to land on a contested airfield. I'm sorry McFinnigans, you seem like good people. I liked working with you, and if it were up to me this wouldn't have come to this. Requesting safe passage to land.">>

<<"Giggles, what the hell?">> Apex said. <<"You disengage and you're fired.">>

<<"Ms. Berlin, land near our dropship, and come talk to us. I think we can work somethin' out.">> Kelly said.

<<"Acknowledge. Weapons safe, proceeding to the air field.">> Giggles said.

<<"Giggles!">> Apex yelled. <<"Don't you land, I'm serious I'll fire you.">>

<<"I think I just got a better job offer, sort of like what you're doing to your former client.">> Giggles said.

>>"So the snake is now trying to seduce your partner, all this means is more money for you."<< Ahmed said.

<<"Calls me a snake, while he tries to hire you out from under your contract with me. Calls me dishonorable when we go from honest combat operations to an open assassination contract.">> Kelly said. <<"Is this the side you want to be on?">>

As Kelly spoke the three tanks started to move forward in line. Anastasia scanned one of the 35 ton tanks, and Hap's sensors marked it as a "Saladin Hover Tank." Hap tried to remember what he knew about the Saladin. It had two sister models the Saracen and the Scimitar. One was a missile boat and the other had an AC/5. Joker said the Saladin looked "slick" and had one weapon system, either a laser or PPC. Hap queried his tactical computer, and His mouth went dry as he read, [[["Armament: AC/20."]]]

He punched the radio back to the command net. "Ops, this is Coyote actual, I have a call for fire."

<<"No guns available">> Kitty replied, <<"The commander has Crow and Joker tryin' to chase down that rascal Farrah, and the militia is runnin' low on shells. Course Farrah's tryin' to get back to his drop ship.">>

"Acknowledge, but I need a gun. I lost my air support, and I'm in a bad way." Hap could see the tanks starting to approach faster.

"If ye want to send yer-" Kitty started to say then hummed, "Alright Coyote 2 I've received yer fire mission. I'm still not sure if we can spare the gun."

Hap could hear John in the background, "A Saladin? I thought they said it was a Savannah…Which one of the Scarborough hover tanks is a Saladin?" There was a pause, "Oh shit! Prioritize that fire mission."

Hap could see the tanks moving closer. He was thankful Anastasia was one step ahead of him, but if they didn't have fire support, they were at the bottom of a hill with three nasty tanks in a tactically superior position.

<<"Splash over.">> Kitty said.

A moment later the earth shook as the artillery round impacted. Hap could see the tanks moving away from each other. Anastasia rocketed off the ground and fired missiles as she flew backwards and disappeared over the hill. A PPC bolt and volley of missiles missed her as she sailed out of view.

"Splash out." Anastasia said. "Drop 100- negative disregard. Too close."

Hap stepped forward to protect the APC as one of the Saladin's crested the hill. He could see the artillery had destroyed some of the hover tank's front armor. He took a quick shot and the tank exploded as the PPC bolt melted through armor and missiles destroyed the tank's internal structure. Out of his periphery vision he saw the second Saladin and a smoke cloud from its barrel.

There was a heart-stopping shudder as he felt his 'mech's left leg take the blow from the autocannon. The internal structure breach warning sounded as he fought to keep the 'mech upright.

The Schrek came into view with all the three barrels pointed straight at him. There was a flash like lightning as one of the shots hit his cockpit. His vision blurred, and electricity danced around the cockpit as his mech started to fall. He could hear a warning that his mech's left leg was destroyed but he still instinctively tried to use the missing limb to keep the 'mech upright. Hap panicked as his mech fell to the ground. He fought to stay conscious as his vision blacked out.

Hap was dimly aware of Tatyana shouting in Russian, and he was pretty sure the APC was driving somewhere. He heard Anastasia say, "Coyote Actual is down, request priority fire."

His eyes snapped open. His head hurt and his vision was doubled. He thought he could still see a few snakes of electricity dancing around his cockpit. His cockpit felt warm, and he could smell ozone. Something was wrong with the air that was supposed be circulating in his neurohelmet.

