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Emergence (Concertverse)
- Chapter 31

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Diving Falcons, Defiant Hawks[]

Ground Combat with Falcons[]

Mannelbourg Township
Timkovichi, Coventry Province
Lyran Commonwealth (disputed)
16th January, 3143

With a heart hammering with fear and fury, Second Lieutenant Alexander Thomas - Lance B, Assault Company, Second Battalion, Second Royal Cuirassiers BattleMech Regiment - pushed his Firehawk OmniMech through the rubble of the Mannelbourg Burghaus and cleared the targeting picture of a Jade Falcon Jade Hawk tracking his lancemate's limping Chieftain. The winged heavy 'Mech was painted in the colors of the Fourth Falcon Dragoons, or so his identifier systems told him, making it the Cluster that was the target of the Second Battalion's flanking maneuver to relieve the Mannelbourg defenders.

With his firing lines clear his Firehawk's targeting computer calculated a firing point for his surviving weapons in time with the hard lock tone, though how reliably it could guide them given the damaged system he wasn't sure.  His machine was too battered from the day's fighting for him to pass up the shot though.

He was rewarded with mixed results, drawing a curse as his remaining six-shot Streak SRM system refused to fire, insisting its lock had failed.  The four medium lasers on his torso, and the surviving PPC on his left arm, did their work, however, carving armor in prodigious quantities from the winged Clanner 'Mech's side while one of the emerald beams of his lasers sliced the damaged right arm off with the precision of a surgeon.  Had the other machine been mounting any ammunition in that side of its savaged torso, it would have detonated.

At his side, Lieutenant Kani Ortiz's Firehawk engaged, though not his foe but a second Falcon 'Mech moving up the street, a Loki that didn't take well to the twin rotary autocannons on Ortiz's 'Mech tearing into its torso, the stream of 80mm shells fired from the whirling weapons chewing through armor and structural steel with brute power.  Coolant and smoke erupted from wounds on the machine.  The pilot, with that maddening skill the Clanners seemed to have in spades, ignored what had to be the severe heat spike filling his machine to counter with pulse laser fire that melted through the barrels of one of the offending autocannons, taking it out of the fight.

Thomas's own foe showed the same poise.  Even with half their 'Mech battered, they showed no hesitation in changing targets, sending missiles into his own machine that put paid to his surviving PPC, tearing the left arm off at the shoulder and scouring much of the remaining armor from the left side of the chest.  He bit back a curse; he was down to his four medium-caliber ER lasers and his surviving Streak launcher, and the Jade Hawk's melee weapon loomed as the pilot rushed the final meters between them, its claw raised and coming in for a blow.  It took his whole concentration to make his assault machine shift to the right, causing one claw to miss and the other to rake across what was left of his left arm's shoulder, tearing the surviving bits of actuator lose.  With his capacitors having cycled again, he fired another round of shots from his medium lasers.  Four successive beams of emerald traced burn lines across the arm and side of the enemy machine.

Spouts of flame erupted from above the Jade Hawk's shoulders and along its sides.  Twenty-four short range missiles crossed the distance swiftly, all but six hitting.  Heat warnings screamed from hits to the shielding of his machine's extra-large engine.  His indicators showed two lasers go out and his targeting system shifted to basic mode, indicating his targeting computer was another victim of the barrage.  Red and orange color banded the three-dimensional likeness of his 'Mech at the corner of his holotank display, reflecting enormous damage to the rest of his skeleton and remaining strips of armor.  My machine's a wreck.  Desperately he wrenched his targeting controls, moving the reticle over the enemy 'Mech without the benefit of the targeting computer's pinpoint guidance.  His finger tensed while four ruby beams struck out, melting away much of the remaining armor over his 'Mech's heart and head module.  In retaliation, two emerald beams cut away at the Falcon machine, leaving more molten gobs to dribble from the ruined surface of the winged jade monster, but causing nothing more severe.

It was a good thing that this time his Streak launcher confirmed its lock.

The missile launcher, untouched by enemy fire, spat six missiles that corkscrewed over the distance of barely a dozen meters and struck home on the Jade Hawk, each and every one blasting armor away.  One of the missiles in particular, the most important one of them all, flew higher than the others and struck dead center of the square of clear armored ferro-glass that covered the Jade Hawk's cockpit.  The warhead went off, shattering the glass and blowing it inward.  The Falcon 'Mech tipped over on its side, lifeless.

