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Fate Can be Cruel (Book 2) - Chapter Cover

Fate Can Be Cruel
Chapter 14 - Years 3007-3009

January - 3007[]

1st January, 3007
Hegemony (Periphery)

Across the Hegemony production lines, long ago idled, were being refurbished and a manufacturers were once again hiring and training workers to man those production lines. On Boulsi, idled training facilities were being refurbished and modernized. The goal was for the Boulsi Training Schools to, once fully activated, to once again churn out the finest soldiers ever seen. It was estimated that once fully activated, field 5 years when they would be graduated:

Mechwarriors - 1,200 per year
Aerospace (Pilot) - 400 per year
Armor (Crew) - 3,500 per year
Infantry - 9,000 per year
Jump Infantry - 3,500 per year
Power Armor (PA) Infantry - 2,500 per year
Technicians - 5,500 per year
Gunslinger - 300 per year

At Livingston Naval Base, activation and modernization of the mothballed ships was underway. Built inside the Naval Base was the Hegemony Naval Academy was also ramping up to meet the coming demand for warship crews. It would take at least 4 years for the first class to graduate but estimates put the number put numbers at;

Warship Officers - 600 per year
Warship Crew - 3,000 per year
Aerospace Pilot - 600 per year
Jumpship Crew - 2,200 per year
Dropship Crew - 3,000 per year
Marine (PA) - 2,000 per year

On Barahona, the Barahona Training Grounds were also activated and undergoing modernization. While Boulsi could school any skill, Barahona was dedicated to conventional forces to a much greater degree. In 3 years, it was estimated to graduate yearly:

Armor Crew - 7,500 per year
Infantry - 13,500 per year
Jump Infantry - 4,500 per year
VTOL Crew - 1,200 per year

On Ammon, the Ammon Training Grounds were undergoing activation and modernization. Like Barahona, it focused on the conventional troops. In 3 years, it was estimated to graduate:

Armor Crew - 6,500 per year
Infantry - 15,000 per year

The decision had been made at the highest levels to not sacrifice the skill level of the new recruits for a more rapid mobilization. Recruitment was just starting across the Hegemony for the first classes to begin their 4 year training programs. Utilizing plans that had been developed during the demobilization, the 13 RCT’s were combined into their parent Divisions.

Hegemony Army (3007)

272nd Mechanized Infantry Division - 100% strength
331st Royal Battlemech Division - 100% strength
181st Royal Mechanized Infantry Division - 100% strength
31st Infantry Division - 100% strength
36th Infantry Division - 100% strength
48th Infantry Division - 100% strength
211th Hussar Regiment - 100% strength
201st Battle Regiment - 100% strength
288th Hussar Regiment - 100% strength
19th Hussar Regiment - 100% strength
5th Hussar Regiment - 100% strength
277th Dragoon Regiment - 100% strength
247th Heavy Assault Regiment - 100% strength
349th Dragoon Regiment - 100% strength

Commanding General Michelle Mitchell had begun working on a new TO&E for the commands. But in the time being, they were mobilized on the TO&E structure from 2800. The new TO&E structure would take into account the Ferret Power Armor, which was such a force multiplier that it forced a new structure to be designed.

Zetang (Hegemony – Periphery) Livingston Naval Base

"We will not be rushing any of the activations, it makes no sense to deploy ships with crews that are not fully trained just to put ships into the line." Fleet Admiral Tomlin Tanaka said.

"Very well, Sir. I was just putting forth the option to do so." Admiral Gillian Hallis replied "But there is something else that we can do to make sure we can respond to any naval threat until we are fully staff up."

"Let me guess Project Man O War?" Fleet Admiral Tanaka asked

"Yes sir. It has been fully tested before we shut it down years ago. I think we should give it another look see. If we started construction right now, we could have a full Division of them deployed in a year with another Division each additional year." Admiral Hallis replied.

"You know how everyone feels about that project. It sends shivers up their spines. Hell, I am not even sure I like the idea." Fleet Admiral Tanaka said.

"I would rather have them ready, just in case. The original setup had some serious issues, but we have long since corrected those. At least speak to her about the project." Admiral Hallis replied.

"Okay, I will speak to her about it. Not sure how I feel about talking to her either." Fleet Admiral Tanaka said.

February - 3007[]

10th February, 3007
Azur (Hegemony)

Fleet Admiral Tomlin Tanaka was not comfortable in this room, alone, with "her", but he had said he would speak with her, and he always kept his word. "Amber, are you there?"

"Yes, Fleet Admiral Tanaka. How may I assist you?" The female voice seemed to come from everywhere in this room.

"Tell me about the viability of Project Man O War." Fleet Admiral Tanaka asked

"Project Man O War was begun in 2869. Its purpose was to design an AI superior to the original AI used in the SLDF's Caspar program. I was given access to the original Caspar code. In 2872, I was able to locate the faulty coding within and rewrote the code using my own coding as a template. In 2883, the new code was placed aboard a lightly manned concept ship and tested over multiple jumps, both standard and slip stream. The new code was deemed a success, but the project was shelved due to funding.

Each warship if fully built per my design parameters would cost an estimated 16 Billion C-Bills. Each is both capable of independent operation and in conjunction with manned warships or with multiple drones. I designed them with an all energy weapons loadout and enough fuel to allow them to maintain long range fire at maximum speed. Where the original Caspar drones used slashing attacks to rapidly close and use their heavy naval auto cannon to inflict heavy damage on an enemy, this tactic exposes them to needless return fire and damage.

The new tactics are to engage an enemy at long range and keep up a non-stop fire upon the enemy while maximizing their survivability. When used in groups of 6 or more, they would mass their fire on a single target until that target is destroyed or rendered a non factor. Is that the answer you were looking for?" Amber said

"Yes, how do the drones know when to engage a target?" Fleet Admiral Tanaka asked.

"There are multiple options for this. The primary method is for a 6 person crew be aboard a drone as a precaution. If they gave the command to engage, they would depart the drone aboard a shuttle, the drone would then recover the shuttle after the engagement is complete. The next method would be for a designated manned warship to give the engagement authority to the drone warships, this ship would also have the ability to issue orders to the drones during the engagement. The last method is a fully automated method, though this method is highly dangerous. The drone would automatically challenge any vessel and if proper codes were not transmitted the target vessel would be destroyed by the drone. This last option is only advised to lead an invasion force to a target before manned vessels arrive." Amber answered.

"Is the AI smart enough to make decisions on it's own?" Fleet Admiral Tanaka asked

"It is a version of my own coding, much like the slip stream computers. It can easily decide what is the most important target, how best to attack it and when to attack it. Is that what you want to know?" Amber asked.

"Not everything, let me give you a hypothetical scenario. One of the drones is in a system, on automatic. A non-hostile ship enters the system, but does not know the proper code or cannot transmit the code. Could the drones AI make the decision to monitor but not engage the non-hostile ship?" Fleet Admiral Tanaka asked

"You are asking if the drones coding allow it to reason? Right or Wrong decision making. It is not something the AI was designed for, but as I have developed, so would all the other AI's. The slip stream AI's have developed much more than expected. The longer they are active and interact with their crew, the more they develop. I would not expect the drone AI to act any different." Amber said

The way Amber used the term "I" creeped Fleet Admiral Tanaka out and he could not help but feel a shiver go up his spine. He had read the reports about how Amber had made decisions to "help" her human guides, on her own whenever she found access to their terminals if they left it on and were not around. The mere thought of her having access to drones or anything else scared the hell out of him.

"Thank you Amber, you have given me much to think about." Fleet Admiral Tanaka said as he headed for the door.

January - 3008[]

1st January, 3008
Farnesworth (Federated Suns)

General Harvey Jackson, commander Screaming Eagles, stared at the message on his computer. He had read the damned thing so many times he had it memorized. He had been in command of the Screaming Eagles for 6 years and was due to rotate back to the Hegemony in another year, but this message was sure to throw a major wrench into those plans, he thought to himself. He had never known about any of this, only that the message had magically appeared in his message bin with a Priority stamp on it.

"My name is Major General Gary Hurling, commander 250th Battlemech Division, if you do not recognize me. If you are reading this message, it means that 220 years have passed since we entered Federated Suns employment as the Screaming Eagles. Attached to this message are several video files, one from First Prince John Davion and another from Commanding General Rita Mitchell. On New Avalon, in a secured lock box in the Comstar HPG compound is a package addressed to the commander of the Screaming Eagles. At your earliest chance, you as commander of the Screaming Eagles will travel to New Avalon and present this package to the First Prince of the Federated Suns and no one else.

I am pleased that this message is being read and that the Screaming Eagles have survived all these years. I will caution you, I have no idea how the First Prince in your time will react to the contents of the package you are to deliver. However, this was an arrangement that was made and paid for in blood over the last 220 years. I can only hope that the First Prince will still be an honorable man and uphold the deal made so long ago by one of the finest First Prince's the Federated Suns ever had. First Prince John Davion proved himself an honorable and trustworthy friend of the Hegemony and also the Star League in general."

General Harvey Jackson opened the video file from Commanding General Rita Mitchell next. He leaned forward and listened to every word very carefully.

"This is General Rita Mitchell speaking to the future commander of the 250th Battlemech Division, also known as the Screaming Eagles. Upon this video being opened and viewed, you are directed to contact Hegemony command for additional instructions. I cannot predict the future or how this message will find the Inner Sphere. It will be up to the Director-General and Commanding General of your time to decide how you proceed from here.

The is was a difficult mission your command has performed and it makes me proud that you have accomplished your mission. I hope this message finds you in a time of peace and you and the 250th Battlemech Division can come in from the shadows and reclaim your place with the Hegemony. I am going to assume you have not heard the message from First Prince John Davion, if that is true, that message is for the current First Prince of the Federated Suns. If you have listened to the message, it goes no further than you."

He hovered the cursor over the video from First Prince John Davion, but did not click the start tab. No, this message is not meant for me, so I will do my duty and deliver the message. I have no clue what the hell all of this is or means, but I have been given orders from the past, to carry out in the here and now, how friggin weird is that, he thought.

