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A Warrior's Family (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 69[]

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The Hunted[]

Battlefield, St. Ives
St. Ives Compact
February, 3030

What the hell is a ‘Crockett’??" Crow asked.

“Specifics don’t matter, it’s another target right now” Fiona said. She saw Anastasia’s marker clear a building land in a street and bound up another small building. Both the Crockett and the King Crab were chasing after her as quick as they could. Fiona shook her head. The tactical situation was rapidly devolving.

“Harold, are you okay?” Anastasia asked.

“Yes” Hap replied. “I’m digging myself out. Give me a moment to help get the pressure off of you.”

“It would be best if you did so quickly, my love.” Anastasia said.

Fiona could see Hap’s ‘mech finally started moving. It paused for a moment and her sensors recorded weapon fire before he jogged down an alley.

Crockett Assault Mech (in Desert - painted by mdk4yyv)

Crockett Assault 'Mech

“I put another PPC bolt into the King Crab. I hit it’s internal structure, but it didn’t seem to notice.” Hap said.

“As I told you, that ‘mech was built to ignore punishment.” Kate said

“Do you know anything about that Crockett?” Crow asked as he jumped to another building headed toward Anastasia’s position.

>>“Yes, it’s um, well it’s like a Stalker”<< Kate said, >>“85 tons, of hate and steel. The weapons loadout is similar, but the engineers downgraded the medium lasers to small lasers, and took off the LRMs and gave it an AC/10 and more armor.”<< Kate said.

“That sounds lovely.” Fiona said as she watched the Crockett jump onto the roof of a small building and shoot lasers and autocannon at Anastasia. The King Crab joined in with its large laser. Fiona wasn’t sure if they scored any hits, but Anastasia sent a brace of lasers back at the Crockett.

>>“As you can see it has jump jets too.”<< Kate added.

“And today just keeps getting more interesting.” Fiona said. She was glad Anastasia was fighting back even if it seemed like a token gesture. Over matched and under gunned her response was to let the enemy know she wasn’t going down without a fight. Fiona smiled, that’s how the family did business.

“Crow start putting some hurt on that Crockett.” Fiona glanced again and noticed Ebrahimi’s Stalker hadn’t moved, “Hap what was Ebrahimi doing while you getting off your ass?”

“He seemed distracted that his half his lance had ran off after Anastasia.” Hap said, “I’ve broken contact with the King Crab, and I’m coming up behind the Crockett. Kate is correct, the Crockett is a beast.”

Crow continued jumping from building to building. When he got within sight of the Crockett, Fiona sent a barrage of thirty missiles at it. Crow stabilized himself on a building and followed up her barrage. Fiona didn’t bother to look at the damage, she was confident in her lancemates ability and needed to focus on her own task.

Fiona glanced down at her ammo counter as she listened and felt the missile reload mechanism rearm the LRM racks. 5 reloads remained. Fiona considered her options. Going head-to-head with a Stalker was never easy, and she was grossly overgunned, especially at close range. However, the Stalker had also been damaged.

((“McFinnigan 1, Ms. Fiona, hello. What shall we do?”)) Chyou asked.

“First call me Fiona please. Second, let’s wait a moment. Anastasia has done this before. The boys are going to use the buildings to engage the Crockett while they out maneuver the King Crab, at least until he starts crashing through buildings-”

((“That would be unwise.”)) Chyou interrupted, “while many buildings were cut off to make the sub-city, not all were. A ‘mech could easily fall several stories, putting them at a great disadvantage.”

“That’s interesting.” Fiona said thoughtfully. She glanced down at her nav computer. She was still on the main road that led from the area where the team had been ambushed after leaving the undercity. She noted several side streets and alleys that weaved around the main road.

Chyou interrupted her musings, “Yes. I apologize, but I must insist we continue to the supply depot. I believe you and the Catapult pilot have significantly damaged the Stalker, perhaps we should attack him directly, now, while he is alone.“

“Why the hurry?” Fiona said. Fiona looked at Chyou’s Vindicator then glanced down at her sensors, the Vindicator’s left arm was damaged and her small laser was destroyed, her left leg lost an actuator, and internal structures was exposed in multiple areas. After going toe-to-toe with the Kintaro and defending her tanks from a Pegasus she had done a remarkable job of keeping it together, but if she got within sight of the Stalker she’d surely be destroyed. A frontal seemed like the last thing they should try.

Fiona would rather force Ebrahimi into a fight he didn’t want preferably with missiles at a distance. Fiona also had to consider there could be another “surprise” he had planned for her. She glanced at her nav computer again, It would be much better if she could surprise him.

