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Ian Davion - Golden Lion (Chapter Art).png

Ian Davion, Golden Lion[]


Chapter 20
The Bell Tolls
[]

Assault of Highspire[]


03/28/3044 - Location: Descending from Orbit - Highspire, Capellan Confederation


Legionnaire Tai checked his gear for the last time before the battle was real and micrograviy set in once more. The Mammoth freighter CCS Jie Fang was in the center of a twenty dropship fleet composed of Gray Death Legion, Jie Fang ('Liberation') Foreign Legion, and St Ives' Janissaries completing their deceleration burn. Highspire's diminutive moon Peak appeared on the large screen above floating in front of the emerald world of Highspire and their white sun. So filled with equipment and personnel that it looked more like a Solaris city block.

A timer ticked down on everyone's watch. Less than five hours before they reached orbit, one last chance to sleep before drop hour. Shizi Battalion, his unit, would be first into the fight. It was going to be bloody. Tai knew it better than anyone. His past may have been erased from history upon admission to the Legion but the burns and scars he acquired along the way told more than any tale could.

Every time he walked past an incendiary unit his mind went back to the burning cities of No Return. A planet which had acquired the ominous name 'No Escape' after what Warrior House Hiritsu had done to President Vorhees and his supporters. One of Romano's numerous atrocities, ones she would answer for no. Candace's own failings would have to chase her to the spirit realm.

Tai walked past grim Legionnaires whose haunted faces and empty eyes didn't betray which side they were on during the War. It didn't matter anyway Warrior House Adepts, Mercenaries, Death Commandos, regulars and irregular, Servitor, Home Guard, Armored Hussar, etc.... The Capellan Confederation Armed Forces long incorporated diverse groups of soldiers unified in utmost dedicated to the Celestial Triad (Lorix Creed, Sarna Mandate, Korvin Doctrine) that formed  the basis of their empire.

That is until Mandrinn Tormano Liao whose sloth combined with Candace's greed and Romano's envy finally broke the back of a Confederation that had endured for centuries. It was hard to admit that none of their leaders were without fault. Nor any Legionnaire without a tainted past. All wanted an end and saw it in sight. The Civil War was ending on Highspire. No one could claim victory; for the Capellan Confederation had already lost.

Just past Peak Gray Death Flight, 51st Air Lancers, Barodin's Red Wings, and 275th St Ives Air Wing deploy to protect dropship flotilla from Highspire Orbital Guard and Da Dai Chi aerospace interceptors. The overwhelming force pulverizes HOG and DDC fighters and assault dropships.

Legionnaire Tai and his fellow Shizi warriors took up their positions in the Ares Mark VII Landing Craft. The Steiner model that Tormano had procured could no longer hold heavy armor such as the CCAF standard Po, trading it instead for high acceleration. Instead two Arachne (Wheeled Scorpions, 5/8 with Light AC/5) were strapped into a line. Their compact turrets turned just right to prevent them from being entangled in one another. Loadmasters checked the straps holding their wheels in place as the crews climbed in.

Twenty of these carrying either a pair of lightweight Arachne tanks and an infantry platoon or a King Tiger medium tank were readied aboard the Jie Fang. More small craft from the Mule and Trojan DropShip freighters were carrying additional infantry along with anti-tank guns and artillery pieces. Jump capable mechs from the Janissaries and Gray Death Legion would execute an orbital drop to clear the starport and bring down their heavier assets. His objective was to hold off any reinforcements until they could.

He strapped himself into the seat with his unloaded rifle locked into the mount. The seat was hard metal with an overhead strap that would keep him from cracking his helmet on the bulkhead above. Inside the cargo compartment the loadmasters checked the straps on everything including the metal chest between them that contained their heavy weapons and ammo.

They would need it. WolfNet sources indicated that there were three regiments of Romano Loyalists within her palace, and two outside. The Gray Death Legion would serve as reserve while all commands answered to the Mandrinn, callsign 'Namean.'

Lights changed to the red tone indicated it was time for helmets to be donned. The tanks closed their hatches. Their cargo ramp raised and sealed just as the airlock on the other side did.

Tai and the others in his platoon donned their helmets tying them into the landing craft's air for the hour long transit. With a sharp jolt of acceleration the Landing Craft was on its way.

