BattleTech Fanon Wiki
Advertisement
Emergence (Concertverse) Chapter Cover

Emergence (Concertverse)
- Chapter 23
[]

Previous Chapter - Return to Story Index - Next Chapter


Veneers[]


Falcon Reinforcements[]

CJFS White Aerie
Zenith Jump Point
Morges
Jade Falcon Occupation Zone
16th December, 3142


The holotank displayed all the information Stephanie Chistu could ever want of the system's inhabited planet.  Morges was represented in full detail, with multiple red lights blinking in orbit to reflect the enemy DropShips not yet planet-side.  Another pair of red icons, one quite large, reflected the Arcadian WarShip and accompanying DropShips at the pirate point near Morges.  The ship's IFF squawk allowed the holotank to display it as "AFS SARA PROCTOR".

Black Lion II Class Battlecruiser (Underway)

Blacklion Class Battlecruiser, CJF White Aerie

Arrayed over this was a holographic image from the planet.  Star Colonel Jason Icaza had a Chistu bloodline, or so Stephanie was sure, though this did not please her given his choice of the black jumpsuit of a committed Mongol.  The same jumpsuit was found around her in several cases, representing a few of the White Aerie's command officers and her Cluster commanders, led by Star Colonel Isaac Roshak of the 9th Talon.  I am very much surrounded by foes.

"The Wolf traitors and their Kell Hound lords are fully deployed.  The Eighth Falcon Regulars did inflict losses on these 'Arcadians' before they were forced back, but we have taken no prisoners from them yet.  If you join our forces victory will be ours, of that I am confident!"

Stephanie pondered that idea for several seconds before shaking her head.  "Neg, Star Colonel Icaza.  Delta Galaxy seeks a greater prize, and the delay might cost us the greater victory.  Do what you can to hold the invaders in place."

"The enemy is here, we should destroy them!" Isaac growled.

"They could withdraw and jump out before we arrived," Stephanie said firmly. "They will report back our movement, and the enemy may realize our actual target and reinforce it.  We must make for Timkovichi, and immediately."  Her head turned towards Star Admiral Giselle Crichell who, thank the Founders, was not wearing black.  "Star Admiral, all of our ships have their lithium batteries charged, quiaff?"

"Aff, Galaxy Commander."

"Then we should charge cores from them and jump immediately.  We have lost the element of surprise, we must make up for that with swiftness."

"The enemy is right here!" Isaac protested.  "If we have a chance to intercept them, through an in-system jump—"

"An in-system jump?  Into a pirate point?  It could be done, aff, but the enemy can still retreat faster than we can recharge cores off of our batteries."  She faced Star Admiral Crichell again.  "Or can we jump before they can return to their ships?"

"It would be close, Galaxy Commander.  Given the distance, likely not, if they employ a higher burn than 1G of thrust.  At best we would jump in just as they were attaching to jump out, and might get a few shots."

"As I thought.  And then we would have to recharge, and our arrival at Timkovichi would be delayed."  Stephanie's eyes focused once more on Isaac.  "The Clan Council gave us a greater mission, and I will fulfill it."

"You mean that the saKhan gave you the mission to promote your candidacy as successor to the Chingis Khan!  That is what this is about!"

It was true, of course, anyone with a Bloodname standing in the room knew it was.  They'd been there for the Clan Council meetings.  Stephanie didn't let the accusation goad her.  "Let me get this straight, Star Colonel.  Instead of pressing on to claim the system where Khan Malvina fell, and to avenge her defeat on that planet, you wish to throw it all aside to hunt a raiding force?  To chase bandits?"

His nostrils flared and every eye in the room widened.  She'd chosen the wording well; no Clan warrior with a smidge of ambition, surely not a Mongol warrior, wanted to waste time hunting bandits, and even if it was a creative interpretation of the enemy force that hit Morges, the very fact they were merely raiding made the point clear.  They would be going after the weaker foe, not the greater prize.

