Prologue, Book 2, The Hammer Falls
Wave 2, Operation Clover Spear - October 3056
Taken from the daily FC operational briefing provided to Field Marshal Ranier Poulin, Supreme Commander of “Operation Clover Spear”, declassified October 9th, 3076.
“Actions against Jade Falcon and Steel Viper units continue to be favorable, Jade Falcon units have begun to retreat rather than allow us to apply the full weight of our firepower, but Steel Viper units, for the most part, still try to resist in place, with certain exceptions (see Goat Path and Waldorff). We are facing a bit of an artillery ammunition crunch, and I would ask that we postpone Wave 3 by 15 days to allow our logistics to keep up. I am also aware, your highness, that there is the potential for a Steel Viper counterattack (see attached G-2 addendum re: Steel Viper buildup on Twycross). We have wargamed this possibility here, and we do expect that this is something we can counter.”
A summary of the status of the Second Wave is below:
Attackers: 26th Lyran Guards RCT, 17th Skye Rangers, 2 Independent Artillery Brigades.
Results: Somerset fell within 36 hours, with few shots fired except for a short skirmish at the site of the Military Academy of Somerset, where a small Jade Falcon sibko was smashed in a 12-hour running battle through the Academy live fire ranges. The planet was secured within the week.
Attackers: 1st and 2nd Davion Guards RCTs, Davion Assault Guards RCT, 6 Independent Artillery Brigades.
Defenders: 9th and 10th Fang, Clan Steel Viper
Results: The fighting for Waldorff was bitter right from the initial landing, with the Steel Vipers making counterattack after counterattack against the teeth of the FC landings. The Vipers then fought a rear guard through the streets of Waldorff City before they withdrew off-world to Twycross.
Attackers: 7th Crucis Lancers RCT, Davion Light Guards RCT, 4 Independent Artillery Brigades.
Defenders: 38th and 71st Phalanx, 4th Viper Guards (60% Strength), Clan Steel Viper
Results: The fighting for Graus was the worst of the 2nd Wave thus far. The Vipers dug in around Garros Spaceport and held it for 2 weeks before they were annihilated almost to the man. FC casualties were heavy, with the Davion Light Guards having lost one of its three battlemech battalions, and a pair of armor battalions. The 7th Crucis took heavy casualties in one of its battlemech battalions. The Spaceport has sustained 75% damage and will take up to a month to repair to a minimum standard to accept cargo and supplies. It will take upwards of a year to rebuild the site completely.
Attackers: 1st Aragon Borderers, 1st Federated Suns Armored Cavalry, Hansen’s Roughriders, 1st Robinson Rangers, 5th Davion Guards, 8 Independent Artillery Brigades
Defenders: 80th Fang, Clan Steel Viper
Results: In a 24-hour running fight around the ruins of the old Academy, the 1st Federated Suns Armored Cavalry and Hansen’s Roughriders handily destroyed the 80th Fang. More than a few prisoners were taken in the end as the unit’s morale collapsed with the death of Star Colonel Jessup.
Results: The 124th Striker Cluster had taken the time to fortify a position overlooking Malibu City in a series of low hills and gullies. The Grey Death Legion and 3rd Crucis Lancers showed little hesitation in going in and getting them. The fighting lasted 2 weeks and after the 124th lost 40% casualties, the 124th withdrew off world for Beta VII.
Attackers: Lindon’s Regiment, 8th and 10th Deneb Light Cavalry RCT, 4 Independent Artillery Brigades
Defenders: 126th Striker Cluster, Viper Fusiliers, Clan Steel Viper
Results: The Steel Viper garrison showed a lot more courage than sense, counterattacking the FC LZ within minutes of the landing, but after initially inflicting 10% casualties on the 8th Deneb Light Cav, the 10th and Lindon’s Regiment landed behind the Viper advance. They proceeded to squeeze them against the lines of the 8th. To the credit of the Vipers, they managed to fight their way clear to their dropships, after suffering 40% casualties.
