Fall of the Capellan Confederation?
Battle of Capella
11/02/3043 - Location: Memorial City - Capella, Capellan Confederation
“We have broken through the Northern Gate.”
“Continue the attack. All forces advance.”
Gunji-no-Kanrei Theodore Kurita pushed his Akuma as fast as it could go. Even running at max speed, he could barely keep up with Ryu (Dragon) and Shinobi (Shadow Hawk) units of the 1st Ghost Regiment. His Assault Company lagged as the cavalry pushed forward, skirting obstacles in their way. Tora (Wolf Trap) and Zonbi (Wight) skirmishers ranged ahead on the flanks, slicing through CCAF armor vainly attempting to stop the advancing Samurai. Samurai who until last week were their allies.
The bone white 'Mechs with bright gold and green scales advanced steadily through the diminishing ranks of fanatical defenders. Home Guard fled from their posts using whatever vehicles they could manage. Disabled tank crews powered down waiting for the DCMS Ashigaru troops that would certainly follow.
Theodore’s Assault Company spread out as artillery rounds fell around them, throwing up great clumps of dirt and concrete. They barreled through makeshift barricades formerly manned by Home Guard, the assault 'Mechs crushed it beneath them with sheer mass leaving rubble in their wake for the Yokai (Bulldog) and Kappa (Goblin) tanks to push through.
A Squadron of DCA Zeros Aerospace Fighters laden with bombs flew over them, their sonic booms indistinguishable from the ongoing bombardment. Moments after they released their cluster bombs, filling the city with dispersed explosions, disabling the guns, at least temporarily. A pair of Transits that had somehow evaded the CAP pursued them.
Upon reaching the city, the advance units paused as they encountered minefields, ambush tanks, and reinforced bunkers filled with fanatical Home Guard units. Theodore’s Akuma caught up with the forward element, gingerly stepped over the remains of a Zonbi, the victim of an ambushing Predator tank destroyer. The fateful tank now burned, filling the block with a smoky haze that obscured other hostiles.
“All light mechs secure the West Gate and deal with flankers. Heavy Battalion with me.” commanded Theodore
The First Ghosts Heavy Battalion followed; despite its name still contained a reinforced lance of Pansa (Panther) to serve as rooftop snipers, their quad missile launchers loaded with fragmentation warheads. Theodore’s six pack was as well, adding its firepower to the flamer in his mech’s right arm. Kanabo (Warhammer 6K), Katana, Daboku, and Ono (Stalker 4N) carried regular HE, or Infernos to deal with large concentrations of infantry.
Almost immediately Heavy Battalion engaged Home Guard armed with SRM launchers and heavy machine guns. Heavy 14.5mm rounds stitched across his plate dealing minor damage, but the real threat was the many missiles. Theodore's Akuma, the most intimidating 'Mech took heavy fire. Heavy rapidly silenced the enemy with fragmentation warheads and scorching heat forcing them to withdraw.
“They are probably going to take the tunnels, but we can’t do anything about that. Keep your eyes peeled. The House of Scions will be well defended.”
Reports were coming in from Third Ghost’s Mechs and the 111th Benjamin infantry under the command of his wife Tomoe. Her force had subdued the Ceres City and Metals garrison with only minor casualties and would join the main front into Memorial City earlier than planned. 2nd Ghost had subdued their targets and was moving to reinforce positions around the Memorial City Spaceport using their few Union-Class Dropships transports to reinforce First Ghost’s task force there.
The advance was slowed by vibrabombs set to go off under the 80-90-ton mechs that formed the Assault contingent of the Battalion. Kanabo and Pansa units were immune, but they required the support of the heavily armored assault group, particularly at close range.
“Cavalry Battalion, cautiously force the center until Third Ghost arrives”
Tai-sa Kasagi acknowledged and ordered his forces onward under cover of smoke to obfuscate their location from indirect fires by mortar and rocket teams positioned throughout the city. The Cavalry battalion took time to load AP shells, and a few had already swapped at least one of their lasers for small pulses, provided by COMSTAR. Ichi (1st) Ghost had several expert street fighters among their ranks and were familiar with CQB and combined arms engagements.
Theodore’s command cautiously headed toward the Eastern Gate. A longer approach than they had hoped for and the initial target of the Cavalry battalion because of the Justin Aris Memorial Park. Along the way they encountered Home Guard technicians and heavy weapons teams at almost every intersection.
An Ono lost an arm to the Predator’s gun before the machine folded under overwhelming fire. Wyverns, Urbanmechs, and Firebees hidden down narrow streets hit hard, then faded away into the warrens. These took their toll on armor and ammunition, particularly for the Pansa and Shinobi units capable of pursuing but lacking the stopping power of the heavier units. The limited exposure time left some completely wrecked however, particularly if they closed with the Akuma whose ERPPC lacked the dead space of the normal variant while still shooting further. Unfortunately, the heat penalty was severely limiting its usefulness and punishing the Gunji-no-Kanrei with excess joules. Heavy Battalion took the time to ensure that fallen Mechwarriors met their proper end.
A Katana fell through a prepared roof trap crashing into the building which was then imploded on top of it by the enemy entombing the assault mech and its pilot. Explosives trapped machines in subway and utility tunnels under the roads in rubble, delaying the armor group. The difficult terrain made them easier to hit with mortar bombs, satchel charges, and heavy recoilless rifles.
Frustrated and infuriated, the DCMS Ghosts pushed forward, their bone white colors blackened by fire and shattered by enemy weapons. By the time Theodore reached the Park Fast Strike elements, mostly Jenners and Kumo (Spider) light 'mechs, replaced the heavily damaged elements of his command. The slender machines were deceptively deadly but would fold in any sustained firefight.
The Holdfast Guard showed their hand as they neared the forest. A reinforced company of Vindicator, Cataphract, Koschei, and Catapult battlemechs activated beneath the canopy. Although the DCMS picked up the engine signatures, they were too late to avoid the missiles and autocannon rounds that now filled the sky. Heavy Battalion trudged forward into the onslaught, as there was no other choice.
