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Emergence (Concertverse)
- Chapter 39

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Honor and Shame[]

Warriors Preparing for Battle[]

Field Base Carroll, Near Cirenholm
Timkovichi, Coventry Province
Lyran Commonwealth (Disputed)
1st February, 3143

The Hummingbird III OmniVTOL painted in Eighth Striker sky blue came to a stop at the helipad in front of the Field Base HQ.  A crowd, mostly in AFRF red but a few in the uniforms of the merc companies or the local militia, milled about the pad.  The side door opened, allowing Eva and Allison to dismount from the swift chopper's transport pod that had ferried them back to Field Base Carroll from Martenholm.

Even as their feet hit ferrocrete, the crowd of uniformed men and women started cheering and applauding.  Allison grimaced, undoubtedly from the concussion the medtechs confirmed when they were examined.  While Eva had no such injury the roar in her ears amplified the strange feeling of unreality she had over everything she was seeing and doing.  The battle was over and, contrary to all her expectations, she was alive.  She'd lived.  More importantly, she and Allison won.  They'd beaten the Falcon leaders, and by the terms agreed upon, the Falcons would leave Timkovichi.

Generals Bridger and Khan led the command officers of the various units up to meet them.  Training kicked in and Eva brought her hand up in a salute, Allison's snapping into place a second after hers did given she was still smarting from the head injury.  The cheering and roars died down and more arms came up in salutes.

Before saying anything, Bridger brought his hand up in a salute as fine and solid as any Eva ever saw, the kind the Nagelring held up as the standard for parade reviews.  Khan and the others mirrored it. "Leutnant Palisser, Lieutenant Penton, congratulations on a battle well fought and a victory well earned." Bridger said, his voice booming with pride.  "You've saved this planet from the Falcons."

"We did our duty, that was all." Eva said, her words more by rote than feeling.

"You fought like a team, and you kept your heads against some of the finest piloting I've ever seen," Bridger said.  "I couldn't be more proud."

"Aff, it was a fine battle." Patrik Fetladral declared.  "You fought with unity where your foes did not, and as our Remembrance rightly says, the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.  Your victory is well worthy of memory, and I shall see to it personally."

"Yes," Tanhause agreed quietly. "Lieutenants — both of you — that was one of the best things I've ever seen; and I saw Kai Allard-Liao fight when I was a boy. You're a credit to your services and yourselves, and I'm writing you both up for a medal." He smiled softly. "More importantly, I understand that there's to be a party in the mess later, and you're both to be the guests of honor. The Duchess herself has contributed some fine brandy."

"So is it over, sir?" Allison asked.  "Are the Falcons honoring their word?"

"So far, looks like it." Huyten offered.  "We've got recon resources monitoring them, but they're pulling everything back to their initial field camps now, save their units observing the prisoner exchange.  They started that the moment the fight was over."

Laguna's eyes met Eva's.  "You okay, Lieutenant?"

"I'm… just surprised, sir," Eva said.  "I honestly thought I was going to die today."

"Hell, I always figure the next day is the day I'll buy it." Evan Kell offered, grinning.  "Good to see you're still with us, though.  Khan Malvina Hazen, now Galaxy Commander Stephanie Chistu.  The Falcons just might start urgin' us to keep you benched in the next fight."

Allison laughed.  "I'd hope not, sir.  Not until we've chased them out of the Commonwealth."

Eva's eyes went back to the crowd who weren't cheering again, but were standing at attention.  Not for the generals, either.  For us.  How… how did I end up here?  How am I the heroine? In the crowd she spotted Kevin, standing with a straight spine.  When he noticed her attention was on him he smiled thinly and said, "Eva, good of ye to come back.  I'm sure Captain Kincaid and Lieutenant von Krager are proud of ye.  Lieutenant Norton too."

She nodded at him in reply.  I hope so.  I hope my parents are too.  I guess I'd better write a new letter…

"Alright everyone, we still have duties to see to!" Khan called out, since most of the assembled were wearing the patch of the Second Royal Cuirassiers along with their individual regimental patches.  "The Falcons are still here, remember?  Until they're gone, we remain ready for action!"

"Yes sir!" a number of voices called out, at which the crowd began dispersing.

"I heard the medtechs checked you out. So how about you come in for a nice meal and we'll get your formal after-action debriefing going?" Bridger offered, his voice kind.

"Yes sir.  I'm famished." Allison admitted.  Eva nodded, though she had only a calming tea in mind.  She wasn't sure she could handle food just yet.

