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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 8 - The Other War[]

04/22/3060 Location – Circe IV, Pentagon Worlds

Star Commander Claude Goulet waited in his seat aboard the militarized S-7AC 'Scarab' gunship piloted by Tanite Harvesters. It was indistinguishable from the normal versions that plied star systems through the Inner Sphere and Clanspace servicing orbital infrastructure. The Scarab class however was equipped with heavier armor, retracted in its nose was a pair of large pulse lasers and anti-missile systems while smaller lasers were mounted on sponsons and electronic warfare gear operated by a Tech behind the flight deck. If they got close enough there would be no chance a transmission would reach the Jump Points and alert the rest of the forces in system.

Presently they were approaching the mothballed Mongoose Fleet's caretaker station orbiting a Neptunian Ice Giant at the far end of the Circe system. Faint transponder beacons appeared on the RADAR display attached to the broken vessels for navigational purposes. Blue white Circe IV (Clarke) grew larger on their view-screens and if one zoomed in they could see the station's lights pulsing faintly against the black velvet of space.

Faye Freelander, Jaguar abthaka, had transmitted her high level clearance codes but there was no guarantee of cooperation once they breached the station. The Mandrills were here to steal vessels from the Cache without the Council or even their own Clan knowing about it. Today the Grand Council had more important things to worry about then a distress signal from a space station that may or may not go through.

Former Jaguar's Sword Point Commander Faye Freelander and Harvester Squad Leader Konrad headed up their own 'Chalk' of seven troopers. He was with the same Marines he had under his command since Shadow. They had seen him through the Feud started aboard the CFM Rancor that resulted in 'unscheduled live fire exercises' and 'training accidents' between the Mick and Goulet troops embarked. He couldn't return without allies capable of overturning the Grievance between the two Bloodhouses instead going AWOL with the CFMDS Mastodon to protect himself.

The pilots' voice rang over the intercom, "Five minutes to go, Star Commander. Still nothing suspicious from the Jaguars."

Aff, all Chalks arm up. The sounds of compact Gauss SMGs being racked filled the cabin and the guns were attached by carabiner straps attached to D-hooks on the side. Each Marine carried a pulse laser pistol on a thigh rig, a sheathed 'buster' forced entry tool on the vest, two retractable grapnels attached to high tensile wire and wire cuffs hung from their belts. Three magazines, an LSSU, and two extra power packs filled their pockets. All of them held onto their handles as the gunship maneuvered toward the docking bay.

Konrad looked immensely satisfied, the shiny new weapons contrasted with their worn out space suits. "This is way better than we normal get. Can we keep these after we done Star Commander?"

"Aff, extras from the Rancor's arsenal. The Micks don't need them anymore." The other Harvesters nodded their heads, "Nice, you fine, Mandrill Marine man. Happy you come to us for aid.

Now we steal things, yeah?"

The cabin lights dimmed and went red activating the shoulder and gauntlet mounted lights of the suits. Each trooper dropped their armored visors covering everything but a narrow slot for the eyes and adding extra protection to the neck dam. Claude looked at the time display in his HUD, "Yeah, Two minutes. Form up." He clicked the weapon selector to burst fire, "Weapons hot."

The Mandrills stood in the lead with Jaguars behind and Harvesters in the back. The gunship had its port hatch attached to the station and the light was still red while the docking bay re-pressurized. When the light blinked green the hatch was opened from the flight deck and Claude Goulet and his heavily armed strike team burst into the bay to very confused but unarmed Jaguar Technicians 'stalking' (a particular form of tactical walking when using magnetic boots) with weapons ready.

He triggered the speakers, "Stay where you are!" before returning to the radio, "Faye keep moving to your objective. Konrad put them in the Scarab and hold this bay."

Two "Affs" came over the radio and one of the bolder Techs ran toward the alarm and was put down with a silent three round burst. His blood sprayed out forming crimson globules in space.

He wheeled around at each of the techs in turn, "I am serious! No one move! Hands up!" The remaining two Techs complied and were secured in the Scarab before the Harvesters took up defensive positions behind parts of the station. Mandrills and Jaguars split up and pried open the thin metal doors leading into the station.

The walls of the station were thin it was after all not a combat installation instead it was overseen by a Scientist. As they stalked about the alarm blared and the lights went out, "Faye, was that you?"