This formation would have overwhelmed the Cavalry Battalion even with the space to maneuver, but the endurance of Heavy Battalion even compromised as it was. Theodore’s Lord’s Light ERPPC shot lightning and the Imperator Code Red thunder while flames and missiles engulphed supporting infantry concealed in their fighting holes just inside the now burning forest. Beside him was a constant din as the Daboku’s fast firing ultra-autocannons peppered the CCAF with lightweight shells from afar splintering trees and shattering armor plates.
The lighter ground-bound the Koschei and Cataphracts 'Mechs were easy prey for the heavier DCMS mechs. Theodore’s Akuma crushed the autocannon arm of a Koschei with its left hand. It’s still smoldering PPC barrel in the opposite one stuck through the cockpit like a cigar. He withdrew the barrel and pushed forward through the burning forest, his 'Mech’s bulk shoving might trees even aflame to make room. Just above the smoke he could see the flaring jump jets of CCAF 'Mechs attempting to break contact with Jenners and Kumo in hot pursuit.
“Keep pushing through, we have heat sinks and a mission to finish.”
Holdfast Guard held firm but gave ground as other Ghost Battalions joined the attack. Theodore Kurita saw the shape of the House of Scions, home to the lesser of the Capellan governing bodies and many corrupt officials, its metal roof reflecting the setting sun.
Heavy Battalion whittled down to a reinforced company as the CCAF desperately pulled back. They hoped in vain that one of their dirty tricks would be enough to stop the DCMS. Unfortunately, the Yakuza had a few of their own and their unorthodox training gave them the right instincts to combat the defenders.
Ghosts now controlled the skies and spaceport. DCA Fighters strafed the ragged formations which could not longer hide within the tight streets of Memorial City. They struck likely enemy positions with Ashigaru artillery. Increasingly the Home Guard abandoned their positions or threw down their weapons at the mere sight of a Ghost.
By dawn, Gunji-no-Kanrei Theodore Kurita of the DCMS looked up to the New Samarkand Dragon Banner flying from the House of Scions. Before him were the bloody parade grounds of Memorial Square where the Scions had met their gruesome end. Behind him, Memorial City was quiet except for the occasional siren of the fire brigade. The Capellan flag that flew over the House of Scions just yesterday was on the cobblestones before them. Ragged DCMS troopers cheered as he set a torch to it, watching red flames consumed the brilliant jade piece of fabric.
COMSTAR Broadcast Theodore Kurita's lean face broadcast throughout Cappella, Sarna, Liao, and most of the Terran-Adjacent Capellan Confederation on every video or radio channel.
“The judgement of the Gunji-no-Kanrei and his Ghosts is that the Chancellor has lost the mandate of heaven.
Henceforth the Draconis Combine claims these worlds and extends a merciful hand to all those have suffered under her misrule.”
11/05/3043 - Location: The Hiring Hall, Galatea City - Galatea, Lyran Commonwealth
“Look, I don't care how much it costs. Bill it to the Archon.”'
Mandrinn Tormano Liao's phone hadn't stopped ringing for the past two days. 'Free Capella' was no longer a mere patriotic slogan or name of his organization. It was now a military objective that Archon Melissa Steiner and Duke Paul Marik were riding him hard to make reality. They expected him to do something with all the support and funds they had given him over the years, but the window was rapidly tightening. The present conditions forced him to expand administrative staff and office space faster than expected to field the contracts coming in and procurement from Kali Yama, Defiance Industries, and a dozen lesser suppliers.
Two days ago they heard that Theodore Kurita had taken over the Capella Commonality, slaughtered the House of Scions, saving Tormano the trouble, and was rattling his saber next to the Commonwealth's Skye Province and Duchies of Oriente and Orloff. The Capellan Civil War was over and they had fired the first shorts of a new Succession War with the DCMS controlling the tempo and battlefield.
Hanya came into the office with a cup of perfumed tea and a concerned expression on her face, so worn with worry for her husband. She sat across from him and pushed the cup toward him. “My special blend. You need sleep.”
He removed his glasses, rubbing his forehead, which did little to relieve the pressure that intermittently pained him, and looked over the detritus of a lived in office that hadn't seen sunlight in days.
“I doubt even your special blend could help me now. If I drift off I fear the DCMS will fly their flag from Sian with my sisters in chains when I wake. Romano had to know this would happen as soon as she invited them in.”
She came around the desk, embracing him deeply, and kissed him lightly. “I know you didn't want this to happen. You tried but they wouldn't listen to you. Your father sent you away because you stood up to him.”
“Not hard enough. I should have stepped up immediately after his death (suspected murder) like Hanse and Ian had suggested. This isn't how it was supposed to end.”
“There was no good ending to be had once it became a hot war between them. Ours was a Succession War in miniature and is no longer.”'
“The last couple of those didn't work out well for the Confederation. Ours has been a long struggle.”
“Its fate is in your hands now.” she said.
Tormano put his hands on the desk, admiring the fine but wrinkled form and extended carbon fiber nail on his left pinkie. “These are not the hands of a warrior.”
“Wars are not won by force of arms alone. Use your gifts, Tiexin.”
With a kiss she departed toward their penthouse at the top of the West Tower, watched continuously by the Hiring Hall's security teams and private bodyguards. He exhaled loudly. The sudden noise through an open door drew the attention of Sao Lei. The woman formerly employed by his once rival, now friend Tran Ky Bao. She was far too competent for her salary, which had increased at least three times in the past year.
“Hold my calls for two hours. I need a nap.” he sniffed the funk of his office, “a shower, and a visit from the cleaners.”
“I advise a sit down meal with the family as well, Mandrinn Liao. To gain some perspective on what you are fighting for.”
Now he was even more certain she was MIIO. What the hell. He needed all the allies he could get. He thought
She pulled out her comm-pad, long nails gently tapping on the touchscreen. “Should I make a reservation? There is a noodle house nearby that comes highly recommended by the concierge.”
“Sure, the works.”
The young woman bowed politely and departed quietly to her corner desk. He looked at his comm-pad's calendar, which was filled with various mercenary logos, including some high-profile ones subcontracted to him by the Archon.
