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A Warrior's Family (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 79[]

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Retaking the Ships[]

DS Phaidin, Leopard Class 'Mech Carrier DropShip
Necromo System, Capellan Confederation
April, 3030

Hap and his lancemates exchanged worried looks. The ship's gravity had just shifted and that was almost a guarantee something bad was going on in the bridge. Without talking they started to run for the stairwell leading up to the higher crew and command decks.

As the lance members climbed the stairs, they felt the ship level off and the center of gravity returned to "normal". They started to jog down the halls and head toward the flight deck. As they turned a corner they found three Det 3 members laying facedown in a pool of blood. Hap and his lancemates slowed down trying to figure out what had happened. Two of the men had been shot in the back.

Leopard Class DropShip (by psicore)

Leopard Class DropShip, Phaidin

Hap recognized one of them as wearing the same kit as Wojski. As he got close enough to kick his boot he glanced back to make sure that his lancemates were ready. Behind them he saw three men slinking up the hall. A few paces behind them Kate was standing and looking relieved to see her friends.

The three men wore heavy environment suits and had tactical vests with tools, and safety gear in the various pouches and webbing. All three men were armed with needler pistols, and all of them were wearing the McFinnigan and Sons unit patch on their vests and it was also stenciled onto their suits.. Kate was still in her cooling vest and armed with a laser pistol.

McFinnigan and Sons bk

Unit Patch of McFinnigan and Sons Mercenary Company

Hap knew these men, they were part of the ship's company. The one on the left had sort of stupid and unsavory look about him, and the one in the middle was a tall attractive young man. He also a black eye, and a bandage around his neck. The final man was a large heavy set man with thick jowls and a bushy mutton chop sideburns. Hap knew this was Henry, the chief boatswain mate of the Phaidin.

Hap had seen Henry countless times. He was generally with a few members of the crew maintaining the ship and seemed to lead them. Hap had even worked with him a few times in the 'mech bay, but he was someone Hap avoided if he could help it. Henry seemed like the type of person that sat at the darkest end of the bar, or the dimmest booth in a tavern. He was the regular that every one knew to just leave alone unless you were looking for trouble, or wanted to help him with his criminal enterprises. The other two men looked like they would be his accomplices.

"Are ye for us, or against us?" Henry asked.

"Chief Henry, these are McFinnigan Mechwarriors, they're on our side." Kate said..

"Aye. They're also, like you, new to the family." Henry said. "Times like this it's good just to make sure everyone is who they say they are, and appear to be."

"I'm trying to do the family business, Gno teaghlaigh." Hap said slowly, turning around and keeping his hands visible and his weapon pointed down. His lance mates did similar slow turns.

"Oh. Aye, Gno teaghlaigh." Henry answered. The two men with him echoed the Company's motto.

"Marietta, I hardly know these three, but if you vouch for them then perhaps ye all can help me know what's going on." Henry said.

"They're with me, Henry, and not with these putas." Mags said.

"Start with why you got the same weapons as them." The unsavory man said.

Hap slowly moved next to his wife and Mags. "We took them from the men we killed, here you want to see it?"

Before the man could take the weapon. Henry holstered his needler and put his hand out to his companion. "Keep your weapons lad. I need every trustworthy hand armed. If Camacho's daughter says yer on our side, that's enough. Now,can ye tell me what the hell is going on?"

"The Det 3 mercenary group is trying to hijack the ship. We're not sure why." Hap said.

"If I recall the manifest, there were thirteen of these," Henry looked over at Mags, "Putas. How many of them have ye killed?"

"We wasted seven of them down in the Mech Bay." Joker answered.

"And we killed six." Henry replied, he paused doing the math in his head. "So I'm thinking we've headed off this plot."

"It felt like the ship altered course though." Anastasia said, "Is it possible we miscounted?"

"Best be headed to the bridge to see what happened." Henry said as he started walking and everyone followed him. "To your question, my lady, I'd say no. At least not us, mum. Ye can see the three here, and the other three were in the port side aerospace bay when we opened the bay doors and let the vacuum of space send them to their eternal reward."