Loki Mk2 Heavy OmniMech (In a Wasteland)

Loki Mk2 / Hel Heavy OmniMech

He turned his machine towards the Loki, aiming to help Ortiz, but found it was unnecessary as he was treated to the sight of a squad from the Fifty-Sixth Royal Foot Regiment tearing up the 'Mech in their MBA-3 Wolverine battle suits, employing with gusto the battle claws that gave the fearsome battle armor suit its name.

A cry of "It's got a lock on me!" came over the radio.  He turned towards Lieutenant Kier Macklin's Chieftain, whom he thought to be clear from trouble.  The sight before him proved him wrong.  The ninety ton 'Mech was virtually helpless given the sheer damage and a second Jade Hawk's claws were busy ripping its torso open.  Smoke billowed from the machine's wounds, revealing debilitating engine damage.

"Mackie, bail!" Thomas cried, too late.

The missiles on the enemy machine fired to full effect.  The blasts of flame and steel sent burnt metal flying away from the broken frame of the bipedal 'Mech.  The exposure of its engine space was complete and the Falcon MechWarrior pitilessly reached in and raked wicked talons through the fusion engine itself, slicing clear fuel lines and shielding.  The Chieftain collapsed onto its rear, defeated.  Ignoring the wailing alerts of his own savaged 'Mech, Thomas twisted his machine and sought a targeting lock, hoping he might get a shot off…

…before the Jade Hawk's foot came down right on the Chieftain's head, smashing the cockpit — and Thomas' friend and Ayrshire classmate — in the blink of an eye.

Murdering bastard! Thomas's fingers tensed instinctively on his weapons, driving his heat up again over that produced by the damaged engine.  He got the lock he needed, but only three missiles struck home, and even hits from his lasers did naught but a bit of armor damage.

It also announced to the enemy pilot he had a new foe.  He turned towards Thomas, his machine still mostly intact, and Thomas knew he was doomed.

"Fall back, Bravo-Three, fall back!"  The order corresponded with twin horizontal lightning bolts crashing home on the Jade Hawk, aimed precisely for its missile launchers.  Both of the over-shoulder weapons blew apart from the hits, robbing the deadly machine of half of its missile battery.

"Glad you could make it, Lance Loo." Ortiz said over the radio, prompting Thomas's attention to her machine.  She was in better shape than him, though still missing half her firepower and with the right reverse-jointed knee of her 'Mech sparking from a partial hit.

Their commander, First Lieutenant Nathan Abramov, moved into Thomas's view, coming from the left while Thomas reversed his machine, his speed sluggish given the engine damage.  Abramov's Firehawk was a newer FHK-2 model, with a smaller improved XL engine and ferro-fibrous armor.  Aside from the missing right arm and visible armor damage his machine was still quite intact, and a more formidable opponent for the rampaging Jade Hawk.  The platoon of Wolverine battle armor with him, some clinging to the Firehawk while others were jumping or running down the abandoned street, would further tilt the fight in his favor.

The enemy pilot realized it too, also presumably recognizing that his comrades were all down.  The winged 'Mech took the air, jump jets roaring in plumes of blue plasma from their apertures on the back and legs.  With his systems messed up Thomas had no way of getting a lock.  Ortiz did, her surviving rotary autocannon roaring away without effect while twin streams of emerald needles pierced the sky, striking armor from the retreating enemy machine.  Thomas swore in frustration, knowing that even if his lancemates or another got that fleeing pilot, he wouldn't be part of it.

"Bravo-Three, Bravo-Four, head back for repair."

"Sir, the entire battalion's still moving on the counterattack." Ortiz's complaint prompted Alexander to check the larger map display to his side.  The Assault Company, indeed all of Second Battalion, were moving ahead alongside armored mechanized infantry of the Fifty-Sixth Royal Foot and the tanks of the Fifteenth Royal Armored, striking into the flank of one of the Jade Falcon "Clusters" as it pressed back Third Battalion and its attached support, the mixed mercenaries and what was left of Timkovichi's Armored Guard formation.  The maneuver, more-so, seemed to be working well, his lance's difficulties notwithstanding.  They'd just put down four enemy 'Mechs at the cost of just one of their own, after all, even if his machine and Ortiz's were battered to the point of uselessness.