11/10/3043 - Location: Homestead, HPG Station
Photon Brett had just gotten through the most boring briefing ever, for an organization so accustomed to clipping communication down to the smallest byte COMSTAR's meetings drew on forever. Cutting a dark figure with his black hair and complete disregard from COMSTAR custom faced the mousy Phi, COMSTAR's banker, Adept with his sunglasses mirroring two men's white clad forms and silver amulets in this plain meeting room.
“Adept Prisba, why didn't you just tell me that Ian Davion laundered a two hundred million of his 'winnings' from 'our' bout through the Solaris branch of Mindstar only to have it pop out on Luxen and packaged over to Detroit in cash form.
Oh and by the way he hasn't been seen in two weeks or checked his messages. Sounds like a secret mission to me.”
“But you completely ignored all of my...” The other man, a Rho Adept, one of COMSTAR's dirty tricks division, put his hand over the other's mouth. “I think that Mr Lamda has heard enough of your efforts. Go count some c-bills Prisba.”
The Banker retreated from the room. “You don't have to be so rough on him, Stavros. He's just doing his job.”
Photon faced the other man. This one looked rough like someone you wouldn't want to run into in a dark alley, but that meant nothing to Photon. He lived there and he had seen and done things that COMSTAR likely knew about and some that they didn't. “Your job is to give me a target. I don't care how it is chosen. I have a target. Now, where is he going.”
Adept Shiro activated the hologrid dimming the lights to see a blown up map of their surrounding area with dots representing active and registered jumpships. “We think Corrine was transported toward Brisbane by the Red Chasseurs based on the past few weeks' history.”
“You think the Protector sent a raid to kidnap my cousin across St Ives' controlled space? To bring her back?”
“Yes.” man answered
“To what end? Why would he take her closer to the Federated Suns when Duke Hasek-Davion is watching for any TDF movement to justify a preemptive attack?”
Photon took control of the grid. “I would have taken her to Independence or Rockwellawan. There's no New Syrtis Fusiliers or Capellan March Militia nearby. Then I would have drawn Ian in and killed them all. Blaming it on those pirates we equipped.”
“But the data suggests something different.”
“Screw your data! Think like a killer, supposing that is what he wants.
No, this is Quintus, I'd bet my own two hundred million on it if my mother hadn't taken it from me.
He's taking her closer to the Federated Suns so she will be safe, while giving Hanse Davion and his ally Magestrix Centrella Cassus Belli against the Concordat.”
He highlighted a world near the increasingly lawless Tri-border area but within one jump of the St. Ives' acting capital of Victoria.
“Get my battalion transport to Zanzibar, Adept. We can take out Quintus, Candace, Ian, and Corrine all in one go.”
11/17/3043 - Location: Excalibur-Class DropShip CCS Zheng Hi - Victoria, St Ives Compact
Count Quintus Allard paced the CIC, eerily silent despite his analysts working at their stations late into the evening. He looked up to the comms officer. “Any confirmation from Shiao-Zheng Schmidt?”
The young man tapped a few keys on his display and leaned over. “Negative sir. No word from him or anyone from Kamata since Cappela fell.”
Quintus punched the wall before him, mildly denting the plastic covering. “We have the AFFS and FWLM's support now. I don't need to manufacture an incident.”
He looked up at the date marked on his calendar. The fateful date was coming worryingly close. The abort command was sent but no confirmation had come back, which meant one of two things, and both involved ROM.
“There's nothing we can do with that now. I trust Ian will figure it out.”
Quintus shouted out to the analysts. “Compile and send me the latest down-links from the SIMC positions near Sian. We need to know how far Theodore Kurita's reach can extend before he can figure it out.”
From the briefing room, Quintus poured over the latest troop disposition, the DCMS' Ghost Regiments bore a striking resemblance to the first growth phase of the COMGUARDs. They were comprising of SLDF grade bone white Battlemechs, most with some kind of lingering damage showing how rapidly they were being brought back online. With their caches hopefully depleted after helping supply a brigade of 'mechs to the DCMS, Phi Branch had massively opened their checkbooks. The Order preferentially purchased their new equipment from Combine, Confederation, and Periphery manufacturers leaving the more mature industries and rivals in FedSuns, LyrCom, and FWL space out of the bidding process. Phi and Beta Branches exchanged both technical skill and cold currency for materiel and combat advisers both sides abilities.
This had enabled these small realms, including the St. Ives Compact, to sustain a larger military than ever before. Ceres Arms had been the largest beneficiary, allowing the Order to change the conditions of battle through economic and logistical means and through their monopoly on interstellar communication.
Quintus suspected the Order was up to something, urging Candace to refuse their business. However, each Battlemech or Tank they purchased from HildCo or other suppliers was almost half a new one for the fledgling SIMC and if she didn't sell them, the Order would buy from Romano. With the war having taken a turn for the worse and allegations of weapons of mass destruction being deployed by SIMC forces, they lost the ability to source other suppliers.
<<<Twelve Ghost Regiments, Both Genoyasha, and all five Ryuken regiments along with support from Arkab, Amphigian, and Ashigaru auxiliary regiments have pushed into the Terra facing portions of the Confederation taking Liao, Capella, Sarna, and several other strategic worlds Romano initially invited these units in to combat the AFFS forces massing on her border and thus were in the perfect position to strike.>>>
<<<Colonel Jaime Wolf and his Wolf's Dragoons, in the employ of Hanse Davion, have stalemated the Ryuken on Tikonov. The Republicans have fired on both sides forcing the Mercs and Ryuken out into the hinterlands and away from their cities to finish their feud.>>>
<<<Colonels Patrick and Morgan Kell and both Regiments of their Kell Hounds, ostensibly in the Duchys of Oriente's employ, are skirmishing with the Genyosha under the command of Yorinaga Kurita, the original Prince Ian's killer and Patrick Kell's sworn enemy.>>>
<<<1st and 2nd St Ives Janissaries are mobilizing to secure Sian from DCMS forces.>>>
<<<The St. Ives Lancers are preparing to take the Necromo Yards from St. Ives to prevent it from falling into DCMS hands.>>>
<<<Armored Cavalry Regiments press up from Grand Base toward Harloc.>>>
<<<Present CCAF territory comprises a line from Boardwalk to Hexare then to Highspire, Chancellor Romano Liao's de facto capital, with a slender line up to Tikonov.>>>
<<<The Oriente Fusiliers and Hussars along with Marik Militia and Orloff Grenadiers go to DEFCON 2. Parliamentary procedure prevents them from deploying in offensive engagements but they are ready to counter attack imminent threat to their systems. Fleet Transport assets positioned throughout Capellan border territory are activated and move to their staging worlds.>>>
Race to Rescue of the Legionaries
11/24/3043 Location–Zanzibar, Independent World
The Countess Corrine Marik sat huddled under a plain canvas tent anchored to a Bulldog truck with the others. The flaps of which whipped in the acrid winds of this wasteland. Their captors carried no guns, but they didn't need to in order to maintain control of the weakened Legionnaires.
