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The Bull and the Genie
- Chapter 29 - First Shots
[]

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Reinforcements[]


"The Irregulars?" Mary blinked at the readout. "They're coming here? Why?"

"Perhaps the Archon feels you need reinforcements." General Heathers said. Mary had returned to Somerset, taking advantage of the fact that it was linked into the HPG net. They hadn't yet found any other base leads, but they had taken two more pirate groups—without getting their JumpShips.

But that one Merchant looked like it misjumped on the way out. At least if her techs were right it had, which could mean anything from vanishing forever, to needing a lot of work.

Either way, the pirates were probably realizing that jumps weren't safe any more. Not even pirate jumps, since the first thing her forces were ordered to do was calculate jump coords for any likely insertion point.

The civilian authorities were doing their work as well. That morning, Mary had been sent a video "gift" from the Archon's office, showing the police raid of an "investment" firm in downtown Tharkad itself.

None of which explained why… It's about a company of mechs, with jumpship and aerospace support, but that's… Mary shook her head. They also had a habit of wandering off on their own.

On the other hand… They do tend to get into older materials, and are collectors. That had come from the information sent ahead, and that might… Yes. That might be something she could use. It would depend on if they were dependable…


Frustration with Bulls[]


"Periphery fucks!" Redjack Ryan swore. "What the fuck are they doing here!"

"Licking Steiner boots," Morgaine said. "but that's fine. We'll show them pretty soon." She ran her hands over the briefing table, the Wolverine insignia gleaming in the lights.

"It's been months," Ryan growled. "and that fucking Periphery slut is making some of my people afraid. Not just here. Some of my suppliers are pulling their heads in."

"We'll, they'll stop when we put her head on a pike!" Morgaine said. "I—"

"Well, I hear you're having problems..." Morgan Fletcher said as he walked in, wiping his hands on a work cloth. "Something about not getting a battleship ready fast enough."

"You said it was almost ready."

"Yeah, and we can fly. Now."

"Really."

"Yep," he said. "nice thing about having the only Warship is that it doesn't have to be fully ready to go."

"What do you mean?" Morgaine asked.

"There weren't any missiles in the magazines, but we don't need 'em. Lasers are mostly okay, and the NPPCs… okay, we've got about six working, had to pull parts from the others, but they'll kill any dropship around. I can get a full G out of the transit engines, and best of all, the KF Battery works. They can't catch us."

"You—" The lights flickered once. Ryan stared at Morgan

"Yeah, the power grid has some problems, but we replaced the naval components with some dropship conduits. Without needing to fire all the guns, it'll work."

"Good. Get it fucking ready and find me a target where that bitches forces aren't."

"What?" Morgaine asked. "I thought you wanted to kill her."

"I do, but first I want to remind the Lyrans why they shouldn't piss me off. First we show them she can't protect them, then we go and kill her."

"Good deal," Moraine said. She smirked. "been a little too long since the sheep remembered their place."


Meeting the Snords[]

Somerset, Lyran Commonwealth


Nice set up, Cranston Snord thought. They'd come out of jump space, and then had a Taurian small craft check them over before they got into deorbiting range of the world. The stories of the Reunification War had been ancient before the Great Father had left, but…

But they all agreed. Of all the enemies of the Star League, the Taurians were both the most tenacious and most skilled.

The RCT's main base still looked new, scars in the earth where the plants hadn't yet had a chance to grow, but it was well built, berms around the various dropship and aerospace fighter landing zones, shelters for mechs and troops—someone had even, he noticed, put up a cheery sign at the entrance, informing any locals who were completely oblivious who was staying with them.

"Kinda permanent for a temporary base." Rhonda said. His daughter glanced at the big, and clearly not pre-fabbed control tower. "Wonder if they're intending on this being a permanent deployment."

"Maybe."

When they touched down, after waiting for the dropship to cool off, Cranston and his daughter debarked. Now lets see how they react. Periphery citizens were notorious for being pretty suspicious of mercs, for well known reasons, but on the other hand, Snord's Irregulars had never had an issue with any Periphery state.

But the general was waiting for them at the end of the accessway, looking tiny compared to Snord.

There was nothing wrong with her tone as she nodded to him. "Colonel Snord."

