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Chapter 21[]

Clover Spear - The Story of the '56 War[]

Prologue, Book 2, The Hammer Falls

Situation Room
Fox’s Den, Mount Davion
New Avalon, Federated Commonwealth
November 6th, 3056

As the briefing droned on with news of an inconclusive battle here, a Blakist or Capellan terror attack there, the litany all meant one thing to Katherine. It’s all on my damn watch, and I am dancing to Sun-Tsu’s tune. She drummed her fingers as she reached through her mind. She’d been mostly a passive observer in the military and intelligence briefings, still a bit in shock over the events of nineteen days before. She’d given Nondi more autonomy on the Clan front, and Nondi in her last communication said that the Steel Vipers “..were horribly telegraphing their intentions.” Whatever the hell that meant.

Victor was still in a coma, and Katherine made a point of reading to him by his bed, a chapter a day from the classics. Katherine smiled at that, he wasn’t much for classic literature, but now? Now I think he’s a bit of a captive audience. They were on the third chapter of Moby Dick, but reading to Victor just reminds me how I miss him, and how I am on the damn backfoot because of that murderous jackal on Sian! And Peter, Yvonne, Arthur? Jesus, they’re in godddamned seclusion! I can’t even send a message to them! I can’t be the big sister I need to be, the ruler I need to be? All I can be is angry, impotent..and…

There was a SNAP, Katherine hadn’t realized it, but she had snapped her stylus from the anger over the fate of her parents. All the heads in the Situation Room turned. A thought came unbidden to Katherine. “Ladies and Gentlemen, can everyone but the principals clear the room?” Katherine queried. It wasn’t long before a rustling of papers and chairs commenced as the veritable army of junior aides, briefer, and clerical personnel cleared the room. Katherine waited for all of them to clear the room. Once the last of them left, the door closed with a snick, it seemed louder to Katherine that it possibly could have. She took a deep breath, surveyed the room. Time to show them the nutcase has some teeth after all.

“Ladies and Gents, to put it in terms my father would have said, these last three and a half weeks have been a terrible ass kicking. I intend we begin to put an end to it. Now.”

Quintus Allard cleared his throat, his deputy Alex Mallory rustling through his papers expecting a request from his boss for information to back up a point his boss to make. “Your Highness, as much as I would like to, it’s been a little tough just keeping ahead of all the Capellan and Blakist terror cells loose in the Sarna and Capellan Marches. And with Sarna under Capellan control…”

“I am aware of these challenges, but my family has been murdered. My brother clings to life in a hospital bed and worse, our people cower in fear of almost daily terror attacks. No Quintus, I am done reacting. We are going to start taking control of this mess back and that begins now.” Katherine reached for an old, tattered olive green mapcase, it was standard Davion issue, and had a faded patch of the 3rd Davion Guards, a bird of prey soaring with a sword in it’s talons. She opened it and removed a folder and placed it on the table. Alex Mallory leaned over and picked it up, and then leafed through it, his face slowly going white.

“Who compiled this, your Highness?”

“My father. He did so with the cooperation of your office. He just compiled names he saw in the daily briefs he still received. I suspect he knew we might need this. I am sad to say that he was right. I want all the names on this list dead by the end of the month, Alex and no, damn the consequences!”

“Your highness, some on this list are prominent citizens of the Free Worlds League, two are members of their Parliament. One is an adviser to Thomas Marik. We can’t just…”

Katherine saw red. “Yes, we can, Alex. I am tired of having open season declared on my family. Of letting that little bastard on Sian call the tune! He decided the type of war he wanted. Well, now he gets it. And if Thomas wants to give aid and comfort to the doers? Then a little of this is going to splash on him. And no, if that means war with him too, then so be it. He should know better. I will give him the chance to hand these people over to us before we take them out, but if they aren’t in our hands by the end of the month, then they will have seen their last sunrise. No ifs, ands, or buts, Alex.”