"You didn't jettison the cargo we took?" Anastasia asked.

"Mr. Smythe did you properly secure the load in the port side aerospace fighter bay before we performed the recovery of Miss Berlin's fighter in the starboard aerospace bay?"

"Yes, Chief." Smythe, the unsavory man, answered.

"No, My lady, We did not jettison any cargo, only murderous traitors." Henry said as he quickened his step.

Anastasia got close to Kate, "How'd you get here?"

"I docked my Stuka, and they assisted in the recovery operations. When I got out they told me the Det 3 Team were acting odd, and we followed them. When Henry noticed how they split up and were moving we used a maintenance duct to ambush them. Then we went back to the aerospace bay and, like he said, spaced the air crew that was guarding the 'objective'. We were headed back to the bridge when we heard you coming."

"I have to say I'm a little shocked. Trapping someone in an aerospace bay and releasing them to space seems cruel." Anastasia said.

Henry stopped, and turned to Anastasia, "Dear lady Capetian Vallois Calahad, bare in mind we did not jest open the bay doors on the traitors. I locked the bay's airlocks, opened the doors, and let two of them get sucked out into the vacuum of space. A third one held onto the cargo. So I closed the bay doors and kept the vents open and the recirculaters disabled. He's likely suffocated by now, but once we've checked on the bridge the boys and I will go back and ensure he's dead."

Henry paused for a moment reading Anastasia's expression, "It may seem cruel, My lady, but I assure you it had to be done. Understand, if ye face Kelly in open combat on a battlefield, that is one thing. But if ye come on his ship, be welcomed into his house, call him friend, eat at his table, drink from his bottle, fellowship with his wife and children, and then lift yer hand against him to stab him in the back, then I have neither pity or mercy for ye."

"These men, they deserve nothing better than what we've given them. My lady, I try to do as the priest says, treat everyone well and such. But, trying to take a vessel that ye've been given safe passage on. No! That's a betrayal akin to cheating on yer spouse, or not carin' fer your mother. Add to that, Kelly took me from a life o' crime and gave me this job. I owe him a great deal. Anyone that would cross him like this, is going to find nothing but hate and violence from me and the boys." As Henry spoke Smythe and his associate agreed, even Mags nodded along.

"I understand." Anastasia said diplomatically, "I'm glad you are on our side. Also, I'm not a titled noble, my mother is the Countess of Hazelhurst."

"Aye, I met yer mother, I know she's a right proper lady, and ye act like a lady. Some day you'll inherit the title, my lady. I know how to show my nobles respect." Henry answered.

Hap could tell Anastasia was uncomfortable, "I think we were a little surprised you took down three special forces operators." Hap said. "Those guys were hard chargin' skull stackin' bad asses."

"I grew up in some of nasty parts of Donnegal, Mister Calahad, and I can assure you, anyone can present themselves as somethin' they aren't. And everyone thinks their hard until their friend takes a needler in the face." Henry answered, "And where I come from, if ye hesitate in a fight yer gonna have yer throat slit."

As Henry spoke Hap started to realize he had overestimated the skill of Det 3, or Kelly just had a knack for hiring desperate and capable people, and inspiring absolute loyalty in them.

They were at the bridge door now. It was closed and sealed. Henry knocked on the door with the butt of his pistol. He then holstered his weapon and motioned for everyone to do the same before he turned and faced a dome camera built into the ceiling. "The other mercenary company went rogue on us." Henry said to the camera, "We came to make sure the bridge was secure."

There was a click and the mechanical sounds of the lock disengaging. The door automatically opened and they were greeted by Roweyna with a bullpup laser rifle. Her usually neat and clean business attire was blood stained and there were several rips and tears in her blouse. Her eyes were red, and there were bruises on her neck.

"Henry there has been an attempt to take my father's ship from my control. Tell me you've put the scoundrels down." Roweyna spoke with a no-nonsense tone. Seeing everyone she knew she relaxed and Hap noted the long cut in her arm that was still bleeding.