July - 3008[]

13th July, 3008
New Avalon (Federated Suns)

General Harvey Jackson, commander Screaming Eagles, was nervous as he was escorted into First Prince Ian Davion's office. He came to a rigid position of attention and saluted the First Prince of the Federated Suns. "You may stand easy, General Jackson, you and your command have more than earned that right. But my time is short so what is so important that we needed to meet in person?" First Prince Ian Davion said.

"Your Highness, I was ordered to deliver this package into your hands and yours alone. Along with the package, I am to give you this data disc with a video message on it for you." General Jackson replied.

"May I ask who ordered you to deliver this?" First Prince Ian Davion asked as he accepted the items.

"This is going to sound strange, but I was ordered to deliver these to you by Commanding General Rita Mitchell, Commander of the Hegemony Armed Forces." General Jackson replied.

"The Hegemony is dead General Jackson, it died a long time ago." First Prince Ian Davion stated as he slowly unwrapped the ancient paper of the package.

"The message was dated 20 May 2788 sir. Those orders were directed to me by General Mitchell in no uncertain terms." General Jackson replied, badly wanting to wipe the sweat off his brow.

Before another word was said, the office door opened and a man entered the room wearing the uniform of the 3rd Davion Guards RCT. "Hanse, just in time. Come over and we will watch this message together, it should be quite a treat." First Prince Ian Davion said as he slipped the data disc into the slot and hit play.

"Greetings First Prince of the Federated Suns. This is First Prince John Davion and the date is 20 May 2788. If you’re watching this, I know the Federated Suns has survived and hopefully prospered. With me is Commanding General Rita Mitchell and Major General Gary Hurling of the 250th Battlemech Division. To secure their services along with much needed material to stave off the Draconis Combine forces, I have made a deal that will probably cause you some angst.

I am going to assume the date is 220 years from today, if that is so, then the system of Farnsworth is formerly ceded to the Screaming Eagles mercenary command. Free and clear, for all time. The citizens of Farnesworth now have dual citizenship. Those details will be finalized at a later date by the commander of the Screaming Eagles. This deal was given with all the faith and integrity of the First Prince of the Federated Suns. The only condition for this is that the Screaming Eagles serve the Federated Suns faithfully for 220 years. I am going to assume they have done so. A package should have been delivered, it contains both my written agreement to the deal along with a personal letter to you from me.

I will trust that you will honor my vow and promise after all this time. May the Federated Suns always live and prosper."

Both First Prince Ian Davion and Colonel Hanse Davion stared at the silent screen for several very long seconds before focusing their eye's on General Jackson who squirmed under their gaze. "Please tell me this is a joke, General Jackson. A very bad joke, because why the hell would I cede the system of Farnesworth to you? On the promise of a dead man?" First Prince Ian Davion said, his anger was evident.

"Your Highness, I knew nothing of this deal. The message alerting me to it was buried deep in our computer system and only activated on the date it was set for. But, if the information checks out as valid, then I would expect the Federated Suns to honor the agreement." General Jackson replied, and no sooner had the words left his mouth he wanted them back.

"This is crazy, no way am I going to cede the system to you. John Davion is dead." First Prince Ian Davion said, the words made Colonel Hanse Davion squirm.

"That is your right sir. In that case, the Screaming Eagles are activating their escape clause of their contract. Within the week we will be vacating Federated Suns space. You need to get units to the 16 systems that we garrison sir, quickly. We will no longer be able to remain in the employ of a Government that breaks it's word. Once the word gets out, I am sure the Federated Suns will have a hard time getting mercenary commands to work for you, none of the good ones anyway. Before I take my leave, I would like to say that it dishonors the memory of the 17,891 Eagles that have given their life in the defense of the Federated Suns over the last 220 years. Not once have we questioned an order, we have fought and died for the Federated Suns on many worlds. I will leave now, sir." General Jackson said, no longer nervous but with a stiff spine.

"General Jackson, please wait." Colonel Hanse Davion said "Ian, this pledge must be honored. We both know that it was John Davion himself on that message. Your holding that letter, open it and read the damned thing."

First Prince Ian Davion nodded while he opened the letter and started reading the 200 year old letter from a First Prince long dead.

To the future First Prince,

I know that this is a huge surprise to you and one that you probably resist. But know that the deal allowed me to secure enough men and material to push back the Draconis Combine and prevent New Avalon from being invaded. I was not pressured to make the deal, but agreed to it on my own free will. Inside the sealed box is the signed deed to the Farnesworth system that is affixed with my personal seal. It also has biometrics attached to prove that it was me that signed the deed. Another package will be delivered to the commander of the Screaming Eagles soon after you read this, it contains exact copies of what you have before you.

I ask that you honor this agreement. It saved the Federated Suns in a time of great need. I am not sure of the situation in your time, but in my time, it was a dire situation that required extraordinary sacrifices to be made. As I received aid in my time of need, I am sure that if you honor this agreement, aid will come to you in your time of need. If you choose to refuse this agreement, know that inside the sealed box, the deed for Farnesworth is dated 20 May 2788, so in legal terms the Screaming Eagles have actually owned the system all these years that have passed and all taxes paid should be refunded to the Screaming Eagles in full. If a court should actually hear this case, it is iron clad in the Screaming Eagles favor. I hope your honor will not allow this to happen.

First Prince John Davion
20th May, 2788

First Prince Ian Davion laid the letter down on his desk and looked at General Jackson for several minutes before speaking. "General Jackson, on behalf of the Federated Suns and the excellent service of the Screaming Eagles for over 2 centuries, I First Prince Ian Davion honor the agreement of First Prince John Davion and cede the system of Farnesworth to you for all time. I might not be happy with getting sandbagged like this, but it is a debt the Federated Suns will pay."

"Thank you, your Highness. As commander of the Screaming Eagles, I accept the system of Farnesworth from the Federated Suns and we will gladly continue to serve the Federated Suns. This is as big a shock to me as it is to your sir." General Jackson replied.

November - 3008[]

14th November, 3008
Morgan's Holdfast (Periphery)

"You can tell your Duke that I will take the job. I have a score to settle with them anyway and this information you delivered will allow me a good chance to hurt them really good." Paul Durrant said.

"I will inform my lord. You really hate them don't you?" Felipe Tenaru asked.

"It is an institutional hatred. The damned Eagles have made raiding anything along that area of the Fed Suns a very dangerous venture and moving to hit the Outworlds Alliance is a huge no no, I don't take my people any closer to that region of space than I have to. I know of more than one band that has made an attempt into that region of space and have never been seen again. I don't know what is out there, but be damned if I will risk trying to find out." Paul Durrant said.

"My Duke says to minimize the damage to the Battlemech Factory, but you may take any Battlemechs or equipment that you capture from it." Felipe Tenaru replied.

"Tell him that we will try not to scratch the paint, but no promises." Paul Durrant said as he waved Felipe Tenaru away.

Paul Durrant led the biggest pirate group in the Tortuga Dominions. Mustering over 2 Regiments of Battlemechs and twice as many Armor and Infantry Regiments. He would leave a single Battlemech Battalion, Armor Regiment and Infantry Regiment to keep his holdings here safe while they headed for Farnesworth with the rest. He normally would not risk it, but the Duke had informed him that the Eagles would be under strength in June 3009 when they performed a major reshuffling of their personnel. He had a single month window to strike them at their weakest.

Thazi (Hegemony)

Captain Christopher Mitchell watched as the techs carefully packed away his MTR-3C Maelstrom for storage. He would miss her, but he could not take her with him on his next duty assignment, 6 years with the Screaming Eagles. He turned his head slightly and frowned as he looked at his "new" Battlemech, a BLR-1D Battlemaster, though new, fresh from the factory. It was equipped with not a single advanced piece of equipment. He had taken it out quite a few times to get used to it. He walked over to the massive foot of the Battlemaster and looked at the small art his tech had painted. There symbol painted on the foot matched the patch on his jacket, the symbol of a Gunslinger graduate.

He headed for his quarters; it was time to get some sleep. His "company" was heading into the field for a week of wargames tomorrow to get used to working together some more. Then a 2 week leave before they boarded the transports for the trip to Farnesworth.

June 3009[]

13th June, 3009
Farnsworth (Eagles)

It was 1am and overcast, weather report called for rain all damned day. Thank god I should be off shift before it hits, thought Private Jenny Ryan as she silently stood at her post at the front gate to the Screaming Eagles massive base. Inside the guard shack, Lieutenant Bryan Caldwell filled out the log for this guard shift. It was boring duty to say the least. When the 4 vehicles pulled up near the front gate, Private Jenny Ryan barely gave them a second glance; they were still on the street and bore the markings of Duke Obediah Truvaney's personal guard. The 2 Infantry Regiments that made up the guard had begun patrolling the area more often the last few months.

She watched as an officer approached, "Mind if I use the facilities, damned coffee is running right thru me?" He asked.

Private Jenny Ryan pointed to the guard shack "The Lieutenant is inside, sir."

Lieutenant Bryan Caldwell looked up as the Captain entered the guard shack, but before he could say a word, the Captain pulled a silenced pistol and fired a shot directly into Lieutenant Caldwell's face. Turning quickly, he shot Private Jenny Ryan where she stood. Shadows began pouring thru the front gate moving swiftly and quietly in the vast compound of the Screaming Eagles. The part of the shadows moved towards the group of barracks while the majority moved to the motor pool of the Armor Regiment stationed here.

Two hours later, the shadows exited the front gate and quickly boarded their vehicles and sped off.

The incoming Jumpships caused an alarm to sound across the Screaming Eagles base. As the first barracks doors flew open, massive explosions detonated across the base. Those not killed or wounded rushed for the motor pool. Mounting their armored vehicles, and as drivers hit the starters, explosions began destroying the various crewed vehicles. In less than 15 minutes, 70% of the Screaming Eagles garrison was killed or wounded before the incoming Jumpships had even managed to detach their Dropships.