((“Commander Zhang and I were told it was imperative to get the medical supplies as quickly as possible, this is why I believe we should hurry.”))

“Yeah I sensed Zhang was getting impatient, but he was pissing me off. So I was taking my time.” Fiona answered

((“His leadership style is generally to intimidate and he rarely displays patience. However, the speed of our mission was because we were told that Subcommander Liu and many others required medical supplies soon, or their conditions would deteriorate.”))

Fiona sighed, “I don’t know, Subcommander Liu, but she seemed like an honest and good leader, and I don’t want any more of your people getting hurt or suffering today. I apologize. I probably shouldn’t have been moving slowly.”

((“You appear to have made wise tactical decisions, in spite of your motivations.”)) Chyou said brightly

“Being slow and deliberate can look like that.” Fiona said, “Alright I’m going to bait Ebrahimi to come after me. When he does, slip around behind him, get your supplies and help out your people.”

“How will you bait him?”

“Shit talking on the guard channel.” Fiona said. “I assure you it’s more effective than you’d guess.” Especially with the Immortals Fiona thought to herself.

Before she could change channels she heard Hap said, “Look out, Crow!”

“Oh damn, he just tried to shoot the building out from under me.” Crow said.

“I believe he’s was trying to set you up to be engaged by the King Crab.” Anastasia said.

“Yeah, we need to get more distance for him. Also I’m close to running dry on missiles and that Crockett just won’t go down.”

“As previously mentioned, more armor than the Stalker.” Kate repeated

“Hey Kate, how do you know so much about these ‘mechs.”

“In the Hussars we had a Standardization Officer that found a Tech Readout: 2750 and would quiz us on the most arcane and weird ‘mech’s he could find. The C.O. asked him what he was thinking and he said he wanted us to be able to recognize rare and exotic Battlemechs.”

“What a dick move.” Hawkins said. “Holding lift tickets hostage based on trivial information.”

“That’s exactly what we said.” Kate said, “Actually we said, ‘stop being an ass.’ But it’s what we meant.”

Fiona switched her radio to the guard channel. “Ebrahimi.” There was no response. “Eee-brahimi.” Still nothing. She said his name a few more times putting emphasis on different syllables and saying his name in different ways.

<<“What! What do you want witch daughter of McFinnigan.”>> Ebrahimi yelled.

“Actually, you’re going to have to try harder. I’ve been called far worse by the client today, and I’m not actually Kelly or Llewyn’s daughter. I’m not really related to either of them at all, I just happened to have the last name of McFinnigan.” Fiona said, trying to annoy him.

<<“I don’t care. I have more important things to consider than your life story.”>> Ebrahimi snapped.

“Right, I see your using Assault ‘mech’s to chase down a light mech. Is that what you were hired to do?”

<<“I will not discuss my contract with you, and even if I did you would not understand.”>>

“True. It’s hard for rational people to understand madness.”

Ebrahimi snorted. <<“You don’t understand the deal my father has made and how it will lead to the death of your family of murders.”>>

“Here we go again, listen if you kill us because we killed your brothers in fair combat, our children are just going to do the same. Where will the cycle end?”

<<“It will end with me and my father. We will kill all of you. Capture your cursed dropship-“>>

“Before you start talking about enslaving and murdering support staff and children I’d like to remind you that Kelly and Elinor have other daughters and nieces on Donegal with their own children, plus several other members of the McFinnigan clan serving in the Donegal Guards. Even if you somehow wipe out the Company you’ll still have to contend with them.", Fiona told told opponent.

<<“Then tell your kin that when we’ve finished with you we’re coming for them.“>>, Ebrahimi announced

“Yeah, you go ahead and bring a hostile ‘mech company to Donegal and see if the Guards let you land, let alone leave with your lives. If you think you can just walk into the McFinnigan Clan ancestral grounds and take them on man-to-man you’ll be fighting with generations of people who only value four things: Making and raising children, drinking, fighting, and getting to Mass on Sunday to beg forgiveness for how they did the other three.” Fiona stared at the unmoving 85 ton ‘mech marker on her sensors that represented Ebrahimi. She debated trying to fire at him indirectly without weapons lock. Five reloads made her think again.

<<“I will at least kill one of them today.”>> Ebrahimi said, <<“Why don’t you come and fight me face to face? Your missiles have damaged my ‘mech, why not try to finish me off?”>>

“Because I’m a patient girl.” Fiona answered, “I’m pretty sure my boys are going to finish off yours, then I’ll sit right here and rain down missiles on you. It’s safer for me, besides, why don’t you come to me?”