If he does not accept I may have to face him in a Circle of Equals out here, in the void.  Given that it was a similar fight that brought Malvina Hazen to the Khanship, the irony was not lost on her.  Assuming the Mongols still have enough honor to respect the Trial at least.

"Neg, Galaxy Commander," Isaac finally conceded.  "My blood burns to avenge the Chingis Khan."

"Good. That is precisely what I intend to do."  With that she turned her attention back to Star Colonel Icaza.  "Prepare your troops, Star Colonel.  Try to hold the enemy on-planet, but if they withdraw, you will detach your frontline Clusters to travel to Timkovichi.  We will need your forces."

"Aff, Galaxy Commander."  The image disappeared.

I am taking a great risk, she thought.  Delta Galaxy would be dangerously unwieldy with this many Clusters.  But if the enemy escaped — and she suspected they would — the reported forces would undoubtedly make for Timkovichi as well.  She would need the extra forces in that eventuality, the better to be able to overwhelm and break the Arcadians before they could send sufficient reinforcements in.


Preparing for Company[]

The freed bondsmen camp was a hive of activity.  DropShips arrayed in and around the facility were bringing aboard men and material as quickly as they could, in whatever space could be managed.

Rank had its privileges, so it was aboard the Golden Keshik command DropShip, the Blood Fang, that Khan Fetladral and General Bridger met with the other senior commanders and staff officers.  "So far there's been no separation, but we expected that," Hammersmark reported for their benefit.

"Aff. The Falcons are more likely to jump in-system.  They are probably charging their cores from the LF batteries as we speak," Khan Patrik said in his customary rumble.

"I guess they'd risk a pirate jump for the same reason we did," Evan noted.  "Not as much a risk in Morges anyways."

"So we only have a few hours.  That means a return burn at high G."  Laguna shook her head.  "My surgeons made it clear that's going to be fatal for some of these people.  They don't have the stamina."

"Better than leavin' them to the Falcons," Evan said.  "At least they'll get a last meal of sorts, and die free."

"Agreed. That leaves their surviving guards."  Those present could see the cold fury building back up behind Bridger's eyes.  "No time for a proper field hearing, or to put them on the gallows.  Firing squad it is."

"Pardon me sir, but that would be a war crime too."

The voice was a new one in the deliberations.  The officer in question was a dark-skinned man who wore a Striker Corps beret with the Sunhawk insignia, and the three bar-with-hawk rank of a Major.  The open book and pen of a JAG officer was prominent where the others primarily had MechWarrior pins.  The uniform name tag read "Robinette".

The coolness in Bridger's tone would have made any sane man's blood feel like ice.  "Excuse me, Major?"

"Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the regulations for detecting and prosecuting active war crimes in progress, you still need the field court to process the accused and deliver proof of their guilt," Major Robinette answered.  "I'm aware that we have all the proof we need, but it has to be a formal finding for the executions to be legal.  Otherwise it's a crime under the UCMJ and the Ares Conventions."

Evan couldn't help but grin at Major Robinette's stones, given the cold glare from Bridger and the rather hotter, disbelieving glare from Patrik.  "We don't have time for field courts, Major," Bridger said firmly.  "And bringing them with us in these circumstances creates a sabotage risk, even if we had the room."

"I understand sir, I'm just doing my job here.  Military law is clear on the matter, sir."

Bridger's eyes turned to Laguna, who sighed.  She'd been the one to bring the Major since he was visibly on her staff.  "He's right, sir," she said.  "I won't complain if you do it anyway, and I doubt Major Robinette would, but it'd not even have the fig leaf of military justice.  You'd be killing prisoners of war."

"My Wolves can deal with them in Trials of Grievance, then." Patrik said.

"Our troops took them captive, that means they're our responsibility." said Laguna.  "Legally and ethically."

"Are you telling me I have to let those ****** murderers go?!" Bridger shouted.

Robinette shook his head.  "We could still bring them.  Or, there is an alternative that meets the standards."

"Enlighten me, Major."