Colonel Massey Hallis assessed the situation and put out a general alert to all Eagle commands. He then picked up the phone and requested the Duke's personal guard to move to help guard the massive Mitchell Industries factory complex and space port. Damn, this could not have happened at a worse time, he thought.

The Screaming Eagles had been thru so many rotations that it had become routine. The Battlemech Regiment normally stationed here had moved to take up garrison locations for the departing units, same as many of the Armor and Infantry troops normally stationed on Farnsworth. It left them lightly defended for only 2 months before the new troops arrived. Normally the rotations were not so large, but orders from Thazi had detailed a large scale rotation of all troops who had served at least 4 years with the Eagles. This made the rotation much larger than normal.

15th June, 3009

Paul Durrant exited his Dropship at the space port and was met by Colonel Yancy Barber, commander of Duke Truvaney's personal guard. "We have secured the factory complex and space port. I could use some support finishing off the Eagle defenders inside their base. Fighting has been hard and they do not seem to want to break or surrender."

"I will send on Battlemech Regiment and Infantry Regiment to help you. Excellent work, Colonel. Anything else I need to worry about?" Paul Durrant asked.

"No, the Screaming Eagles do such a good job that there is no AFFS garrison on planet. The closest is the Kilbourne DMM and they are 2 jumps away. Take them at least a month to get here. But you best be gone in a month, for the Eagles should be returning according to their time table and they are not going to be in a good mood when they get here. We are sure the garrison got word out of your arrival." Colonel Barber replied

"Then let's quit wasting time talking and get to looting this place." Paul Durrant said.

July 3009[]

7th July, 3009
Farnsworth (Eagles)

General Harvey Jackson, commander Screaming Eagles, surveyed the destruction of the Screaming Eagles main base of operations. As his eye's flickered across the compound that housed the Eagles dependents, he could feel the burning rage rising inside of him. A clearing of a throat caused him to slowly turn around. "What is the final tally, Colonel Beaudroux?"

"It is worse than we thought. We lost 2,893 killed and another 4,387 wounded. That includes both combat, support and dependents. We have another 6,351 dependents and support people missing and presumed taken by the pirates.

Mitchell Industries took a big hit with just over 25% of the personnel killed or wounded with another 5,283 missing and presumed taken by the pirates. The pirates made off with 14 Victor, 12 Battlemaster, 24 Thunderbolt, 12 Archer and 16 Warhammer Battlemechs. The pirates took several thousand tons of spare parts and ammunition. But worst of all, they found our stash and took that also. That gives them 11 Thug THG-11E, 8 Warhammer WHM-7A, 14 Nighthawk NTK-2Q, 8 Archer ARC-2Rb and 3 Pillager PLZ-3Z. So basically a full Battalion of advanced Battlemechs and all the spare parts and supplies to keep them fighting for a solid month of combat operations." Colonel Beaudroux replied.

"Son of a Bitch!!! We know who the attackers were yet?" General Jackson asked, he felt that he would throw up any second.

"Durrant's Demons. We have clear pictures from several security cameras of their markings. We have tangled with them several times." Colonel Beaudroux replied.

"Yes, we have. I want that ******'s head on a pike and our people returned ASAP. Our problem is we are already stretched thin by our losses and current garrison assignments. At least Duke Truvaney's people gave as good as they took fighting with our people. The hospitals are crammed to overflowing with their wounded. Duke Truvaney has promised us his full support. I am glad he was still around when it all went down, I know First Prince Ian Davion said he would be recalling Duke Truvaney soon for a new posting, as soon as one was located. Mainly it was to give me time to get a civilian government set up." General Jackson said.

"We are stretched really thin. The new people are needed to fill out our garrison needs. We honestly cannot send a command after our people." Colonel Beaudroux replied.

"Then I make a call back home. I am sure they can spare some people. I hate pawning off our problems on them, but I cannot pull our people off their assignments, plus we need people to replace our losses." General Jackson said.

11th July, 3009
Thazi (Hegemony)

Commanding General Michelle Mitchell had gotten the Fax from Farnsworth and the attack on the Screaming Eagles base. She had called up all the information they had on Durrant's Demons. Based on Morgan's Holdfast, they are a multi-Regiment pirate band. Dominates the Tortuga Dominions as the largest pirate band operating from there. She stared at the Star Mao of the region in question.

Damned nest of vipers and slavers, we should have cleared them out long ago, but did not deem it important enough since they leave us alone. Well, now they have hit us hard and it is time to clean out the viper's nest, she thought grimly. She pulled out a message pad and began writing.

To: General Jessica Hallis
From: Commanding General Michelle Mitchell

Upon receipt of this message, you are directed to take ample forces from the 331st Royal Battlemech Division and move to Morgan's Holdfast. Forces need to be able to defeat multi Regiment pirate band. Recover our prisoners, see attached report from Farnsworth, and advanced equipment. Use of our current equipment is authorized. Tortuga Dominion is far enough out security threat deemed low. Execute with extreme violence, send a strong message.

Commanding General Michelle Mitchell

August 3009[]

1 August 3009
Farnsworth (Eagles)

The Brandt-Class Corvette arrived several AU from the normal Jump Points, arriving without any hint of its arrival via slip stream. After 2 hours, it linked up with the Screaming Eagle's Invader-Class Jumpship, where it took on the newly arrived passengers. When the Corvette had moved far enough away, the Invader engaged it's drive and made a jump to a pirate point barely a day from the planet itself. Shuttles left the Jumpship and headed for the surface.

2 August 3009

"Major Tiffany Mitchell, I presume?" General Harvey Jackson asked.

"Yes, sir. This is my investigative team. Commanding General Mitchell asked that I bring them here and see if we can get to the bottom of this. It was a little too well timed to be a random event." Major Mitchell said.

"Mitchell, any relation?" General Jackson asked.

"She is my Aunt, sir. My cousin, her son is a Captain that is just starting his tour with your command, sir." Major Mitchell replied.

"Thank you for the honesty, Major. I was just curious. I hope you can shed some light on things. I agree the timing was just too good, right at our weakest with enough time to loot the hell out of both the factory and our storehouses." General Jackson said.

"We will get to the bottom of things. General Maxwell personally briefed me. He is taking full responsibility for not replacing the HegSec team that was removed so many years ago. Aunt Michelle told the Director-General that she would resign if he wanted, it was her decision to remove so many Eagles at once which left your command so short handed. Let's just say, I have my marching orders and no restrictions on how I get the information we want." Major Mitchell replied.

"Very well, Major Mitchell, let's get your team settled in and you can find the people really behind this, because I want their head on a pike." General Jackson said.

"Well sir, I might not bring you a head, but I can promise pictures." Major Mitchell said.

14th August, 3009
Farnsworth (Eagles)

Major Tiffany Mitchell and her 24 member team spent 10 days interviewing as many of the Eagle personnel that had been wounded or present during the attack. So far, it seemed like a straight forward pirate attack, several had reported seeing personnel from Duke Truvaney's personal guard firing on Eagle soldiers, but even they professed it could have been just confusion.

Getting no where with the interviews, Major Mitchell had pulled several of her computer experts and they began rooting thru the travel records of any people that could have any knowledge of the Eagle's deployment schedules. Three days of looking, they discovered that Duke Truvaney's aide, Felipe Tenaru, had made a trip that lasted almost 6 months. Which was funny since he had been born and raised on Farnsworth and had only traveled off Farnsworth when Duke Truvaney was also off world.

"Let's dig a little deeper into this Tenaru guy and while we are at it, start digging into Truvaney. You don't make Duke without pissing someone off or having a few skeletons in the closet. We know how this Tenaru guy traveled?" Major Mitchell asked.

"Why the largest shipper in the Federated Suns, ZaP Shipping or at least that is how he left the Farnsworth system." The computer geek said.

"That just makes this so much easier." Major Mitchell smiled, she had a message to send.

16 August 3009
Bastrop (Federated Suns)

Baroness Petra Zuni, CEO ZaP Shipping, looked at the message handed to her by the serious looking woman sitting across from her desk. Many things had been passed down over the years, one of them was that the Hegemony still existed, and that ZaP Shipping owed everything they were to the Hegemony. First and foremost, if the Hegemony ever asked for help, it was to be given without delay or question. Sure, they ran secured cargo from the Hegemony and back again, but this was the first time she could recall that the Hegemony had asked for any sort of assistance.

She called her secretary "Mary, can you come in here please."

Once her secretary was there, she handed over a hand written note to her. "Take this down to the computer folks, I want the full travel information on this individual. He boarded one of our ships at Farnsworth on 12 August 3008. I want the information ASAP and wait for them to pull the information. Everything we have on him, who paid, everything. Tell them to drop what they are doing and run it down. Bring the information directly back to me." Baroness Petra Zuni said

As the door closed, Baroness Zuni turned her attention back to her serious guest. "Sorry if things seem a little sluggish, but this is the first time the Hegemony has ever asked anything from me. I am not sure of the procedures."

"Your doing fine, Baroness. Though we use your passenger service and sometimes your cargo service, we have tried to keep ZaP Shipping at a distant arms length. Those guidelines were set in place long ago." Her guest replied

It took the computer folks 30 minutes to run the individual down and pull the requested information. This was duly returned to Baroness Zuni who looked it over, curious about everything. "Felipe Tenaru, ticket purchased by Duke Truvaney for transport to Mararn, First Class. Departed Farnsworth 12 August 3008, arrived Mararn 11 September 3008. Transferred to Independent Merchant Jumpship Silver Moon for transport to Morgan's Holdfast. Used our ships communications to book the passage while also reserving a First Class ticket for return to Farnsworth, the actual date for pickup at Mararn was left to be determined. He checked back in on 9 January 3009, departing Mararn on 24 January 3009 arrived on Farnsworth 4 March 3009. A little slow for a First Class passage, I will have to look into that. Is that the information you need?" Baroness Zuni said.

"That is precisely the information we needed. We thank you for the assistance, Baroness." Her guest said while standing, she took the printed information and left.

