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This is the way world ends (Chapter art)

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Chapter 1 - This is the Way the World Ends - Wolf Skinners (3024)[]


Wolf Skinner DropShip (WSDS) Mondez
Astrokaszy, Atmospheric Interface
1200 - Local Time 21st July, 3024


The bang was heard throughout the ship. While it worried most of the unit right away, panic didn't set in until <<"All hands, abandon ship">> was passed over the 1MC. Everyone knew the Union had sustained engine damage running from their previous garrison contract on Ghorepani. The Maskirovka had "objected" to Major Skinner's truce and exchange of personnel and salvage with the unidentified force raiding the world, and even arrested their liaison officer when he tried to defend the unit's actions as contractually permitted. One hastily planned jail break and boost for orbit later, the planet's meager aerospace force had managed to land several lucky hits before breaking off and returning to the ground. Those lucky hits now helped spell the doom of the Mondez, and all aboard her if they couldn't find a way out.

Fortunately, Major Skinner and his younger brother, Captain Skinner (Captain of the Mondez) were paranoid planners, and had most personnel loaded aboard various means of escape. While it had been years since the unit had seen a proper drop pack, the unit's technical staff had managed to find a consignment of drop chutes for sale on Galatea, and even managed to install one in a reusable configuration aboard Doc Oozora's hover beast. The former Drillson Hover Tank had had its main turret removed and replaced with a much smaller one to accommodate a MASH unit and various electronics the Major (and S-2) had asked about "fitting in around the edges". The other half dozen chutes had been fitted to the four non-jump capable 'mechs along with the APC and Recovery Vehicle.

MW2 Dropship Re-entry

Union entering atmosphere

Captain Skinner may have failed to slip the Mondez into the atmosphere as planned, but he succeeded at the heroic effort to stabilize the ship long enough to launch all but one of the Escape Pods (namely, the one he and the bridge crew would be using). All six of the other Escape Pods jetted away from the ship, clearing the way for the first four 'mechs and the APC. The Mondez hadn't seen an aerospace fighter in its bays for the better part of a century, and the port bay had been cut up into three light vehicle bays, though they all shared the same door. The starboard bay had been converted into barracks and storage, and had its door welded shut.

The four 'mechs of the Recon Lance were ejected without a hitch by the Mondez's purpose-built launch mechanisms. In contrast, two intrepid flight deck personnel were needed to launch the APC into the void. Fortunately, all five machines cleared the hull without incident, clearing the way for the next batch. The long minute it took to cycle the 'mech handling gear and prepare the Recovery Vehicle for launch seemed like an eternity to those waiting to escape. Each 'mech carried not only its pilot, but also its tech, strapped into the rumble seats behind the command consoles. Even the Recovery Vehicle had a spare seat belt for its tech. Four flawless cycles later, the Fire Lance was in the wind, followed closely by the Recovery Vehicle on its drop chute.

By now, the ship's radar was cluttered with dropping 'mechs, vehicles, and Escape Pods. Captain Skinner was doing his best to keep the ship steady, but even he couldn't prevent the inevitable drift. Already, the ship was nearly 50 km off its original trajectory. His efforts paid off, though, and the Command Lance was shortly clear of the ship and dangling from their chutes. The Doc's Drillson followed, and that constituted the majority of the unit. All that remained was the bridge crew, two flight deck personnel, and the drop chute tech and his industrial exoskeleton, which had been modified with a parafoil. The tech was on the flight deck with the other two maniacs, and all three were busily strapping ration packs to themselves before leaping into the void.

On the bridge, Captain Skinner was still trying to steer the ship clear of any of the dropping units, but wasn't having much luck. There were just too many things falling out of the sky to miss them all. Despite the urgings of the bridge crew from the final Escape Pod, Skinner was determined to work the ship until the last possible moment. Less than 20 km from the ground, with the word that the flight deck was clear, he finally gave it up, and struggled to the pod. The Navigator pulled the launch handle as soon as the hatch closed behind Skinner, and the last Escape Pod shot clear of the hull.

The little kick provided by the pod's launch tipped the ship over enough to send it in the opposite direction. It was probably for the best that Captain Skinner couldn't see that meant it was headed straight for his brother and another Escape Pod falling close by. The chutes, of course, meant the 'mech and pod were above the crashing ship, but that didn't save them from the shockwave. The blast blew the pod right into the Major's Marauder, and hopelessly tangled their chutes. The tumbling mass plunged to the ground, the screams of the six souls aboard the pod and the Major's final, interrupted, curse broadcast over the distress frequency.

The rest of the unit was considerably more lucky, in that only two other injuries were reported (two pods had had hard landings). That was the good news. The bad news was the unit was scattered across an area roughly 200 km wide, with distress beacons blasting out in every direction on a known pirate world.


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