"Aye. Mum. Smythe and Lucas executed half of them, and this lot took the other. We'll do another sweep of the ship, and I'll have causality and damage reports for ye soon, but I daresay-" Henry looked past Roweyna, "It seems ye saw some action too."

Hap could see Colonel Norton was slumped in the corner. He had several slashes about the arms and face, and there were shattered pieces of china on the floor near him. His briefcase was spilled open and papers and a few pieces of personal equipment littered the floor. Hap looked for his weapons and noticed the knife was buried in his chest and it looked like Roweyna had his laser rifle.

"Yer Colonel attempted to wrest control of the ship from us." Roweyna said to Hap. "I'm now doubting he was an AFFS officer." Roweyna said as she placed the laser rifle down on the table by the navigation station, and took a first aid kit and kneeled down in front of Sarah.

Hap could also see Sarah sitting on the floor with her eyes bandaged. She also had some burns on her hands, shoulders, and face. Roweyna took a small jar from the first aid kit and started spreading the contents on Sarah's cheeks. Hawkins had removed an access panel for the Leopard's controls and was digging into the systems. There were signs of fire and that the console had been shot by the Colonel's laser rifle.

"Schafer had implied that the Colonel wasn't who he said he was, and I was in for a terrible surprise when I learned the truth." Anastasia looked around, "based on that I had considered he might be a ROM agent, but I wouldn't have guessed he and the special forces team would attempt to commandeer the vessel."

"As ye can see they planned to do much more than commandeer." Roweyna continued to gently apply the medicine to the teen's burns.

"Roweyna, what happened here?" Hap asked as Kate took one of the pilot seats and strapped herself in.

"You called up and said members of Det 3 were firing weapons in the 'mech Bay. I looked to Colonel Norton to see how he was going to handle that and, to my surprise, he was reaching into his case to get his laser rifle. I asked him what he was doing, and he looked at me like I was his fiancee, and had found him in bed with my best friend."

"So, as one often does in those situations, I smashed my teacup across his face. In the melee he shot the controls, murdered Dobson there, threw a concussion grenade that injured Sarah here, and managed to carelessly cause injury and destruction until I was able to stop him."

Hap took a moment to take in the destruction around the bridge. There was a man in a McFinnigan and Sons jumpsuit who had been shot in the face by the laser rifle. There were jagged and broken shards of saucer and tea cup. One particularly large piece of broken china had blood on it and Hap assumed that Roweyna had used it until she got ahold of the Colonel's knife. Hap glanced back to Roweyna. There were defensive cuts on her wrists and hands, but she was ignoring her own injuries and quietly humming as she applied an anti-burn cream to the young teenage pilot.

"As one often does?" Joker asked, "How often have you beated a man to death with a teacup?"

"If ye keep talkin' the need might arise a second time today." Roweyna answered as she continued to rub cream onto Sarah's wounds. ""There now, this should ease the pain, and prevent scars. I promise it'll heal nicely." Roweyna winked..

Roweyna helped Sarah to her feet as she half sang, "you'll be the prettiest Colleen, from Bantry Bay up to the Derry Quay, From Gallway to Dublin town, jest like the star of the county down."

"It feels weird." Sarah said, "I'm really worried about my eyes, Roweyna."

Roweyna gently brushed a tear away from Sarah's cheek, "There now, yer cryin'. That's a good sign, means yer eyes are still workin' and tryin' to flush out the powder from the flash bang. Let's get you down to sick bay and let Doc Les tell you when you'll be seeing again."

"I want to talk to my Mom." Sarah said her voice betrayed that she was barely holding back tears.

"Oh aye. I want to talk to my father as well." Roweyna looked at Anastasia, "But we cannot talk to the Tir an nOg right now because our comms are sabotaged."

"I'll see if I can identify the issue and fix it." Anastasia volunteered.

