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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 15 - The Other War[]

05/03/3060 Mongoose Ghost Fleet, Circe IV

The CFMDS Mastodon and its accompanying shuttles had spent the past week laying out navigational satellites and mapping the debris fields. Circe IV didn't have rings now but it did when the Mongoose Fleet was cached here by the victorious but bloodied Smoke Jaguars. Most of the numerous Aegis cruisers had been taken out by the Jade Falcons to supplement their fleet or by the Jaguars to recover from the massive losses of the climatic naval battle of Circe that dwarfed any since.

It dodged the shattered hull and associated debris field of the CMS Huisman, a Black Lion-Class battlecruiser and former pride of the Shadow Naval Star, now a rotating wreck stripped of anything of value and doomed to ultimately impact its fleet-mate, the Cameron-Class battlecruiser CMS Franklin, presently spinning end on end thousands of kilometers distant. The Mongoose-Class Flagship CMS Quicksilver Mongoose as taken to Strana Mechty as a trophy. That battleship was in the process of being recommissioned as CWS Blood Moon by Clan Wolf to replace the McKenna-Class CWS Werewolf defected to the Inner Sphere prior to the Refusal War that gutted the toumans of the Wolves and Jade Falcons.

Monsoon Battleship (space background)

SLS Painkiller

A mighty Monsoon Battleship, the SLS Painkiller, drifted lifelessly at the core of the debris field. That ship was a relic dating back to the Pentagon Civil War and once belonging to the vast Spacer communities that existed in the Circe system before they were eliminated by the Cloud Cobras. It had long been stripped of anything of military value but was the prize promised to the Newts. Both factions were eager to reclaim their heritage and use it like they had the Newgrange (thus 'Newt') SLS Shanghai once it was repaired preferable with some of the weapons that might still be of use.

They approached their target the spinning Essex more than four times larger than their dropship and forty times as heavy. The four massive three gun turrets dominated the profile but not as much as the breach in the hull where its thinly armored ammunition bay had taken a Naval PPC from the Jaguar Flagship CSJ Obsidian shortly before the battleship's grand destruction. Nina Tanaga watched the target with great interest and along with the Newt Derek Regnar was plotting the complex interception course that needed precise timing to catch the spin. “Tincan Three and Five confirm RADAR intercept. We will need a little stability before the Mastodon can safely latch on.”

The T-3 “Tincan” Dropshuttles were a variant of the popular K-1C Spheroid dropshuttle used primarily in orbital construction functioning as a many time smaller Type 96 Tug (15kilotons vs 200 tons). They mounted the largest engines of any small craft but had very little in the way of endurance, an acceptable trade-off for their dependent operation.

Within the T-3's the minimal Newt crews positioned themselves on opposite sides of the ship latching on like lampreys with their 'jaws' clamping down into the neutron battered armor plating and into the superstructure before firing their jets in unison. The momentum imparted took most of the spin out of the former CMS Rondeau and allowed the much larger Elephant to safely latch on and take the rest out. Nina had her eyes glued on the instrument panel, “We have zero relative spin. Good job crew, this was the hard one. Kline you are free to go out and provide an external inspection with the fighter.”

“Aff, Nina. Launching now.” The two Omnifighters gently drifted out of their bays and verified what the sensors told them. “No sign of habitation despite the spin. All bay doors and escape tubes are open. I can see into the ship. Why are we taking this one again?”

“We are taking it because it has no dropship collars and that made it less valuable to the other Clans. The Vincent Thirty Nine Van Vilet and Lola Three Muraca are here for the same reason. If we can get the Rondeau operational those smaller ships should be easy. The biggest challenge will be the Painkiller.”

Derek looked over the red light of the Flight Deck reflecting off his helmet's visitor, “My people will be more than happy to help there.”

“Right now we need to do an inspection. See what's broken and then I can send for more workers and parts from Newgrange City.” He un-clipped his belt and pushed out but was stopped by Nina, “Let Claude and his Marines check first. We were getting anomalous readings from within and the ship was spinning rapidly.”

“Probably a rogue meteor, Circe Four attracts them.”
“Let Claude check first.”
“I you insist Star Commander. I will head to the Galley and assemble the techs for a briefing.”
“Thank You Superior.” The Newt floated away and pulled himself down a ladder well. “You are good to go Claude.”

Claude Goulet, Faye Freelander, and their eight other Marines were suited up and waiting in one of the T-3's evacuated small craft bays. He waved to the camera where the Harvester in charge of the doors watched, “Open it up!”
“Aff, Star Commander.”