Abramov's voice brooked no discussion.  "I'm aware of that, Bravo-Three.  My order stands."

Disappointment aside, that meant there was nothing to discuss.  Thomas turned his machine and began a slow, thirty-four kilometer-per-hour walk back to the Second Battalion's field base.

“Alright, people, the Arcadians just smacked them round the head,” Darren Huyten called, pushing his Doloire Assault OmniMech up to a low walk. “Now we kick them in the crotch; engage at will!”

Brickwork crumbled as he sideswiped a ruined building stepping out into Mannelbourg’s main street, uncomfortably aware of the damage they were doing and what it was going to cost to fix, even if the Falcons were kicked off Timkovichi. The rest of his attention, however, was focused on the Fire Moth further down the street, battlesuited infantry already dropping from its high-mounted arms.

Whatever else they might have been, the Clan pilot wasn’t an idiot; faced with an assault ‘Mech four times their tonnage, they only spared a moment for shock before turning on their heel and starting to accelerate away, one of the Elementals still clinging on and undoubtedly cursing the mechwarrior out over the radio. Darren sent strings of heavy-gauge laser pulses chasing it; the Doloire’s accuracy-enhanced arm actuators guiding both streams of golden-white bolts into the Fire Moth’s vulnerable shoulder joint, blowing its left arm away in a shower of sparks and molten metal as it ducked around a corner.

Around him, as their heavy armor began to pull out - sending shells, Gauss rounds and shrieking jags of missile salvoes downrange as cover -  the rest of the Lucky Stars’ ‘Mechs engaged, boosting over obstacles on jump jets or just shouldering through them. Beside him, Ellie Jiao’s Lament - still painted in the gold-trimmed white of the Principes Guards she’d once openly served in - lashed arcs of destruction across the chest of a Night Gyr with its heavy particle cannon; blowout panels flared on the Clan machine’s chest as its autocannon ammo detonated. The Night Gyr’s right arm slumped as it hit back with its pulse lasers.

Loki OmniMech (In Repair Bay)

Loki Heavy OmniMech

Darren left her to it; with Renata O’Kane’s Quasimodo muscling in to support, and the Carronade of Balan Reznov keeping a thin-skinned old-style Loki at bay with the threat of his Gauss Rifles. Darren shifted in that direction, bringing the threat of his own Gauss Rifle - just the threat for now; too few slugs to risk with his targeting system refusing to give better than a flickering red-gold partial lock marker - to bear.  That gave time to survey the battlefield, and call for status checks, and figure out how to explain this - not the battle, everything that had happened over Timkovichi - in his next report.

“Star One, this is Sirius Lead,” Captain Aleka Montrose called, the hollow thumping of her Black Knight’s plasma rifles underlying the words, “We got a problem here; at least two Stars of Ironhold suits, dug into a building. Gotta be the heat-proofed armor type, my plas guns aren’t doing more than really pissing them off. Requesting fire support.” She rattled off a string of map reference numbers.

“Acknowledged,” Darren replied, stinging the Loki with his pulse lasers - forcing it back another hundred meters - as he flipped channels. “Chiron Platoon, Procyon Nine, work for you. Fire mission, these coordinates. Four-round stonk and then get out of it.”

Their acknowledgements came back, and although the buildings hid them from his camera feeds, he’d seen the artillery section at work often enough - in practice and battle - to picture it clearly. The close-support Rommel’s long, heavy howitzer elevating to the sky as the turret locked in place; the heavy Centaur battlesuits crouching down, bracing legs deploying in the awkward squat that the R&D types swore was the only way for a suit to take the recoil. Then the slamming thunder, leaf-shaped blades of flame erupting from muzzle brakes as the Centaurs tore through one of the four round clips fitted to their backpack rigs at maximum rate, the Rommel’s fire a slower, deeper sound.

He wasn’t happy about revealing one of his hole cards like this; not in front of officers as smart and capable as Nadia Allard or Jacob Tanhause. They’d know damn well that Centaurs had only just started being issued to Stone’s Brigade before the Fortress Walls went up, and even with the prepped explanation - and documents backing it up - they’d ask questions he’d have a hard time answering. But, use it or lose it time, now.

“Good hits, good hits!” Montrose called, exultant. ******’ leveled the place, and I see lots of Clanner armour shards. We’re good to pull out, Colonel.”