There was a small explosion and a spray of sparks out from under the console. Hawkins backed out fast while cursing, and waving his hand to dispel the smoke, "Actually Anastasia, I think I need you to figure out how to bypass or turn off the autopilot system controls. Right now we're still headed toward Norton's JumpShip."

Kate pulled hard on her control stick, the Leopard altered its pitch and changed course, but as soon as she let go of the control stick the DropShip changed course again and resumed its original heading. Kate leaned back in her seat. "Well I was going to offer to co-pilot for a while-" She glanced at Sarah, "which I'll do until Sarah is feeling better."

"The boys and I will look into the radios while we do a sweep of the ship." Henry said, "The rogues monkeyed with the 1-MC as well, and I'd wager wherever they sabotaged the 1-MC is where they sabotaged everythin' else. We'll find it and fix it, or call Mrs. Calahad to come effect repairs." Henry said as he went to the comms station and started to run a diagnostic.

Hawkins sat down and started to test various systems. For the Leopard to maintain a form of pseudo gravity it had to maintain constant thrust. For the crew's comfort the thrusters located on the bottom or underside of the DropShip were used. In order for the pilots to know the actual ship direction the screens in the cockpit could be turned opaque and a video projection would be displayed for the various directions the shuttle was accelerating. When the shuttle was flying inside a gravity well, or in an aerodyne configuration the screens would be transparent.

Hawkins disabled the projection and turned the screens transparent. They were looking straight down at the Tir an nOg. Hawkins cursed as one of the White Tails Chippewas strafed the Excalibur DropShip. Swanky maneuvered his Stuka behind him and attacked, but the other White Tails were lining up to counter-attack. The White Tails were down to three crafts now, but Swanky was still badly outnumbered. The Excalibur had few weapons and the Chippewas were being careful to limit their exposure to them.

Stuka Heavy Fighter (Battletech Space Wars Game Mod)

Stuka Heavy Aerospace Fighter

Hap watched as one of the 'mech bay doors opened and Crow's Catapult walked to the edge and used his jump jets to get to the outer skin of the DropShip. Crow used the Catapult's claw like feet to hold onto the edge of the bay. Kelly's Highlander followed behind him and half hung out of the bay while holding onto the side of the bay door.

"I'm going back out." Kate said as she unbuckled and started to get up. A Chippewa flew past Crow and Kelly and took a broadside of LRMs and autocannon. It rolled away and got caught by salvo of lasers and LRMs from the Excalibur. One of the other Chippewas circled back around to attack Crow and Kelly.

Hawkins pushed her back down into the chair, "If I can't disable the autopilot, It's going to be damn near impossible to recover your ship, and if anything happens, you'll be trapped out in the black."

Kate looked upset as she sat back down. She activated the targeting systems and pushed the Leopard's nose down. She waited as the Chippewa started to accelerate toward Crow and Kelly, and then hit the fighter with every forward facing weapon the Leopard had. The Chippewa exploded and the debris passed over the Excalibur. The Leopard self-corrected again as the weapons recycled and reloaded.

"Anastasia, I need this damn auto-pilot disabled, time now." Kate snapped.

"Right." Anastasia stripped off her tactical vest and cooling vest and knelled down to look under the console, "Do you have a manual or tech readout?"

"I do." Hawkins said, "but we've had to modify and bypass some of the systems a couple times. So I don't know how much good it will do you." He pointed to a dog eared and yellow manual that was half rolled up and shoved in a tool box near the open panel. "I'm not going to lie, I think when Kelly bought this thing decades ago it didn't match that manual."

"Oh my." Anastasia said, "This is going to be complicated."

The Tir na nOg and the Aeorfighters were starting to fall away from view, but Kate and Hawkins wrestled the ship to try and get another shot at the Chippewa. The two remaining White Tails seemed confused as to why the Leopard had shot them. Kelly and Crow put more LRMs into one of the Chippewas and sent spinning away out of control. Swanky moved in behind the final Chippewa as the Leopard corrected again and resumed its course.

"I desperately need to speak to my Father now." Roweyna said.

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