"Neg, Claude. There are lots of cameras here. The Station Controller probably activated them.

Emergency bulkheads sealed in the corridor. They weren't difficult to bypass but took time, time that could be better spent securing their objectives. "Savashri Scientist!"

At the controls Station Controller Viken watched the intruders with interest while he suited up and holstered his Gauss pistol. They were under attack and while the colors were those of fellow Jaguars since they had the Sword's command codes, a team was painted up like Mandrills particularly their elite 23rd Air Assault, and more from an unidentified third party attacking his station, none of this was easy to explain.

One of his cellmates called out from console on the other side of the large station. "One of their teams are approaching my laboratory. We are being jammed so my techs are purging the datacores. The others will have to rely on our off-station backups."

"Ensure everything is lost Jan. We can't take chances and will have to activate the security team."

"They are not ready yet! You don't know what they will do."

"We cannot allow these interlopers to uncover what we have done here. I will issue the order now. Meet me in the Armory. Go outside if you must to avoid them."

"Aff, Controller."

Viken opened up another intranet channel on the other side was a large man already in his own Combat Space Suit. He saw the thin form of Viken in the video phone, "Arsenal, activate and arm the security team."

With a nod Arsenal triggered the wake up procedure for his clone soldiers. They were in the spacer barracks arrangement known as a 'Bat Cave' where their individual sleeping bags were suspended from the 'ceiling.' Slowly the halo visors attached to their heads powered down, something was injected into their necks, and then the speakers emitted a shrill frequency that was inaudible to the older Scientist who had been removed from the field in disgrace prior to REVIVAL.

The twenty troopers woke, tearing themselves out of their bags with strangely long arms almost a throwback to humanity's primate ancestry. Each was already dressed in a Combat Space Suit. Arsenal stood before them, "Wake up!"

He triggered something on his gauntlet computer that opened the door into the armory. "Gather your weapons!"

Each of the troopers grabbed onto the straps built into the walls and swung themselves into the armory triggering their magnetic boots, readying their clantech Mausers, and doffing their helmets. After a quick buddy check they all stood before him with rifles shouldered. "We have intruders. Your orders are to kill them by whatever means."

The troopers broke into teams of five and nimbly moved via overhand straps with their Mausers strapped into cargo netting on their vests.

Faye Freelander waited while her Pointman tried to pry open the latest of their bulkheads. They had not encountered any armed resistance yet or seen anybody at all really. The CFMDS Mastodon, Star Commander Kline's Point of Batus Omnifighters, and another Scarab gunship filled with Harvesters was coming in from the other side of the planet having been informed of their situation. Kline's two Batus stood ready to intercept any small craft that might escape the net with their rocket pods and lasers.

Something was off about this station but she couldn't put her finger on it. With a grunt the Jaguar opened the door but his helmet was struck with a laser rifle which burned away a large portion of the visor which did its job. If it wasn't there, well the gore would be contained in the helmet but it would never come clean. The Jaguar detached the red hot piece of metal before it damaged the suit.

"Contact! Fall back!" The Swords were experts in CQB but they were operating at a tactical disadvantage having no explosives. This was supposed to be a lightly guarded installation capable of only token resistance and likely to fold quickly. Now they had Mausers, grenades, and body armor.

"Claude, Konrad we are taking fire."

Claude Goulet took cover around a corner as an under-barrel grenade burst into flechettes that shredded the structure. He used his gauntlet bore-scope to look around at the strange fighters on the other side. They seemed to fire from impossible angles with their long arms. He hadn't seen much of their bodies yet. "Same here. Konrad, sitrep"

Ten of the strange Marines pinned down the Harvesters. Their laser rifles burned some of the Scarab's armor and Harvesters had taken injuries from the grenades which we more effective in the open terrain. One of the flank mounted small pulse lasers activated on the gunship and cut the soldier down.

Gauss darts put small holes in the armor behind the unknown security team that ducked and hid around corners before aiming their heavy laser rifles at the light infantry. "The bay is still secure for now..."

"Hang in there, Konrad, reinforcements are on the way. They are going to grapple across. We don't want to open the bay doors and depressurize the sector. Use the airlock to let them in."

Konrad looked over at the airlock built into the bay door. There wasn't much cover there but he looked at the empty cargo boxes secured to the deck. "I'm going in one. Suppressive fire on my mark."