“Confirm that. Get moving for Phase Line Heraclio.” Further back than planned, but the Clanners were pressing harder than expected; elements of two more Clusters were already wading into the fight, fresh and bold and some wearing the markings of the First Striker, one of the Falcons’ best units. Part of him wanted to stay, try to turn this into the kind of slugging match the Clans couldn’t manage; if the Falcons weren’t the Liaos, who Darren would gladly have killed for free, they’d still made the Republic bleed, and he wanted to take recompense for that out of their hides. But, responsibility means I can’t do that; responsibility to his people, to the contract they’d signed with the Kell Hounds and Duchess Katarina, and to Lady Lakewood, who’d be extremely cross if he got himself killed before reporting this..

His lock-on markers flashed gold; good tone on the Loki. That was something he could actually do, at least, and Darren tied everything into his primary triggers. One for the road.

Galaxy Commander leading the way[]

Stephanie felt the old chill of combat come down over her when the lock tone first sounded in her ears.  A squeeze of the trigger sent a gauss slug into the shoulder of the Arcadian 'Mech in her crosshairs.  The armor failed, weakened by earlier combat, and the arm froze, a useless appendage for the towering humanoid machine that her machine identified as a Shillelagh.

The Arcadians were already wheeling about to face her and her First Striker Cluster, relieving the Fourth Falcon Dragoons to fall back in good order after the damage they'd taken at the enemy flanking attack.  Undaunted her warriors met their maneuver, firing for effect at their approach while the Sixth Striker Cluster moved into position to continue the Fourth Dragoons' assault on Mannelbourg.

Turkina (by SU-SMD)

Turkina Assault OmniMech

Her target swiveled to face her.  In some ways it reminded her of an old Gargoyle, though larger and visibly slower.  She jinked her machine to the side in time to avoid taking a hit from the manmade-lightning that erupted from the barrel on the Shillelagh's right breast.  The pilot adjusted their aim before firing again.  This time Stephanie felt the vibration in her machine as it endured a full automatic burst from the Shillelagh's functioning autocannon.  A proper fight, at least.  She returned the favor with the PPCs installed in her Turkina's torso.  The two blasts converted on the flank of the machine, their fury blasting free molten, charred chunks of armor and material.  The other 'Mech visibly stumbled before the pilot caught their feet and turned, presumably to cover their wounded side.

As an individual warrior Stephanie would have kept her focus on this enemy, but she had a responsibility to her warriors to see to their needs.  She diverted her attention to the tactical display along the side of her command couch and observed the Fourth Dragoons continue their withdrawal.  She scowled at the sight of a Star of troops cut off for failing to do so.  Mongols, possibly, or simply fools.  She could do nothing for them without jeopardizing the rest of the Fourth.

The enemy's mixed forces met hers with resolve, just as her own foe, while withdrawing, kept up fire on her Turkina, raking autocannon shells across the shoulder and chest of the assault 'Mech.  Undeterred, Stephanie directed a full strike on the enemy machine, firing all four of her main weapons.  Heat spiked in the cockpit given the sheer energy needed for the PPCs to fire, but it was of no concern, she had endured similar heat at her forge.

Her fury left its mark.  The gauss slugs blew through the hip of the leg closest to her, trashing armor, skeleton, and the myomer of the hip actuator.  One particle blast grazed the shoulder of the 'Mech while the other flayed armor from the torso beneath.  A flash enveloped that half of the enemy machine, the familiar detonation of an autocannon shell magazine.  The Shillelagh tottered before a second gout of flame erupted below the head module, sending the cockpit skyward.

Another victory for my codex, though not nearly enough for my purpose. With no immediate fire on her Stephanie re-directed her attention towards the greater fight.  There was satisfaction at her First Strikers striking the enemy so hard and certainty at their success.  Yet every day our casualties mount and the enemy, though retreating, fights well.  The Mongols will contrast a bloody glorious victory to their bloodless triumphs as proof of their superiority, and how many of my warriors will be seduced by their dezgra ways.

It was a sickening moment to be sure, that cursed realization.  Stephanie believed in the Honor Road, in the Clan way, in the Falcon way.  But those ways imposed a price.  The Mongols offered the easier solution to victory by their pledge of bloody, savage retribution on any who dared to resist.  Success was its own argument for those who tired of bloody stalemate.  She could feel the Khanship slipping through her fingers with every friendly icon that blipped out on her holotank.