The harshness of Bridger's tone didn't faze the younger man.  "If we can't bring them, and we can't have field hearings to determine guilt, letting them go's the only remaining legal option."  A very small, almost vicious grin came to the military lawyer's face.  "But there's nothing in the law that says we have to let them go with any of their gear.  Custom is rations of food and water and a survival pack for extreme climates, but that's not required.  Depending how long the enemy will take to get back here, and the weather out there with night falling…"  He let the sentence trail off.

Laguna picked up the obvious conclusion.  "I'm not sure they'll last long enough for the other Falcons to get back.  Not with the buildings gutted by all that artillery."

Evan laughed heartily.  "Mind if I see to it?"

No one did.


Meeting the Prisoners[]

Snow crunched under Evan Kell’s boots and the boots of his escorts - a squad from his Hounds, in hulking sets of Grenadier Battle Armor; just in case the prisoners decided to get bolshy - as he headed for the POW cages.

The hard-faced Arcadian infantry guarding the few-score Falcon prisoners they’d taken must’ve been told he was coming, as they stood aside. Some of the prisoners shot Evan sullen looks of resentment, others flashes of pure rage, as he stood before them, one hand resting on the grip of his sidearm.

“Which one of you bastards is in charge?” Evan asked, in his best parade ground roar. There were mutterings and quiet arguments before one of the Falcons pushed to the front. Evan gave him a quick looking over; young, well-built, and carrying himself with the brash arrogance that seemed as much a part of the “Mongol” attitude as the black leather they insisted on. Red hair - that meant an Icaza, most likely; redheads didn’t show up much in the other Falcon warrior gene-lines. One of the Grenadiers motioned him to a stop six feet away; no point risking a berzerker attack.

“I am Star Captain Erik, I am in charge,” the Falcon officer spoke, arrogance still thick in his voice.

“Alright then, boy.” Evan drew his pistol. “I’m assuming you know who I am?” That got a quiet, sullen, “Aff”. “Well then, y’all are free to go.”

Star Captain Erik frowned at that, evidently trying to consider the angles. “Free, Colonel? Not isorla?”

“Free and clear,” Evan gestured with his sidearm out to the east, across the vast fields of ice and snow beyond. “Now get.”

“But,” Erik faltered for a moment, evidently trying to grasp exactly what he was being told, and able to read the implications well enough. “We have no supplies, no survival gear, no—”

“Oh dear. How sad. Never mind,” Evan responded coldly, quietly thanking the scar that made most of his overt smiles into sneers as the Falcon officer flinched. “I’d get going if I were you, boy,” he let enough anger into his voice that it cracked like a whip, “You might survive the ice. You won’t survive me if you’re still here in the next five minutes.”

“We will die!”

“My people have a saying, Star Captain. As a man soweth, that also shall he reap.” A gesture brought the Grenadiers forward, lasers and SRM racks armed and ready. “March.”


Bridger made his return to the Sinclair as the final lances pulled back onto the DropShips.  Outside of the hangar the night sky lit up from time to time with the explosions of artillery shells or missile fire.  Their Wild Weasel gunships, and the artillery cannons on the Sinclair and Penton, were keeping Falcon forces penned down at the edge of the LZ.  Aerospace fighter squadrons were likewise in the air, keeping the orbital route clear.

Brigadier Laguna walked up beside him.  "We're just a few minutes from liftoff."

"Good.  The sooner we get going, the less likely we leave someone behind."

"Doctor Mueller's made it clear he wants you in a crash couch, sir."  She gestured away from the bay door and toward an internal lift.

"Right."  Bridger watched an explosion flower in the dark before turning away.  "No one left behind?"

"All destroyed pods accounted for, all lost pilots accounted for," she said.  "I can't guarantee we won't lose anyone on the way out.  But we put a real dent in their aerospace forces on the way in and their remaining forces are spent, I'd guess."

They stepped into the lift.  The motors hummed and up they went, towards the interior decks of the spheroid.  "You think maybe we should've left them survival gear?" Bridger asked Laguna.  "You brought your JAG officer for a reason, even if it was his idea to let them go without."