Falcons Roost in Anger[]

Delta Galaxy Headquarters
Mannelbourg Township

Fury burned in the heart and soul of Star Colonel Isaac Roshak as he stomped into the central hall of Mannelbourg's baronial estate.  Every set of warrior eyes, even those of the technicians, seemed to be judging him, searching for signs of weakness, for his abject failure.  Everything for nothing!  If Chistu were alive I would kill her, shoot her dead, challenges be damned!

Still, I survived, and I inflicted significant blows on my foes.  Chistu is dead, and let her rot.  If I am to survive, and keep the traditionalists from leaving our Clan weak, I must show strength now.

The Star Colonels of the entirety of Delta Galaxy were present, those from Chistu's original forces and the units picked up on Sudeten and Morges. A couple still sported injuries much like Isaac's own, though more progressed in healing.  Star Colonel Kimberly Mattlov, Chistu's new personal aide, spoke first.  "The prisoner exchange is being seen to as we speak, as are our withdrawals from forward exposed points.  We will be ready to depart in forty hours."

"Then we are retreating?"  The challenge was clear in Star Colonel Uther Mattlov's voice, and his eyes glistened with anger, as did every pair of eyes from the dark-clad Mongols in the room.  "We are denied victory because of weaklings who failed to follow the ways of the Chinghis Khan?"

Without another word Isaac stormed up and laid Uther out with a punch.  "I fought as hard and great as any warrior would!" he shouted while Uther stared up at him in shock, the same visible on the others.  "And I will challenge any of you who think otherwise!  And yes, we have lost the Trial, and so under the terms the late Galaxy Commander laid, we have been granted hegira to withdraw from Timkovichi with honor."

"There is no honor but victory!" hissed Star Colonel Wanda Helmer, another of his fellow Mongols.  "We should renew the attack, or better yet, call down the fury of our WarShips!"

"You will do no such thing," barked one of the Delta Galaxy commanders, Star Colonel Lisa Hazen.  "Galaxy Commander Chistu agreed to accept hegira if defeated.  We will honor that and withdraw, and if you try to break faith and disgrace our Clan, we will help the victors put you down for your treachery."

Helmer turned in rage on Hazen, but the other Delta Galaxy loyalists of Chistu stood together.  As tempting as it would be to shoot them all, we do need to preserve our troops, thought Isaac.  If only for use elsewhere. "While I did not approve of her decisions, as Galaxy Commander Chistu's second in the duel, I am honor bound to obey her orders on this regard.  Hegira has been granted.  We withdraw, to get our Clan in order, and enjoy the truce the Galaxy Commander secured as a condition for the duel."

"Then we are humiliated yet again."  Uther lifted himself from the ground, the blood from his lip and nose dripping over the black leather of his suit.  He snarled at Isaac.  "We should kill you for your defeat."

"You are welcome to try."  Isaac stared down the other black-clad Mongol commanders before turning his focus on Star Colonels Kimberly and Lisa. "Since hegira is granted, and I was chosen by the Galaxy Commander as her second in the duel, might we dispense with a Trial of Position for the moment and I assume temporary command of Delta Galaxy?"

"You?!"  Lisa laughed harshly.  "You have no right to it.  The Galaxy Commander picked you to quiet your shrieking, nothing more.  Delta Galaxy will be commanded by one of our own."

"Then I will insist on a Trial of Position, as is tradition."  Isaac spoke the word with particular relish.  If you wish to do this, I will oblige, and kill my way through your ranks until I am in command!

"What is important is returning to Sudeten to inform the Khans of the truce, and the outcome here." Kimberly said.  "As well as the examples of Arcadian technology our technicians recovered from the sites of our victories.  Many of their weapons match our own, but they seem to have refinements we lack."

Recalling the long-ranged snub-nosed PPC that the Arcadian fledgling warrior employed on her machine, Isaac recognized the truth of the remark.   "Such weapons will improve the Clan once we can employ them as well." he agreed.

"That said, Star Colonel, my willingness to let you act in Galaxy Commander Chistu's stead extends only as far as honoring our pledges.  The truce, and our accepting hegira, will not be violated."  She said those words in a strict tone.  "You will withdraw as required, and I will not hear a word of trying to convince or compel our WarShips to attack.  Quiaff?"

Isaac nodded.  Star Admiral Crichell is another of the 'traditionalists' we should have killed in the Rending.  She would never accept my order anyway.  "Aff, Star Colonel.  Aff."

"Then I will continue seeing to the withdrawal."

"The same for all of us," Isaac said.  "Tell your warriors to prepare for departure, as soon as possible.  This battle is over, but more remain for us to seize glory for our Clan."