"General Cheng. I'm not certain why we've been sent out here, since you seem to have things in hand.", he greeted General Cheng.

"Seem to and do may be two different things." She gestured for them to follow her. "And I think you're… unusual reputation might come in handy." As they walked, Rhonda paused, and gestured out a window. "Doing garden work?"

Stinger Light BattleMech (Battlefield - by Justin Kase)

Stinger Light 'Mech

Mary paused and glanced at the Stinger, hand actuators holding a mech-sized shovel. "You'd think but right now we've got a lot of time on our hands, and there were some storms last week, with washed out roads in places a mech can get to better than a conventional vehicle. It makes life easier on our neighbors, which makes them more kindly inclined to us." She paused. "Besides, I'm certain the Colonel knows—mech warriors are like small children. If you leave them alone in their rooms, they will get into mischief."

Snord laughed. "Guilty as charged."

Snord's good mood didn't last, when they entered the conference room, to be confronted with the emblem of the Not-Named, on the screen. Rhonda had been too young to be fully educated, but Cranston had a momentary urge to pull out his sidearm and obliterate it.

Clan Wolverine (Insigna)

Clan Wolverine / Not-Named insignia

But he controlled it.

"New pirate band?", he asked

"Yes. Or we think it might be." Cheng gestured to several officers. "This is my intelligence staff and the Lyran JAG liaisons. We've obtained intelligence of them wanting to hire pirate bands. As mercenary units. Normally, not a matter for much concern, but…"

"Pirate chatter and movements have been dropping in our AO, and our sources indicate the same thing is happening on the Drac's side of the border." The Lyran officer, called up several other readouts. "And there's signs of more purchases of ammunition and weapons, even with the damage we've managed to do to their networks."

"So pirates with a new flag?" Rhonda asked.

"A new flag wouldn't get so many groups flocking to them." Mary shook her head. "Our intelligence people believe that it may be a periphery power backing them, perhaps one of the pirate kingdoms, or a very charismatic individual has arisen. Either one could unleash a lot of power against the less defended worlds, and yet have enough firepower to kill our forces if they can catch them in detail."

"Unless you catch them in space.", commented Snord

"Yes, that's our current operational plan, but sooner or later, they're going to adapt." Mary shook her head. "Letting the other side dictate your operational tempo means you're going to lose."

"What do you need us for?", he asked Cheng

"Firstly, you're interested in history. I'm paying for a connection to Terra's libraries, as well as Tharkad's. We've got a lot of salvage from the pirates we've taken, some of it old. Find out if that symbol has any relevance we've missed that might give a clue about their intentions. Secondly, you're another mech unit. If we find a likely pirate target that is within your capabilities, I want you to deal with it, standard salvage rules apply."

"It would be my pleasure."


Trouble on a Backwater World[]


Comstar Compound - Beta VII, Lyran Commonwealth


Beta VII was a backwater. Barely deserving of its Class B HPG station, but it had been years since there had been a serious attack. Deep enough inside Lyran space that it didn't generally fear pirate raids, the world's militia was mostly for disaster relief and training.

And then, the ppComstar]] Compound exploded. A truck loaded up with HE, driven through the front gate. Nobody had expected it, and the guards, it must be said, were a little slow to react. The complex wasn't destroyed, but the HPG antenna was, rendering it useless for receiving messages—or crying out for help. But after that, nothing.

"Sir." Flight Officer Conners turned at Sally's shout. They'd all been watching the news about the terrorist attack, only there hadn't been any statements or demands.

Potemkin (Old - Underway)

Potemkin Class Troop Cruiser

Not like terrorists. "What is it?"

"Emergency signature at the pirate point. Warbook is calling it… A Potemkin Class Troop cruiser?"

"A warship?" Suddenly the explosion at the HPG made all too much sense. "Are there any jumpships in system?"

"No, sir."

"Sound the alarm, start evacuating people. I need to talk to the governor. Oh, and Sally?"

"Yes?"

"Get people together with data recorders. Get all the information you can, but before that thing hits orbit, I want you and them out of town and hiding with the information."

"Sir?"

"The last time people played with warships, worlds burned. Maybe they're here for a cup of tea, but if they're not, I want information left behind."

"Y-yes sir."


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