Alex blanched “Your Highness, this could hurt our agent networks in the League.”

Katherine breathed “I am aware of that. I know it’s a big risk for those men and women we have sent there. But, it’s what we have trained them to do. And its cold comfort that we ask them to do it simply for queen and country, but ladies and gentlemen, this goes beyond politics as usual in the Inner Sphere. If we don’t do this, no one and nothing is safe. The Blakists hit a damn shopping mall on Kestrel a week ago full of Christmas shoppers. No, we need to make it very unhealthy for these people. And Alex?”

“Yes, your Highness?”

“I want the targets to know who and why they are dying. Instruct the agents to tell their targets or leave a calling card that says, “Greetings from Hanse and Melissa Steiner-Davion.”. Also, I want two Capellan names added to that list. Kali Liao, and Dina Ferrera.”

“You want us to kill the head of the Maskirovka and the Chancellor’s sister?”

“She planned the operation that killed my parents, and he needs to know the pain of losing family.” Katherine said serenely. “After this, Alex, no more killings. We win this war clean. But now, we let them know they chose this war and the form it takes. We get to choose our form of retribution, and we will choose the form in which it ends. And I fully intend for it to end in our favor.”

Battle of Waldroff[]

Luneberg Plain
10km South Southwest of Waldorff City
Tamar March, Federated Commonwealth
November 9th, 3056

Star Captain Hardek laughed with delight as his Stormcrow Prime grounded with a shudder in a cacophany of braking jets and a barely controlled impact on the earth of Waldorff. He howled with delight as his ‘Mech’s systems reported in that they were working nominally. Good, the drop was within acceptable parameters, and now we crush the surats who dare attack our Clan, and then deal with the foolish home clans who dare oppose us? The Steel Viper plan was simple, two clusters, the 423rd Assault Cluster, of which Hardek and his trinary belonged to, and the 94th Battle Cluster would drop onto the Luneberg Plain and attempt to suck the FC defenders into a long-range fight, one more clanlike, Hardek’s mind echoed. Meanwhile, 12 hours from now, the 428th Assault and 57th Striker Clusters were going to do an avalanche drop onto Waldorff City itself, seize the starport, and cut off the FC forces from their base of supply. The Khan had assured them all that “This will be a simple matter, a bandit execution.”

Stormcrow-Ryoken Medium OmniMech (Papercraft crossing river)

Stormcrow Medium OmniMech

“All Stars, report readiness.” Hardek barked. He was eager to get going, to restore the honor of the Steel Vipers. He smiled, as he mentally counted the ‘Mechs of his trinary in the distance. 15 for 15, excellent. Trinary Bravo looks ready to walk the Honor Road.

“Alpha Krait Star, we are ready to dispose of the enemy.” Star Commander Susan was a no-nonsense warrior, quite shy in social matters, but a terror on the battlefield, and someone who did not brook any issues from her subordinates. She was probably going to be a candidate for the next Mercer bloodname contest, as she had impressed many in her blood house. Her short stocky build had many wondering if she was the freebirth product of coupling between a ‘Mechwarrior and an Elemental. It was not a question anyone ever asked twice.

“Bravo Boa Star, we are ready.” Star Commander Haskell Moffat was the only bloodnamed member of the Trinary, and normally, he would be a lot more than a simple Star Commander by now. But ever since his bloodname trial 4 years before, he had proven to be a disappointment. He had just turned 31, and any day now, he would probably get orders for a solahma cluster. Watch this one, Hardek, he might get his Starmates killed seeking glory that is not his.   He was tall, and lanky, with hair that had prematurely greyed and worry lines that creased his face like old parchment.