He looked down at the rifle.

Tormano intends for us to win the war on our own.

Easy for him to say.

He has a Battlemech.


Boots on the Ground[]


“Legionnaires Deploy!”

Tai undid his seat buckle and picked the rifle up with practiced movement. Already Loadmasters worked on the straps holding the Arachnes in place. Legionnaires gathered on the lowering ramp. Warm air filled the compartment with sickly humidity. As soon as they could Legionnaires hopped onto steaming pavement.

Thirteen Ares Landing Craft of the initial twenty in this command had made it to the ground. His was in the lead. Sounds of anti-air guns and bombs surrounded them. Close impacts could be felt in their bones. They grunted under the strain of heavy weapon components, already sweating despite being on the ground for less than three minutes. Highspire's sun was dampened by the low clouds above.

Six minutes later one of the light tanks rolled down the cargo ramp. Loyalist Guardian fighter-bombers flew overhead heavily laden with bombs. Neither Ares or infantry had weapons that could engage the aircraft but it had clearly seen the vulnerable formation on the ground.

“Set the charges! We have to prepare for incoming.”

One of the five ten man squads rushed forward wrapping rings of C8 around the towering tropical hardwoods. Others slid off the pavement into the spongy ground of drainage ditches running parallel to the road. Cutting through the jungle was an arduous affair. Tai hacked at the strangling vines with his machete desperate for cover.

A Swift Wind scout car appeared at the edge of the steamy haze. Capable of moving at nearly 160 kilometers per hour it was an ominous harbinger considering how reliant CCAF forces were on indirect fires. The light tank rolled forward to engage it before their position was triangulated.

“Move! Get off the road.”

Tai dove into the jungle as shells began to fall around them. The tank exploded as artillery shells landed around it. Turret and chassis was propelled into the thick jungle sending deadly shrapnel and live rounds in all directions. Even those that missed cratered the road that now needed to serve as the airstrip for the Ares landing craft. Their only remaining Arachne tank rolled off the landing craft and pushed forward. As soon as its wheels cleared the ramp it began closing.

“Shizi. We are closing the cargo bay. Fast burn out. Clear position.”

The Legionnaires ran into the jungles as the Ares' engines spun up until everything became a great roar. Artillery shells inched closer guided in by the Swift Wind. Eager to return to the safety of the sky other landing craft did the same. As soon as the landing craft leaped back into the sky. Charges detonated toppling the tropical hardwoods, their trunks came down with a crash blocking the road and armored vehicles began to appear in the distance as Legionnaires assembled their heavy weapons and settled into the swampy ground.

“Weapons free.”


Assault on the Grand Palace[]


Two hours later, Mandrinn Tormano Liao's Hercules Heavy Mech 'Nemean' was snarled by burned out equipment, razor wire, and tank barriers littering the road. Armored bulldozers and similar vehicles from the 16th Ward Combat Engineers struggled to push them out of the way. The 16th slowly cleared and repaired the road from the starport to allow his logistics vehicles to pass. Engineers checked for IEDs and other mines that might have been left behind by retreating forces in the next zone.

Loyalists had placed cratering charges, barriers, and mines on the road knowing full well that any approach would have to come from that direction. These combined with heavy anti-air fire had taken out some of the landing craft on approach.

Tormano had to come that way despite the WolfNet report providing an extensively detailed layout of her defenses. There was no other way to invade Highspire and remove Romano once and for all. Sounds of intermittent rifle and artillery fire betraying the danger of enemies still in the jungle.


Jie Fang Legion and Janissary infantry marched around the destroyed vehicles and craters. The tropical sun shined relentlessly above. Since their trucks were unable to follow the infantry used bayonets and cordage making bamboo poles to carry water, weapons, and ammo between them. A scene out of some primitive Periphery world contrasting sharply with Tormano's Battlemechs who stepped over the carnage their mech's feet crushing or kicking debris out of their way. Foot troopers gave them space pausing to stare at them as they passed them by on the way to the front line.

As the Mech column approached the Grand Palace, Tormano was struck by the impressive edifice. It's low wide walls, stone buildings, and deep moats ringed the formation almost three layers deep. The architecture inspired by Terra's Ankor Wat fueled his sister's god complex. She would make a final stand in a world built by her own pride.