Still, what am I to do?  Renounce the Honor Road and follow Malvina's path?  Embrace the ways of that mad blood-foul and those who have turned their backs on the Founders' words?  Her heart rebelled against the idea.  There is no honor there.  No glory.  Only the false pride of easy conquest and the enervation that will come with it.

Pushing her fears and doubts aside, Stephanie sent her Turkina into a run and rejoined the battle.

he fight for Mannelbourg unfolded in brilliant holographic color in the command facilities of Field Base Carrol, one of a half dozen battles being waged in some capacity across a front of hundreds of kilometers.  The fresh Falcon troops pouring into the flank of his own flanking unit put a sour frown on General Singh's face.  He watched intently as his Second 'Mech Battalion's lines degraded, the Falcon formations penetrating through and breaking up the unit and their attached support.  Third Battalion meanwhile was in no position to help; their forces, and the local mercenary unit aiding them, were being driven right back out of Mannelbourg by the Falcon resurgence.  The counterattack was a failure.

Not that his people weren't fighting.  In Mannelbourg, or in Schmidtburg where First Battalion's battle group with the Twenty-Eighth Royal Grenadiers were waging a fighting withdrawal from the enemy's Ninth Talon, or Fourth Battalion's successful defense of the Ruhl River line on the far western flank, his troops were punishing the Falcons for every centimeter of land taken.  Every effort by the enemy to quickly smash the lines was failing to provide immediate response.  Every strike was resisted, and even if successful, the Falcons were paying in blood for their victories.

But there was no denying the growing red on the map.

"The continent of Ruckel is lost."  Nadia Allard had the map of the planet showing.  "We managed to pull the militia and volunteer survivors out, but only a third made it to the extraction zones before the Falcons responded in strength."

"I expected as much," Singh admitted.  Two out of three of Timkovichi's primary continents were now under tentative Falcon control.  It reduced the number of available aerodromes for his aerospace fighters, and their ability to provide planet-wide coverage.  But trying to spread the Second Royal Cuirassiers and their RCT to protect those continents was impossible given the strength of the enemy.  The fight was here, on the main continent of Aurum, with the Falcon forces moving up to the Summer Veldt and Cirenholm.  Once they're past the hills and river lines there's no stopping them, Singh thought ruefully. The numbers are too imbalanced.  "Nothing from the Glass?"

"No." From his place to Singh's side, Brigadier Huston shook his head.  "The last drone we attempted to send through was shot down by the Falcons' aerospace fighters before it could get through, and no further communications have come through from the other end."

"Then we have no idea of if relief is coming, when, or how."  Singh drew in a breath.  "Brigadier, as dangerous as it will be for morale, have our people begin preparations for the abandonment of FB Carroll.  We'll fall back into the mountains to the north and try to buy time."

"I've got them on standby, sir, it'll be done immediately."

"Good." Singh considered what it would mean, losing the base.  Most of their fixed facilities were here.  Mobile field base vehicles could allow some repairs, but the loss of all their repair bays, their ammo dumps, the barracks… his soldiers would be fighting in the bush with ever-dwindling supplies.  Power armor and battle armor suits would run out of energy eventually, with no fresh battery packs to restore them.  Armor and structural material for vehicles and 'Mechs would swiftly run out, or have to be salvaged from other machines, with limited tools to do either job.  Some of their fighters could be sustained - the Frogbat conventional strike fighters were made to refuel their fusion engines from any water source, famously drawing from lakes frequently - but most would likewise have to be cannibalized for parts or grounded for lack of suitable runways or launch points.  And ammunition and spare parts would certainly run short for the weapons.

All we can do is buy time, he thought.  Buy time and hope for relief.

"Colonel Allard, is your latest dispatch ready?" he asked Nadia.

"It is, General."

"Then I shall add mine with it."  Not that I expect General Bridger and the Kells on this side to be capable of any relief.  Not unless that Lyran battlecruiser they say is still active has arrived to fight on this front.  But I must keep them informed regardless.  "A moment, if you please."

She nodded briskly.  He saw the recognition in her eyes, of the burden of inevitable defeat that he was shouldering.  Undoubtedly she was used to it, as this kind of desperate fighting was one the Lyrans on this side of the Glass were well-acquainted with.

I have done my duty.  The rest is up to God.  He walked off to prepare his report, sparing himself the sight of Mannelbourg's fall to the Falcons.

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