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A Warrior's Family (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 64[]

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A Warrior's Family[]

Discussing Tactics[]

St. Ives System
St. Ives Compact
February, 3030

"I'm Captain Liu. To whom do I have the honor of addressing?" The Captain looked pale and tired as she spoke and tried unsuccessfully to get comfortable..

"I'm Fiona McFinnigan Lance Leader for the Fire Support lance for McFinnigan and Sons Mercenary Company, with me is AFFS Mercenary LNOs, Captain Harold 'Haphazard' Calahad, and Lieutenant Anastasia Valois. Off-camera is Eugene 'Crow' Harrison, and our pilot Kate Berlin."

Anastasia thought about correcting Fiona about her last name. She had taken Harold's last name, but as was her family tradition she still kept her family's patriarchal name that came with their noble title. So now her name was Capetian-Calahad.

Captain Liu nodded slowly, "You'll have to excuse me if I am slow to respond. I was given several anesthetics after I suffered combat related injuries earlier today. Sang-Wei Zhang would not have been my first choice to contact you, but we are limited here."

Fiona nodded, "I understand, forgive us for provoking the Commander."

Commander Liu smiled faintly, "I am certain he provoked you first. Do consider though he is goaded by the necessity of asking the Federated Suns for help, and their response of sending a Mercenary unit."

"We understand, though he should know we were on garrison duty, and one jump away." Fiona said. "We were probably the AFFS best force to respond in a reasonable time."

"Yes, I am certain your selection was one of utility and efficient force reallocation." Captain Liu replied.

Anastasia could hear an almost underlying accusation in her tone. It struck her that while Sang-Wei was openly hostile and offensive, Captain Liu had the unique skill of being brutally and ruthlessly polite. It was something she was accustomed to hearing from her mother. Outwardly it seemed as if they were having a collegiate discussion, but to the discerning listener it was anything but.

Hap cleared his throat, "Captain Liu. Ma'am, we want to help you, but we're a little concerned we may have brought the wrong 'mechs. We built a tailored response package to address a fast-moving insurgency that needed to be pinned down with LRMs, and now were being told we need to hunt down and destroy a lance that is attacking your supply lines."

"That is close to the heart of the issue, our supplies, ammunition, food, and medical supplies are currently stored in a warehouse on the edge of the town near us. A mixed lance has moved into the town and is preventing us from resupplying. This has made us especially vulnerable to the Capellan loyalists, and we are unable to displace the lance." Captain Liu said.

"What is the 'mixed lance'?" Fiona asked

Blender Battletech - Allied 63R UrbanMech

UrbanMech Light City 'Mech

"The survivors have reported an Urbanmech, a Kintaro…" The Captain paused, "and a King Crab."

King Crab (Lower view - MWO Version)

King Crab Assault 'Mech

"That's only three 'mechs." Crow said as he put a silver box into the bar's small oven. "That should be too easy."

"With a King Crab that is more than enough." Fiona said to Crow. She turned back to the holoscreen, "Captain Liu, my team and I will try to put together a plan, are there any resources you have to help us?"

"It shouldn't be too hard." Crow said, "We got Hap's Griffin, the Professor's Valkyrie, my Catapult, and your Jagermech. As long as we keep everyone in the city, isolate them and take them down one at a time, with our LRMs we'll be fine. The Kintaro and King Crab can't jump and isn't fast."

"City fighting should be avoided per the Ares Convention. It creates a risk to civilians." Anastasia said.

"Oh that thing is more like Ares 'Suggestion' at least that is what Fletch usually tells me." Crow said. "I'm telling you, Rolph and I managed to turn a Kuritian assault lance with just his Trebuchet and my Catapult. They were trying to move through a canyon, we had Jerry spotting for us and once we touched off the SRM ammo on their BattleMaster, and they decided to go back the way they came. It's like people say, 'it's all fun and games until your SRM magazine explodes'."

"No one says that." Fiona said.

"Be that as it may, these people are fighting an insurgency, any collateral damage-" Anastasia said.

"Fighting an insurgency is always difficult, and often the cure can seem worse than the disease." Captain Liu said, "but it's important we are resupplied soon. I also appreciate the concern for my people, even if you did insult the education system many of us benefited from."

Anastasia blushed, "I apologize, Captain, I spoke inappropriately."

The Captain shrugged slowly and it looked painful, "It is fine, you were not wrong, exactly, and Sung-Wei Zhang would be better served to treat people with politeness and decorum. Now if you all will excuse me, I need to rest."