Sudeten, Part 1
Attackers: 2nd and 3rd Royal Guards RCT, 11th Avalon Hussars RCT, 2nd Chisholm’s Raiders, Wolf’s Dragoons (all 5 Regiments), 8 Independent Artillery Brigades
Defenders: Jade Falcon Guards, 8th Falcon Regulars, Doberung Garrison Cluster, Clan Jade Falcon
Special Events: CJFS Emerald Talon and CJFS Blue Talon attacked by nuclear weapons delivered by FC Aerospace fighters. Emerald Talon destroyed, Blue Talon badly damaged, withdraws to Parakoila.
Results: The two-week fight for Sudeten was a lopsided affair from the beginning, with the Jade Falcons under heavy pressure as they tried to stall for the Jade Falcons to evacuate their capitol. During the final fight, just north of Hammar, the Falcon line was split in two in a seam between the Doberung and the Jade Falcon Guards. The frontline clusters withdrew towards the spaceport, taking heavy casualties as they withdrew off world to Parakoila. The Doberung Garrison Cluster, also took heavy casualties as they managed to stay one step ahead of the FC advance, and stole several civilian ferries to evacuate themselves to a newly built alternate command center on Maakar Island, the largest island in the Johar chain.
The FC cut off the island, and began to take it under heavy bombardment, but the facility was confirmed by intelligence reports as rivaling a Castle Brian. Worse, it was confirmed that saKhan Vandervahn Chistu was leading the defense himself. An ultimatum was presented to the garrison on the 6th of October 3056, by Jamie Wolf himself. It was summarily rejected.
Attackers: 10th Lyran Guards RCT, 6th Syrtis Fusiliers RCT, 4th Royal Guards, 6 Independent Artillery Brigades
Defenders: 1st Falcon Jaegers, 10th Talon Cluster, 124th Striker Cluster, Clan Jade Falcon
Results: Star Colonel Bjarn Folkner of the 1st Falcon Jaegers ordered a general withdrawal as soon as the FC forces made planetfall, taking his own command star to fight a duel according to the rules of Zellbrigen to stall for the rest of Jade Falcon forces to withdraw off world to Colmar. The duel went poorly for the Falcons, as one Kai Allard-Liao, Kommandant, 10th Lyran Guards, killed three of the five Clan ‘Mechs to win the duel for the Federated Commonwealth.
Attackers: 21st Striker, and 151st Light Horse, ELH, 1st Kearny Highlanders, 20th Arcturan Guards RCT, 2 Independent Artillery Brigades
Results: The collaborationist government on Wotan gave up without a shot fired.
Siege of Maakar Island
Jade Falcon Alternative Command Post
Sudeten, Jade Falcon Occupation Zone
October 6th, 3056
It looks like the surface of a moon. Jamie Wolf observed from the deck of the white-painted passenger hovercraft as it neared the island. His field glasses noticed that other than the concrete above ground, there was nothing the FC artillery and air raids had left standing. The above ground parts of the bunkers themselves had been savaged, with multiple hits having been scored, concrete scoured, and rebar being torn and twisted, but still, the bunkers were mostly structurally sound.
I am unclear as to why Marshal Bradford chose me as the emissary for the surrender demand. To the Jade Falcons, I am a dezgra Wolf and a traitor to the Way of the Clans. I cannot think of an emissary more likely to anger Chistu, if that is Chistu in there. Why he would remain when most of the Falcon forces quit Sudeten is beyond me?
Wolf turned and gazed at Maeve Wolf, the field Commander of the Dragoons. She was projecting an air of serene calm, her hands clasped behind her back, standing a little to the left and rear of Jamie. Brian Cameron, his ADC, was adjusting the collar of his field jacket for what seemed like the ninth time. All were dressed in the Wolf Dragoons field uniform, which consisted of grey-black tunic, with a field jacket in the same color that had Kevlar lining, and matching trousers, with subdued red piping that was almost maroon in color. As befitting a party under a flag of truce, they were of course...unarmed. It left Jamie feeling naked, and for the second time in his life, a bit nervous. But he was an experienced commander, and poker player, and hid his feelings behind a mask all commanders soon learned to wear.