19th August, 3009
Farnsworth (Eagles)

The Fax from Bastrop reached Major Tiffany Mitchell, Hegemony Security, with all the details. She read the message and handed it to General Harvey Jackson, Screaming Eagles, to read. He crumpled it into a ball, his eyes showed a fire in them. "Easy General, all we know is the Duke's aid made a trip, his destination just happened to be where Durrant's Demons were based from. The dots are coming together, but we do not have positive proof, yet."

"Looks good enough to me. I am half tempted to take my Mech over and say hello." General Jackson said

"And that will cause so many more problems. The Duke is still a Duke of the Federated Suns. As much as I want to let you go over, I need you to stand fast and wait." Major Mitchell said

"What is the next move?" General Jackson asked

"We keep digging, but in the mean time, have your S2 write up a intel brief using this information. Have him go pay his MIIO contact a visit and drop the info on them. Let's see what MIIO does with the information, see how bad the rot really is." Major Mitchell replied

"I will pass it on. I would hate to find out that the First Prince is somehow involved in this." General Jackson said

"Highly doubt it. I would assume that if the First Prince was involved, you would have returned to find several of his RCT's taking up residence here. I am leaning more to purely a financial one. The Duke stood to lose a ton of money. Not to mention the prestige of ruling a planet with a Battlemech factory. His family has been here for quite a few years, so I am sure that is the primary motivation. Don't worry, if MIIO takes no action, well if we have the proof, the Duke will pay dearly for this." Major Tiffany Mitchell replied

Thazi (Hegemony)

Commanding General Michelle Mitchell carefully examined the man across from her. She had been assured that he was totally faithful to the Hegemony, she still was not sure about what she was about to do. Brandon O'Leary was a top Battlemech engineer from Ostmann Industries, he had designed the Merlin Battlemech in 3000, but the Hegemony Armed Forces was not purchasing new designs. He had become quite vocal about the lack of opportunity. But with the coming storm, she knew they needed to start lifting some facilities from the ashes.

Merlin Heavy BattleMech (by SU-SMD)

Merlin Heavy 'Mech

"Mr O'Leary, you have sort of become a pain in my ass and I am getting tired of hearing your name. SO, against my better judgment, I am going to cut you loose. But, there will be some restrictions placed upon you." Commanding General Mitchell said

"Cut loose? Your firing me? I do not understand, General?" Brandon O'Leary replied, his eyes wide

"Not firing you, just moving you to where I think you might be happier." General Mitchell said

"Maybe I am dense today, but where would I go?" Brandon O'Leary asked

"I am sending you to Alpheratz, in the Outworlds Alliance. We are going to slip stream you to an awaiting Jumpship which will make the final jump to Alpheratz. You were born on Pattonsbrug, in the Federated Suns. Your family made a ton of money working for ZaP Shipping. I have already had sources purchase the derelict Mountain Wolf Battlemech factory on Alpheratz in your name, actually we purchased it a few years ago in your name. The factory is almost ready to manufacture it's first Battlemech, your Merlin design. Your restrictions are, no mention of the Hegemony. None. No advanced technology, not until you are given permission. Is that clear?" General Mitchell said

Brandon O'Leary sat stunned for several minutes, finally he spoke "Very clear. I honestly do not know what to say?"

"How about I will not let you or the Hegemony down. We need to expand our industrial base some, there may come a day in the future where we will need suppliers for our forces in area's other than the Hegemony itself. You will be the first, there will be others." Commanding General Mitchell said

23rd August, 3009
Thazi (Hegemony)

"Where do we stand on the investigation of the Farnsworth attack and our retaliation?" Commanding General Michelle Mitchell asked.

"Major Mitchell has had information passed to MIIO on Farnsworth. She wants to know how deep the rot is and to make sure the Federated Suns itself was not involved. We are monitoring HPG traffic to help make the determination. MIIO has sent the information to New Avalon asking for instructions on how to proceed. Seems the local MIIO agents are not keen on opening an investigation on the Duke there on their own.

I have dispatched a Surveillance ship to Morgan's Holdfast, to gather Intel. They will be operating way outside the proximity limits for security. We know the Dominions are full of different pirate bands. Most are Company and Battalion sized, but there are several that are multi Regiment when you count in their conventional forces. Durrant's Demon's are the largest, with 2 Battlemech Regiments and several conventional Regiments. They pretty much run Morgan's Holdfast. We want them on the surface when we hit them. The 331st is planning to drop a Battlemech Brigade and their Infantry Brigade on them. It should be enough to handle the Demon's." Rebbeca Ebon replied.

"You still think we should go all in and clean out all of the Dominions don't you?" Commanding General Michelle Mitchell asked.

"I do. It's full of slavers. There is no difference between Durrant's Demons and the rest of them. The Demon's just made the mistake of pissing us off. Well, I say now that we are awake; we make the most of it and clean out the entire damned place. There is no HPG there, no Comstar presence that we know of. We could put a few Brandt Corvette's into each system and choke off any escape. You give the order and I will have 2 Battalions of Special Forces on the remaining planets in the Dominions gathering Intel until follow on forces arrive to do the heavy lifting." Rebbeca Ebon replied firmly.

"As much as I want to set the people free, is it worth the security risk to us? That is what makes me nervous, the thought of the Inner Sphere discovering our survival before we are strong enough to protect ourselves." Commanding General Mitchell said

"Come on, Michelle, you read the same reports as I do. No single House could stand a chance attacking us. Just the warships we have active right now could stop any invasion right in its tracks. Then we have roughly 2 Divisions of troops inside the Federated Suns under cover as Mercenary's. Every damned House can barely protect their borders, much less put together an invasion force of 50 plus Regiments of Battlemechs they would have to deploy to even have a chance at taking us on." Rebbeca Ebon replied with a snort

"Okay, we free the people, then what? We cannot just say "you now belong to the Hegemony" to those people. The second we leave, a new batch of pirates is going to swoop in and take the place." Commanding General Mitchell said.

"Then we take a page from our history. We let the people decide. Put it to a vote. If they vote to join, well then we take them in and start work on improving their lives. It's the right thing to do, we have spent too many years behind our own borders, watching the Inner Sphere and Periphery destroy itself. Too many people have died from stuff we taken for granted. I for one think it is time we pull back the curtains and reveal ourselves." Rebbeca Ebon replied.

"Whoa, slow down some, you trying to give me a stroke? Let's take it one step at a time. I will issue the orders to clear out the Dominions. So you can get your Special Forces deployed. Let's see how that works before we go all in." Commanding General Mitchell said.

September 3009[]

1st September, 3009
Drachenfeld (Hegemony)

Major Tabitha Buckler walked her Nightstar NSR-9Jb (Command) up the ramp of the Lee-Class Dropship and followed the ground guide into her assigned Mech bay. She commanded the Assault Battalion assigned to the 2nd Battle Regiment, 3311st Brigade of the 331st Royal Battlemech Division. The 40 Nightstar in her Battalion made for a fearsome assault force. Her Nightstar was equipped with a 285 XL Engine, 13 Double Heat Sinks and 18 tons of standard armor. In each arm was a massive Gauss Rifle each with 2 tons of ammo, the center torso held 2 ER Large Laser, the left torso held a Targeting Computer and the right torso held 7 tons of communications gear enabling her to coordinate a full invasion if she had to.

The 39 other Nightstar were NSR-9Jb versions. Equipped with a 380 XL Engine for an increased ground speed of 64kph, Endo Steel chassis, 13 Double Heat Sinks and 18.5 tons of standard armor for maximum protection. Each arm held a massive Gauss Rifle, each fed by 3 tons of ammo, the left torso held a Targeting Computer while the right torso held 5 ER Medium Laser for accurate and deadly close range fighting.

Her slower Nightstar did not prevent her from getting into the fight, nor did it bother her. Her job was to command, not to get into the thick of the fight. She rode the lift down from her cockpit and watched the techs finish securing her Battlemech into it's bay for transport. She had been briefed on the mission and though it was just stomping on some pirates who had gotten a little too brave, she was anxious to get there.

All across the sprawling space port, the 331st Royal Battlemech Division was loading their Dropships. The mission had changed in the last week and now the entire Division was deploying on the mission to take out the pirates based in the Tortuga Dominions. Word was that the 31st Infantry Division was also being readied for deployment. This had really started the rumor mill going, because no one could figure out what sized pirate group could present a threat to the 331st Royal Battlemech Division. Some were even insulted that Hegemony High Command thought they might need help with the mission.

Morgan's Holdfast (Tortuga Dominion)

Paul Durrant was riding the same high as the rest of his personnel on the successful raid on the Screaming Eagles. He had laid claim to one of the Pillager PLZ-3Z recovered from the Screaming Eagles. He had not taken the Mech out yet, only because the techs were still reading the manuals that had been carefully stored with the Battalion of Battlemechs. He only knew they were Star League vintage and he had wondered how the Screaming Eagles had gotten them but then he had read that they used to be Hegemony troops before going Merc. They must have stored the last of them when the ability to support them vanished, even though they had ample spare parts and ammunition for them or they did before he stole it all.

27th September, 3009
Tortuga Dominions

Fleet Admiral Tomlin Tanaka, with Commanding General Michelle Mitchell's blessing, had decided to make sure the blockade of the Dominions was solid. To make sure of this, Fleet Admiral Tanaka had doubled down, instead of the initial 2 Brandt Corvettes per system, he had assigned a Riga II and a Essex III Destroyer to each system. They went in first to secure each system. Only Morgan's Holdfast was left alone, for that system was slated to receive half of the Wolverine Squadron supporting their invasion.

Fletcher's Feast (Tortuga Dominions)

Ship's Master Pavlov Krushkin had just taken a bite of the sandwich when the obvious warship suddenly appeared barely 725km from his Invader Jumpship with no warning what so ever. He spat out the sandwich bite which floated about his bridge "HOLY S***!!!! NAV EMERGENCY JUMP PROCEDURES NOW!!!!!"