A month in low gravity without exercise had sapped them of vigor. It had been a quiet journey with no ill treatment beyond being locked in a darkened wardroom with escorted visits to the head and insufficient rations. Her limbs felt awkward, a feeling echoed by the others. Their strength would return, but until then they were in no condition to make a run for it, even if they knew where they were, and had the right tools. Now that they were planet-side the food quantity increased, but now they could taste the underwhelming quality of the scant traces of meat, vegetable, and rice. It was a good or bad sign, but the Legionnaires welcomed gravity and more chow.
Giselle looked at her with concern. Corrine had spent the journey concerned about her. She was injured during the attack on Sardurni. Whoever was holding them for ransom had excellent astro-medical skills, and her wounds had almost completely healed. “Did you recognize any stars?”
Corrine had gotten better treatment over the past beside having a knife at her throat for a tense video post-abduction. She had just come back from walking around under the stars, observed by her silent female captor. Canopus or the Diamond Garter cluster could be seen throughout the Rim when she was outside, but she also wasn't certain the axial tilt or which hemisphere they were on of the world either.
“No, we jumped at least five times. We could be in the Confederation or near Fronc space by now.”
“Isn't Ian near Fronc?” She started getting more agitated, “Maybe your father contacted him to help find us.” before breaking down in Corrine arms, “I just want to go home.”
She patted her friend and used her sleeve to wipe away tears, “Me too. I'm sure someone will come for us soon. We'll all get home.”
11/27/3043- Location : DropShip, FSS Valor in orbit around Zanzibar
The Canopian Jumpship executed an impressive pirate jump taking advantage of this world’s lack of a detection network outside of maybe its HPG compound. Ian held onto the bar in the CIC waiting for the coordinates where the swap would occur. It was fun to count out 200 million c-bills in cash for a while but that was a small price to pay for Corrine and the other’s safety. Two orbits and three hours passed without a message.
“Captain Davion, the Wolfsbane has located a number of thermal and magnetic signatures approximately two hundred kilometers to the North of Wete. Images showing up now.”
From their high view the Wolfsbane locked onto that sector, thirty Battlemechs and Six armored vehicles were in hot pursuit of a convoy of vehicles.
“Are those MRVs?” Ian asked
The sensor operator zoomed in on the vehicles, long flatbeds that were easily recognizable to any Mechwarrior with any campaign experience. “Looks like it, Sir.”
“What’s following them?”
After enhancement the small gray vehicles came into view, “Some kind of light tank.”
“Send in the Aerospace Fighters to check it out.”' After an “Aye, sir” Ian threw himself through the corridor toward the ready room. Expecting trouble he was already in his cooling vest and ordered the techs to bring the eight fusion reactors of his 'Mech command online.
“FedSuns Armored Cavalry. Prep for a hot drop!”
Mechwarriors and Techs both looked at him like he was mad but saluted and did as ordered. Vance and the other Techs outfitted the Crusader, Jagermech, and Marauder with jump packs, a mix of parachute and retrorockets enabling the heavier mechs to descend at a reasonable safe velocity. The other five mechs in his command, (Dervish, 2 Shadow Hawks, Vulcan, and Swordsman) all had their own jump jets. 2nd Company, consisting of many medium mechs, was entirely jump capable. Among the Wolfsbane, only Bishop and a few others had the training and ability to execute a hot drop.
By the time everyone suited up and their Mechs were cocooned the Aerospace pilots radioed back into Ian. “Hostiles confirmed they have fired on us. We will soften them up for you.”
“Negative. Take out those tanks pursuing the MRVs and return to the dropship. Leave the mechs to us. We might need you to cover us later.”
He patted the instrument cluster of Golden Lion and donned his neurohelmet with his unofficial callsign ‘Scratch’ printed in gold letters on the worn red enamel. “This will be a new one for both of us.”
On the ground Corrine and the 2nd Legionnaires captives looked through the rear-view mirror as eight burning shapes appeared out of the sky. They had been pursued for hours now and the fuel tank was running on empty in the MRV, so it was only a matter of time until they had to bail. Her voice was filled with fear, “Aerospace fighters! lining up for a strafing run.”
She pulled the wheel to the side attempting to evade the likely attack from whomever had it out for her captors only to see incoming fire land among the pursuing tanks. The Corsairs passed over them and burned back into the sky using sheer thrust power rather than any lifting surfaces to return to wherever they had come from. Their pursuers fired back but their lasers were not optimized for anti-air use particularly on such a small and nimble target as a Corsair. Four of the six pursuing tanks fell behind the pack, their tires melted to the asphalt or armor breached by laser fire. Any that were still mobile broke off the pursuit heading to the forests and hills to obtain top cover.
The MRV’s radio came to life as a voice was broadcast in the open, “Second Legionnaires, if you are still out there, the Armored Cavalry has arrived and is hot dropping in. If you see us get there, and we will get you off-world.”
Within his Black Knight, Photon Brett Marik looked up at the sky to see a dozen shapes dropping from the sky. Their ablative drop cocoons burning away to reveal the battlemech inside. Photon shook his head the sleek SLDF neurohelmet proving more comfortable than anything he had ever experienced before, “Oh Ian, why couldn't you have arrived just hours later? I had a speech prepared and everything. Now it’s ruined.”
He pulled out the card from their bout on Solaris VII where he had almost managed to kill the Prince in the ring in a legitimate bout, “Black Eagle vs Golden Lion, rematch. What a pity the press can never know it occurred.
Engage the Armored Cavalry before their dropship arrives!”