“Nervous, Brian?” Jamie quipped, noticing Brian’s struggles with the collar of his field jacket.
“Aff, Commander Wolf. I must admit that Falcons are being pushed into a corner. One where they’d happily take us prisoner and execute us after a short kangaroo court for ‘betraying the Clan way. I fear for your safety, sir.’”
Maeve nodded in agreement, her raven hair catching the early morning light as her hazel eyes shone with concern for her commander, and friend. “Sir, this is just such a bad idea, I do not know where to begin. I am not saying Marshal Bradford has ill intent toward us…”
“…but you think he doesn’t really understand the Clans like we do, is that it?” Jamie finished, his grey eyes boring into Maeve, half-daring her to challenge his position, knowing she would do exactly that.
“Beyond the AFFC briefs, I doubt it, sir. There is a bit of ‘victory disease’ gripping the AFFC right now.” Cameron interjected.
“Why the hell didn’t the FC just offer them hegira?” Maeve asked, a bit of indignation creeping into her voice.
“We can’t, Maeve. After what we have seen passes for Falcon ‘counter-insurgency’ methods? We clansmen used to shrug in the wake of the Falcons and their indoctrination sweeps. We’d always say, ‘that’s Falcon business.’ The FedCom feels differently. And, after what I saw with those ferrymen? I cannot completely blame the FC. Natasha might have had a point returning to the Wolves.”
“You don’t really think that do you, Jamie?” Maeve asked, a hand on her genefather’s shoulder more of emotional concern than any physical support.
“Neg, Maeve. But the FC has blood in their eyes right now, and we of the Wardens warned those addled idiot Crusaders that this was going to be the end result of their precious attempt to make good little Clansmen out of the Inner Sphere. Great Father help the Clans if the Inner Sphere ever gets the data to guide them to the homeworlds.”
“You think it would come to that, Jamie?” Maeve inquired.
“If it were Victor or Hanse making the decision? No. It would not. But someone else I haven’t gotten the measure of? Or worse yet, someone whom I do know very well, like say, Nondi Steiner? She would glass the homeworlds in a heartbeat. And no, we are too few to do a damn thing about it. But if that were to happen, it would begin a genocide not seen since the First Succession War.” Jamie winced at that last thought.
“So, try to be the angel on the FC’s shoulder, even if they are Falcons and Vipers?” Cameron quipped.
“Aff, Captain, Aff.” Jamie mused darkly.
The rest of the ride was conducted in an uncomfortable silence between the three, considering what was probably the very dangerous nature of their task.
The silence was soon interrupted by the engines downshifting and a thump as the hovercraft slid onto the beach of Maakar Island. Soon, the world became a mixture of mist and the hissing of a deflating GEV skirt as the hovercraft slid to a stop just far enough into avoid getting caught in the tide.
“It appears we have arrived, ladies and gentlemen, we should get on with our errand?” Jamie inquired of his companions.
Both nodded and the three made their way down to the lower decks of the passenger hovercraft, then soon out a passenger door where a rudimentary boarding ladder had been assembled to allow the passengers to debark.
“Be careful, Commander Wolf, I don’t know how fast we can get out of here if things hit the fan!” shouted a large man from the bridge wing of the hovercraft. He was a large, booming fellow, his face craggy from years of salt spray and his eyes, his white captain’s cap perched back over his balding head, and framing a face that sported a full and fluffy salt and pepper beard.
“Captain Atherton, I will try not to be long, but I wouldn’t worry. The Falcons will grant you hegira even if they take us. One hovercraft won’t get them all out, and they know it.” Jamie responded with a wave.
“I will take your word for it, Commander Wolf..all the same, I am going to make sure me and my crew are going to be prepped for a very quick departure. Just remember. Two hours Commander, two hours, don’t be late!”