"Certainly, we have some planning to do." Fiona said, "Also would it be acceptable if we did an orbital drop near the city, we may need the element of surprise to help us."

The Captain made a feeble nod, "Whatever you need to restore our supply lines. I trust you'll try to keep the civilian casualties to a minimum. I'll have people send you new intel and maps."

"Yes Captain, thank you." Fiona said.

The Captain reached forward with her good hand and then the screen froze for a moment before going dark. Fiona began to pull up technical readouts on the King Crab.

Crow approached the couch with four mugs of coffee. "I think that well."

Fiona sighed as she took her coffee, "So our mission got changed from leisurely dropping missiles on tanks and light mechs as they tried to flee, to hunting down a mech that can best be described as Kerensky's 100 ton fever dream of a command mech that can kill anything smaller than it in one salvo. And while it's all going to hell, Anastasia shit talks the Capellan education system as she gives a physics and military strategy lesson. You honestly think that 'went well'?"

"I think it went better than you thought it would." Crow said.

Fiona gave him a murderous look then hit the intercom button built into the coffee table, "Kate, please inform the techs we'll need to use drop pods."

"Acknowledge." Kate said.

"Hey, Kate I'm heating up a squad breakfast rat, you want some?" Crow said.

"Which one?" Kate sounded excited.

"Uh…the ham and egg casserole breakfast. Is there another one?" Crow said.

"Yeah, but I don't even know why I asked." Kate said, "I've been staring at an 'oat cake bar' for like an hour debating whether to eat it raw or break it up and make oatmeal out of it. Save a casserole square for me, I'll be down in a few minutes after Hawkins comes on watch."

"Those compressed oat ration cookies? I saw one of those stop a medium laser." Crow said.

Fiona shook her head as she pulled a keyboard out of a drawer in the coffee table and began to type.

"Alright it was a small laser." Crow said

"You can stop talking." Fiona said as the holo screen showed a large hunched over 'mech and had claw like hands that were open to reveal large bore autocannons.

"Fiona, I apologize for insulting the client, and his education." Anastasia said quietly.

"Oh, normally you and I would be having words right now, but I was thinking if he called me 'whore' one more time, I'd probably kick his teeth in with my 'mech. So you verbally putting him in his place doesn't make me feel too bad. Honestly I don't feel bad at all."

"That conversation started to feel like many others I had as a NAIS student." Anastasia said as she pulled her braid out, and stroked it.

"Yeah, maybe next time you're dealing with a Capellan-" Fiona said.

"Or St. Ives Compactian." Crow inserted

"lay off telling them about Romano." Fiona said. "but watching Commander Zhang nearly become apoplectic just made my morning."

Anastasia nodded as she rested her head on Hap's shoulder and read the technical readout information for the King Crab, "17 tons of armor, and two imperator-d autocannons with a LRM 15 rack and a large laser. At optimal range it certainly seems capable of causing appalling damage." Anastasia said quietly. "It's obvious why the client was hesitant to disclose this was one of the mechs they needed destroyed."

"Yes, and this is supported Kintaro and an Urbanmech." Fiona said. "If we, and by we I mean you, Anastasia, can find him and help us keep him from getting into range or line-of-sight of those monster auto cannons. Crow is correct that we might have a chance at taking him down.

"He doesn't have a lot of endurance," Hap said, "only five reloads per autocannon."

"Yes, but before he runs out of ammo he'll likely cripple or destroy our lance." Fiona said. "also I have a similar endurance problem with my Jagermech is a model JM6-A. I only have eight reloads for each LRM rack."

There was a ding over the intercom, "The client has sent us some updated mission data. I'm pushing it down to your lounge." Kate said. "They are labeled 'intel for whores', so I'm guessing they come from our new favorite Commander."

"Thanks. Remind me to make him eat his teeth if we see him on the surface." Fiona said as she closed the technical readout and started to pull up maps and still images. Crow moved back to the bar and took a silver casserole dish from the oven and put it on the bar.

Hap leaned forward and looked at the maps of the city. There was a circle around a large warehouse building on the northern side of the town. There were notes about the building, but they were in Chinese. There were also standard military symbols for classes of supply drawn on top of the building. The city was bisected by a large river and there was a large central park with few buildings. Someone had also drawn the symbols for a drop zone around the park.

"You think we should drop in that park?" Anastasia asked.

"Did Commander strike you as a particularly clever tactician?" Fiona said.

