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The Bull and the Genie
- Chapter 36 - "Duels" and boarding actions.
[]

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Taking fight to the Pirates[]

Toland System, Lyran Commonwealth


The Potemkin was boosting for the jump limit, the gaggle of surviving dropships keeping pace with it.

Then, a series of flashes announced the arrival of the joint TDF/Lyran task force.

Potemkin (Old - Underway)

Potemkin Class Troop Cruiser, under full thrust)

General Mary Cheng was ensconced in the command center, grousing. She'd wanted to come along, but Kumbhar had had some simple questions for her.

Had she ever served in the SASF?

No.

Did she have high-G training?

No.

Did she have any idea how to handle boarding a ship bigger than most skyscapers?

No.

So Mary remained behind. Fuming. It didn't feel right to send people into such a dangerous situation while she was comfortably wrapped in a few thousand tons of ship.

"They can't have recharged the battery yet." Perez told her. "They didn't have the time. So they're down to one jump, presuming their systems work."

They didn't realize or care that the Comstar Adepts were able to get an auxiliary station up. Something that was making intelligence very curious since the previous assumptions had been that HPGs were completely immobile. But they'd sent a message in time to get the combat units lined up—including a flight of Lyran fighters with ship-killer nukes. Katrina had made it plain. Captured or dead, the warship wasn't going anywhere.

"This is General Cheng to the pirate forces. In the name of Archon Steiner, I am authorized to make a one-time offer to you. IF you surrender the ship, and make no further demonstrations against our forces or any civilian prisoners, you will not face the death penalty. Most of you will serve life terms, but well, you'll be alive."

"No response, General."

"Time to jump limit?"

"The speed they're going? Twelve hours."

Right. Mary wondered why they hadn't tried the pirate point, but Perez's explanation came up. The ship was damaged, and a pirate point was risky at the best of times.

Still would have gone for it. Now they're moving too fast to avoid us.

"Commence the attack.", she ordered


The Lyrans had boarding pods, but they were… okay, they were fine. If you were talking about boarding some nice polite ship that stopped and waited for you.

Kumbhar and his men had made some modifications. Evidently the Lyrans thought they were insane. But ripping out the safeties on the engines and preparing the locking clamps, to say nothing of the padding for the boarding party.

They would have to zip past the enemy ship the pods disguised as part of the flyby attack, but that meant they'd have to decelerate like hell, fast enough to match velocities and minimize their vulnerability to the ship's weapons.

That meant a 12G burn. Short or long, that was going to hurt. There was a reason why so few people qualified for the SASF and why you got pushed out before you were thirty. Presuming the pods didn't explode, and none of the boarding parties died of heart failure, which wasn't impossible given their age, it would get them onto the ship before the enemy could respond.

"Got the gadget, sergeant?"

"Yes sir!" there were four gadgets. 5 kiloton warheads that would come with them. Once inside the ship it'd be their caretakers job to determine if the boarding action was a failure and detonate their gadget, which should, being inside the armor, make a terrible mess of things.

"Right, we're all the old men who got kicked out of SASF to spend the rest of our enlistments rocking on the porch. So just remember, don't die, and enjoy a lifetime of smiles from our comrades while they grit their teeth because they weren't here. Also, If we're lucky, I suggested that we could always use a new messhall for the SASF, and this ship is just about the right size for the brewery I have in mind."

Everyone laughed, the pre-combat shivers relaxing slightly.



Handling the Stragglers[]

Toland City - Toland, Lyran Commonwealth


Thomas waited in his mech, the sound of combat growing closer. The last of the pirates had joined together under Morgaine, less those who had tried to vanish into the city or countryside. With no warship overhead, he'd handed them off to the local police, VTOLS buzzing here and there.

I wonder if they think the dropships that didn't take off are still functional? If so, they'd be disappointed. A few might be repairable, but they, and their crews, were no longer in pirate hands.

"Sir?"

"We'll give 'em a chance." Thomas said. He closed his cockpit and waited as the first wave came around the corner. Pirates in battered trucks, mechs with gaping rents, some pirates actually on foot. They stopped staring at the barricade of debris, Thomas' mech standing on top of it.

"We're about to capture your warship. You have the same offer they have. Surrender, and you're more likely to survive. If you're thinking of fighting, I have more men than you. Oh, and none of your Dropships are functional anymore, at least not those that didn't take off."

Morgaine's mech raised its weapons, pointing at Thomas. <<"You think they'll believe you? How's it feel kissing the Inner's feet.">>

"Much better than having to look at you." Thomas shook his head. "Fine, you're right. They probably don't believe me, because what have I done for them? I suppose this is the part where we fight a duel."

<<"I can take you. I can take all of your men!">>, she exclaimed

"And where would you go?" Thomas asked. "No dropships and the units coming here are very upset. You didn't have much of a plan beyond 'I have a big stick,' did you? But how about this. They don't believe my offer because they know they have nothing to give me. So how about this. The first five pirates who help take you down will be exempt, 100 percent, from the death penalty, and will do their time in a Taurian prison, far, far, away from anyone who might want revenge."

<<"You think—">>

Morgaine's voice was cut off by the thunder of a Hunchback's AC/20. Moments later, several other mechs joined in. The pirate spun around, firing once, the laser slashing across the Hunchback. Morgaine's Orion staggered, then fell, and a moment later, shuddered once and stopped moving. The pirates backed off as several other mechs walked up to join Thomas, and troops appeared at the windows of the buildings around them.

Orion ( On the March)

Orion Class Heavy 'Mech taking fire.

"City's a terrible place to make a last stand." Thomas said. "Well?" Moments later, the first rifle hit the ground, soon joined by others.

"Sir? I think Morgaine might be alive." Thomas looked down at the infantry unit.

"She is? How nice. Get medical here. I'm certain the Archon will have many, many questions for her." He tsked. "Duel. What kind of soldier fights a duel?"

Now we just have to get that damned ship. And count the butcher's bill down here.


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