"That crazy, boss man." Each of them loaded a new magazine, "We with you. On your mark."

The other four Harvesters stood up and fired off rapid bursts of their Gauss SMGs toward the bad guys while Konrad floated toward the open containers and hid himself in one. He threw a grapnel that found purchase on a bar near his target location and triggered the recoil action that slowly pulled him across the open airlock. The lasers struck the thick metal but slagged it rather than the man inside. By the time he cycled the airlock and let more troopers in they had the security team on the run.

Claude was in a difficult position still pinned down and wishing he had a PA(L) rather than a CSS. Through quick hand gestures he transferred the plan to the rest of his team. Each nodded in turn, three troops opened up on the targets while the other two hung onto each other with the lead man having his head in the crotch of the other. They pushed off the wall and were given another push by the trio with their free hands.

Evan and he went feet first toward the enemy distracted by the enfilade. As they neared the opposite wall they split and magnetized the boots attaching themselves to the wall taking the shock with their knees. Before they settled they went full auto in the midst of the enemy. The Gauss darts punched through the CSSs and embedded themselves in the backplate. They were followed by the other trio who could not move as quickly as they needed to swing themselves off the straps. Within thirty seconds their enemies were floating dead in the station and they were back on mission prying through the bulkheads in a darkened space station full of surprises.

Faye Freelander dodged the vibroblade bayonet of a security trooper it was so close she could hear it zing past her but if she hadn't bent back she would have lost her head. The slash had been thrown hastily from the heavy rifle and caused the man to spin himself. With both hands on the rifle he had trouble finding straps to anchor himself even with his strangely shaped boot. It was not a solid form with a 'tread' of magnets like her own but had two 'toes' like the Jika-Tabi worn by some DCMS ashigaru infantry and many spacers.

She drew the buster tool on her breastplate and readied it while holding on to one of the straps. With perfect timing and a solid three point hold she slammed the axe head into the man's visor shattering it and cleaving into his head. The bayonet came with a thrust that she barely avoid by shifting her core to the side. It cut through the station structure like it wasn't even there and she deactivated it from the off-side lest she injure herself on a dead man's bayonet and never hear the end of it.

Globules of blood floated between them and splattered themselves on her visor whose water resistant coating shed them bouncing them off until they found the station walls. She looked down and saw that her suit was damaged and showed pale skin and red underneath she hadn't completely avoid the blade but it was only a graze. One of the other Jaguars looked at her still holding the axe in her hand with a dead man's gun in the other. ‘‘I am injured but I will be fine.’‘ She released the tool and unpacked one of the many patches carried on all space suits removing its adhesive backing before placing it over the hole.

They continued on to their objective with the additional manpower and special tools of the Harvesters they made short work of the flimsy barricades put in their way.

Outside Star Commander Joseph Kline noticed a docking bay open. His fighter was cockpit 'down' relative to the station with the armored cowling already in place, "Guys I have movement out here."

A KR-61 Shuttle burned out at flank speed. "We got a runner. Collie, you are with me. Intercept and destroy."

He issued a tight beam broadcast to the shuttle as the Batu B's changed trajectories and gave chase. Unidentified shuttle This is Star Commander Joseph Kline of Clan Fire Mandrill. Return to the station or face destruction. You have thirty seconds to alter trajectory before we fire.

Thirty seconds elapsed putting the shuttle dangerously close to escaping the jamming. 160 Rockets and a dozen laser pulses made short work of the target before they could call for help.

Claude arrived at what the markings indicated was the command center. A single man sat restrained in the chair but the other consoles were vacant. He aimed the seized Mauser at the target, "Check it out Evan."

Former Patrolman now Marine Evan circled wide keeping his SMG leveled at the man who wore no insignia or nameplate on his suit. A Gauss Pistol was in his hands with a single hole in the visor right in the 'T.'

"He's dead sir. Self-inflicted." Claude crept close and confirmed the shot before securing the Gauss pistol and holster onto his webbing. He looked around at the blinking consoles, "Where are the others? Must be six consoles here. There's only three techs in the docking bay."

Faye came in over the radio she had been exploring the 'lower decks' after securing engineering. The Harvesters were already on cleanup of the twenty combatants while the Mastodon docked. "Star Commander, you should come take a look at this.

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