Damaged Battlemechs from the first drop of Jie Fang and Janissary forces kept on the move or fled away along the road they just traveled. Field guns, tanks, and artillery fired at them from their fortifications within the compound.

TOAD (CM/70) Cruise Missiles from the CCS Seven Gates (A Triumph-Class DropShip variant with four launchers instead of all the heavy tanks bays) arced overhead. They joined Arrow IVs and Mortar shells, LRMs being very expensive and often out of stock in St Ives space, from Janissary Pillagers to land in the midst of Romano's defenses shattering stone and steel with high explosives.

The bombardment continued long into the night, the next day, and longer still.


The War Journal of Tormano Liao[]

Excerpt from the Journal of Mandrinn Liao. Highspire Campaign. 03/28-04/05/3044


For the past three nights I could not sleep. Bright muzzle flashes lit up the sky and their thunderous report fills my mind and those of the men with dread. We all seemed to grow used to it on the fourth day.

Loyalist's counter-battery fire have caused many casualties in both equipment and personnel. We lost track of too many forces during the encirclement requiring troopers to patrol the fetid jungles in search of the enemy.

Death Commando raids cause damage to critical systems like our mobile water purifiers and heavy transports. Bulk water thus needs to be transported from dropships in smaller parcels almost a hundred kilometers from the starport reducing both fuel and water rations for all.

04/01

Thuggees came out of their Chu-li mountain strongholds to raid the starport. The murderous fanatics were barely repulsed by the Gray Death Legion left to defend our only source of trusted resupply. Grayson sent out scouts to man observation posts in order to provide better warning.

The CCS Jie Fang lost many of its shuttles during the initial assault causing today's transfer issues. What's the point of having 40 kilotons of capacity if I can barely move a kiloton each day? We use that much in ammo every other day.

04/02

Ambushes on the J-27 ordnance transports and trucks have increased in the past days requiring more escorts to protect our dwindling supply corps. Without resupply the guns will run dry and the enemy will rise from their holes once more to overwhelm us. They return with worn out weapons and men, succumbing to tropical illness and heat exhaustion.

Our Dove's medical tent at base is already overloaded with those afflicted by fever and parasites. The surgeons do what they can to tend to the Legionnaire's wounds, but infection runs rampant due to environmental and transport issues. Loyalists fester in the fields spreading disease until they are buried. Even then the soggy ground causes them to return to the surface affecting morale. Battalion aid stations have increased the distribution of drugs to combat the pestilence that drains our vigor.

04/03

I can scarcely spare more vehicles for regular patrols. Many have begun breaking down due to sabotage, battle damage, and lack of trained crews and technicians. Only our Mech Corps kept in reserve have remained at higher than 60% the initial readiness. Repair Depot crews have begun suffering the same illness as those on the lines reducing productivity.


Our combat engineers spend as much time towing vehicles back to the starport for repair as they do preparing bridges for the assault or ensuring the road remains clear of mines. They always find some, requiring the road be shut down until it is removed.

04/04

The enemy has withdrawn to their third ring of defenses. Chlorine gas deployed by the Loyalists prevented an exploit of the breakthrough. Jie Fang Legionnaires donned their protective gear but there were more casualties from heat exhaustion than exposure to the offensive vapors. Additional attempts to force that breach have been repulsed by the fanatical defenders including the few remaining Mechs in my sister's forces.

04/05

Today is the day, a week of bombardment have shattered Romano's defenses and forced her loyalists underground. With any luck we have buried a number of them saving us the effort later. If I linger any longer we won't have the manpower or equipment to complete the assault suffering as we are under such great attrition in both.


Assault on the Grand Palace - Continues[]

04/05/3044 - Location: Romano's Grand Palace, Highspire


Since it was almost constant Jie Fang had grown used to bracing themselves when artillery was about to go nearby. An Augmented Lance of two kneeling Pillagers and four Liequan (Hunting Hound, a version of the Hunter Light Support Tank) Mortar tanks let loose volleys ahead of the main assault. Spearheaded by Battlemechs charging forward across the marsh to wade moats and clambered over the Loyalist's defenses. The roar of their blast ended just as the sound explosions and shattered stone returned.