The black-clad and green-clad officers all dispersed.  Isaac, content to let Star Colonel Mattlov handle the drudgery of arranging their withdrawal, departed towards the offices of the baronial estate, where the Watch's contingent among the invasion force were headquartered for the moment.  The Watch's overseer on Timkovichi, Star Captain Forrest, saluted at him, his black leathers worn proudly even if he was barely a warrior.  "Star Colonel, what might I do for you?"

"Act quickly, Star Captain.  Arrange to have Galaxy Commander Chistu's quarters searched.  All data files and materials she had must be examined and cataloged, then brought to me."

"It will be done, Star Colonel."

The saKhan clearly favored you, Galaxy Commander Chistu.  I wish to know why.  Isaac nodded and departed, to see to the Ninth Talon's withdrawal preparations.

Eva lost in her Thoughts[]

Field Base Caroll
Near Cirenholm

The mess hall of Field Base Caroll was decked in printed buntings and banners proclaiming the victory in the second fight for Timkovichi. Personnel from most of the assembled units were around, coming and going as their duties allowed.  It seemed everyone, from fresh privates to grizzled sergeants and the regimental commanders, were coming by to give Eva and Allison salutes and handshakes, usually to impromptu cheers from those enjoying the drinks provided by Duchess Schmitt-Levensky. Mugs of Timbiqui Dark, which was somehow even better on this side of the Glass, lifted repeatedly with those cheers, and the same left the usual warm taste in Eva's throat as she took another drink.

They're making me a hero.  Me.  I just… I did my duty, and I thought I was going to die.  I didn't do anything heroic.  I didn't throw myself in front of a blast or…  She stopped the thought.  She had, hadn't she?  Driving her 'Mech so hot her SRMs cooked off because she was busy helping Allison, that was risking herself, the kind of "team effort" that earned you promotion and honors.

But they act like I proved I was the better MechWarrior.  I wasn't.  I just won because I got desperate, and she didn't see it coming.

"Aye, there ye are, Eva."

Hearing Kevin's voice prompted her attention to return to her surroundings. Allison wasn't looking her way, seemingly in conversation with some of her present comrades.  She focused her eyes in the direction of the voice and found Kevin approaching with Colonel Perez and Captain Choudhury.  They faced her with grins and smiles.  She saluted and they replied with their own.  "At ease, Lieutenant," Perez said.  "Don't worry about the formalities, this is your victory celebration after all."

"I…"  Eva swallowed.  "Thank you.  It's still a bit much, but thank you all.  For everything.  You've fought at my side all through this madness, and helped me become strong enough to survive what I faced today."

"Ah, ye're a natural too, don't forget that." Kevin insisted.

"I got lucky, I think," she answered.  "I'm not as good as that Falcon warrior I beat."

"Sometimes it isn't about being a better pilot, it's keeping a cool head." Captain Choudhury offered her hand.  Eva accepted it and the resulting handshake.  "To be honest, I'm a little miffed, you might end up getting poached from me."

"Poached?"  Eva looked at her with some confusion.  "You mean assigned to another unit?"

"Not just another unit.  The General might assign you to his staff, or the AFRF might recall you for media relations." Perez said.  "It wouldn't be the first time they pulled a good pilot for PR work when they're set to become a media darling.  It's happened a lot in the Sunhawks' long history.  Dani Verdes, for instance, got yanked from the Arcadian Guards after the press made her a war hero, and ended up a Sunhawk afterward."  He grinned.  "That was when she got knighted too.  Makes me wonder if you'll end up getting the shoulder taps from the High King."

Eva blushed at the idea.  Becoming a Knight of the Federation was hardly something I ever planned on!

"They'll decide later," Kevin declared, ending the conversation for her sake, she imagine.  "For now, let's celebrate our young lass returnin' hale and hearty!"  His words prompted the attending — including some of the other First Battalion Sunhawks — to again let out a cheer before returning to their discussions.

She blushed again at the cheers.  I don't deserve this, she thought.  Allison, sure, but not me.  But it's what they want, I guess.  I fought and almost died for them.  The least I can do is let them have a party with me, can't I..

...I wonder how Allison is taking it?  She glanced toward her fellow victor, but found she was still in quiet discussion with her own comrades.  Best to leave them to it then.

Toasts and Reflection[]

"Hauptman Devika Xiang."

The name — the last in a long, long list — carried on in soft repetitions among the assembled Armored Guards; all of them, less the handful, chosen by lot, to man their remaining Quaestor mobile HQ and watch the Falcons' withdrawal, and those too badly hurt to be out of the hospital. Glasses lifted; the amount of brandy in each was purely ceremonial — duty tomorrow, for all of them fit to work — but the proprieties had to be observed.

