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A Warrior's Family (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 51[]

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A Warrior's Family[]

Mission Briefing and a Ambush[]

Federated Suns
December 3029

Hap stormed out of the barracks with David on his heels. David got along side of Hap and cleared his throat, "Is, uh, everything okay with you and Anastasia."

"Yeah. We just had a small disagreement. I think she makes too many decisions, she thinks I don't make enough, and somehow we're arguing about marriage."

"Oh that sounds serious." David said.

Hap shook his head, "Don't get too excited. We both want to get married. We're just…I don't want to talk about this." Suddenly David's "innocent infatuation" made Hap more annoyed.

"I've seen Anastasia mad at Joker a lot and she never looked that angry." David told him.

"It just means she cares more about our relationship." Hap said. "Let's get to ops."

Hap could sense that David wanted to ask him more questions, but it would have made him even more irritated. Hap struggled to concentrate as Mark gave the pre-mission brief. Hap was able to focus long enough to get the basic route, and he noticed that Rolph and Crow were supporting them today, they would be shadowing the patrol from Starport's fence line.

When the pre-mission brief had finished Hap approached Crow and Rolph. "You guys are walking the fence line while we patrol around the star port?"

"Yeah, we get bored just sitting in our 'mechs. We figured we'd go on our own walk about. Besides it keeps the patrolling lance in support range." Crow said.

As Hap walked to the 'mech bay he caught up with the Grizzly and Tatyana as David told them. "Anastasia and Hap had a fight. It sounded real serious."

"So? James and I fight." Tatyana said, "James says he is sorry, I forgive. We make up, maybe Sophie becomes big sister."

"James always says he's sorry? You never make a mistake?" Grizzly asked.

"Dah, I make mistakes, but James is smart. He apologizes always, sometimes for me." Tatyana said.

Hap had enough, "David, I told you, couples fight." He said. "It's natural. Anastasia and I will be fine, we just need to work it out. Let's do this patrol so I can go and start apologizing."

"Is good start." Tatyana smirked as they walked into the 'mech bay.

Hap found Mike preparing the 'mech. He grunted as Hap walked past, and Hap nodded in return. If Mike said anything Hap didn't notice. Hap robotically went through the startup procedures as he questioned if he actually had to apologize. In his mind Anastasia was wrong. Soon the gantry was raised and Hap stepped out of the 'mech bay. Without thinking he got the lance formed up and moving on their patrol.

Everything seemed to be routine. Crow and Rolph shadowed them at the parts near the starport. When they moved to the long stretch along swamps north of the star port they were on their own. Grizzly complained about having to pull a patrol the first day on Monhegan. David noted that his 'mech's newly repaired foot unit was working perfectly. Hap was quiet as he relived his argument with Anastasia. He alternated between feeling the victim, annoyed with her, sad for her, and regretting the argument.

Hap was tempted to call up Tatyana on a private channel and see if she had any advice, but he didn't really know her that well, and since she was Fletch's wife her advice would probably be "don't be a dumbass". Hap imagined how that would sound with a thick Russian accent. Hap really needed to talk to Roweyna or Fiona, except those women were probably more on Anastasia's side than his. Hap realized that he was on good terms with almost everyone in the Mercenary unit, but Anastasia was his confident and closest friend. Now that he had a problem with her he wasn't sure where he could go.

Hap was brought out of his musings when David said, "You are very quiet, Hap."

"Sorry, I was thinking about…things. I'm glad the repairs we did to your 'mech are working though. I agree with Grizzly that it's annoying to do a patrol the day after getting back, but I'm sure the Coyotes welcome the break." Hap said then added, "Tatyana you haven't had much to say."

"There is nothing to say." Tatyana answered.

"You have to understand, Hap, Tatyana is either complaining about something that can't be fixed, or she is talking in Russian which none of us can understand. We all decided it's best if she is quiet."

"Dah, Dah, 'I am Grizzly, I am big powerful man but I burchannya like suka'."

"See what I mean, Hap. You can't understand half of what she says." Grizzly said.

"Tatyana, Did you just say Grizzly 'bitches like a little girl'?" Hap asked.

"Nyet" Tatyana laughed, "but is good guess, I say he…growls like bitch. Growl like dog is burchannya, girl like Sophia is divchyna. You speak Russian or try to learn Ukraine?"

"No, I just thought the same thing about Grizzly, and sort of guessed." Hap replied.

Tatyana laughed again, "I like you Hap, You are smart coyote."

"You two can both go to hell." Grizzly snapped.

They were now getting close to Turquoise lake which meant they were close to the star port again. Hap glanced down at his sensors noting that Crow and Rolph were moving along a similar route. Hap's sensors also detected a lance of 60 ton vehicles maneuvering on the ridge line above the lake. "I think there is a tank lance doing drills around those tank defilades. Is this new? Have they been here before?"

"Nyet." Tatyana said slowly. "Perhaps we call ops?"

"Ops this is Coyote-disregard-Dulla-this is McFinnigan Patrol."

<<"Go ahead, Hap.">> Mark replied. Hap could hear his mischievous smile even over the radio.

"There is a tank lance maneuvering around the ridge. Can you guys confirm if they are part of the militia or another mercenary unit doing drills?"

<<"Wait one.">> Mark said.

As they passed the lake's deep end David asked, "How did Anastasia map out the entire lake?"

"She has an advanced sensor suite that acts like a synthetic radar, or something like it. She made us stand around for a good 20 or 30 minutes as she adjusted the radar to scan every meter of the lake bed." Hap said. It occurred to him that Anastasia was making him smarter, or at least sound smarter.

"Oh." David said as they passed the middle of the lake, "I'll have to ask her to show me how they work."