A column of Hu Wang (King Tiger) medium tanks unspooled from the assembly area toward the pontoon bridges built by the 16th Ward Combat Engineers. Legionnaire Tai and his squad rode atop one of the formidable machines cradling rifles in their laps, packs and heavy weapons secure within the netting attached to the tank deck.

Armored Chemical Corps trucks maintained a white smoke screen preventing Loyalist artillery from targeting them while they were vulnerable. The smell of burning diesel fuel a welcome respite from the miasma they had grown accustomed to.

Fever, hostile wildlife, and enemy fire had decimated the Legion and even now Tai was barely hanging on. He looked down into the moat watching a python swimming through the diseased and gore filled water. Tank and squad moved up a ramp linked to a steel span passing over the wide cratered wall that once housed bunkers with deadly weapons on them.

The short trip ended with another ramp leading to yet another bridge over the second and third rings. As they neared the Grand Palace the troops dismounted slicing the netting off with bayonets to prevent it from fouling the turret mechanism. Sharp snaps of rifle fire and rumbles of artillery echoed off the shattered stone and its once grand carvings.

Legionnaire's armored vests heavy with grenades and ammo. Tanks increased the space between them as the terrain closed and grew rough from fallen stones. Infantry squads filled the flanks of the void ever vigilant for threats as they sped toward the front while clearing the complex.


On the frontline, a worn Hercules and ragged Thunder aka baby Victor (Brief Info - Speed 4/6/4, armed with AC/20, 3 Medium Lasers) exchanged fire with one another utilizing the narrow paths through broken stone and concrete buildings. Mandrinn Tormano Liao felt the impact of his opponent's Kali Yama Big Bore in his bones. He traded fire with his own Imperator Code Red which struck true although on a peer foe even one as worn as the Thunder it was not a death blow. The invisible yet deadly particles streaming from the Kreuss PPC flew wide based on his sensors.

Nemean strained to keep on its feet as the heavy impact struck its hip. Tormano's mech enemy could jump over the rubble strew paths rather than have to plow through even with a faster ground speed.

“Where are you at Juliet-Five-Eight?” asked Tormano

“En route, Mandrinn.”

He nodded, keeping his eyes on a swivel in preparation for his opponent's next move and unseen threats. His paired small pulse lasers had dealt with more than a few infantry platoons that thought to come near and engage him. They wised up however instead choosing indirect fires or command mines concealed between the rubble that he was forced the push forward through before they toppled his Battlemech with C8.

“Some hustle would be appreciated.” he told anyone

“Apologies, Mandrinn.” Several blocks to the West a group of Janissary Mechwarriors stormed through the streets crushing tank barriers while taking heavy fire from infantry in their concealed fighting positions above and below them. “The Loyalists have something to say about it.”

The Mech peered around the corner and saw nothing, “He has to be running low on ammo by now.”

His mind strained to the CCAF Mechwarrior doctrine he had been trained in many years ago. “Did you disengage?”

Battlemech feet plowed through the broken stones reaching to his ankles, they moved and shifted under the 70 ton mass above them threatened to topple it. Only through experience, skill, and the over-sized gyro was he able to maintain balance. “No, where would you go too?”

Playing hide and seek with an AC/20 armed unit was never optimal yet it was standard CCAF tactics. The formation's preference for mobile big guns that could kill lighter units quickly and disable larger ones was legendary.

If the Loyalist Mechwarrior had more ammo it would easily destroy his mech's rear armor or his fellow Lancemates. If he didn't there would be time to reload and deliver coup de graces to damaged mechs such as his own slowly working their way out of the maze. “What would I do?”

Tormano caught motion and light in his peripheral vision. The Thunder had decided to turn itself into the projectile. Its large sleek shape descending rapidly toward his own machine. Nemean backpedaled in the process bringing its cannon into alignment. Cluster munitions firing toward the damaged ambush machine that had disabled much of the Mandrinn's Lance.

At such close range the full compliment of munitions was very concentrated striking the enemy mech's vulnerable legs. The damage along with Tormano's evasive action spoiled the attack. It struggled to rise after landing wrong crumpled one of its legs. Tormano's however were quite functional.

