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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 40 - The Other War

Rex and Rebekah, newly minted Warriors vigorously ascended the chain ladders of the Rabid Omnimechs still in the gray primer coat from the factory in nearby Dreenan. A hybrid developed at the Richard Tchernovkov Polytechnic less than fifty kilometers away. The design combined the best features of the popular Mad Dog and Storm Crow Omnimechs. Assembly lines that made either were common in former Smoke Jaguar Enclaves that the Coyote sought to reclaim from their now dead rival.

Rebekah strapping into her cockpit while still wearing the dress uniform the fine cloth swishing as it brushed against the rough texture of the chair. Her neurohelmet had a Sibko Cadet's white triangle, her name, and Warrior ID filling negative space on the blue-gray coating.

She waved to Rex who returned it before they dropped their helmet's display visors and closing the cockpits. Since this was just a training exercise the normal ferroglaz would suffice. They did not lower the armored cowling that protected the fragile Mechwarrior inside from the carnage of 31st century combat. Carnage that according to Sullivan Koga consumed more Clan Warriors by the day.

Khan Koga's Timber Wolf loomed over their smaller machines like a mother protecting her pups. The Trio marched pass fellow Warriors in process of returning their equipment to its proper place before heading toward the morning meal. A short while later they stood at the training course a combination of dry ditches, rocky ridges and windswept gullies populated with targets and used for calibration purposes.

“I want to see your time on this unfamiliar course. Impress me and you can keep the mechs. Rex take the lower route, Rebekah upper.”
Aff, Khan Koga.”

Both Rabids began on her mark leaving behind targets ripped with laser pulses or blasted by the deep magazines of Advanced Tactical Missiles. They met the Timber Wolf at the finish line, Sullivan opened her to the warming late morning air but left her visor down, “Thirty seconds from a Trinary record. The state of your Conjurers worried me. Now I see your first kill was hard earned Mechwarriors.

Head back to base. I have my annual re-certification. Never forget that even the Khan has to prove themselves worthy. There is no space in the Coyotes for a (late ilKhan Elias) Critchell.”

Timber Wolf (Clan Wolf Livery by vertexnormal)

Timber Wolf Heavy OmniMech

Sullivan Koga's Timber Wolf set off across the windswept plains to undergo her Annual Trial of Position, which like many Warriors, was scheduled for their decant day. Warriors who lived a life of Iron from the Womb they were grown in at a Scientist's facility to their honorable end on a battlefield of their choosing. There was nothing in the Homeworlds more precious to a Warrior then proving or as painful as losing that vaulted status that set them apart from the lower castes.

Back at base Rex and Rebekah showered before donning clean fatigues bearing the vantablack and silver triangle of a Coyote Mechwarrior. The vantablack absorbed all light while the silvered edge was mirror polished creating an impressive show under the bright LED lights. Their brand new powder blue formal uniforms were soaked with sweat from this morning's exercises that had severely tested their skills. There was an even harder training course where manually controlled weapons turrets fired back with live ammo that did real damage. They removed the decorations before pitching both into the laundry, somehow the uniforms would find their way back to their lockers.

Rebekah walked about the open barracks. The mass heater in the middle radiating warmth recycled from the co-located services facility. “These are much better than the ones before. Quiaff?”
“Aff, we are full Warriors now, Bek. Weary ones.”
Rex checked his watch, “We have 45 minutes till the Khan returns.”

Both Warriors crashed on their cots not even bothering to get under the covers waking 35 minutes later to smooth out wrinkles in their fatigues. They stood out off the Mech Bay watching the second line machines of Rho come and go. Rho Galaxy was the last formation to be subjected to Khan Sullivan's decade long reorganization initiative and had a reputation of being filled with troublemakers and rookies.

There once were 15 Galaxies; each with their own Galaxy Commander plus 2 headed by the Khan and SaKhan. This mighty touman once protected an empire of 20 worlds at its zenith. Over the long decline that started with the Blood Scandal that was a black mark on the Clan's history and whose instigators, Clan Star Adder, were growing in power.

Decline was halted but the Coyotes, like many others, now relied on inferior Battlemechs sourced from the Mercantile/Chalcas Clan Diamond Shark to outfit their eight Galaxies of Warriors. An end result of making reforms to stay competitive and grow but as the Coyote's industrial might recovered and its trade network grew these would be mothballed and replaced with OmniMechs.

Part of the larger reform process was that Khan Koga allowed Warrior cadets to take two Trials of Position just as they did in Hell's Horses and Steel Vipers. The first was to become a Mechwarrior, Elemental, or Aerospace Warrior. Failure was not the end however a second Trial would be executed to join the Watch, Armor, or Infantry branches preserving the Clan's investment in training and its urgent need to rapidly increase force strength.

Khan Koga's Timber Wolf approached from the training field. It's shoulder mounted missile racks were empty and missing portions, one arm hung from a scrap of endo-steel and bundled myomer. A Golden Keshik Gladiator was laid out in pieces on a Tallasi salvage transport. They were followed by a pair of Hellbringers; one limped along like it had pulled a muscle; the other nearly had its center torso ripped out and was surrounded by a heat shimmer due to a reactor breach.

“That Gladiator gave the Khan a good fight.”
“Looks like she mixed it up with both Hellbringers at the same time and still managed to walk away from it.”
“Those are flight six Hellbringer's, quiaff?”

Hellbringer - Loki Heavy OmniMech (Firing ER PPC) (Farseer Animation)

Hellbringer Heavy OmniMech in combat

Rex focused on the machines remembering their recognition guide, all Sibkin, in fact all Clan children were required to learn silhouettes for Warrior equipment while in creche, “Aff, based on the shape of the armor paneling.”
“The Khan must have run out of ammo and called the Trial rather than waste resources finishing off the Hellbringers.”
“If they were flight fives she certainly would have destroyed both of them.”

“What a mighty Warrior.” Both Mechwarriors saluted their Khan and she nodded the nose of the Timber Wolf in reply.

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