Wolf nodded and made his way in short, but purposeful strides up the white sands of the beach. They steered a course between multiple shellholes and saw the wreck of a Baboon light 'mech that had been unlucky enough to be caught in a SADB strike. The wreck was toppled, and had burned when the LRM ammo had detonated. CASE failure? Jamie wondered. It was still smoldering from some parts, tendrils of wispy white smoke trailing off into the morning sky.
“I would suggest caution, Commander Wolf, not all of those SADB bomblets detonate.” Maeve intoned.
Wolf nodded, Maeve’s caution was well-placed. SADB for all of its efficiency as a an anti-‘Mech weapon, had a problem in that 10% of the bomblets failed to detonate, and then became landmines on a hair trigger, and they didn’t care whose limbs they blew off. And Founder only knows how many of those rounds the FC has plastered the island with? Jamie’s mind intoned.
Jamie’s reverie was interrupted by the unmistakable SNICK-SNACK of a round being chambered in a rifle, soon followed up by a very loud click.
Here goes nothing.
“Falcon warriors, I come under flag of truce and ask for Safecon to parley with your saKhan, Vanderahn Chistu. My name is Jamie Wolf.”
For a few pregnant moments, nothing happened. The Falcons had to have heard the radio broadcasts. We’ve been sending them for 6 hours now, asking for an audience with Chistu.
Before long, a head clad in a Jade Falcon field helmet popped up from a hasty foxhole, dug from a shellhole not 50 meters to Jamie’s left. The face was boyish, with a pronounced Adams apple, and blonde peach fuzz and bright green eyes that burned bright with hunger and adrenaline framing a face that was warring between fear, exhaustion, and not a little bit of anger. The boy had a bandaged wound running the length of his right cheek, the bandage dirty with soot and dried blood.
“That is far enough, Jamie of the Wolves. We were told to expect you. Remain still or you will be shot.”
The figure shouted “Cover me, trothkin.” and lept from the hole. His jade green uniform was ragged, torn and covered in stains of soot, dirt and dried blood. His face twisted into an ugly snarl as he pointed his weapon at Jamie’s midsection. “I should end you, freebirth traitor. You cooperate with the stravag dogs instead of siding with your own?”
Jamie smiled “Since when are the Falcons, my own?”
“Pelar, silence, resume your position. I shall handle this.” The voice boomed from a position that was to Jamie’s front, about 100 meters away, and another figure, a large man. Most likely an elemental but he was stooped with age, but still quite limber. Levered himself from another foxhole and to his feet. He had a nasty looking wound across his left thigh that had also been bandaged, and looked much the same as Pelar, but he walked with a surer gait than Pelar did. He made his way straight to Jamie and extended his hand.
“Star Commander Jothan, I am the Falconer for these…children. They are three years from testing out..yet we shove rifles in their hands and tell them to go die for the greater glory of the Clan. This action is simply wrong. These children are not ready, and most of them make poor infantrymen..but as I am not bloodnamed..”
“..nobody asked you” Jamie finished as he offered Jothan his hand, Jothan took it, clasping hands in the Clan way, palm to the crook of the elbow.
“So, you are here to demand our surrender.” Jothan stated, practically spitting out the last word as if it was ill-tasting food.
“Aff, Jothan. You know you cannot resist forever and the FedCom is in no mood for Zellbrigen. Not after what they saw the Doberung Cluster had done to those ferrymen and their families.”
Jothan shook his head, “I was not part of that, Jamie. But yes, this war has led to some very un-clanlike things being done by my clan. Perhaps this is the universe’s way of balancing the scales?”
Jamie nodded in understanding.
“I was told to search, blindfold and take you and one other to see the Khan to present your demands in person. Your third will remain here. Do not worry, Pelar and his fellows may be eager, and a bit mad with hunger, but they will follow my orders. I have…had to reinforce that bit in more than a few Circles of Equals.”
Jamie smiled. “You would have made an excellent Dragoon, Jothan.”
Jothan barked with laughter, and his face cracked open wide with a grin. “You will forgive my impertinence, but serve the Wolves? I am too good a Falcon for that.”