He knew it was hopeless even as the words left his mouth, and the radio confirmed that when it spoke "Attention all Jumpships, you are ordered to prepare for boarding, any attempt to engage your drives will result in your destruction without further warning." Before anyone really had a chance to process the warning, the warship fired several shots on a pirate Merchant Jumpship, the shots lancing into the Merchant Jumpship with deadly effect.

"Nav, please halt all work. This guy means business and I would rather see tomorrow." His ships plot clearly showed shuttles leaving the warship. This was not good, not good at all, he thought.

New Port Royal (Tortuga Dominions)

Commander Oliver Hayes, commander of the SLS Paul Driscle, a Riga II-Class Destroyer, smiled as his ships communications reported the terrified calls sounding from the Zenith Jump Point where his ship had just "magically" appeared. "CAG, you may launch the fighters at will. Everyone is weapons free on any vessel attempting to flee. Comm, break thru all that garbage and tell everyone to heave to and prepare to be boarded. You know the drill."

This scene was repeated across the Tortuga Dominions. Not a single vessel escaped the sudden blockade of the Dominions, 2 Merchant and 1 Invader Jumpship were destroyed when they failed to heed the warning calls, but 7 Merchant, 6 Invader and 2 Star Lord Jumpships were boarded and captured. While a single Brandt Corvette took station at both jump points in each system, the Riga II and Essex III Destroyers assigned to each system moved to take up an orbit of each system to prevent any Dropships from making a run for it. Between the escorting warships a single Lion (Infantry) and Lee-Class Dropships transported 2 Special Forces Battalions of 772 Ferret Power Armor equipped troops and 2 Battlemech Company's.

October 3009[]

20th October, 3009
New Port Royal (Tortuga Dominions)

Sergeant Kirby Wallace dumped the last body into the quickly dug mass grave which now held 60 dead pirates. "Cover them quickly and let's join the rest of the platoon."

He knew the Lieutenant was pissed, but he really did not care. This remote "camp" they had been watching for several days had unsettled every member of his squads stomachs. The final straw had come when several pirates had dragged a couple of girls into a hut, beating down what they assumed was their father when he protested. Speaking a few curses, he had hit the jump jets on his Ferret suit and his squad had followed. Seeing what they were doing, the other squad on the far side of the camp had also charged. The fight had been over in less than 5 minutes. He had personally broken the spine of one of the pirates that had been in the hut with one of the young girls.

His Lieutenant and the other 2 squads had arrived shortly after and escorted the 167 rescued civilians and led them back into the forest. When the Lieutenant had asked what the hell he was thinking, his only response had been "The strong look out for the weak."

New Haiti (Tortuga Dominions)

Captain Joshua Clancy could not help but laugh as the heavier Enforcer Battlemech tried as hard as he could to escape the "hidden" death that had claimed the other 3 members of his lance. He brought his Spector up to its full speed with all of its stealth equipment running, he passed within 70 meters of the pirate Enforcer and knew he was invisible to the pirate at the controls. Within 2 minutes, he had sped past the Enforcer and entered the dense tree line. He shut down his stealth as the Enforcer entered range and then stepped back into the open.

Seeing the sudden appearance in front of him, the pirate quickly brought his Enforcer to a dead stop. His war book could not identify the Battlemech in front of him. But it could tell him it was a light Battlemech. Should be no problem, he thought as he let loose a shot with his Large Laser.

Captain Joshua Clancy easily dodged the shot from the pirate and smiled as he returned fire with his ER Large Laser which stuck true into the Enforcers left leg. A graduate of the Gunslinger School, he knew he had the upper hand and should just end the fight, but he just savored the fight, could be awhile before he got the chance for another. He engaged his stealth and knew he the poor pirate had no clue what he was facing.

When the Battlemech vanished, both visually and on his sensors, the pirate felt the could hand of death on his shoulder. It was not at all a pleasant feeling. He searched as hard as he could and was surprised when another shot slammed into his Enforcer from behind him. He spun the Enforcer, but nothing was there. He screamed in anger when another shot hit true, this time from his right. Whatever this thing was, it hit like a sledgehammer, it was ripping his armor off in massive sheets. He saw a plume of dust, there you are and he fired, he watched the shot blow a massive tree to pieces instead.

Time to end this, the Major is going to be pissed as it is, Captain Clancy thought as he placed a carefully aimed shot into the Enforcers rear center torso, coring the Enforcer's engine. He watched the Enforcer fall face first into the dirt, smoke billowing from it's back. When the pirate popped his hatch and made a run for it, he felt nothing at all as he took careful aim and fired. Filthy pirate trash, he thought as he throttled back up to rejoin his company.

Morgan's Holdfast (Tortuga Dominions)

Paul Durrant looked at the sky and clearly saw the drive plums of a ton of incoming Dropships. He wondered if it was the Federated Suns or Screaming Eagles coming to punish him for the Farnesworth raid, he shrugged his shoulders, does not matter, they were going to be fighting on his turf, and he had a Battalion of hyper advanced Battlemechs to make them pay dearly for coming after him.

He turned and walked towards the hanger that held his new Pillager. He had taken it out for a few runs around the small training area and had gotten a good feel for it. {Now I get to see what this baby can do against live opponent's} he thought with a smile.

31st October, 3009
Morgan's Holdfast (Tortuga Dominion)

"Shit, does this guy ever miss?" Paul Durrant said to himself as he checked the damage screen in his cockpit. It was not pretty; several locations were down to a hair above 50% armor left. His war book failed to identify the massive Battlemech he was facing, it looked like the biggest Marauder he had ever seen and it was deadly accurate. Why the hell did I openly challenge this guy, he thought as the cold hand of fear slowly gripped him.

He fired his Pillager's Gauss Rifles and cursed as both shots missed the zigging and zagging Battlemech. It was like the damned pilot could read his mind, Paul thought to himself. He watched the enemy raise it's Gauss Rifles and fire, almost instantly the Pillager seemed to double over as both shots slammed into the center torso and he struggled to keep it on its feet as the gyro protested the sudden loss of several tons of armor. He had just gotten the Pillager under control when a brace of lasers reached out and removed several more tons of armor. The loss of so much weight was just too much and his Pillager slammed into the ground with a huge crash.

He checked the damage screen again and cursed, his left leg was gone and the right leg was as thin as a blade of grass. His Pillager had landed on its side and he could clearly see the enemy Battlemech closing quickly, only 120 meters away. He opened a laser channel to the Battlemech. "I surrender and demand to be treated as a prisoner of war."

The Battlemech stopped barely 50 meters from his downed Pillager and just stood there. Finally his radio came alive, "Only soldiers merit any decent treatment. Pirates and slavers deserve only death. This is for Farnsworth." He watched both Gauss Rifles shift slightly and then there was nothing. Both Gauss slugs slammed into the Pillager's head, smashing it into the ground under it.

Master Sergeant Meredith Xi turned her Nightstar NSR-9Jb away from the now headless Pillager and moved to rejoin the fight before the rest of the pirates were destroyed as the 3311st Brigade, 331st Royal Battlemech Division ripped them to shreds. He caught sight of Major Tabitha Buckler, slightly behind her Battalions line of advance slowly taking shots as they were given to her. He moved to link up with her and pushed the throttles to 64kph.

The 3311st Brigade had been given the task of destroying Durrant's Demons Battlemech forces while the other Brigades fanned out across the planet liberating slave camps and other locations identified by the Divisions Aerospace Fighters. It was a task that the 3311st Brigade eagerly performed with deadly precision and skill. They asked for no quarter and they gave none. It did not take the pirates long to realize this and they fought to the last person. The last pirate Battlemech standing, was a badly shredded Battlemaster, it was surrounded by a full Battalion of Crab CRB-33b from the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Battle Regiment, which had quickly overtaken the badly damaged Battlemaster.

Jillian Mathews knew she was dead. Her Battlemaster had a bum hip and she struggled to keep it upright as she walked. When the enemy had surrounded her, she had halted the Battlemaster. She had never seen so many Crab Battlemechs in one place before, and damned sure she had seen none as deadly as these were. She had watched them rip her lance to pieces at both long range and it was even worse when they moved into close range. She literally had no weapons left, the only ones active were her Machine Guns and she had dumped the ammo at the start of the fight to remove that massive bomb. As she waited for the end, she mentally calculated her odds of rushing one of the silent Crab's before she was taken down. No way, I bet I would not make a single step before they slagged this Battlemaster to nothing, she thought.

She flipped her radio to an open channel "Come on, get it over with, finish me."

She did not expect a response, so was startled when one came "Power down and dismount your Mech."

She sighed, {I don't want to hang, hope they just shoot me}, she thought as she shut down the power to her Battlemaster. She popped her cockpit hatch and scampered down the chain ladder, dropping the last 5 feet to the ground. She stood as tall and straight as she could, waiting for the killing shot. Her life flashed thru her head. She had been born in the Federated Suns, graduated from Sakhara Academy and had been on a quick rising career in the AFFS, then her commanding officer had raped her and she had shot him the second she had gotten loose. With no witness to stand with her, she had fled the Federated Suns. To survive, she had joined Durrant's Demons. She stayed far away from the slave side of things, and was generally left alone, after she had killed a few unwanted suitors who did not take no as an answer. Now it has all come to a brutal, deadly end.

She shuddered as she watched a squad of armored figures moving towards her, she had never seen anything like them. She saw a Crab take a step forward and from its speakers a voice "You fought bravely and honorably, which is surprising. You did not kill our ejected pilot, and even moved to block one of your own from doing so. For that, you will live. You might spend a long time in prison, but you will not die today."

November 3009[]

6th November, 3009
Morgan's Holdfast (Tortuga Dominions)

The 331st Royal Battlemech Division had declared the planet secures, though everyone knew there were bound to be pockets of hostiles around, but any organized resistance had ended. Already elements of the Division were loading their Dropships to head for New Port Royal and Fletcher's Feast to secure those worlds. The 31st Infantry Division would be securing Tortuga Prime, New Gascony and New Haiti. The Divisions medical units were busy processing freed prisoners from the many labor camps that had been liberated.