“Charlie Mamba Star, we are ready for the glory that awaits!” Star Commander Chase was an interesting fellow, he was another ristar fresh from his Trial of Position on the Homeworlds. He had managed two kills in his graduation trial, and worse yet, had graduated early. Seems a lot of sibkos are doing that these days. He was a young puppy, eager to please and overly eager to come to grips with the Fedcom. A little too eager, it was all so…unclanlike. Chase was a short fellow, socially awkward, and somewhat befuddled as to his responsibilities as a Star Commander, and worse, he was a complete incompetent when it came to land navigation. He had gotten his entire Star lost on a night exercise a week before and had almost led them into a sandstorm back on Twycross. He used the radio entirely too much often clogged it on exercises. Hardek had threatened him with a circle of equals and that had, for now, put an end to that. He might be the Trinary’s point of failure. I must watch him as well.

“All Stars, we go forward to determine the future of our Clan. Our Khan has already taught the Hell’s Horses a lesson in humility. Now, we shall teach it to the spheriods. The order is, advance and no bondsmen, we shall not have these honorless surats sully the honor of the clan!”

A chorus of Aff, Star Captain!” filled the trinary radio frequency. Hardek had the secondary radio tuned to the Cluster frequency. That radio could not transmit, but it was useful for getting the intent of his Star Colonel and acting upon it before it was transmitted over the radio to Hardek. And it improves my chances for being selected for the next Ahmed bloodname contest.

The secondary radio crackled to life, it was a bit staticky, more than usual. A series of squeals tore through the air and obscured part of the Star Colonel’s orders “- Trinary Delta, I want you to work around the enemy Hardek, see if you can find a seam between their two RCTs, and get at that artillery. Without it, the surats are helpless, and we will dispose of them as we did during the invasion.” The radio squealed again, and then gave way to harsh static, and then, the faint musical notes that sounded as if a cat was being strangled..strange, Davion units, at least the ones the Clans have encountered, do not often play music in battle. It did not matter to Hardek, he had his orders.

Aff, ovKhan.” Hardek replied. He was unsure if the Star Colonel had heard him acknowledge the order, but he lurched his Stormcrow forward at a loping pace, eager to come to grips with the Davion units reported to be on the planet. Three RCTs of their vaunted Guards, this will be an execution. Let us see them fight without their tricks.

“Charlie Mamba, advance to full speed, and flush out any surprises the enemy has in store for us!”

The radio was dead, except for harsh squeals and the occasional pop of static. All of the ‘Mechs of his trinary remained in the double column with him at his head. He made hand and arm signals to deploy the trinary into line, which took time, and forced Hardek to halt his ‘Mech, and observe the shakeout of the trinary. That too more valuable time, 5 whole minutes by Hardek’s chronometer.

Once the line was shaken out, they advanced at the walk, the controlled thunder of 15 Battlemechs at walking speed shaking the earth for at least half a mile as they advanced along the azimuth of the inertial navigation of Hardek’s mech, who was still leading the trinary, some 100 meters forward of the center of the line. Charlie Mamba had still not advanced to screen the line.

Hardek turned his ‘Mech to pass hand and arm signals to Star Commander Moffat in his Kit Fox, when threat warnings blared through his cockpit. A series of small heat signatures had appeared as if from nowhere to his front. Stravag! Enemy infantry to my front…and we have no Elemental support. They were formed into provisional clusters for the drop onto Waldorff City, and who knew how they were making out? Several smoke trails shot out from a series of well hidden positions to Hardek’s front, some 90 meters away. Two of them intersected with a Viper A from Charlie Chase. The rockets exploded short of the mech, making popping noises as the ‘Mech was soon covered in burning gel, as it stumbled and it did so..the ground exploded, separating the Viper’s left arm at the elbow, and the right leg at the knee. The ‘Mech’s ammunition soon began to cook off and an inferno began to consume the ‘Mech.