"Here's to the dead." Jacob Tanhause raised his voice, speaking clearly enough to carry.

"And hurrah for the next one to die," they all shouted in response. Allison didn't know where this tradition had come from — she'd heard stories; from the SLDF, from the Davions in the FedCom days; even one claim that it'd been acquired from the Canopians somehow — but it helped.

So many. In half a year, they'd gone from a proud brigade to the tattered few. Barely a lance of MechWarriors left, with less than one functioning 'Mech between them — maybe one and a half, if Warrant Burnes' old Warlord could be fixed — some bone-tired vehicle crews, and a smattering of Infantry.  Not one survivor from their aviation company, or the aerospace defense boys; their short squadron of FedCom-era Sparrowhawks Fighters had been wiped from the skies before the Kell Hounds arrived.  So many faces gone.

"We kept the faith," she said aloud.  "Timkovichi breathes free.  The Falcons are leaving, and this time…"  Her voice caught.  I want to say they won't be back any time soon.  But that's the problem with the Mongols; they're like a ghost bear with a toothache.  They'll go after anything, and sure as hell don't care about their word.  They might be back next month for all we know, Arcadian reinforcements be damned.

Well, to hell with them.  We'll fight them again, dammit, and send more of them to join the rest… no, that's the brandy talking.  If they come back, and it's a real fight, I doubt any of us will be left to celebrate if our side still wins.

"You're right."  Tanhause's voice carried over the silence.  "We kept the faith, and that's what matters."  He considered the glass, as if preparing a new toast.  Allison readied hers.

Before either could speak, the base PA system crackled.  "Attention, everyone."  The voice of Evan Kell spoke loud and clear.  "A spot of great news to share.  Our message shuttle just made it back through the Glass, and they've got news fresh off the HPGs on the other side.  Earlier today, Lady Trillian signed a treaty of alliance in Archon Melissa's name with High King Nathaniel of the Arcadians. Everything we've done here on this side of the Glass, it was just the start, folks.  We're allies now, all official, and together we're drivin' the Crusader Wolves and the Jade Falcons right out of the Commonwealth!"

"Well, forget what I was thinking before."  Tanhause stood and lifted his voice, gaining the attention of the Eighth Striker and Second Royal Cuirassier personnel present, the mercenaries' people too.  "To the health of High King Nathaniel and our Arcadian allies!"

Allison joined the chorus of voices that echoed his words.

"To the health of Lady Trillian, Archon Melissa, and our Lyran allies!" Colonel Perez called out, lifting his own shotglass of brandy.  The Arcadian personnel echoed his words with their own toast.

After an exchange of grins, the two commanders added the final touch to the toast.  "And to victory!"

Everyone joined in, and in one gulp, a great deal of brandy sealed their words.

Falcons withdraw with anger[]

CJFS Timurlane
Departing Timkovichi Orbital Space
3rd February, 3143

Overlord Dropship (In flight in Atomsphere - Dave School MW)

Overlord Class DropShip leaving the planet.

The Falcon DropShips rising from the surface of Timkovichi formed a constellation through the viewing port on the Timurlane.  The Overlord-class ship carrying the bulk of the Ninth Talon was one of the last vessels to launch.  Aboard the Mongol-named vessel, seated in the command center, Isaac's fury remained unspent since the stinging defeat of two days before.  Had Chistu not been a coward, this world would be ours, and the Arcadians would not have humiliated us once more!  He hated so intently he wished he could burn every one of them to death for their refusal to submit to the Falcons.  I would have made a funeral pyre of this world, in the name of the Chinghis Khan, and taught the outsiders to fear the wrath of the Mongols.

Black Lion II Class Battlecruiser (Underway)

Black Lion II Class Battlecruiser, White Aerie

In the distance, the White Aerie and the rest of Crichell's WarShips were in position, preparing to escort Delta Galaxy away.  Even now he could imagine the result of turning the ship's impressive guns on the planet.  Enemy 'Mechs and tanks melting to slag, the cities burning around their battle- and power-armored infantry, their fighters blasted to pieces on their aerodrome fields.  That was how resistance should be dealt with, not this wasteful 'Trial' business that Chistu insisted upon.  But it is too late to change that.  Let this place be a lesson to us all of the death we face if we continue to adhere to the old ways.  The path of the Golden Ordun is our destiny.  That way lies greatness and conquest.