"Major Robinette's legal advice was sound.  Ethically?"  She shrugged.  "Maybe we're supposed to be better than them."

"Maybe.  But some things… you can't ignore."

"War's always been bad for these kinds of things.  Some get to enjoying the killing, unfortunately.  I just don't want us to become that too."

"We keep that from happening by keeping the laws of war," said Bridger.  The lift doors opened and they stepped out onto the command deck at the heart of the ship.  The corridors ahead led to the various offices and to the main command chamber for coordinating forces, and where their crash couches would be waiting.  "The Falcons threw those laws aside.  Threw away the veneer of civility that controls the bloodshed.  Once you do that, well, it has to be answered for.  Otherwise there's no reason not to keep on doing it."

She nodded quietly.  "I suppose.  I just don't like the thought of becoming just as inhuman as the enemy."

"That's the thing, Brigadier."  Bridger sighed.  "As much as we like to call it that, what they do, what any folks can do?  It's all too human.  Broken, but still human."


Frustrating Therapy[]

Dr. Nancy Corey Memorial Hospital
Roslyn, Eastern Islay
Arcadia, Arcadia Royal March
Royal Federation

In the trial that Malvina Hazen's existence had become, the daily sessions of Commander John were particularly frustrating.  All of his questions.  All his prodding.  All of the talk.

And yet it was the one time of the day she oddly looked forward to.  It was a chance to actually do something, to be more than a helpless cripple trapped in a bed, forbidden from killing herself or from being killed.  She might find the actions mystifying or aggravating, but at least they were actions, at least she was doing something.

Today he wore the red and blue uniform with a white coat over it, the name "Dr. John Albright" written on it in formal, cursive lettering, not a mention of his rank.  He had a noteputer in his hands, his fingers occasionally tapping at the screen, while a recorder sat on the hospital tray to her side.  The day's session began with a perfunctory inquiry into her health and her usually-perfunctory grunt of dissatisfaction with her condition.

"So. Mongols."  Commander John rested his hands in his lap with his tablet. "I've researched them.  A ferocious culture with a history of military excellence during their prime.  I imagine that appealed to many of your warriors."

"They were swift.  They struck with no restraint and brought low any who dared to challenge them.  We had much to learn from them." Malvina said.

"Yet their empire did not last, not even as long as the British, or the Roman.  The Chinese eventually assimilated the Mongols who ruled them."  Tap tap tap.  "And they were successfully challenged.  The Mamelukes.  The Japanese.  The Muscovites."

Malvina snarled.  "What of it?  Warriors die, warriors lose.  Their example was still fitting for us.  You Spheroids have numbers, we do not, so our ways must adjust."

"According to everything I've read, your way of warfare was supposed to limit civilian casualties and collateral damage.  You don't.  You go out of your way to inflict civilian deaths, from what I've seen."

She felt her desire to kill Commander John rise, though she had no means to do the deed.  That I have to lie here and be questioned by this fool.  Hunter or no, I wish this over.

"Those who resist are a threat.  There is only one way to remove threats; death.  The dead cannot hurt you."

"Which is why you killed so many of your sibkin over the years?  They were a threat to you and to Aleks."

"I have told you this." she hissed.

"Yes, I was just clarifying things.  The link is important."  Tap tap tap.  She loathed that tapping.  "So this approach serves you well?"

"It does.  Worlds fall to us like ripe fruits ready to be plucked.  My warriors know only victory.  Our conquest of the Lyrans will finally be complete, and then Terra, and we shall be ilClan.  I—"

At that point her voice failed.  Even as she said the words they turned bitter, bitter until nothing else would come from her throat.  All of those conquests, all of everything, and for her, it was for nothing.  She would get no glory.  She would never be ilKhan.

She should be happy with the idea of her Clan prevailing, but it wasn't there.  She felt no happiness.

There was more of that annoying tapping from Commander John's lap.  "You don't really care about your Clan, do you?" he asked.  "Deep down.  Oh, you were part of it, but they weren't real to you.  How could they be, given everything they did to try and kill you when you were young?"