Hap struggled to focus on his instrument panel. His Griffin was in bad shape. The left leg was missing and his life support system was ruined. He rolled the 'mech onto its left side and found himself looking at the ass end of the Schrek PPC Carrier. Sparks flew and black smoke billowed from the tank's broken rear armor.

Hap felt drunk, and everything was moving slowly as he labored to bring the doubled cross hairs on the tank. The black smoke made aiming even more difficult. The targeting computer warned him the tank was too close to be effectively engaged. He somehow managed to disable the interlock on the PPC and squeezed the trigger. There was a flash of light, and it looked like a thunderstorm with lightning flashing in the thick dark smoke cloud. For a moment nothing seemed to happen, and the tank's turret started to traverse toward him. The turret stopped suddenly and then the tank exploded sending the turret flying away.

Griffin (Climb through debris - by meltdonw14)

Griffin Medium 'Mech

Hap wanted to lay back down, but he knew he had to get up. He sat his Griffin up so he inspected his broken 'mech. His head hurt, he had a sense of vertigo, and he felt sick, but his vision started to clear. His 'mech was missing part of the foot and the myomer was shredded, and hanging loosely between the twisted and bent pieces that remained of the leg's internal structure.

He gingerly pushed his 'mech forward and used his good leg to get back into a standing position. He locked the ruined leg's knee. He carefully tested the leg to see if they could handle weight. The Griffin slumped forward but the leg didn't collapse. His head still hurt and he felt like the 'mech was going to fall again, but his instruments told him he was mostly level and stable.

All three tanks were destroyed, and laying in smoking pieces around him. He limped forward and tried to focus on his scanners. He could see Anastasia, Tatyana, and APC on the other side of the hill.

"Harold, are you alright?" Anastasia asked. He could see her Valkyrie's head just over the treetops.

"I think I have a concussion." Hap said. He hadn't realized it until she asked.

"Are your jump jets still operational?" She asked calmly.

Hap focused on his status monitor. All weapons, and jump jets were operational. "Yes."

"Why don't you try to jump over the hill to us?" Anastasia said.

Hap couldn't believe how obvious that was. Maybe he was hurt worse than he knew. Hap checked everything again and activated his jump jets. His mech lifted off easily, but he kept his eyes on his instruments because he didn't feel he could trust himself to keep the 'mech level. Just before it landed he tried to feather the jets, but he still landed heavily in the trees, and had to steady his 'mech.

"'Mech looks like givno, Haphazard." Taytana said as she moved in front of him. "You get to the base?"

"I'm not sure what geev-no is, but I'm guessing it's not great."

"Is James' favorite word." Tatyana paused, "Is shit. James tell you Griffin looks like shit'.

"Thanks." Hap said, "I can probably get myself back, but I got plenty of missiles, if you ladies want to spot for me I can still help out." Hap wasn't sure if he could get his 'mech home, and he didn't want to leave the battle while he could still fight. "All tanks destroyed, Rangers I think you're clear to go."

<<"Negative.">> Kelly's voice came across the radio. <<"Farrah is on the run and headed in your direction. He's pulling out with a lance worth of heavy and assaults, do not engage.">>

<<"How long till they get back to the drop ship?">> Brendan asked

<<"They're movin' pretty quick.">> Kitty said. <<"Looks to be five minutes.">>

<<"We need fourteen minutes to secure the command deck, plus more to clear and seal the ship.">> Brendan said. <<"The crew alone might surrender, but their commander would rally them. It's too risky.">>

<<"Concur.">> Kelly said, <<"Which is why I'm tellin' ye to withdraw.">>

"What happened to our artillery?" Hap asked.

<<"Ran out of ammo.">> Kitty replied.

<<"We'll buy 'em more for next time.">> Kelly sounded annoyed.

"Ops, this is Coyote 2, Coyote Actual's 'mech has sustained significant damage to the left leg and cockpit. He can move, but requires special tech support and medical teams on stand-by, over."

"I don't think-" Hap started to say.

<<"Acknowledge Coyote 2.">> John said. Hap was annoyed. He was starting to feel better, on the other hand, he knew a hit to the cockpit would require a mandatory physical exam before he could get back into a 'mech. Maybe it was for the best just to let the docs look him over.