Golden Lion was not meant to fly, but today it did. Ian landed it with only minor leg damage and a sore jaw. As with any air assault the formation was scattered about the chaparral. Their jump jets and hot feet caused a minor brush fire now racing toward the horizon in all directions. Through the smoke a group of gray painted MRV (Mech Recovery Vehicles) drove off road avoiding pockets of flame and once hidden ditches. Behind them was a brilliant view of a sleepy fishing town overlooking the bay.
Ian took his first tentative steps on the terrain, his mech serving as the rally point for the command. Mechs worked their way toward him from the almost hectare sized LZ, very tight for a hot drop, and testament to the Armored Cavalry’s training and experience. The MRVs stopped far short of them and signaled with their horns. Jumpin’ Jack arrived first on the scene with Bishop bounding over the terrain while Ian triggered the sequence to detach his mech’s jump pack.
“We got here just in time, Captain. Seems like they are out of gas.” Mercenary Bishop Sortek observed
“Better to be lucky than good right?” ask Ian
“You know it better than anyone else, Scratch.” commented Bishop
“I have taken really good care of Golden Lion recently.”
“They still always remember your screw ups, kid.” Bishop told him
He opened the battle-net channel looking warily at the incoming battalion of heavy Battlemechs that the Legionnaires were attempting to evade, “Anyone with a rumble seat move forward to take on a passenger, everyone else delay those grays.”
The majority of the ArmCav mechs had one as only on the smallest ore most cramped mechs lacked one. They stepped over the warm ground to the disabled vehicles. Picking up a passenger required time and stillness. Ian nervously watched as the enemy push forward despite the valiant effort of two Valkyries. The cockpit hatch was still warm but now safe to touch so he disengaged the lock and threw a chain ladder down to Corrine who looked so small almost five meters below him.
Within the cupola he took in the sights and resinous smells of the brushy foothills. Bravo’s Blackjack ‘King of Clubs’ opened fired with its long-range autocannons followed by Alpha’s Jagermech once it was clear that neither needed to take on a passenger. Wolfsbane’s contingent of five mechs did the same. The punishing counterattack ultimately forced the enemy to slow and engage them. They were worryingly close by the time Ian grabbed Corrine’s grimy hand to pull her in and disengaged the chain ladder which fell to the ground with a clank.
She held onto him tightly, “I would love to give you a kiss right now Corrine, but they are too close.”
He looked over her to see that she didn’t have a cooling vest or armor on, having lost both for a set of rather plain clothes ragged from the scramble to escape he imagined.
“Secure the hatch. Buckle up, and drink some water. It’s about to get hot in here.”
Corrine secured the hatch while Ian returned to the cockpit chair and his waiting neurohelmet, “Ejection override, five, five, seven, two, Echo, Charlie.”
His ejection light turned red with a black bar across it while the hatch light turned green. The rumble seat was pulled down and Ian heard the buckle snap. “What are you doing?”
Ian’s Neurohelmet visor display lit up as his weapons came online and the armored cowling that protected the cockpit glass slid into position, “If I have to eject it will burn you up. I’d rather neither of those happen.”
“All units this is Scratch, begin rolling withdrawal. No one try to be a hero. We have thirty minutes and our objectives.”
Status lights blinked from his subcommanders acknowledging the order. His PPC’s capacitor status glowed green, positive charge, and the lasers adjusted to local atmospheric conditions. Light smoke from smoldering scrubs partially obscured their presence until the unknown gray mechs appeared. A Black Knight in the lead followed by a number of heavy and medium mechs mostly SLDF vintage except for some DCMS models such as the three Grand Dragons.
Ian let loose a pair of bolts from his Hellstar PPCs into the lead Grand Dragon, both shots going wide of their intended mark. The faster mechs separated themselves from the larger pack now that they were in skirmishing range. One hit but three more were fired back along with flights of missiles. In the cockpit Ian could feel the impact of their warheads as explosions bloomed around him. When the smoke cleared a bizarre looking slender limbed design appeared in his periphery vision.
“What’s that, Ian?”
“It’s a Kintaro. New DCMS doctrine has them close to provide precision missile guidance for Gladiator and Dragon lances.”
“Almost certainly. Although it doesn’t help me figure out whether it’s a ROM, DCMS, or some very well-equipped mercs. Did you get a chance to talk to them at all?”
“No, they made an offer to ransom us yesterday. Our captors refused and then they started fighting.”
“Well at least they took a little bit of damage beforehand.” Ian commented
His mech juked out of the way of incoming PPCs, walking backwards meant he was rapidly losing ground to the Cavalry Lance which ran at almost twice his speed. With only 16 intact mechs vs 30 partially damaged ones the odds were not in their favor. He couldn’t turn and let them shoot him in the back either and even then, he would be shortly run down.
Overhead a squadron of ArmCav Corsairs fighters lined themselves up for an attack run diving to fire powerful laser strikes against the Grand Dragons. The gray’s raised their left arms to shield the cockpit from the burning light but the impact was felt as each one took a quartet of laser pulses hitting with the strength of an Awesome. One fell under the onslaught its damaged legs gave out as the vulnerable myomer muscles that powered the machine were melted by the laser’s heat.
Golden Lion, King of Clubs, and the Jagermech were all moving together in the difficult terrain. 40mm cannon fire and energy strikes left nasty scars of carbonized or blasted plate behind on the Kintaro. The long-limbed construct continued unabated firing more missiles at Golden Lion. Its SRMs hit hard but scattered about the mech causing no breaches.
Behind them were a series of ridges, due to their construction and locomotion Battlemechs even light ones piloted by veteran pilots couldn’t walk backwards up steep slopes. Their gyros and skeleton were not that flexible. He did however had two mechs that could flip their arms and fire behind them and were even designed for that. King of Clubs used its jump jets to clear the ridge while the Jagermech and Golden Lion turned to run up the hill. Their backs covered by white smoke rockets deployed by Bravo’s Shadow Hawks and Swordsmen.
A powerful bolt punched through the smoke with a whorl tearing into Golden Lion’s left leg. The impact combined with the missiles launched at them required Ian and Corrine to brace themselves as the Marauder barely managed to remain standing.