Malvina scowled.  But any response died in her throat.  His words pierced her like a gauss round through armor.  She searched for the feeling of pride in her Clan and felt nothing, just the echo of what she'd made herself believe.  Hollow rote from her days in the sibko.

"So what was it all for?  If not for your Clan?"

"Aleks," she blurted out.  It was the first thing to come to her mind.  "We had to live.  Survive."

"Aleks. The sibkin you grew up with."  A thoughtful look crossed the other man's face.  Malvina hated it when he got that look.  It was the expression of a hunter who'd just tracked down another sign of his prey.  "The only one who cared whether you lived or died."

"We were the weakest.  The smallest.  We had to work together to survive."

"And you both made it.  You passed your… Trial of Position, was it?  Became warriors.  Even got assigned together I imagine?"

"We are—"  Her throat caught on the word.   "We were very good MechWarriors.  A prize for the frontline galaxies."

"Right.  Did you talk to Aleks about this?  About your 'Mongol' ideas?"

“I did. We,” Malvina paused, trying to frame her words correctly - and suppress the pain of memory of the one soul she had never needed to fear, “argued of it, often; in private and in Trial. He felt that a warrior’s strength must only be used under the strictures of zellbrigen, that we were a support, a shield, to those of the lower castes, and that they must be accorded proper,” she paused again, searching for the correct word, just as she once had the right weapon on Black Rose for a given target, “consideration for their efforts. He fought many Trials over that, against warriors who bid poorly, mistook his compassion for weakness in battle.” Those memories brought forth a smile, at the reflection of glory. “Aleks ensured that they lived to become wiser; as was his rede. Even did so with Elementals, Unaugmented. You grasp what this means, quiaff?” A nod at that, and Malvina continued. “Only I could ever best him in Trial, and that I did, every time we faced one another.” Except once; Skye. The one time I truly wanted to best Aleks, and I could not.

She didn't like the penetrating gaze in John's eyes.  "You fought him on multiple occasions, then, and always let him live.  The only person you ever spared, I imagine?  And he never managed to beat you?"

The pain pulsed from her heart without warning.  Everything from Skye flooded back.  Everything.  And even here and now, a prisoner, a cripple… that day on Skye was still the worst day of her life.

"Aleks is gone, isn't he?  He died, and left you alone, and there was no one left for you," John said.  "Only yourself.  And without him—"

"Do not speak of him again!" Malvina shrieked.  She closed her eyes to fight back the welling she felt within them.  She didn't dare let any of that weakness show.

Silence filled the room for many seconds afterward.  Then it returned.  Tap tap tap tap.  Tapping.  The damned tapping. He was recording this, as if… as if it were some point of interesting data, not the anguish that festered inside of her ever since that day on Skye.

"You gained power afterward.  And committed yourself to the Mongol Doctrine," John said, his tone soft, not in the reassuring way, but in a quiet, dispassionate way that simply stoked her fury all the more.  "In the end, even his memory didn't stop you.  You became the, what was it again?  The 'Chingis Khan'?  Was it because it was all you had left?  Your own survival.  Or because Aleks survived through you, and you couldn't let that be threatened?"

"Get out."  The words were hot with pain as they came from her throat.  "Leave me!"

Silence again.  And then… tap tap tap.

"Stop that!" she shrieked, all while the wetness flowed down the sides of her face. "Stop it!  Go away and leave me, or give me my death, but do not tap that damned machine again!"

The tapping stopped.  "We're done for the day, I see.  Enjoy your dinner."

There were footsteps and the closing of the door.

The Chingis Khan broke down into anguished sobs.

Aleks.  She couldn't keep his face from her mind.  And she couldn't keep back the hurt that just poured forth, because here and now, with no Clan, no battle, no glory or honors or even just an enemy to slay, with the veneer of her cause stripped away from her… it was all she had left.


Previous Chapter - Return to Story Index - Next Chapter

Advertisement