Juliet-Five-Eight and its Augmented Lance of a Hu Wang platoon and two Vindicators pushed through enemy positions to reinforce his. Shortly after their arrival a CASEVAC Ferret VTOL arrived to recover the Mechwarriors who had been trapped in their machines which they had removed the control module to in order to deny them to the Loyalists.

Unable to land in the rough terrain it dropped a SPI rig which they hooked up to. As they ascended Juliet-Five-Eight's commander came in over the radio. “We will cover your withdrawal, Mandrinn Liao.”

Tormano looked over his unit's damage display, all of his weapons were operational with a few rounds of ammo left, his armor was diminished moderately. It could be completely operational tomorrow but could not take another heavy hit. “As long as we take the long way, Sao-Wei Chen.”

“Affirmative, Mandrinn.”



In a bunker beneath her Grand Palace, Chancellor Romano Liao steamed at the injustices of her world. Her brother had finally come to take over HER DOMAIN with 'HIS' Army of mercenaries and traitors. All of this after he had abandoned them choosing to live a high baller lifestyle in the Lyran Commonwealth while her sister and Kanrei Theodore Kurita betrayed them. The DCMS occupied the world he was Mandrinn of and dozens of others. Only now that he could come in as a 'Liberator' and had no contest with Candace did he choose to act.

She sat in the cockpit of, 'Empress of the Sun,' her custom Emperor Assault Battlemech which had taken the field earlier that day for the first time in more than a year. It had killed four traitorous St. Ives Mechs and more than a dozen of their armored vehicles. Tomorrow it was going to kill the treacherous Tormano wherever he was. Romano had to legacy to think about, but no kids to watch. They were already beyond the evil uncle's reach.



Legionnaire Tai's reorganized squad took up position in one of the many abandoned structures within the complex. They had failed to uncover and secure an entrance to the Loyalist's underground redoubts and lacked night vision optics. Instead they dug in, fortifying their concealed positions with ample stone and rubble surrounding them.

Everyone knew it was going to be a long night as soon as the Death Commando and Warrior House sharpshooters and Thuggee radio static of tortured noises started.


04/06/3044 - Location: Romano's Grand Palace, Highspire



The Jie Fang Legionnaire’s M&G machine guns glowed a dull red before running dry as they laid down suppressive fire against the Thuggee forces assailing them from all direction, including below. Enemy fanatics had caught Tai and others by surprise after undermining their defensive position by blowing a hole in the floor with explosives. Closing the hole had cost him the last of his ten grenades.

He lay under one of them with his pistol still pressed against the man who just moments ago had nearly killed him with a machete. He rolled the corpse away window. The dark night was filled with the cries of wounded, dull throb of grenades and mines exploding, and the Thuggee drums of war outside.

Shouts of “Xiufu Ciadao!” rang out across the whole defensive line as the Legionnaires ran out of their generous ammunition allotment before the enemy ran out of bodies. Tai rolled over to find his rifle amid the dust and gravel holstering his now empty pistol on the chance he would come upon a fallen Legionnaire with extra magazines in his pockets. Blood rolled down to pick up dust from the many superficial cuts sustained after he lost his helmet in the scrum.

After fixing his bayonet he worked his way back to the command post to see it abandoned. Everyone was on the line, staccato radio chatter confirmed that the Legionnaires were fighting hard to sustain their positions against the irregular Thugee cultists, masters of ambush and terror tactics. Morale was low, ammo gone, all their high-tech weapons had run dry and the only thing that stood between them and death was 60 centimeters of cold steel and the will of the soldier behind it.

He picked up the blood splatted radio transmitter next to the dead Centurion beside it, the victim of an enemy sharpshooter. “If there is anyone out there don’t bother to come get us.” He found two more magazines for his pistol and loaded one into the weapon while shouldering the bayoneted rifle. “We have this under control.”

Five blocks from them, a pair of Legion Commandos lights (The most common mech in the formation, which has absolutely nothing to do with them being made by Coventry Metal Works. Coincidentally controlled by Duke Bradford, the Archon’s husband) endured sporadic attacks by Thuggee irregulars. Their hardened armor resisted the feeble small arms as they pushed through the streets laden with nets of extra ammo. Fragmentation warheads launched from their arm mounted missile launchers forced the enemy back to their holes.