“Was that an AC Twenty?” she asked
Ian looked in his rear view snapshotting a PPC toward the Kintaro which was breaking off under fire from three mechs. The only unit with anything approaching that kind of weaponry nearby was the Black Knight whose arm mounted PPC unit still glowed red. Its mount posed gracefully giving the whole unit the appearance of a knight with lance couched.
“No just a really powerful PPC and a Mechwarrior with good aim.” observed Ian.
Photon felt the surge of heat and electricity passing through his Black Knight. His many heat sinks would distribute and radiated the heat out, but a capacitor linked ER PPC was the hottest weapon in the Inner Sphere. The Golden Lion stutter stepped forward up the hill, one of its PPCs firing toward a Dragon. The particle beam blow its gun arm clear off, Photon batted the wreckage down with his shield rather than take the impact on his machine.
“That was satisfying. Rattled yet, Ian?”
He watched as another strike by the Corsairs inflicted more casualties on his force. The force had been in motion since late last night in pursuit of Corrine and her escaped Legionnaires. Fatigue and accumulated battle damage incurred while fighting a determined defense by their captors was taking its toll. They drew many Guardsmen from the ranks of poorly disciplined stock, mercenaries, dispossessed, and pirates, looking more for a new Battlemech in exchange for service than Blake's enlightenment.
They were getting sloppy, faster units pushing beyond the fire envelope. He stepped past the wounded cavalry lance that had paid the price for it on his way to Ian. The Armored Cavalry and Wolf's Dragoons realized it, and although he had them outnumbered almost 2 to 1, he didn't feel in control of the situation.
“Form up, you fools! Tighten your formation. Shoot those fighters down next pass.”
The Blackjack and Jagermech pelted him with auto-cannon shells which failed to penetrate his shield, something he had observed in a Solaris blood pit during his time there.
Ian crested the hill, turning sideways to shield his damaged leg from Photon's recharging PPC.
Another strike mission from the Armored Cavalry's Corsairs sped above the landscape after cooling off in the stratosphere. The COMGuardsmen formed up into a solid block under his command. Rather than fly into the imposing formation the Corsairs veered off. Unfortunately, this delay gave Ian's command more time to escape. The Armored Cavalry's Green mechs using the terrain to screen them from the enemy's firepower, which had momentarily tilted skyward.
“We are doing this properly. Do not push beyond the fire envelope to take obvious bait. Get over that hill and kill those bastards.”
Golden Lion backpedaled as quickly as Ian could manage. In unison, the enemy advanced over the hills the rabble tamed for the moment.
Sword Squadron Lead buzzed in Ian's ear, “They are blocking up, Captain, can't make an approach.”
“Keep buzzing them. Maybe they will slip up again and separate.” Ian ordered
"Roger that. Caution, Sir. We running low on fuel only a few more passes before we have to get to orbit."
"Understood, do what you need to do." Ian told Squadron leader
Corsairs zoomed above, but the fight was once more between the ground forces. In the lead was the Black Knight using a shield to protect itself from incoming light cannon fire. He took a second line position as they cleared the ridge. Black Knight's firepower forced lighter machines to disengage as the powerful weapon and shield, pockmarked with shell holes and ablated with energy, meant they would have minimal impact.
One of Bravo's Valkyries lost an entire side under its impact. The pilot forced to turn and make best speed away to the landing dropships. The Armored Cavalry forced their enemy to rotate to the rear, where they provided support and harassing fire for their leading brethren. Less damaged machines stepped up. A Phalanx style arrangement with sixty ton infantry and a Black Knight towering over them like a Roman Centurion. Its arm slinging powerful lighting to smite his foes like some vengeful god.
Corrine made some noise behind him, but his world was within that helmet visor and the constant buzzing of his comm-set. His attention on where the next round of fire was coming from, and going. He had to plan his shots carefully In order to maintain speed and keep Corrine from passing out. The enemy rotated in and out of position using tonnage to reduce the Cavalry's ability to bring them down.
Sweat fell down to his trigger toggle, soaking the control yoke, which was growing uncomfortably hot. Already the Armored Cavalry's had endured ten minutes of constant fire, their numbers dwindled along with their armor and ammunition. With only energy armament and a thermonuclear reactor providing effectively limitless power, Golden Lion, Jumpin' Jack, and a few others could endure for so long. Although they too were running low on ammo, the sheer mass of fire provided by even a partially effective enemy was turning the tide.
They shredded Golden Lion under a constant hail of harassing fire. Gray myomer muscles exposed, its right arm hanging by its structure, sparks popping from the discharging capacitors, legs mangled but mobile. A shimmer of cooling oil from damaged heat sinks created white smoke where it touched exposed components. Ian looked up to see Sword coming back into alignment.
“Strafe now!” barked Ian
The Corsairs dove again, alternating North-South and East-West with practiced formation timing. Depleted of ammo and with damage fighters raked the enemy with laser fire which they were powerless against. Concentrating the lesser armored mechs in the rear made them easy targets. Mech with most of their fighting capacity remaining such as the Black Knight had them aimed groundward.
Photon turned the radio waves blue with rage. His rear line broke in panic, fleeing into the forest to escape the fighters that threatened to destroy the COMGUARD's cherished mechs. He could see Mackenzie's Dragoons just clearing the ridge from their LZ. He checked his HUD. His PPC's capacitor powered up and Golden Lion was looking unsteady.
Ian strained at the controls, trying to keep control of his machine long enough for the Dragoon's to come to the rescue. Many times he had rebuilt Golden Lion but the life support had always checked out. Now it was down for the count, and he was not far behind. Only half of Golden Lion remained the last blast from the Knight's PPC destroyed his left side, exposing the vulnerable heart of his machine.
Only one weapon was still active. The Exostar laser was hanging in there even as alarms rang in his head. It was a shorter ranged one though, and he was just out of range. The Black Knight knew it. It stopped slowly, aiming the weapon as one would hold a dueling pistol or lance ready about to deliver the killing blow. Its sculpted armor, once reminiscent of a muscle torso from some ancient Hoplite, now looked like some beast had mauled it.