<<“I don’t think you understand who they’re fighting. My father has found a very powerful benefactor that will ensure we have the ‘mechs and pilots to destroy all of you. Your ‘boys’ are out classed by men with better skills and equipment.”>>

“We’ll see about the skill.” Fiona answered, “So why would anyone help your father?”

Ebrahimi laughed, <<“They hate McFinnigans almost as much as we do. They especially hate the Valkyrie pilot though. They have promised to give us intel and support necessary to destroy all of you. All they asked in return was that we made very sure the Valkyrie pilot died.”>> Ebrahimi laughed again, <<“I was wondering if you could tell me why they hate her so?”>>

Fiona wondered what it would take to move Ebrahimi. She was tempted to have Chyou move up and sensor lock him, but she wanted Ebrahimi’s focus on her. <<“Would it matter? To be honest I’m glad Ahmed found this new benefactor. I had felt bad for him after the last fight. Most of his forces seemed only good at ejecting and surrendering. Until today I had thought you were too embarrassed to show up. It was so bad your dad tried to hire our air wing out from under us.”>>

<<“I was injured.”>> Ebrahimi corrected Fiona, <<“My father is a clever negotiator and cunning tactician, and our warriors are skillful and fierce.”>>

“If you say so. I was protecting the principal. But I can tell you at the end of the day we had rounded up half the company. They asked Elinor for Lancashire Hot Pot like she was their mom and they had just come home looking for their favorite dish.” Fiona added. “It would’ve been funny if it wasn’t so sad.”

<<“I doubt that.”>> Ebrahimi said darkly.

“I’m telling you, it was such a desperate time for you dad, he was begging our pilots to turn on us.”

<<“As I said, I doubt-“>>, Ebrahimi began

>>“It’s true. I was one of the pilots he tried to hire.” said Kate dryly, “He was crying like a bitch. I felt so bad I just landed. The McFinnigans had beaten him and I couldn’t bear to hear a man wail like that.”<<

<<“Who is speaking? Who dares?”>> Ebrahimi demanded.

“That’s our new pilot. Don’t be mad. We all agree your dad needed new Mechwarriors and new ‘mechs. Quite frankly we’ve been hoping for a better challenge for awhile.” Fiona added. His sensor icon seemed to move a little like he was debating how to respond to insulting his father.

Fiona adjusted the grip on her control sticks, “Patrick also pointed out something that made your father quite angry.” She could see the 85 ton stop moving. “I had never noticed until Patrick said it, but your younger brother looked a lot like Llewyn McFinnigan.”

<<“What are you saying?”>> Ebrahimi whispered and Fiona actually felt a cold chill.

“Well given the resemblance, it made us wonder if maybe your Mother and -” Fiona said

<<“You will shut your witch mouth.”>> Ebrahimi hissed as he began moving his ‘mech to the main street.

Fiona nodded to herself. Good he’s moving. No more surprises. “It seems unlikely, but when Llewyn died he had a picture of a dusky skinned woman none of us knew. I always thought it was odd-“

“There is no way that was my mother.” Ebrahimi’s mech was now running.

“Are you sure? She was pretty fat.” Fiona said.

Chyou let out a startled ((“oh!”)) and immediately turned her ‘mech. Her vehicles followed her down a side street and quickly away from Fiona.

Fiona could see Ebrahimi was about to come into view. She raised her mech’s arms and waited a moment for him to step into the street and turn toward her. As he turned she saw the flashes of lasers and the cloud from his remaining long range missile launcher. Fiona knew she was outside the range of medium and short-range weapons as she lined up her highly accurate autocannons on the Stalker’s, cockpit and fired. She followed up with a round of missiles. The Stalker’s lasers melted armor off her arms and the missiles peppered her legs.

Ebrahimi grunted. <<“Such a weak weapon, it barely cracked the cockpit canopy. Do you think you can defeat me with children’s toys?”>>

Fiona stepped down a side street before Ebrahimi could close with her. She took a few more steps and guided her mech down another alley. “I’m sure after you flee you’ll tell everyone how I had class ten autocannons but somehow you managed to run to your dropship in an open cockpit.”

<<“You are half right, I will be the one telling the stories, since you will be dead.”> Ebrahimi said.

“You think so?” Fiona answered as she got on a side street leading uphill and south. She ran about two hundred meters and then slowed and turned.