Lieutenant General Braxton Myers, commander 3311st Brigade, had been seeing to a few of his wounded in the hospital when he heard the shouting from one of the MASH units. He wandered over that way to see what was going on. "I swear to god, you bring me a wounded pirate and I will personally cut his heart from his chest while he is awake on the table!!! I have an entire ward filled with people who have been brutalized beyond imagination. I have children, even babies, that have had things done to them I do not want to even describe. Now get out of my hospital so I can get back to work."

General Mathew Hallis, commander 331st Royal Battlemech Division, exited the MASH unit and almost ran into Lieutenant General Myers. "Sorry, Braxton, did not see you coming in."

"No problem sir, I take it that was Colonel Cooper screaming I heard." Lieutenant General Myers asked

"Yeah, he was reading me the riot act. Seems his people are a little worked up from what they have seen. I cannot blame them, I have seen them myself." General Hallis said

"I heard some of it. I was just in the area seeing to my wounded before we depart for the transports." Lieutenant General Myers replied

"Not sure I like the idea of breaking the Division apart like this." General Hallis said

"No need to worry, we can handle anything we find on New Port Royal. I lost 11 Battlemechs taking down Durrant's Demons and they are reported to be the biggest and baddest out here. I am taking 2 Regiments of my Brigade along with a Ferret Regiment to New Port Royal. Colonel Frater is taking his Regiment and a Ferret Regiment to Fletcher's Feast. Intel says there is just over a Regiment of pirate Mechs on New Port Royal along with maybe 2 Regiments of Infantry, Fletcher's Feast has roughly two Battalions of Mechs and a Regiment of Infantry." Lieutenant General Myers replied

"Glad you feel so confident. Anyway, I put in a request for additional Infantry, normal Infantry, to help patrol and garrison these worlds. I will have a Regiment of the 3312th Brigade loaded and waiting aboard a transport in case they are needed. How is that prisoner of yours?" General Hallis asked

"She is a fountain of information. Intel has confirmed most of what she said from the few other prisoners we took. They confirm that she was an oddball, always protesting the treatment of their prisoners and generally pissing off Durrant with her bitching. He only kept her because she was a damned good Mechwarrior. I am taking her with me, I think she is worth salvaging." Lieutenant General Myers said

"I read the report, she really placed her Battlemaster between our downed pilot and another pirate mech?" General Hallis asked

"She did, she allowed her Battlemaster to absorb the shots that would have killed my pilot. That is why she was allowed to live. And to make sure she stays that way, she stay's with my Brigade." Lieutenant General Myers replied

"Keep her away from Colonel Cooper. If she continues to be of service, we will see about adopting her, but after this campaign." General Hallis said.

12th November, 3009
Morgan's Holdfast (Tortuga Dominion)

The 3311st Brigade was waiting for the final loads of Infantry to dock with the Jumpships. The Hegemony Armed Forces had moved standard Jumpships into the Dominion for movement to preserve the security of the slip stream transports for long range deployments. Lieutenant General Braxton Myers was in his stateroom with Jillian Mathews going over the various groups still in the Dominions.

"New Port Royal is the most populated world in the Dominions. There are countless small Lance and Company sized groups there. The biggest group is controlled by the planetary ruler. He control's a full Battlemech Battalion and several Armor and Infantry Regiments. They are pure bully boys and thugs. The next group is Kramer's killers, slavers. He runs a reinforced Battlemech Company and about a Regiment of Infantry. You should have no problems with either of those.

The ones you will have to watch out for are Barker's Bombers. Those folks are pure professionals. Excellent raiders. They despise slavers and refuse to take prisoners on their raids for the slave trade. Last word I had, they ran 2 Battlemech Company's and just under a Battalion of Infantry. They used to be a merc unit until they got setup and black balled in the Inner Sphere. Wish I had linked up with them instead of Durrant's folks, but I picked the wrong planet to run to.

The rest, well I have no clue. Probably a bunch of the smaller groups got stranded there. They will not be a problem for your people to take apart. Hell, they will probably shoot at each other just as much as they shoot at you. I honestly don't know about many of the other groups out here. They are always coming and going." Jillian Mathews said

"So you think Barker's Bombers will be our main problem?" Lieutenant General Braxton Myers asked

"Oh yeah. Expect hit and run from them. They will do everything in their power to keep from getting boxed in or dragged into a stand and fight situation. Like I said, they are pure professionals. You need a water purification system, you send them after it. Odds are, you will get it, intact and they will have taken low losses getting it. I don't think I ever heard of them failing. Durrant hated them, seems he tried to get them to join him a while back, got told that it would be a cold day in hell before they worked with slavers or anyone who dealt with slavers. But he never, not once went after them." Jillian Mathews said

Lieutenant General Braxton Myers leaned back and let this information soaks in. He wanted to end the campaign as quickly as he could. {I wonder if I can get this Barker's Bombers to lay down their weapons}, he thought silently.

December 3009[]

3rd December, 3009
New Port Royal (Tortuga Dominions)

Major Frank Barker knew he had screwed up. This mysterious force had arrived and quickly destroyed most of the forces on the planet. He had been forced to abandon his Dropships when the space port had been overrun. They had managed to ambush a few supply convoys of this mysterious force, but nothing substantial. But it was the rapid response that those ambushes had brought that had surprised him. It could only be the Federated Suns, and they must have dropped several of their RCTs on this planet. As he laid on his belly high up on the mountain, he scanned the valley below with binoculars and watched watch looked like a full Battalion of Crab Battlemechs spread out below him. He knew his force could not punch thru them, but this force was slowly tightening the noose around his command.

To his south, he knew at least a full Armor Regiment backed by Infantry had deployed along a ridge line. To his north, a full Battalion of Assault Battlemechs had taken up positions, virtually daring him to bring his command out and face them. To the east, well, they had spotted nothing at all, and that worried him. It was a broad plain, and his command would be fully exposed to Aerospace Fighters, which he knew this force had in abundance. Currently, his command was on the east side of this mountainous area he had led them to.

"Major, you better get back here and have a look at this." His radio crackled

"On my way, what have we got?" He responded as he backed away from the edge to begin the hour trip back to his command.

"We got a single Tank. The warbook is having trouble identifying it, but is 70% sure it is a old Turhan sitting about 5km away flying a white flag."

"I doubt they are surrendering to us." He responded

"Yeah, I highly doubt it also. I also highly doubt it is alone either."

A little over an hour later, Major Frank Baxter slowly walked his Griffin out to see what they wanted. He could easily guess, and he was not so sure he wanted to spend years in a Federated Suns prison. He watched his warbook try and identify the Tank, but as he closed it finally gave it a 85% identification of a Turhan. He zoomed in on the turret and instead of the 2 large lasers, he could clearly see the mounting of 4 lasers. Why on earth would anyone swap out the 2 large lasers for what looks like housings for 4 medium lasers?, he wondered. As he approached closer, he saw the 6, something, deploy from the rear of the Turhan. He zoomed in, and saw that they were wearing some sort of suit. Well, they are Infantry and they really did not worry him any, armor suits or not.

He halted outside of medium laser range, just for safety and waited for them to do something. Inside the Turhan, Master Sergeant Curtis Blane nudged Jillian Mathews "You’re up. You can use the hand held to talk to the guy. We will cover you as best we can from here. He thinks he is slick and we are armed with standard medium lasers, well if he gets stupid, he is going to be in for a rude surprise. Kelly, stay awake and stay ready."

Corporal Kelly Lynn, the Turhan gunner smiled "Wide awake, Sarge, I got the TC locked on that Griffin's head with all 4 lasers. Computer says that at this range, we got a 97% chance of direct hits. He gets dumb, well I plan to decapitate him really fast."

Jillian Mathews exited the Turhan and nodded to the squad of armored infantry that had deployed. She slowly walked around to the front of the Turhan and felt extremely naked doing so. I should have demanded a damned Battlemech when Lieutenant General Braxton Myers had told what he wanted her to do. She raised the hand held and started talking.

"This is Jillian Mathews, I assume you are, Major Frank Baxter?"

"I am Major Frank Baxter, commander Baxter's Bombers. What do you want?"

"To offer you and your command the chance to live. I was once part of Durrant's Demons, they have been destroyed. Lieutenant General Braxton Myers, commander of the forces on this planet has asked me to ask for your surrender. He knows you and your command are professional's and not slavers. He wants to avoid further bloodshed. He wants to meet with you at his headquarters." Jillian Mathews said as she watched the Griffin carefully.

"What is to stop me from just breaking my command out in this direction? I doubt you can stop us."

"Trust me, Major. If you try it, your command will die before they even reach our current location. Do not doubt this. Do the honorable thing, at least dismount your Battlemech and travel with me to meet Lieutenant General Myers. I promise, no action will be taken against your command unless they start it. What have you got to lose?" Jillian Mathews said

"Where is this headquarters?"

"He has his field HQ set up not far, less than 30 minutes away."

"I would prefer to remain in my Battlemech but, I am open to meet with the commander."

Jillian Mathews thought about this for a second, what the hell. "That would be fine. Keep your weapons powered down, Major Baxter. I also suggest you turn off your fire control. These folks are pretty trigger happy and they will not hesitate to take you down."

"Lead the way, Miss Mathews, let's go see what the General has to offer."

3rd December, 3009
New Port Royal (Tortuga Dominion)

Major Frank Baxter followed the Turhan across the plain and then over a 500 meter ridgeline. As his Griffin crested the ridge, he almost brought his Griffin to a sudden halt causing the Battlemech to stutter step to maintain its balance. Before him, hidden behind the ridge was at least a Regiment of Battlemechs and many more of these Turhan tanks and the armored infantry like the ones in the Turhan he was following. He checked his sensors and it showed nothing, why was his sensors not picking anything up, he wondered.

Fifteen minutes later, the Turhan halted and he saw Jillian Mathews exit the Turhan. He brought his Griffin to a halt, well aware that there were many weapons aimed at his Griffin. He watched a tall officer exit a tent and confer with Jillian Mathews before turning his attention to the Griffin. "You can exit your Battlemech Major Baxter, you are under a flag of truce. When we are finished speaking, you are free to return to your command." A male voice said over the radio.