Black Knight and Golden Lion faced one another in the forested glade, once more cratered with missile and shell holes and filled with wreckage. Golden Lion stopped, its three-toed feet dug deep into the soft soil like some saurian beast cornered by a predator. Instead of continuing to retreat, it charged forward with reckless abandon. It swayed and strained under the damage from the battle as it tore clods of dirt from the earth below and let loose one more burst of light.
Lightning filled the area between them. Simultaneously Photon clawed at his eyes as Golden Lion's laser burned into his helmet shaped armor. Because of previous battle damage, fragments of the coherent light reflected off a console, blinding him with a white flash. His vision only saved by COMSTAR's advanced helmet and a lucky eye blink.
He blinked away the darkness, his vision replaced with noon light and burned in lines.
Golden Lion was gone, only its tracks remained on world. Tracks leading to the dropships presently lifting off. Out of his reach once more.
Photon Brett withdrew from the field, taking with him one of Golden Lion's destroyed arms. His Black Knight disappeared into the forested foothills.
“Run, cowardly Lion.
This isn't over yet, Ian. Not by one bit.”
A Unexpected Meeting
11/30/3043 - Location: Devil's Gorge - Tsinghai, Contested
Patrick Kell cut a sharp figure with the rising sun behind him as he stood atop his silver and black Thunderbolt-5S 'Moonsliver'. The rays spread out long shadows which came alive as the ashen gray Genyosha gathered opposite him. He looked through the range-finding binoculars, scanning until he found his target, a lone Warhammer standing in the lead position of the wedge.
“I see you, Yorinaga.”
Colonel Kell executed a series of hand gestures, his subordinates' activation signal. Patrick leapt back along his mech's 'head' opening the hatch to his cockpit.
Today would be his tenth bout with the Genyosha in as many months. Thirtieth against Yorinaga in as many years, if he counted correctly.
Captain O'Cathin, one of his company commanders, chimed in on his personal channel.
“Sir, look toward the DCMS position.”
“I will in a moment, from my cockpit. With lasers and missiles aimed at them.”
“There is a jeep flying a flag of parley heading out toward the middle of the field.”
“What!” Patrick exclaimed
He swung around, bringing the binoculars attached to his hip up in a single motion. Indeed, a DCMS marked vehicle flying a white flag drove across the wasteland. It continued toward the center before stopping. A dust cloud caught up to them and settled among the stones. Inside was an older man, Yorinaga Kurita, and two younger men, which he did not know. All still carried their swords as far as he could see, but seemed content to wait for what might come.
“What's your angle, Yorinaga?”
He watched and waited for five breaths. No radio communication came from the Genyosha. All was still andinuiet on the badlands. Even his own subordinates were silent. The DCMS machines with their tsunami star motif sparkled as the sun rose toward the active yet motionless Samurai.
“Hounds keep ready for any surprises. Dan, you are in charge until I return.”
Major Allard's Wolfhound appeared beside him. Tharhes built the lean and reliable machine to the Kell Hound's specs to combat the Panthers, Spiders, and Jenners of their traditional foes. It was now barely an even match for the new Zonbis and Tora/Wolf Traps rapidly filling in the expanding DCMS.
“You can't be serious, Paddy!”
Motion among the Genyosha caught his attention, His XO on the move seemed to infer that the Kell Hounds would not honor their master's parley.
“I am. Hold your position, Major. You're making them nervous.”
“I'm making them nervous. With all due respects, Colonel, you are nuts to get close to those snakes.”
Their shared past consumed nearly half their lives. Conflicts ranging from the sands of Mallory's World to the marshes of Styx and now the badlands of Tsinghai. The Kell Hounds had clashed with the DCMS throughout the Inner Sphere since their inception at the turn of the millennium.
“Maybe you 're right, Dan, but despite our many encounters, I've never actually seen his face with my own eyes.”
“You're not supposed to. We're in Battlemechs. This is business.”
Yorinaga and his companions showed no sign of discontent, waiting patiently. He clenched his cybernetic hand, straining its micro-myomer, carefully crafted by Riva, to replace the original lost on Styx, “Not between Yorinaga and I.”
Patrick slid down the chain ladder before walking toward the motor pool that accompanied their tech teams. An Ibex RV vehicle now flew a white painting sheet with Patrick inside. A Rorynex assault rifle concealed under the passenger seat, just in case.
The drive out across the fields was quiet. Patrick stilon,had a comm headset on just in case Dan or the others noticed something before he reached his destination. Its gigantic wheels and suspension made the physical ride comfortable, but nothing stopped Patrick's mind from going to darker and rough places.
It came to a stop twenty paces from the DCMS truck and its three DCMS Warriors occupants who got out to stand opposite one Kell Hound. Yorinaga Kurita walked toward him. A crude cybernetic eye replaced one lost to the burns that covered his face and bald head. His body, a mosaic of injury from both burn and blade, made him a mosaic of pain. Patrick 'Playboy' Kell had plastic surgery to cover burns, unable to be concealed under a short-sleeve shirt, although they had cost him a forearm.
Beside him were two young men, a handsome teenager and someone likely twice that kid's age. Both were fine Warrior specimens, with the older one clearly possessing some experience in the military and a Tanto and Wakizashi tucked into his belt. The younger one was unarmed and dressed in a fine black kimono with ornate gold adornment.
“I'm here Yorinaga. Do you want to discuss the terms of your surrender?”
Yorinaga came within five paces of him, way too close, and Patrick's hand drifted toward his Sternsnact Python, ready for him to draw his Katana and finally end their rivalry.
“No, I have in my possession something far more valuable to you.”
With a gesture by the older dragon, the teenager stepped forward followed by the older one.
“This is Christian.”
The young man bowed and, despite being unarmed, closed far too near to Patrick.
“Son of Takara the Renketsu of Halstead Station and you, Patrick Kell of Arc Royal.”
Patrick Kell took in a deep breath. Momentarily lost in a daydream of a covert mission long ago. One he had barely succeeded in because of a beautiful woman and her talents.
“Takara? No I don't believe it. She would have told me if I had a son. I wanted her to come with me.”
Christian bowed slightly. “I am sorry, father. She did not wish to impede what she thought was your destiny. My mother felt she would put an undue burden on you if she informed you of my existence.