Still, the truce would be useful.  The Falcons would keep their conquests.  As they did ninety years ago, they would break down the Lyran resistance on those worlds, implement the caste system, and destroy any who resisted it.  Give it a generation and, like their initial conquests, those worlds would be Falcon worlds with the lower castes fully-productive members of the Clan and they could turn their troops elsewhere.  Towards the Reach, and beyond, the Republic.  Their Fortress walls would not last forever, and until then there were more worlds to secure, other enemies to destroy.  When the wall fell, he and his Clan would be waiting.  And when the truce ends, we will be back, and this planet will burn.

One of the ship technicians spoke.  "There's a buildup of energy in the anomaly.  Something is coming through."

Isaac looked towards the screen showing the glittering blue field that had illuminated the sky on several of their nights fighting on Timkovichi. The blasted portal, whatever it was, intensified in brightness for a second before, in a flash, a vessel appeared.  It was a WarShip, only slightly smaller than the White Aerie or Jade Aerie, carrying what he imagined were ballistic weapons of some sort along with other weapon types  Other ships came through in the following minute. Two more were WarShips, smaller but one also bearing large-bore weapons, with a multitude of DropShips of varying shapes and sizes. This force cleared the anomaly rapidly, burning into a position between the Falcons and the planet.

A snarl formed on Isaac's face as the anomaly's flashing built in intensity until a much larger vessel emerged.  The techs focused the external cameras on the arriving vessel.  The behemoth was the size of a legendary McKenna battleship of the Star League, a colossal ship with multiple heavy ballistic weapons, missile batteries, and Naval PPC and laser emplacements on every side and corner.  The bluntly-tapered bow stood out below the ship's navigation bridge, flanked by the bow-mounted cannon turrets, with a great golden metal hawk fitted onto it that gleamed in the light of Timkovichi's Star.

Isaac's mouth went dry.  From his mind Chistu's angry remarks came back to him.  "...we do not have the strength to invade this other Inner Sphere as well…" He murmured the words and felt his mouth grow bitter at them, true as they were given the monster of a WarShip burning through, flanked by more DropShips, a few at or at least approaching the size of the Republic's feared Castrum-class Pocket WarShips.  It was a sobering sight, made worse as another four WarShips emerged, with ever more DropShips.  "How many ships came through through?" he asked aloud.

"Going by our scanner returns, Star Colonel, there are eight WarShips and over forty DropShips, about forty-four, ranging in size from attack type vessels of not ten thousand tonnes to fourteen Pocket WarShips of up to a hundred thousand tonnes of mass."

Such a fleet.  It is easily the sum of our Touman's entire naval force. Could they truly have yet more?  How could Spheroids manage it, as backwards as they are?!  Isaac felt his fury chill.  This was a foe that was a threat to his Clan unlike any other.  But they do bleed.  I have killed their warriors myself, and they were not our equal.  No.  We can beat them.  We will beat them, with the teachings of the Chinghis Khan to guide us to victory.  Even their colossus will fall to atomics! He imagined it, entire Binaries worth of brave Falcon aerospace warriors driving home attacks with atomic-tipped weapons until even the giant ship was a molten ruin.  That is our future.

Minutes passed as the Falcons continued to burn away, left alone by the enemy forces in-system.  Yet more ships were coming through the portal now that their fleet was present, combat transport DropShips and a number of JumpShips.  They mean to continue operations then.  Will they betray the truce?  We must get back to Sudeten and make ready, whether they hold the truce or not!

I have seen enough. Under the one point five gravities the fleet was maintaining to get back to their JumpShips, Isaac still moved well enough the depart the command center. He returned to his office where a visitor awaited. Star Captain Forrest handed him a noteputer.  "Galaxy Commander Chistu's prepared dispatches to Sudeten, Galaxy Commander." the Watch officer explained.  "Flagged by my people for your likely interest."

He accepted the noteputer and glanced at the first page.  Reading the words there made him wish he could throttle Chistu to death, given her insults and slander towards the Chinghis Khan and the Mongol Doctrine. He scrolled enough to see replies not just from her commanders, but a recent dispatch from Sudeten.  When he saw what was written, and who had written it, his fury burned yet again, joined by a longing for satisfaction.  "Keep this quiet," he instructed Forrest, "and ensure our people are ready to deal with Delta Galaxy's remaining command staff, should it prove necessary."

"I will, Galaxy Commander," Forrest pledged.  "And I will ensure the Watch on Sudeten is informed of what you need once we are burning in."

"Good." Isaac placed the noteputer on his desk.  A vicious grin formed on his lips.  "All there is to do now is wait until our return."  And once we do, I will finish the work the Chinghis Khan began in the Rending.

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