Hap was getting annoyed with David's obsession with Anastasia. He was about to say something when his system warned, }}"SENSORS DETECT BATTLEMECHS REACTOR STARTUP"{{. Hap glanced down at his sensors to see four new red triangles appear behind them.

"Contact Six" Grizzly yelled.

Griffin (Standing by meltdonw14)

Griffin Medium 'Mech

Hap turned his 'mech around as he brought his PPC up. To his surprise there were no 'mechs. He glanced back at his sensors confirming the marks, then looked up to the tree line on the far side of the lake. It didn't make sense, then it clicked, before he could speak Tatyana yelled, "In shuttle, pid vodoyu…uh…under vodya". Hearing the normally cool Tatyana who would smoothly switch between English and Russian struggle with her words alarmed Hap.

"They're underwater." Hap said as he glanced down at his sensors. He could see the four 'mechs moving under the water from behind the downed shuttle. He also saw the tank lance was now lining up, and one of the tanks was moving toward them. Hap leaned forward to see the blocky form of an SRM Carrier crest the ridgeline and drive into the spot that Mag's had marked as a TRP weeks ago. A chill went down his spine. They were in the perfect ambush.

"I've been sensor locked." David sounded confused.

"David, Punch out." Hap said as he turned his Mech to face the ridgeline. Instinctively he knew he'd have to close the distance with the tanks, otherwise they'd rain down missiles with murderous impunity.


"Vykynuty! Eject!" Tatyana screamed

Hap started to run toward the lake as the ridgeline appeared to erupt like a volcano. The smoke of hundreds of missiles rose into the air as the missiles streaked toward David's Valkyrie. Hap gunned his jump jets sending his Griffin rocketing over the lake. As his 'mech climbed he could clearly see three LRM Carriers with their smoking missile launchers. He targeted the furthest tank and shot as his Griffin reached the apex of its jump. As his 'mech plunged into the water Hap ignored David's screams. He refused to acknowledge what they meant.

<<"What the hell just happened?">> Crow asked.

"Hammer Lance, I have a fire mission" Hap said as he sent his 'mech rocketing over the lake again.

<<"Send it.">> Rolph snarled

"TRP 3, Armored vehicle, in defilade" Hap touched the icon for TRP3, "Danger Close. Fire for effect."

(("TRP 3, armor, in defilade, Danger close.")) Crow repeated, (("Splash over"))

Hap's 'mech continued to climb as he angled his 'mech to land on the SRM carrier. He could see the tank he had shot at, it was damaged but operational. Black smoke poured from one of the LRM racks but the other two appeared functional, it was backing out of the defilade as he landed hard on the SRM Carrier.

He could feel the tank crack and break under the force of 55 tons of 'mech falling on it. There was also the sickening sensation of his 'mech's foot stepping in something soft. He felt the tank's crew section collapse as he stomped and shuffled off the tank trying to keep his balance.

Catapult (Animate picture - Firing by TMC Group)

Catapult Heavy 'Mech

Hap steadied his 'mech as he got his bearings. The tank in TRP 3 was to his left. In front of him was another LRM carrier, and the damaged tank was to his right. He was within 90 meters of all three vehicles, this meant he was inside the minimum range of their weapon systems. Before he could make another move the combined salvos of the Crow's Catapult and Rolph's Trebuchet rained down from a high angle into the defilade and LRM Carrier in TRP 3. The tank exploded as Hap reported, "Splash out. Good contact, vehicle destroyed"

"Hammer Lance, I could use some of that love over here." Grizzly said as Hap watched the damaged LRM Carrier chew through the gravel of the unimproved road as it tried to get further away from Hap. When it got about 120 meters away it wheeled around hard spraying gravel as it brought its missile racks to face Hap.

Hap clenched his teeth as the tank crew fired their two operational LRM systems. Hap saw missiles impact all over his Griffin and he had to struggle to keep his 'mech upright as half the missiles hit him while the others sailed past or impacted the ground.

Hap put a PPC bolt into the tank's breached armor and watched as the tank seemed to slightly expand and give a little jump in the air then black smoke poured out from every port and hole. One of the emergency hatches opened and a member of the tank crew members emerged followed by a second, both were engulfed in flames. They took a few steps before stumbling to the ground.

Hap could also see the last LRM Carrier was on the otherside of the defilade facing sideways to him. It was not moving, and the LRM carrier didn't have a turret. Hap cautiously stepped up onto the berm to look down at the tank. It looked like the crew had panicked when they tried to back out of the defilade and had gotten their tank stuck by driving off the road, knocking over trees and getting stuck half off the road and tangled up in the trees.

Hap leveled his PPC, but as he reached to disable the PPC's field inhibitor the crew's main hatch opened. A tanker slowly rose from inside the vehicle holding his open hands up in the air.

Hap switched on his external speakers, <<"I accept your surrender. You have wounded, collect your first aid equipment and proceed over the defilade.">> Hap ordered him.

The crew member disappeared then returned a moment later with a large white box. He jumped off the tank and ran up the berm. He was followed by three more tankers. They got to the top of the defilade and stopped. One of the burned crew members moved and his company mates ran down to him.

Hap watched the grim scene as the tank crew tried to help their hopelessly injured comrades. He glanced at his lance command monitor. David's Valkyrie was destroyed, and his vitals were flat. There was a possibility he could have ejected, and he could be fine, but Hap knew David was dead.

Hap looked up again. These people had just killed one of his lancemate, someone he was personally responsible for, and he had responded by destroying three tanks and possibly killing a dozen troopers. Hap felt numb. In his rational mind he knew it was always kill or be killed in a battle. He also knew tank crews inherently understood their risks against 'mechs, but he felt bad about all the destruction and death he had caused in such a short time.

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