Uller OmniMech (Ruins)

Kit Fox Light OmniMech

Hardek slammed the arm of his command couch with his left fist in frustration and anger. There was infantry in prepared positions out there, he had the wrong weapons and loadouts to deal with them. He had no elemental support, and worse? He’d walked right into a minefield. He halted again and made more hand and arm motions for the rest of the trinary to withdraw, he’d find a way around these surats, and accomplish his mission. He checked his map, there was an entrance to a small rolling valley that led into the Davion rear, it could be used to reach his objective, and keep him covered, he’d just have to find somewhere sheltered to brief his people face to face and-

It was then that his threat warning system went off again. Air threat. Dammit, where the hell were our fighters? Hardek’s mind questioned. It wasn’t long before a pair of what the computer identified as Corsairs roared past, with half the trinary opening fire on them with everything bigger than a small laser. Naturally, they did not hit them, but a series of dark shapes tumbled from their wings..right over the center of Alpha Krait. The shapes split open into multiple smaller shapes, too many to count, and small parachutes blossomed. Oh no, that new Fedcom munition. They can drop it from the skies too. Many of the munitions fired small thrusters and landed on the tops of the three ‘Mechs caught in the beaten zone. A Mad Dog C caught the worst of it. It blossomed in a series of explosions that dropped the ‘Mech like a puppet with it’s strings cut. The wrecked remains fell to the ground, streaming gouts of black smoke and hit the ground with a loud crash that shook the ground under the feet of Hardek’s ‘Mech.

Vulture - Mad Dog (All Systems Nominal Version)

Mad Dog Heavy OmniMech

It was then that Hardek’s secondary radio crackled to life. “Steel Vipers, this is Star Colonel Ravill Pryde of the Jade Falcon Guards, I come with two Clusters, my own and the 8th Falcon Regulars, we come to bid for the right to face the FedCom forces on world. We will do so, with, or without your cooperation.”

Freebirth! Have the Falcons gone mad? Those units were badly hurt defending Sudeten according to the Chatterweb. And now, they are here? And they bid against four FRESH clusters to participate in our counterattack? Everything is madness.

“This is Galaxy Commander Sarah Andrews to all Gamma Galaxy callsigns, break contact and withdraw to the dropships, FC forces have broken through our security screen. Withdraw and break contact.“

The frequency then squealed painfully again, and this time, the cat strangling music was back, even louder this time. It was then that his cockpit glass polarized as a double flash ripped across the sky, high in the atmosphere, then another..then three. Stravag, what was that?

“Star Captain, Mechwarrior Gerd of Alpha Krait, Sir, they’re saying the Steel Python has been destroyed. The surats nuked it!”

"Stop spreading rumors and get off the air, Gerd. You will submit yourself to your Star Commander for punishment when this is over!" Hardek barked.

“Aff, Star Captain. I would, but she is down, it was her Mad Dog that went down from that air strike!”

“Then who oversees your star? Mechwarrior?” Hardek barked again.

“I am, I am senior.”  The voice came through the radio small, and distant.

Hardek shook his head. Gerd was fresh from the homeworlds, like about a 1/3rd of the Trinary. He had no idea HOW to run a star. And what made it worse, learning how during what was looking like a nasty ambush was not the way to learn.

“All Trinary Charlie elements, execute the orders of the Galaxy Commander.” Whom I will face in a Circle of Equals when this is over. “Keep your intervals and spacing.”

A chorus of “Affs” echoed over the radio.

The trinary moved out in a south westerly direction. The radio was a hash, a mix of cat strangling music, jumbled orders and situation reports, screams, and harsh squeals. Hardek couldn’t raise anyone after some time. Who even knows if we are out here? We went wide to the left to try and overrun the enemy artillery. And we should be seeing our dropships by now?

Hardek’s threat receivers went off again. Ten, no, twelve MAD contacts, mix of weight classes, but 12 ‘Mechs 450 meters to his front only meant one thing. The Davions got there first. And now they are here to finish us off. He glanced at his repeater screen. Charlie Mamba had lost two ‘Mechs in the initial exchange, and Alpha Krait had done likewise. He had 11 ‘Mechs with all sorts of levels of damage. Hardek was willing to bet the Inner Sphere company to his front was as fresh as Arcadia daisies.