The door slid open without a noise. Claude's Marines engaged their CSS's Thruster packs and jumped out into the void toward the ship 'above'. “Nina we are outside.” “Roger that Claude. Watch out for debris.” Clan CSS's had improved sensors and Claude could see shards of Ferro-Aluminium in his HUD. The thrusters automatically avoided any large pieces that might penetrate the armor while smaller pieces bounced off. They set down with a thump and attached themselves with a pair of picks tethered to their suit.

“Aff, boots on hull. Activating magnets.” The magnetic boots activated anchoring them to the ship as they stalked toward one of the open small craft bays. Claude waved to Kline's Batus floating several meters away. “Infil team approaching target zone.” The Marines floated into one of the four open small craft bays. They activated their lights and saw that debris had scoured the inside. Last time this ship was pressurized was 2868 almost two hundred years ago they figured some damage would occur. However, Star League era tech was nigh indestructible and this armor even neutron battered as it was could withstand micro-meteors.

Most of the kit was salvage related with only a pulse laser pistol, picks, and buster for self-defense. Unlike the flimsy interior pressure doors of the Caretaker station the airlocks that led out into the small craft bay were reinforced and required heavier equipment to open.

Claude readied the heavy hydraulic cutter while one of the Mandrills attached the thick power feed to a backpack sized hydrazine fueled Auxiliary Power Unit. He jammed the jaws against the airlock, “breaching now.” Its' jaws cut into the armored doors deforming them enough to spread them with the same tool in reverse and allow entry. The tool and attached power unit required its own turn to pass through the gap. Faye patched the hole with plastic while he set about opening the much lighter interior door. The exertion was immense and he could feel sweat being wicked into his soft-cap under the helmet. “We are inside.” He signaled something to one of the marines, “Leaving behind a relay now. Signal check.”

Kline's voice came over the radio, “Read you five by five.”

They looked around to see the old SLDF markings in their lights. It was unnerving to see parts of the old ship that were beyond their illumination. Nothing but dark void awaited them in either direction with recessed handholds blocked by broken grates.

“Faye you check aft. We will go bow. I will leave the cutter here but take the APU.”

She gave a thumbs up, “Aff. We have our own. I hope Derek's map is up to date. The one Nina found on Shadow was dated even when before it was written down by the Mongooses.”

“Roger. Mandrills head out.”

The Fire Mandrills cautiously worked their way through the derelict examining every corridor for something or someone that might still be on the ship. Everything had been retired in good order but there were signs of severe damage and sabotage that might have post-dated the Mongoose Absorption. Everything was eerie on the ghost ship particularly in their dim suit lights. While in the lead Evan saw a spacesuit drifting along and shot at it with the pulse laser pistol until the power pack in its grip was spent. Upon further inspection they found it was empty but bore the insignia of a dead clan upon it burned through with one of the laser strikes.

Claude patted the young man on the shoulder, “Just nerves Evan. I would have done the same. Probably got loose from one of the lockers.”

The Marines found their objective, the CIC of the Rondeau, which was sealed off with armored doors slightly ajar. “We can probably force this. Assemble the bar. I want two men on it.”


Three Marines slotted the pieces of a large salvage bar into each other giving them a nearly 2.5 meter long lever and slightly augmented myomer strength of their suits forced the doors open. If the reactor is the heart of the ship and the KF drive its soul then the CIC was the mind. The Athena-2 battle computer within was capable of running the ship with only a skeleton crew of 25 less than a 10% its usual complement. It could also be used to coordinate ground attacks though the Mandrills rarely field forces greater than Trinary strength in Trials as each Kindraa typically only had a short Galaxy of Warriors at their disposal.

The Snow Ravens had since introduced a gen 3 version but the Mandrills had no intention of installing it. Bartering with them for such a powerful piece of technology would reveal that the Mandrills were interested in an Essex without telling the Grand Council. There could be calls for an Absorption if not outright Annihilation of the Mandrills. The Burrock Absorption last year and subsequent Adder and Viper crackdown on Dark Caste had chilled rebellious tendencies for a time.

An unforeseen complication was waiting for them in the CIC however, Claude hovered toward a sphere anchored by heavy cables to the 'top' and 'bottom' of the compartment. There was writing and radioactive warnings on it, 'Type 21 Thermonuclear Vacuum Mine, Serial#JGY-58901.'

He calmly spoke despite feeling sheer terror, “Derek, you wouldn't happen to know any disarm codes for a Mongoose Nuclear Mine?”

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