The APC started down the forest trail and Tatyana followed after him. Anastasia waited next to Hap. He hesitantly fired his jump jets and tried again to give a little burst just before hitting the ground to try to make the landing softer. After the third or fourth jump he was starting to get better at gently landing. Anastasia stayed close as they worked their way back to the star port.

For Hap it was a long and harrowing trip, and he felt exhausted by the time he saw the 'mech bay. As they traveled the damage reports came in. David's Valkyrie had lost both its legs and he was unconscious. Mag's had taken a heavy blow to the center torso and lost her SRM quad rack, and two of her medium lasers. Joker's 'mech lost an arm, and Grizzly's Wolverine had lost its Autocannon. Hap wasn't mentally able to calculate if Tatyana had been correct in her 30% loss of capability estimate, but he was glad they had only lost one mech, and only one Mechwarrior was seriously injured, well one plus him.

As Hap approached the 'mech bay he could see Fletch's Cyclops and Tomax's Awesome. }}"Hap, your Griffin looks like shit, what the hell happened?"{{ Fletch said over the radio.

}}"Didn't I tell you to stomp on that Schrek tank?"{{ Tomax asked, }}"I'm pretty sure I did."{{

"I was going to, but I got distracted by the hovertanks with AC 20s." Hap said

}}"Well damn man, next time you need to stay focused." Fletch replied

"Yeah you could have been killed, and then you would have really pissed me off."{{ Tomax said, }}"And you don't want to piss me off."{{

"Acknowledge" Hap said his headache was getting worse. He was now in the 'no jump' zone and had to limp his 'mech into the 'mech bay. There was also a large aero fighter parked near the bay and he had to be careful not to step on it. The adrenaline or post injury endorphins were starting to wear off and he was beginning to feel sick and exhausted.

<<"Hap, proceed to the 'Mech bay. The techs are prepping the cranes. Follow their signals.">> John said

As Hap entered the bay one of the techs on the ground floor crossed his arms signaling him to stop. He balanced his 'mech on one leg as they lowered a crosswalk gantry and techs began to attach his mech to the cranes that were built into the ceiling. Hap felt his mech raise slightly off the ground. The tech signaled Hap to take his hands off the controls. Hap raised his hands, and the gantry was lifted. Once it was clear the cranes moved the Griffin across the bay to his stall.

Hap felt his mech lowered till it rested on its foot. Hap started his shutdown procedures as Mike approached. He looked more annoyed than usual. Mike reached down to open the combat lock but it was fused from the PPC hit. Hap reached for the release on his side but the bar came off in his hand.

Mike shook his head, and Hap saw him mouth, "Well, of course." He rolled over his tool box and pulled out a torch and welding goggles. He directed Hap to look away as he lit the torch. Hap turned his head as best he could and shut his eyes as Mike cut through the lock. Hap could feel the heat from the torch.

When he heard the dull metal 'thunk' of the locking mechanism falling away Hap turned back to see Anastasia and the female doctor standing next to Mike. The Doctor's name was Leslie Morgan, her husband, Jackson, was probably with David. Behind Leslie was a teenager with a clipboard.

"Take off your Neurohelmet, and state your name." Leslie said as Mike and Hap raised the cockpit.

"Harold Calahad." Hap said as he pulled off his helmet.

"Your mech was struck in the cockpit, and fell, is that correct?" Leslie was all business.

"Yeah?" Hap said questioningly, that sounded right.

"Look at me." Leslie ordered as she peered into Hap's eyes. Then held up one finger. "How many?"

"One." He struggled again to focus as she touched his nose, then pulled her finger back.

"Follow it, but don't move your head." She said. Hap followed her finger as she asked, "How do you feel?"

"Bad headache, sick, and I've had a couple waves of vertigo. Saw double for a while."

Leslie turned to look at the teen and make sure she was writing all that down. The doctor turned back to look at Hap "You likely have a minor concussion, but I need to run some tests on you." Leslie told him. She turned to people behind her, "Help him out of his 'mech and take him to the gurney."

Mike put his arm around Hap, and helped him out of the cockpit. As Hap tried to get his balance on the walkway Anastasia stepped forward to put her arm around his waist. Their height difference made it so he couldn't easily put his weight on her, but she did steady him. Together they walked to the lift.

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