His radio crackled to life again.  The voice was tinged with a mild brogue that Hardek could not place “Steel Viper Commander, this is Captain Tam McIvish, Charlie Company, 78th Highland Battalion, 1st Kearny Highlanders. I know who you are, and I know what kind of shape you are in. I have air from the Kell Hounds five minutes out. We just took your dropships. They won’t be waiting for you. Power down and surrender. You cannot win, and we don’t want to kill good men in a bad cause.”

“If you know me, Captain Tam, then you know what my answer will be.” Hardek replied.

“Aye, Steel Viper, Aye. But, I had to try.” Captain McIvish replied

“I thank you for that. I assume we will not be fighting according to the rules of Zellbrigen?”

“No Clanner, we won’t. It’s my rules this time and for the record, I lost a son with the 10th Lyran Guards on Twycross. I won’t be taking revenge, he took a soldier’s risk. But, I won’t be playing by your rules. Now, come at us, Clanner. You won’t find Highlander steel to your liking.”

“Trinary, full advance. No zellbrigen, No bondsmen!” Hardek cried.

The trinary again shook out into a rough line, and before long, broke into a full-on run that left the trinary advancing as more of a gaggle, as lighter machines outpaced heavier ones. Gouts of flame and earth erupted from the ground. Artillery or mines? It does not matter. Hardek pushed his throttle to the stops and put the targeting reticule in his HUD on what the warbook identified as a Shadow Hawk. It was resplendent in the tartan of the 78th battalion and it was advancing as part of a loose line with its comrades, a Battlemaster was next to it, giving hand and arm signals to the rest of the company. That must be McIvish. I shall kill him last, he attempted to honor me.

The reticule pulsed twice, and a growling noise in the speakers of Hardek’s neurohelmet let him know he was in range and on target. He fired his ER Large Lasers and one went wide, leaving a cerulean beam cutting the distance between the two combatants, the other impacted into the left torso of the Shadow Hawk, leaving a scorch mark and knocking loose a few burning armor plates. Good Start, Hardek.
  The distance closed, 300 meters, 200 meters, 100 meters…soon 80 meters. And it became a knife fight, ‘Mechs swirled around each other, the radio filled with warnings, shouts of triumph, and of pain. To Hardek’s left, a Fire Moth was pinned on a spit of lightning from a pair of PPCs from a Warhammer. It’s right leg violently separated from it’s body, and the ‘Mech crashed to the ground, sliding headfirst a dozen meters down a rolling incline. The Warhammer turned to Hardek and fired a PPC and a pair of medium lasers at him, the PPC slamming into the Stormcrow’s left torso. Hardek fired all his weapons at the Warhammer, catching it with both ER Larges in the left arm. The PPC flared, then gouted a bit of smoke. Good, I took away one of his PPCs. Hardek moved on, aiming to get around the Battlemaster, who was taking on all comers, and already had two dead Steel Viper ‘Mechs at his feet.

“So, you want to do this your way, do you Clanner?”

“As you say, aye, spheroid.”

“Alright”. The Battlemaster made a transmission in the clear. “Boys, I intend to sort this Clanner out myself, everybody else, stay out of it.”

Hardek smiled then said over his trinary’s frequency “Trinary, I intend to duel this spheroid. Let no one interfere.”

Hardek turned and closed on the Battlemaster, he smiled ferally. I have you now, freebirth. The Battlemaster began to walk backwards, trying to buy some distance for time. Two PPC shots hit Hardek’s Stormcrow square in the torso, momentarily unbalancing the ‘Mech, but Hardek compensated and kept trying to get around the Battlemaster. As he rounded the left side of the ‘Mech, Hardek had a nasty surprise, the Battlemaster turned a lot faster than any assault mech had a right to. Six medium lasers speared the left side of Hardek’s ‘Mech and tore open the left torso. The engine inexplicably shut down, and the ‘Mech’s momentum threw it into the side of a rolling hill, throwing up great gouts of earth. Hardek’s restraints failed..and he was thrown against the control panel, mercifully losing consciousness.