He knelt his Griffin and before he could prepare to unroll his chain ladder, a mobile gantry rolled up and extended it's basket up to his Griffin's cockpit hatch. He exited the Griffin and rode the gantry to the ground. He was met by Jillian Mathews and the tall officer she had spoken to. "Major Baxter, this is Lieutenant General Myers, commander of the 3311th Brigade."

"3311th Brigade, never heard of them. But I have to admit, they are impressive. So, you a merc or House command? Either way, what House has finally decided to clean out the nest of slavers out here in the Dominions?" Major Baxter asked

"You will learn all of that if you accept what I am about to offer you Major Baxter. Until then, we will just say that my orders are to exterminate any hostiles on this planet with extreme prejudice. Jillian here has informed me that your command is professional and in no way slavers or even normal pirates. That peaked my curiosity and I wanted to meet with you." Lieutenant General Myers said

"Damn right we are professionals. If we had not been setup and then blacklisted, we would still be in the Inner Sphere and not out here with the dregs. Now, you said something about an offer, explain that." Major Frank Baxter replied

"We are securing the Dominions. Completely and totally. But this is going to cause us some issues down the road. Namely, there is going to be a massive drop in pirate activity all along the borders of the Houses. This is bound to raise some questions from various intel services and we would like to avoid that from happening. Your command is known to be operating out here, we would like to have you continue that activity, with some conditions attached." Lieutenant General Myers said

"Your wanting to hire my command? To be honest, that makes no sense at all. And what kind of conditions?" Major Baxter asked

"I will explain all of that once you accept the offer. I need an answer, Major Baxter. Accept or rejoin your command. I have a campaign to wrap up, one way or the other. The clock is ticking." Lieutenant General Myers said

"You’re not giving me much to work with, General. How the hell do I know, if I accept, and my people walk out of their positions that they will not all be lined up and shot? I heard the radio calls from the planetary garrison about how your troops ripped them apart with little mercy." Major Baxter replied, a hint of anger in his voice

"They were holding slaves. One of the units actually fired on the slaves as we made a liberation attempt. I personally issued the orders to show no mercy on any opposition met. Those that surrendered without resisting, they are currently prisoners. But they are few in number, I will admit. Your command was different, even though you hit a few of my convoys. That’s was an act of war, not senseless slaughter. I have spoken to the survivors of your several raids and how even medical treatment was given to the wounded before you departed the area. Those actions are what have confirmed what Jillian has told me and convinced me that I should at least extend an offer and not just destroy your command. So, which will it be, Major Baxter?" Lieutenant General Myers explained.

Before he could respond, an aide approached and spoke to Lieutenant General Myers. He just loud enough to be heard. "Artillery is laid on target and Aerospace is standing by. Skywatch wants to know if you need any heavy support."

"Very well. Tell Skywatch to remain in position but weapons are tight unless I personally give the order." Lieutenant General Myers replied to the aide and then he returned staring at Major Baxter, waiting.

"Alright General, I accept your offer. I will need to return to my command and explain things to them. I will need a few hours to explain it all and gather my wounded for transport. We have a few hard hit." Major Baxter said

"I will send a MASH with you to treat your wounded. You made a wise decision, Major Baxter. I look forward to meeting your people." He turned and called out "Sergeant Major, get a MASH ready to go with a small escort and see to their wounded, tell the Doctors that they are to be treated just like our very own, because they now are." Lieutenant General Myers said

11st December, 3009
Livingston Naval Base (Hegemony)

Fleet Admiral Tomlin Tanaka had spent the last week watching a Division of AI controlled Drones beat on the best ships of the Hegemony Fleet. Each Drone seemed to have the ability to "learn" and even anticipate the actions of the Hegemony ships while coordinating it's actions with the other Drones. Called the Doppelganger, it's official designation was the M6 Caspar Drone. Massing 680,000 tons, it mounted 680 tons of Lamellor Ferro Carbide armor giving it excellent all around protection. Fitted with Slip Stream capability able to travel 960 light years, it could self deploy or using the onboard crew quarters, have a ferry crew aboard, which would be the preferred method.

Weapons were where it shined, 4 Capital Naval PPC were mounted in the nose, each forward and aft arc contained 8 NL/55 while each broadside mounted 6 Medium Naval PPC. The aft arc was covered by 6 NL/55. With enough heat sinks to fire every weapon onboard for the duration of any battle. The lack of anti fighter weaponry outside the naval lasers had been the topic of many heated arguments between the engineers, but the ships main mission was counter warship, not counter fighter.

"Admiral Tanaka?" The voice of Amber said

"Yes Amber, go ahead." Fleet Admiral Tanaka replied, he had slowly gotten used to speaking with "Her". "I have completed my evaluation of the battle exercises and have the information ready for your review." Amber said "Very well Amber, please download the information to my computer, I will read the information this evening. Give me the short version please." Admiral Tanaka said

"Information has been sent in a secure file. The M6 Caspar Drone has exceeded all performance values during the battle testing. They have inflicted 1.3 losses for each of their own over all the battle tests. Currently they are improving by 23.7% with each engagement. It is my estimation that against Star League era designs their performance will be even more pronounced due to the ships of that era being built for close in battle and not stand off fighting as the Hegemony ships are. Though I am quite sure of the Drones abilities, I would recommend that each Division have a crewed command ship act as a final engage or not engage decision maker." Amber concluded

"Very well Amber, excellent run down as usual. So you still doubt their decision making ability?" Admiral Tanaka replied

"Their destructive ability is too great not to have some doubt, Admiral. You have had reservations about the Drones since the beginning of the program, I only assumed this would help solve your hesitation." Amber said

Damn computer is almost human, he thought before answering. "Your slowly convincing me, Amber. We are ready to move to the next testing phase, SDI suppression and close fire support." Admiral Tanaka said

"Very well, Admiral Tanaka, test has been scheduled for 5 February 3010. I will double check the safe guard routines that civilian casualties are to be avoided and to not accept any fire missions which endanger civilians or friendly troops." Amber said, delegating a sub routine to verify that the safe guard routines were active and took priority over all others.
"Thank you Amber. Now I have to get ready for the staff meeting." Admiral Tanaka replied

12th December, 3009
Thazi (Hegemony)

Commanding General Michelle Mitchell had known it was going to take time for the mobilization to really kick into effect, but she looked at the projected time frames and shook her head. Not knowing when or if Kerensky's army would return worried her, there was not enough time to bring all the commands back online at 100% strength. So, it was time for a reorganization. She pulled up all the TO&E her forces had ever fielded and began making notes. After 2 hours, she sat back and looked over what she had come up with.

Hegemony Reaction Force

191st Royal Jump Infantry Division (A)

Jump Infantry Brigades (2) - 3 Jump Infantry Regiments, 1 Ferret (J) PA Regiment, 1 Light BM Batt each Brigade
Battlemech Brigade - 3 Battlemech Regiments
Armor Brigade - 3 Armor Regiments (Hover)

Artillery Regiment - 2 Thor Battalions, 2 Vali Arrow Battalion
VTOL Regiment - 2 Transport VTOL Batt, 1 Attack/Scout VTOL Batt
Aerospace Wing (2) - 3 Aerospace Groups each (108 Fighters total)

To field more forces faster, she had decided to configure the assigned Divisions in an (A) TO&E and a (B) TO&E. The (A) TO&E would be setup along the lines of original SLDF, with slight variations taking into account the new technology. The (B) TO&E would have reduced Battlemechs, it would take time to train the number of pilots they needed, she had decided to not sacrifice training for speed, so current training time was still 6 years before a Mechwarrior entered front line commands.

Battlemech Division (A)

Battlemech Brigades (2) - 3 Battlemech Regiments each Brigade
Mechanized Infantry Brigade - 3 Mech Inf Regiments, 1 Ferret PA Regiment, 1 Battlemech Batt
Armor Brigade - 3 Armor Regiments
Artillery Regiment - 2 Thor Batt, 2 Palladin Batt
Cavalry Regiment - Battlemech Batt, Hover Armor Batt, Ferret PA Batt
VTOL Regiment - 2 Attack/Scout VTOL Batt, 1 Transport VTOL Batt
Aerospace Wing (2) - 3 Aerospace Groups each (108 Fighters total)

Battlemech Division (B)

Battlemech Brigade - 3 Battlemech Regiments
Mechanized Infantry Brigade (2) - 3 Mech Inf Regiments, 1 Ferret PA Regiment, 1 Battlemech Batt each Brigade
Armor Brigade - 3 Armor Regiments
Artillery Regiment - 2 Thor Batt, 2 Palladin Batt
Cavalry Regiment - Battlemech Batt, Hover Armor Batt, Ferret PA Batt
VTOL Regiment - 2 Attack/Scout VTOL Batt, 1 Transport VTOL Batt
Aerospace Wing (2) - 3 Aerospace Groups each (108 Fighters total)

Mechanized Infantry Division (A)

Mechanized Infantry Brigade (2) - 3 Mech Inf Regiment, 1 Ferret PA Regiment, 1 Armor Regiment each Brigade
Battlemech Brigade - 3 Battlemech Regiments
Armor Brigade - 3 Armor Regiments
Artillery Regiment - 2 Thor Batt, 2 Palladin Batt
Cavalry Regiment - Battlemech Batt, Hover Armor Batt, Ferret PA Batt
VTOL Regiment - 2 Attack/Scout VTOL Batt, 1 Transport VTOL Batt
Aerospace Wing (2) - 3 Aerospace Groups each (108 Fighters total)

Mechanized Infantry Division (B)

Mechanized Infantry Brigade (3) - 3 Mech Inf Regiment, 1 Ferret PA Regiment, 1 Armor Regiment each Brigade
Battlemech Regiment - 3 Battlemech Battalions
Armor Brigade - 3 Armor Regiments
Artillery Regiment - 2 Thor Batt, 2 Palladin Batt
Cavalry Regiment - Battlemech Batt, Hover Armor Batt, Ferret PA Batt
VTOL Regiment - 2 Attack/Scout VTOL Batt, 1 Transport VTOL Batt
Aerospace Wing (2) - 3 Aerospace Groups each (108 Fighters total)