Jamie nodded as Jothan waved over a petite brown-haired girl who could not have been more than 14. Her sniper rifle, slung on her shoulder, was slightly bigger than her, and her brown eyes, wide like saucers, were hollow with the look of someone who was hungry, and who had seen too much. She efficiently searched Jamie and Maeve, then Brian Cameron, whom was going with Jamie. Maeve would remain.
“Shall we, Jothan?
“We shall, grab my shoulders once you are blindfolded.”
“Cadets, one of the Dragoons will remain here. See that no harm comes to her or..I shall face the perpetrator in a Circle of Equals, and I will not be happy.” Jothan bellowed
The point answered in unison, it was a ragged, tired shout, but one that was still filled with fight “Yes, ovKhan!”
It wasn’t long before Jamie Wolf’s world went black with the cloth of the blindfold. “Comfortable, Wolf?”
Jamie nodded. “Thank you for asking.”
“I learned long ago to not pick fights I do not need.” Jothan whispered.
The walk was a bit harrowing, but Jothan expertly navigated them up and down a pair of crests, then down six flights of stairs..and into an elevator..all in all, by Jamie’s count, the walk took about 15 minutes, give or take a minute or two. When the blindfold was removed, Wolf found himself and Cameron in a small room, some 8 by 8 meters square, dominated by a small metal desk, and a pair of camp stools which Jamie and Brian were sitting in. There was no decoration on the cinder block walls, which were painted white, and lit harshly by a bank of florescent lights. A Clan Jade Falcon flag dominated one wall, pinned to a message board. Soon, a side door opened, and a large, somewhat imposing figure entered the room. He had a well-groomed beard and his Jade Falcon field uniform was immaculate. It could be no other. Vandervahn Chistu had arrived.
Jamie and Brian rose out of respect, but were not halfway up before Chistu waved them back down and sat at the desk.
“So, they send traitors to demand my surrender? How predictable.”
“Kerlin Ward ordered us to help the Inner Sphere, Chistu, you know that.”
“He is dead, and here you stand assisting those who would destroy his legacy?” Chistu whispered menacingly.
“His legacy, or just your precious Crusader cause?” Wolf intoned softly.
“Present your demands, traitor. I find this meeting…distasteful.” Chistu spat.
“Marshal Bradford demands your unconditional surrender by local midnight. Your troops will gather at places directed by FC officers, stack arms and equipment, and then obey all FC instructions. The FC promises you and your men will be treated according to the Ares Conventions, except for identified war criminals. If you don’t accept by midnight local time, the garrison will be taken by storm and Marshal Bradford makes no promises.”
“My answer is simple, Wolf. Neg. We will die here, as a good Falcon should. Perhaps you mewling Wolves would take such a demeaning offer, but we Falcons shall soar on the martial glory this coming battle will represent. Win or lose, we shall all earn a place in the Remembrance. Can your lucrewarriors you command say the same?”
“Chistu, I brought my warships. I have to tell you that if you don’t surrender, I’ve been ordered to turn them onto this place. You have sibko cadets under arms. You would ask me to kill children. Consider the waste and folly of this stand.”
“Neg, Wolf. The survivors will have passed their Trial of Position. They already have shown the courage we expect in our warriors. And they will live to see our Clan drive the Federated Commonwealth back, and this time, we will take Tharkad, and deal a deathblow to these Fedcom savashri.” Chistu’s eyes began to burn with maniacal fire, and spittle began to fly from his mouth as his voice raised. “You have presented your demands for your master, Wolf, and you have proven yourself a good little lapdog. Now remove yourself from my sight, and take your sidekick with you.”
Jamie turned to go, but stopped. “You know Chistu, I do think your idea of a glorious fight needs some work. Most of these old men and children will never see their killers. The ones that do, well, one can say it might be glorious..it will most definitely be short, however. You will get a place in the Remembrance, Chistu, it just may not be the one you think. It’s a shame for all the pain and waste that is going to occur to get you your precious mention, eh Chistu?”