Only recently had I learned who my father was with my mother's death last year. Yorinaga-sama has told me much of you since they transferred me to the Genyosha for training.”
Colonel Kell looked toward the old Tai-Sa keeping Christian in his peripheral vision in case this was some kind of trick. “What exactly does he say?”
“It would be imprudent to speak for Sensei. Please ask him yourself.” With that he bowed again and stepped aside waiting quietly for the response.
“What did you tell him, Yorinaga?” Patrick asked
“Only the truth.
You are a Warrior-Prince of Mercenaries. Your warriors the whetstone of the LCAF. On it is honed the fine art of a bushi through constant practice and innate talent.
My most respected rival who has inspired me to greater feats of arms than I would have otherwise.”
“Pretty words from a brutal Warrior.”
Yorinaga's tone remained, although the other man behind him seemed to take offense. Patrick watched him warily, hand still near his pistol.
“The nature of our work is bloody, Colonel Kell. I know you hold me personally responsible for First Prince Ian Davion's death on Mallory's World. It was mutually agreed however; he did not have to demand a duel, and I did not have to accept. I could have ordered the Sword of Light around his position. They would have been victorious against the routing Prince's men before your own arrived to relieve them and ultimately force us off the world.
However, I accepted his duel as one of equals and ordered my men to honor the request and his noble sacrifice. Is the Federated Suns truly lessened by his loss? I should think not. As much as you, your brother, and the First Prince think. Truly you have been better off for the second son to inherit the Suns during this age of calamity.”
“Why did you bring Christian here? Do you seek to hold him hostage and that I should now and Kell Hounds stand down because of that?”
The Tai-Sa and the other man's eyes narrowed with disdain. “I can understand how you might you think I would do such a thing. Believing as you do that, I am your personal demon, constantly tormenting you through my presence on the battlefield.
However, I would not do such a thing. Only recently have I freed my son from his own detainment with the aid of the Gunji-no-Kanrei.
Even Director Indrahar intended for Christian to be such. Fearing I had lost my edge and would need insurance against the fearsome Kell Hounds. I do not need such a token however, nor would I deny another father the pleasure of knowing his son.”
Yorinaga stepped aside and gestured toward the other man, who bowed politely. “This is my son, Akira Brahe. Held hostage by Marcus Kurita and his fellow conspirators for most of his life to ensure my loyalty to the Coordinator.”
“Then why does he not carry your name?” he asked
Akira spoke up, the young man very animated. A clear Rasalhague half-blood that would be at home on any Commonwealth-Combine border world. “I renounced any ties to the Kurita Clan long ago. Instead, I carry my grandfather's surname. Who with my mother sacrificed themselves to ensure that I might live when Marcus Kurita stated he needed only one hostage... Their noble legacy lives on with me, Patrick-sama. I carry the instruments of their deaths to remember their lives.”
He presented the blades to Patrick, unsheathing them one by one while keeping a safe distance from the visibly anxious Hound. “With this tanto Sula Brahe ended her life in Jigai before her son. This wakizashi was used by Gustav Brahe's who seconded by Yorinaga committed Seppuko on Trondheim before Marcus Kurita and Vasily Cherenkoff who both died during the Ronin Wars of which I was a participant. Although I did not have the honor of killing them much to my disgrace.”
The young man stepped back as Yorinaga neared Patrick. “Akira and Christian seek to learn alongside your Kell Hounds of other ways. I have given them my blessing. Although it hurts my being, I know they will do better with you than among our own...for now. Without them being held hostage or under threat I may act freer than otherwise.”
Patrick's hand was no longer on his pistol as the offer took him aback. “You would surrender your own son as potential hostage to me knowing how I feel about you?”
“You are an honorable man, Patrick Kell, Akira is no stranger to mistrust or being among those that might be enemies. Christian will require a trusted sensei of his own in foreign lands and among strangers. He has little experience outside our realm and Akira too much within.
We will meet again, but the 'Genyosha will go no further under my or Kanrei Theodore's orders.”
He presented Christian with a scroll and the young man walked it toward Patrick clearly unarmed so that there was no threat. “In this is a cease fire and information offered freely by the Kanrei to your masters. Takashi does not know that Theodore has volunteered this information or extended an offer but I trust your people will honor it covertly while he goes onto the next phase of his plans.”
“Is Theodore plotting a coup?” Patrick asked the older warrior
“Not within the Combine. Inside is information pertaining to Tormano or whomever you wish to present it regarding Romano's defenses on Highspire. Along with a list of Coordinator Takashi and Primus Waterly's agents within her court and the Draconis and Skye Marches along with staging points for dishonorable weapons meant to be used against civilian populations.
We trust you will get it to the rightful ears of those that can deal with such issues.”
“So treason it is then?” Patrick asked
“No, merely establishing diplomatic relations for the next generation. Given in good faith to one that I know better than himself.
If you will accept them, Christian's bag is in the truck already. Akira, his family, and Charenja (Charger CGR-SB Challenger) will join you tomorrow.”
Patrick accepted the scroll from Christian. “You mentioned nothing about his family.”
“Would you separate a husband from his wife and children rather than offer asylum to those that seek to leave for greater opportunity and safety?”
“Perhaps you know me better than I know myself, Yorinaga. I will accept them upon evaluation of Akira's skills as a Mechwarrior.”
“I am certain it would delight him to offer you a demonstration tomorrow. The sun is long now. We, Genyosha will return to our camp to meet the Kell Hounds another time.
I release you to your father, Christian-kun. I am certain you will perform ably at his side.”
Christian bowed deeply to the warrior, “Thank you, Sensei. I know you did this at significant risk and appreciate all you have taught me in our short time together.”
Patrick and Christian walked back toward the Ibex the young man carrying his DCMS issue rucksack to the passenger side. Patrick started it up as Christian entered, “You brought an assault rifle to an offer of parley father?”
“I apologize...son. It's habit. I have been burned to many times. I suppose I will have to relearn how to trust.”
“We all will.” said Christian
- Note from the Author
- This story has developed into a completely different and better beast for its hiatus. The original end differed from what it will be now. Well, except for Ian and Corrine getting married, that was going to happen, regardless. Was originally going to do the Hanse wedding gift with them but decided against it.