"About as much as he is an expert on getting laid." Crow said as he cut squares of egg casserole ration. No one said anything and when he looked up and saw the looks from Anastasia and Fiona, "I'm just sayin' he keeps calling classy ladies like you whores, which makes me think he doesn't know much about good women or whores, so, you know, he clearly doesn't get laid."

"I understand what you are saying, and appreciate your attempt at logic, but I'd prefer not to be referred to or compared with a prostitute." Anastasia said.

"What did I tell you about talking?" Fiona told him.

Hap cleared his throat and pointed to the lower left portion of the map. "I'm going to guess, given the King Crab's speed, it will be around the warehouse there in the north. Maybe we should drop outside of town, here in the south west near this quarry. We'll approach slow from the outskirts and see if we can draw the enemy out and separate them as we work our way north."

Fiona nodded, "I'd prefer not to drop into the middle of that park and find myself across from that monster assault 'mech, or even an Urban mech, so I guess schlepping across town will have to do."

"We're also less likely to cause unnecessary collateral damage to the civilian populace." Anastasia said.

Fiona sighed, "Anastasia, you're probably going to see one of the uglier sides of what we do today. Assuming Hap didn't just pick a minefield to drop us into, we have to hope there isn't some partisan infantry with man-pad infernos or SRMs waiting in some building, or explosives or mines lining the major streets or key intersections. I don't want to hurt any civilians or non-combatants, but city fighting can get nasty, you may not have a choice when it comes to collateral damage."

"Understood." Anastasia said slowly, "We should probably avoid the major streets then." Anastasia studied the map. "I don't think the area around the quarry would be mined. There are no major multi-lane roads or high-speed avenues approaching it, and I doubt the OPFOR is expecting an orbital drop."

Crow sat down with two plates of the egg casserole and a prepackaged fruit roll. Crow set one of the plates next to Fiona as he started to dig in, "What else did the client send us?"

Fiona closed down the map and opened up the other files as Hap and Anastasia went to the bar and started to serve themselves breakfast. "It looks like there are a bunch of stills and a few videos." Fiona said. She opened the first still and it showed an Urbanmech. The image was from a low angle and looked like it was taken from the dashboard of a fighting vehicle.

Fiona took a bite of her casserole, "Lets see if we were really dealing with a King Crab."

Hap and Anastasia rejoined Fiona on the couch as she started going through pictures, there were more Urbanmech pictures and a few of a Kintaro. Just as she opened a picture of a giant hunched over mech Kate walked into the room.

"Hawkins came on watch so I'd thought I'd come down here and take up Crow's offer for some of that ham and cheese casserole."

"On the bar." Crow said between mouthfuls.

"I didn't think you were serious about wanting any." Fiona said, looking over at the pilot.

"Not gonna lie, sweety, I actually miss this ration from back in the day. I know it's full of preservatives, and some ungodly amount of calories, and probably more quillar than egg, but I could have one of these squares in the morning and fly missions all day and night. All it needs-" Kate looked around then reached into the rations box and pulled out a thin bottle, "Oh! It came with Viper Lizard sauce. Now this ration is complete."

"There is also the salsa fresca package." Anastasia said

"Yeah, but it contains cilantro so who'd want it?" Crow said without noticing that Anastasia had the salsa artfully placed on her casserole.

"There is also spicy cheese packages in the box, but it's also mostly quillar." Hap added

Kate shook a generous amount of hot sauce onto her omelette square, "Nope this is all it needs."

"Well I'll be damned." Fiona said quietly.

Kate plopped down next to Anastasia, "That's a King Crab alright. You can strafe one of those bastards from hell to breakfast and that damn thing will generally just ignore you while it murders anything that happens to be within a few hundred meters of it."

"Yeah, we already had that conversation." Crow said.

"Intel always told us to try and come at them from the left side, depending on the model the left side had the LRM and one of the AC magazines. With any luck you could touch off one of those magazines, but they warned we might run into one that still had the Star League Era reinforced ammo bins."

"That's a good note, but that's not what I'm interested in right now." Fiona zoomed in on the torso of the King Crab to magnify the unit crest. It took a moment for the image to resolve and clean up the image. When the image finally resolved it showed a painted gold winged lioness holding a curved sword.

"Is that Ahmed's Immortals?" Kate asked, "Wasn't that the company that tried to hire Ape and I out from under you."

"The very same." Fiona said darkly.

"The fight with them was a few months ago." Kate said, "I wonder how they got a hold of a King Crab and a Kintaro. They're not exactly common 'mechs."

"No, they're not that common," Fiona said slowly, "but I'm more surprised to find Ahmed here."

"I suspect ComStar is behind this." Anastasia said.

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