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Best Served Cold (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 5 - Best Served Cold[]

Burgundy Road
Coudoux, Smoke Jaguar Occupation Zone
September 10th, 3050

The Alacorn tank turned its turret towards the onrushing Smoke Jaguar Jenner IIC. With a thundercrack of discharged electricity, the three Gauss rifles fired in rapid succession.  The first round whistled past the Jenner's boxy weapon-pod left arm.  The second buried itself in the dirt between its running feet.  The third smashed into the cockpit, lodging itself in the torso behind it, tearing through armor, structure, and all the delicate systems that allowed a MechWarrior to control his 'Mech.  To say nothing of the MechWarrior himself.

"Woah, did you see that? Tell me you saw that, query affirmative?"

"We saw it, Thunder Two, good shooting."  Lilly rounded a copse of trees atop a small hill, finally sighting the Wyvern IIC that had been playing hide-and-seek for most of the battle.  Not particularly Clanlike, Lilly thought as she settled her crosshairs over the Jaguar 'Mech.  Her ERPPC and ER Large Laser lashed armor from its right arm and chest, one of her ER mediums bit deep into its left arm while the second went wide, and her flight of LRMs blasted chunks of armor from across its chest and legs.

The Wyvern turned and charged towards her at a full run, straight into a fusillade from Robina's Spartan. Robina's ERPPC and medium pulse lasers gouged armor from its right side and arm.  One of the four-tube Streak SRMs failed to lock, while the other pounded into the Wyvern's leg.  Utterly unprepared to deal with two attackers at once, the Wyvern pilot tried to turn in its headlong rush to meet the new threat.  Unbalanced by missile impacts and the slagging of tons of armor, the Wyvern's left ankle buckled under the sudden stress, and the 'Mech collapsed to the ground.

Large pulse lasers reached out for Lilly's Pulverizer, two of them stitching melted holes in her arms.  Lilly ignored them, focusing on settling her targeting reticule precisely.  From behind her, cluster autocannon shells and ERPPC bolts from Leslie's Rifleman II struck at the Jaguar Rifleman IIC, damaging it and encouraging the Jaguar MechWarrior to rethink his advance.

Her target locked in, Lilly stroked the trigger of her PPC.  The azure bolt burned into the top of the Wyvern's head, melting it away to nothing in the blink of an eye.

Highlander Assault BattleMech (Papercraft Version)

Star League variant Highlander Class Assault 'Mech

Trees cracked and groaned, bending aside as a massive Highlander crested the hill and broke through the copse.  Leveling its weapons at Thunder Two, it opened fire.

The Gauss slug smashed into the Alacorn's front, shattering what armor remained from earlier attacks on the threatening tank.  Missiles and lasers followed the slug, melting and exploding the vehicle's superstructure.  With a desolate whine, Thunder Two's Gauss rifles powered down, the tank now a smoldering husk.

"You son of--" Lilly growled, targeting the Highlander IIC and letting fly with everything.  She loved this model of Pulverizer because it had been designed for sustained fire with all its weapons.

Robina's Spartan, Sarah's BattleMaster, and Rozalia's Marauder IIC (her Thug having been shot out from under her two planets ago) joined her in punishing the Highlander pilot.  The result of their onslaught was gaping, smoking rents in the 'Mechs armor, and a MechWarrior reeling from the impact of PPC, laser, missile, and autocannon fire.

Flights of LRMs from Thunder One added to the devastation, several finding holes in the Highlander's sundered protective shell to detonate against sensitive components.  Thunder Five zipped past, raking the blocky 'Mech with its medium lasers.

"Wolverines!" Lilly cried, opening fire again and finishing off the Highlander.

The only remaining Jaguar 'Mech on the field, the Rifleman IIC charged forward, large pulse lasers spitting wildly.  It was met with eight TAG laser beams, followed shortly by ten Arrow IV homing missiles.  The Rifleman vanished in balls of flame and shrapnel, leaving only a twisted hulk when the smoke cleared.

"Thunder One, see to Thunder Two." Lilly said.

"Already on it, Sword One."  The Rhino crew were indeed debarking, rushing to the smoking Alacorn to extricate and tend to any survivors.

"Good job, everyone." Lilly said, surveying the battlefield.  "Let us pack it up quick before the rest of the garrison wakes up."

Over the months, Lilly's Trinary had gotten very good at these smash-and-grab raids, isolating and eliminating single Stars and the odd Binary, then making off with their battlefield salvage and whatever they could loot from nearby facilities.  Rozalia's new Marauder was one such find, modified by the Trinary's MechTechs to fit the Wolverines' combat doctrine.

They'd hopped from planet to planet, pushing ever deeper into the occupation zone, staying ahead of any responses the Clans were mustering.  Since mid-May, Lilly had a firm goal in mind, and she was so close to it now she could taste it.

Mid-May was when news reached them of the Turtle Bay Massacre.

Since then, every battle against the Smoke Jaguars had been considered punishment for such an unspeakable atrocity, and Lilly had dreams of personally making the forces on Turtle Bay directly responsible pay for their crimes.

Returning to their landing zone, the salvage and isorla were loaded onto the Dictator-class transport DropShip, theArcadian Mercy, while Lilly marched her Trinary aboard the Great Hope. Fifteen minutes was all it took to secure for launch, then the pair of DropShips were burning sky.  By the time Smoke Jaguar AeroFighters were scrambled to intercept, they were well on their way back to the Ebon Fury. The Jags didn't maintain WarShip forces over most of their occupied planets -- at least, not anymore -- and by the time a task force could reach the system from the front, the Wolverines would be gone, traveling through uninhabited systems towards their next target.

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