Infantry Division

Infantry Brigade (3) - 3 Infantry Regiments, 1 Ferret PA Regiment, 1 Battlemech Batt each Brigade
Battlemech Regiment - 3 Battlemech Battalions
Armor Brigade - 3 Armor Regiments
Artillery Regiment - 2 Thor Batt, 2 Palladin Batt
Cavalry Regiment - Battlemech Batt, Hover Armor Batt, Ferret PA Batt
VTOL Regiment - 2 Attack/Scout VTOL Batt, 1 Transport VTOL Batt
Aerospace Wing (2) - 3 Aerospace Groups each (108 Fighters total)

Jump Infantry Division (B)

Jump Infantry Brigade (3) - 3 Jump Infantry Regiments, 1 Ferret (J) PA Regiment, 1 Light BM Batt each Brigade

Battlemech Regiment - 3 Battlemech Battalions
Armor Brigade - 3 Armor Regiments
Artillery Regiment - 2 Thor Batt, 2 Vali Arrow Batt
Cavalry Regiment - Battlemech Batt, Hover Armor Batt, Ferret PA Batt
VTOL Regiment - 2 Attack/Scout VTOL Batt, 1 Transport VTOL Batt
Aerospace Wing (2) - 3 Aerospace Groups each (108 Fighters total)

The various Independent Regiments also would undergo a change, each Regiment would have a Ferret PA Battalion, Artillery Battalion and Aerospace Group permanently assigned, making them much more capable at independent operations when called for.

It took her another 3 hours to write all the transfer orders for the many Regiments that would be shifted around. When she was done, she sat back and looked at her current and projected TO&E. She just wanted the time to make it happen.

Army Quick Reaction

191st Royal Jump Infantry Division (A)

1st Corps (Offensive)

359th Battlemech Division (A) - active 100%
368th Battlemech Division (B) - active 100%
208th Battlemech Division (B) - active 100%
428th Battlemech Division (B) - 3011
272nd Mechanized Infantry Division (A) - active 100%
123rd Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - active 100%
79th Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - 3012
265th Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - 3013
81st Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - 3014
211th Hussar Regiment - active 100%
201st Battle Regiment - active 100%
288th Hussar Regiment - active 100%

2nd Corps (Offensive)

295th Battlemech Division (A) - active 100%
298th Battlemech Division (B) - 3013
318th Battlemech Division (B) - 3014
370th Battlemech Division (B) - 3015
126th Mechanized Infantry Division (A) - active 100%
173rd Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - 3016
181st Royal Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - 3018
251st Royal Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - 3020
200th Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - 3022
19th Hussar Regiment - active 100%
5th Hussar Regiment - 3014
277th Dragoon Regiment - 3016

3rd Corps (Defensive)

284th Battlemech Division (B) - 3018
29th Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - 3019
54th Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - 3020
31st Infantry Division - active 100%
36th Infantry Division - active 100%
52nd Infantry Division - 3017
48th Infantry Division - 3018
55th Infantry Division - 3020
56th Infantry Division - 3021
247th Heavy Assault Regiment - 3019
349th Dragoon Regiment - 3021

V Corps (Wolverine Mix)

331st Royal Battlemech Division (A) - active 100%
151st Mechanized Infantry Division (A) - 3018
153rd Mechanized Infantry Division (A) - 3022
184th Mechanized Infantry Division (B) - 3024
80th Royal Jump Infantry Division (A) - 3026
135th Royal Striker Regiment - 3019
208th Striker Regiment - 3017
257th Battle Regiment - 3023
541st Battle Regiment - 3021

For V Corps, she was going off the timetable given to her by Jessica Hallis on her estimated internal training programs along with Hegemony assigned personnel. She hoped that she was surprised and more graduated than was calculated and units would come online faster. Equipment was not even a consideration, since they had enough equipment to fully outfit every command easily and it was all fully upgraded to the current specifications.

13th December, 3009
New Port Royal (Tortuga Dominions)

Major Frank Baxter had thought he was hard to impress, but he had to admit he was almost overcome with everything he had seen since agreeing to work with Lieutenant General Myers. The medical care, even in field conditions was top notch. His battered command had been fully repaired when Lieutenant General Myers had opened all the captured equipment up to his technicians and then had been surprised even more when the technicians from Lieutenant General Myers troops had helped out.

Several of his Battlemechs had already been past their prime and spent more time in the repair bays than in the field. But the sun was shining brightly when Lieutenant General Myers presented him with captured and repaired equipment, enough that he was now short pilots to field a full Battlemech Battalion along with his Infantry Battalion, who were also enjoying old but, well maintained APCs along with first rate auto rifles to replace their hodge podge of weapons. Today, he was touring the prison camp that had been setup, he was looking for people he knew never fit in with the slavers and other rag tag pirate bands. By the end of the day, he had recruited enough pilots to fill out his Battalion along with replacement Infantry.

14th December, 3009

Major Frank Baxter knocked on the door and entered when the knock was answered. "You wanted to see me General?" He said

"Take a seat, Major. It is time we had a long hard talk." Lieutenant General Myers said gesturing to a chair. Once Major Baxter had gotten comfortable he continued. "Everything proceeding to your satisfaction?"

"Sir, I am waiting for the down side of this job to appear. Not only has my worst equipment been replaced, my command has actually grown. Which I owe you a debt of gratitude for. Plus thank you for authorizing me the chance to raid the prison camp. Not everyone is a horrible person, and I think I culled out the best of that lot though." Major Baxter replied

"We cannot have you performing your intended task on a shoe string. When you go back to work, you will have your Overlord Dropship, in addition, I have cut loose a captured Seeker & Mule Dropships along with a Star Lord-Class Jumpship. The Seeker and Star Lord will be crewed by my people attached to your command along with an Aerospace Squadron. Those pilots will also be from my people along with the their support staff. In addition, I am attaching an additional Battlemech lance to your command, thou they are attached to you, they are my eyes and ears. Thus lance will be under the command of Major Jillian Mathews. They will also have their own support people, so they will not be a burden on you. Any problems or questions yet?"

"No sir, though it sounds like your putting a leash on me of sorts." Major Baxter replied

"A small one. At least until you earn my trust fully. I am going to come clean with you on a few things. Your command is now a part of something much bigger than you realize, in time, you might find out all of it, that is not my decision to make. If you attempt to cut and run, we will find you and I promise you will not like the way we will deal with you and your people. Harm or mistreat any of my people and I will hunt you down. Am I clear?" Lieutenant General Myers said

"Perfectly clear, General Myers. I agreed to work with your people and my word is my bond. I will admit I did have some thoughts of cutting out that first day, but after getting a good look at your command, well it feels good to belong to what is clearly a professional outfit. Your support is beyond anything I have ever seen before, your people seem to lack for nothing. Where and how you get it, I have no clue. Going by some of the equipment I have seen, you obviously found one hell of a cache of Lostech. You will not have any problems from me and my people." Major Baxter replied honestly

"Good. I have stuck my head out pretty far striking this deal with you and your people. Don't make me regret it. Now, head for the space port and see to your people. Once your wounded are cleared to return to duty, I will have a mission for you." Lieutenant General Myers said dismissing him.

Once Major Baxter had left, Major Jillian Mathews entered the room and took a seat. "You clear on what I want you to do?" He asked her.

"Yes sir. I still cannot get my head around being a Mechwarrior again." Major Jillian Mathews replied

"You earned it. Now, in addition to your Battlemech lance, the crews of the Seeker and Star Lord will take your orders over Major Baxter. Along with the Aerospace Squadron. Aboard the Star Lord, there will be a Marine detachment of 2 squads with their armor. In addition is a special squad, they are my link to you at all times. I warn you, everything about them is highly classified and you are forbidden to pry into their secrets. Attempt it and they will kill you. Period and without question, do you understand?" Lieutenant General Myers explained

"Perfectly clear, they and their business is off limits to me. I will assume they are communications people, I have seen you get messages and this place does not have a HPG station. How you manage that, I will leave that alone. They do not exist as far as I am concerned." Major Jillian Mathews replied

"Good, now let's go take a look at your new lance, shall we?" Lieutenant General Myers said

Thirty minutes later, he led her into warehouse that had housed part of the 3311th Brigades support staff. He stopped in front of a Battlemaster. The master tech saluted and said "She is fully operational and ready to go, sir."

"Excellent, Warrant Officer Newton." Lieutenant General Myers returned the salute before turning to Major Jillian Mathews. "I had my people repair your Battlemaster. All the major systems are brand new, including the fusion plant. Due to your mission, I cannot allow our actual tech to get out there in the open. You know already that our weapons hit harder, have a longer range and are more accurate, having been on the receiving end already. See those 3 approaching, they are the rest of your lance. Lieutenant Brad Merino, excellent pilot of a Thunderbolt. Then Master Sergeant Kirk Frater, pilots a Phoenix Hawk and finally Sergeant Holly Rayson, she pilots a Guillotine." Lieutenant General Myers said

Major Jillian Mathews visually ran her eyes over the approaching warriors, they all looked very fit and confident in their abilities. When they arrived, Lieutenant General Myers spoke again. "Everyone all set?"

"Yes sir, it will be nice challenge in these new machines." Lieutenant Brad Merino said, he was 27 and a Gunslinger graduate. Along with Master Sergeant Kirk Frater (31) and Sergeant Holly Rayson (26).

"Major Mathews, you do not know me, but I am the pilot you were willing to sacrifice yourself for. I volunteered for this mission the second General Myers told me about it. Thank you." Sergeant Holly Rayson said

"It was the right thing to do. I just hope I don't let anyone down." Major Jillian Mathews replied

"We will not let you fail Major Mathews, we got your back all the way." The grizzled Master Sergeant Kirk Frater said

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