One of them kicked a revetment that had been built out of rubble facing the friendly position. Throwing the stones back toward the doorways and holes blasted into the walls. “These fanatics are persistent, Grigori. Thousand rounds per man and still ran dry.”

Warrior Attack VTOLs had been scrambled on their position as well as Jump Bombers. The Mechs watched as one of the latter made an attack run with rockets on one of the stone buildings. “Da, comes with the whole fanaticism thing,” His mech’s head swiveled to search the ruins that surrounded them, “and too much cover.”

Their searchlights came on as they rounded the corner to see the Legionnaires and Thuggee forces in the midst of a brutal melee. Barefoot machete and wicker shield wielding irregulars clashed with the bayonet wielding Legionnaires.

A primal sight but at the sign of the Battlemechs the square was filled with an eerie whistling which forced the Thuggee to break contact and run away. Cheers erupted from the Legionnaires as the Commandos dropped off their cargo and took up defensive positions around their fellow soldiers.

Mandrinn Tormano Liao arrived at the square at the front of the relief column. He looked upon the devastation wrought overnight. At a solemn pace his boots stepped over the same rubble and dirt that his Legion shed blood to hold.

Tai watched from his perch his rifle leaned against the wall, “If I wanted to anymore, it would be so easy to end you, Mandrinn. Not long ago, I would have done it in a heartbeat at the Chancellor’s command.

Now I only want to ask.

Why did you wait so long?”

The Hunt for the Guardian of the Labyrinth[]

04/06/3044 - Location: Romano's Grand Palace, Highspire


Romano Liao's Empress of the Sun, modified Emperor Assault 'Mech.

Two decapitated Jie Fang Legion Commandos slumped to the ground as a camouflaged Emperor withdrew its hefty fists from the light mechs.

Chancellor Romano Liao's disengaged her data-gloves before clapping for the imaginary audience in her cockpit. “Another pair of cockroaches squashed.”

First Prince Hanse Davion had cleverly leaked a formula for more potent myomer using it as bait for a surprise attack by his AFFS to liberate her treacherous late brother-in-law from captivity. The rest of the Inner Sphere had moved beyond the prototype triple strength myomer but the 'Empress' and Thuggee Warrior House Rakshasa.  Her spies had acquired plans for the now abandoned Hatchetman mech and made alternations to both it and the TSM to fit the Vindicator's frame prior to the start of the St Ives conflict but had seen only limited use so far due to cost and lack of aspirants. A pair of these Gargoyles painted in red and dark blue tribal patterns jumped to her side from their over-watch positions.

“An impressive set of kills, Chancellor. I did not think you would be able to drop them with a punch.”

“My brother thinks we must be on the ropes to send in his little scavenger mechs.”

“They have proven damaging to our brothers' morale.”

“Take heart, Pai-Zhang. They die easy.”

Dull throbs rang out around them as artillery exploded around them. The Thuggees jumped away to take cover from the last known location of the fallen Legionnaires. Romano had designed her palace complex to be a labyrinth and she was its guardian.



A tropical storm had rolled in from the coast bringing with it howling wind and torrential downpours. Tormano Liao's Hercules worked its way through rubble strewn streets. Its large feet splashing in large puddles. His sensors were picking up numerous ghost contacts produced by Loyalist ECM beacons concealed throughout the complex. Legionnaire infantry pushed slightly ahead, vigilant for mines and ambushes under the protective envelope of their battlemechs.

One of the modified Jie Fang Vindicators followed behind using its jump jets to keep up with the slightly faster Hercules. “The Loyalists seem hesitant to engage us today, Mandrinn.”

“Romano has nothing else to do but wait for us to find her.”

“She could be hunting us.”

Tormano's hand clutched Nemean's control yoke, “I suppose she could be. Never seen her in a Battlemech before, she was more of the artist in our family. That was a long while ago. I haven't seen her in person in nearly twenty years.”

“Probably for the better.” MechWarrior commented

“Was it though?” Tormano asked

“Suppose we will never know now.”

He ensured the mic was off before whispering, “No I suppose we won't.”

The infantry paused, running into the structures. “Incoming!”