<<“You don’t understand, with the assistance my father has secured, we will win. We will defeat you, and your company. I will personally kill you. Every time you think you defeat us, we will come back stronger. We are immortal.”> As he said immortal he crashed through a building. Fiona sent a brace of LRMs at him before she jogged to another side street as a large laser caught her in the shoulder.

Fiona jogged up the side street and turned up another street running south, and took a moment to glance down at her diagnostic systems. She had lost most of the armor on her arms and left shoulder. The JM6-A had more armor than a stock Jagermech, which was good, but she still had to make sure she kept her distance. She saw another side street leading back to the main road. She flipped her arms around to fire in her rear arc as she tried to get closer to it before Ebrahimi came in view again.

JagerMech (JM6-A LRM Variant - MWO)

JM6-A variant of the JagerMech Heavy 'Mech

<<“I have a question for you.”>> Ebrahimi said, “Do you remember the prisoner exchange on Harvest?”

“Maybe, returning your men to you happens so often they all start to blur together.” Fiona answered

<<“One of my men told me that he overheard your doctor telling you that you would likely lose your child.”>> Ebrahimi said as his Stalker came into view. <<“Did you?” He laughed, “Did it happen when the immortal recon lance surprised your lance and knocked you down? Did we kill another McFinnigan?”>>

Fiona almost took her hand off her left arm weapon stick to grab her belly. It was true, she had been pregnant, and the operations on Harvest was going to be her last. She had learned of it during the pre-combat physical. She reasoned that her lance was far enough away from the action it seemed like an acceptable risk.

When she talked to Kelly he agreed, and, since the operation with the Donegal Guards, they had even discussed getting a ride with them back to Donegal to be with her family. This immediately led to an argument with her and Crow. He wanted her to stay with the company, but she couldn’t bear to watch someone else lead her lance while she “helped out” around Ops, and she knew it was a burden to Kelly to pay her base pay while she was on maternity leave.

Losing the baby made it all academic though. She had tried to take some time to come to terms with it. She made the choice though, as Kelly told her it was the classic mercenary dilemma of “one-more-job”. It was cold comfort then, and even now it still hurt. Hearing Ebrahimi taunt her turned her general irritation with him to hate. She had to remind herself to stay focused on the task on hand.

“That was my poor judgement.” She replied. Whatever shred of professional respect she had Ebrahimi finally melted away. She felt, no matter what Kelly said about “mercenary ethics” Ebrahimi was likely telling the truth. He would never stop until he murdered her friends, family and future children, but the way he was talking about her miscarriage was too far.

<<“Doesn’t matter, I will see you all dead. I would have killed your child one way or the other.”>> Ebrahimi laughed. <<“We are the immortals we will continue to fight long after you are dead and gone.”>>

The Jagermech’s targeting computer confirmed the weapon lock. Fiona wanted to aim, but chose to let the targeting computer do the work. She fired missiles and autocannons as the Stalker responded with missiles and lasers. Ebrahimi grunted as Fiona’s ‘mech lurched forward. She caught more missiles and another laser. She glanced at the targeting computer’s rangefinder and could see that he was almost in range of her medium lasers. She needed to get further away from him before they traded salvos again. She dived down an alley and sprinted to the main street.

<<“We should end this.”>>, Ebrahimi announced. He plowed his mech into another building. As he pushed the 85 on mech into the structure he cursed and for a moment Fiona’s sensors lost track of the ‘mech. She could hear the sounds of the cockpit slamming into a wall or floor. Fiona turned her mech hard and walked to the collapsed building to see where Ebrahimi had fallen into the subterranean city.

As Fiona approached the broken building and gaping hole she could see the Stalker laying face up on the street below. The right torso was bent up and the right lasers and missile racks were ruined. Ebrahimi gave a wet cough, “What just happened?”

“You just fell three stories to your death.” Fiona said as she lined up her crosshairs on the cockpit.

<<“I’m far from death.”>> Ebrahimi laughed, <<“I’m Immor-“>> He screamed as Fiona activated her lasers and destroyed the cockpit. One laser melted through the cockpit and the other reduced the armor in the center torso. When the weapon recycled she said, “You still there Ebrahimi, are you immortal?” she fired again, this time both ruby beams melted what remained of the cockpit. She waited for the weapon to recycle and fired at what remained of the ‘mech’s head scorching the concrete behind the mech..

((“Miss Fiona, what are you doing?”)) Chyou asked.

“Re-calibrating my lasers.” She said as she fired again.

((“This seems like the wrong time to do that.” ))Chyou said.

“Actually, it’s been a long time coming.” Fiona said coldly.

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