Battle of Waldroff - Two Hours Later[]

“Wakey, Wakey, Clanner. Don’t get any ideas, we already took your sidearm. Now let the nice medic treat you.”

Hardek awoke to his ‘Mech’s head open to daylight. Someone had pried open the hatch, and now two figures were inside, one, an obvious medtech, was attempting to treat Hardek’s wounds. He attempted to move his limbs, but the medtech leaned on him to stop him. “Don’t move, Clanner. I think you have a concussion and possible bruising of the spine. I got a C-spine coming for you and we’ll be medivacing you shortly.”

“My trinary?” Hardek croaked.

The medtech shook his head. “Sorry Clanner, you lost. The six other survivors surrendered when they saw you go down. One, named Moffat, he keeps asking for bondsref, whatever the hell that means? Do me a favor, live long enough so that I don’t feel my efforts were wasted here? OK?”

Hardek nodded, as his vision began to grey out.

Aftermath - Waldorff[]

  • Taken from the daily FC operational briefing provided to Field Marshal Ranier Poulin
    Supreme Commander of “Operation Clover Spear”, declassified October 9th, 3076.

“..while the Jade Falcon raids along the Periphery frontier have caused some issues on the homefront, as well as political liabilities that are beyond this command’s purview, we can confidently state that the counterattack as we expected on Waldorff was not only shortlived, but costly for both Clan Jade Falcon and Steel Viper. We have no idea why the Falcons appeared in the midst of the fight, but the fact remains, they did, and caused a measure of confusion that in the end, worked to our benefit…”

Scenario - Battle of Waldorff[]


Friendly Forces: 1st and 2nd Davion Guards RCT, Davion Assault Guards RCT, 20th Avalon Hussars RCT, 1st Kearny Highlanders, 1st Kell Hounds

Enemy Forces: 423rd Assault Cluster, 428th Assault Cluster, 94th Battle Cluster, 57th Striker Cluster, Clan Steel Viper. Jade Falcon Guards (50% Strength), 8th Falcon Regulars (50% Strength). CSV Steel Python (Aegis Class Cruiser)

Results: The clan counterattack at Waldorff was an unmitigated disaster from the beginning. The initial Clan drops went well, but the fight for Waldorff City was a meatgrinder for the 428th and 57th Clusters, with the Davion Assault Guards and local resistance fighters turning the city into a patch of urban hell. As for the 423rd and 57th, both clusters advanced across the Luneberg Plain to pin the remaining Davion units between the Tief river and the capitol. It did not work out that way. First, the 20th Avalon Hussars hit the 94th in the flank, and in a two-day running battle, shattered the 94th, which barely had two trinaries escape back to Twycross. The 423rd was even unluckier, being hit by the 1st Kearny Highlanders in the flank, and then having both RCTs go on the attack, and within hours, being plowed under, barely three trinaries surviving to surrender. They also lost most of the Galaxy’s dropships, along with the Gamma Galaxy Command Keshik. Galaxy Commander Sarah Andrews died attempting to organize a defense of the dropships, as Davion fighters nuked the Steel Python, disabling her, then boarding her with a battalion of marines.

It was then that the Falcons showed up, executing an avalanche drop onto Waldorff City, and for a time, initiating a three-way fight for the capitol before both Star Colonel Pryde and Star Colonel Thomas Mercer, commander of the 57th Striker Cluster managed to forge a rough pact and the surviving elements of both Clans (a cluster) held off the 1st Kell Hounds and the 20th Avalon Hussars for another 10 days before being wiped out.

Casualties for the FedCom forces were heavy, with the Assault Guards having lost 45% of their equipment and manpower, the 2nd Davion Guards having taken 20% casualties, and the 1st Kearny having lost 25% casualties. The Kell Hounds and Avalon Hussars lost 15%, mostly in the fight for the capitol.

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