Thuggee's unique BattleMech, the Gargoyle

Two of their brutal looking Battlemechs complete with their blood-chilling tribal mask type head structures landed on the structures around them looming like vicious gargoyles. Rain dripped off the cleaver like appendages that replaced their mech's left hands looking like blood. Nemean's Augmented Lance prepared themselves for close quarters battle with the vicious predators haunting this ruin.


The impact of a battlemech fist's crushed one of the few carvings to survive a week of bombardment. Stone chips clattered to the street as Nemean slipped most of the other impact. Inside its cockpit Mandrinn Tormano Liao heard armor plates cracking as the Emperor's hammer-fist crashed on it.

Tormano felt a chill as Romano's voice came in, on his personal frequency. “Very impressive. You learn that on Solaris?”

Nemean and 'Empress' wove between broken pillars and narrow alleys exchanging fire with one another in a slow motion chase.

“Among other things. Is this how you wanted this to end?” he asked her

Empress of the Sun slid down landing as gracefully as a jumping assault 'Mech could after landing on an unstable roof, “It was the only way. After you betrayed us.”

“That's not true, and you know it.” he told his sister

Thuggees engaged the rest of his lance like warriors possessed shooting pulses of high energy light and pairs of missiles.  The impacts struck their enemies with unerring accuracy as they waved their hatchets like tribal headhunters. His Jie Fang Lancemates responded in kind. Thunderous concussions from cannons echoed off stone walls, slightly muted by the rain that pooled in footprints.

Romano relished the melee, her Rakshasa's pressed the others skillfully double teaming and slowly began dismembering a Grasshopper jumping away when pressured by the other Battlemechs. Its pilot struggled to stay upright as it attempted to block vicious hatchets with mixed success. Friendly infantry were to close for fire support and her pair of Thuggees pressed Tormano.

Jie Fang Legionnaires set up position in the sturdiest structure they could find. Rain dribbled down on them unceasingly as the wind picked up and visibility worsened. Their Centurion called in artillery support dropping light ranging shots to help correct for the wind.

“Missiles! To the windows. Check back-blast and wait for targets of opportunity.” Centurion's MechWarrior message the artillery.

The Legionnaires did as ordered clearing debris that could be thrown by their Heavy SRM Launchers as fire-teams set up observation posts. Looking for an opportunity to call down supporting fires or vector reinforcements.

Tormano struggled to outmatch her heavier yet more mobile mech in the suffocating ruin. Nemean was fleet of foot but could not jump over large debris piles that littered the area. Romano's ruin had the feel of Ishiyama in Kobe particularly the confusing layout.

“Where are you?” he called

Her mech dropped down right behind him launching a full alpha strike of shells and lasers that he just barely turned to take on his side. The Empress' armor plating was too thick for his Imperator's canister shot and Kreuss PPCs despite both hitting at such close range.

Missiles fired from above peppered its upper sections with pinpricks of red. This assault caused her to lash out at the decorative stonework beneath them collapsing the ceiling.

Invisible to the naked eye Legionnaire Tai aimed a TAG spotter at the assault mech. Despite the Quikstim pulsing through his veins his nerves of steel, conditioned as a Hiritsu Aspirant, steadied it as laser guided shaped charges punched deep into armor.

Chancellor Liao cursed as the assault from above continued and intensified only stopping as Nemean charged forward through the smoke and haze. It shoulder tackled her mech into a building with an intensity of large beasts fighting for territory. Empress's triple strength enhanced myomers and heavier mass proving insufficient to stop the bold high speed attack. Its feet dug deep into the bricks below with the combined mass of 160 tons absorbed by Empress and its pilot. The building shuttered and collapsed after the impact burying the mech in a collapsed sub-level.

Tormano felt dizzy after the impact seeing stars in his visor. “I can't believe that worked.”

A Jie Fang Orion Heavy Mech stepped beside him, having only recently arrived to provide its powerful Kali Yama Big Bore in case it was needed.

“An impressive hit, Mandrinn.”

The Legionnaires started firing off their rifles in celebration before one of Empress' hands shot up through the rubble, like a ghoul rising from the grave. Mandrinn Liao stepped on as large intact piece of the fallen structure. It added Nemean's mass to the rubble above in just the right area to prevent the Emperor from rising again.

“Stay down, sister. You made your bed. Now its time to lie in it.”


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